How oppositional dichotomies of race define racial stereotypes
During the centuries, there have been developed racial stereotypes. Thus, dividing people into different races (according to color) we can assume that every race has its “characteristic features”. The racial stereotypes consider different aspects of life, appearance, and behavior, such as interpersonal interaction, social roles, music, art, religious tents, etc. As Robert T. Carter says, “people of color, for the most part, know that they have been classified according to their race and that this racial grouping has meaning and significance for their identity” (190).
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As opposed to this statement, Carter provides the evidence that whites do not treat the rate as a grouping with its characteristic, “the predominant comment of Whites is that they are not aware of themselves as Whites” (Carter 190). The differences between races form the oppositional dichotomies that influence the development of racial stereotypes. The stereotypes are formed by representatives of other (opposite) races, especially, if they live in one social environment.
Thus, strong racial stereotypes were formed by a representative of White and Black races. In the United States, those stereotypes were formed under the influence of historical events that had an impact on the attitudes of those races towards each other. One of the racial stereotypes deals with the appearance, so-called butt-stereotypes, described in the article by Erin J. Aubry “The Butts: Its Politics, Its Profanity, Its Power”. She states that:
“Black people have taken a white-created pejorative of a black image – a purely external definition of themselves – and made it worse. As one of those physical characteristics of black people that tend to differ significantly from whites, like hair texture and skin color, the butt demarcates, but also, in the context of the history of racial oppression, stands as an object of ridicule”. (Aubry 26, 28).
The Prison Industrial Complex as an example of institutional racism
According to Carter, “institutional racism consists of established laws, customs, and practices which systematically reflect and produce intentionally and unintentionally racial inequalities in American society.” (200). Thus, we can see that institutional racism exists when distinguishable distribution develops based on racial differences and racial domination. These days, this distribution can be seen in various spheres of life, such as education, health, and criminal justice or the Prison Industrial Complex.
The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a clear example of institutional racism. “Angela Davis argues that the PIC is about racism, social control, and profit” (Ogden 355). The prison system is considered to be economically profitable as there are often “business partnerships between private corporations and correction departments” (Leonard and Hulst 226). David J. Leonard and Jessica Hulst provide that the prison industrial complex have racialized consequences and impact on the communities of color (225).
In the same article, the authors provide evidence that the number of people of color imprisonments is greater than that of whites, though the statistics do not show the same differences in crime commitments. The authors say that the reason is an “unequal application of the criminal justice system” that is also based on laws, as well as customs and stereotypes, and that “notion of criminality is linked to racial signs” (Leonard and Hulst 227). This provides the inequality in the system itself, as well as in American society. Thus, we can see that institutional racism can be seen in the Prison Industrial Complex and constitutes its basis.
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How communities of color have shaped their own sense of racial identity in response to oppression
The development of racial identity in the USA was not developed in a positive or neutral environment. Speaking about the formation of racial identities of People of Color and Whites, it should be mentioned that the first one was formed as a reaction to the racial oppression. As opposed to this, the racial identity of the Whites was formed from the perspective of racial dominance over the People of Color. Both identities were shaped under the influence of racism that took place in the past and as a result of historical events. As an example of the racial identity of the communities of color can be a rap or hip-hop cultures:
“Rappers reality is hardly “objective” in the sense of being detached; their standpoint is that of the ghetto dweller, the criminal, the victim of police repressions, the teenage father, the crack slinger, the gang banger, and the female dominator. Much like the old “badman” narratives that have played an important role in black vernacular folklore, the characters they create, at first glance, appear to be apolitical individuals only out for themselves” (Kelley n. p.).
Through their music, they express their attitudes to life, their culture, as well as express complain about the policy system and aspects of social life.
Being in the same community, people share the same beliefs and work out specific behavior, language values, and attitudes that become their distinctive features. Another example of the racial identity of the people of color can be found in Hawai’i. Because, “today, tourists outnumber residents by 6 to 1; they outnumber native Hawaiians by 30 to 1” (Trask n. p.), the racial identity of Hawaiian people was also shaped in response to the oppression. As a result, the Hawaiian culture flowered.
Intersectionality by Bonnie Thornton Dill et al.
Intersectionality deals with socio-cultural relations and racial identities. Intersectionality focuses on the interconnection of ethnicity, gender, and race relationships. Focusing on race and gender relationships, Bonnie Thornton Dill, Sandra Murray Nettles & Lynne Weber argue that intersectionality is “flexible enough to consider large-scale, historically constructed and hierarchical power systems and the politics of personal interactions, including meanings and representations in the experience of individuals.” Racial discrimination still has the right to exist in modern society, though, it is manifested in the hidden forms, such as institutional racism.
Analysis and examination of the forms of social, interpersonal, and racial differences, and their application to practice can greatly improve socio-cultural and racial relations, and cease the “racial conflicts” in the modern society which will result in achieving social justice. The theory of intersectionality casts light on new approaches to ethnical and multicultural studies that provide the opportunity to apply various approaches to reshape these concepts and find new theoretical and practical solutions to the problem of racial and cultural conflicts. In this essay, we are going to support the argument provided by Bonnie Thornton Dill, Sandra Murray Nettles & Lynne Weber.
So, Howard Zinn, in the article “Drawing the Color Line” provides the idea that “if racism cannot be shown to be natural, then it is the result of certain conditions, and we are impelled to eliminate those conditions” (39). The intersectional approach provides the opportunity to define those “conditions” in modern society and analyze them not from binary opposition, as it is traditionally done, but find multiple approaches. Moreover, the intersectionality is an attempt to understand the mutual dependence of ideology and politics, as well as the system of power construction, and the ways they can be reshaped and reconstructed.
According to Noel Ignatiev, “race is the term that means a group that includes all social classes, in a situation where the most degraded member of a dominant group is exalted over any member of a subordinate group” (605). In this definition, we are going to focus on the idea that “race is a group that includes all social classes”. Thus, it would be inaccurate to suggest that the concepts of “race differences”, “race domination”, etc., were formed inside one social class, representatives of one gender or profession.
Moreover, different people had and have a different experience. Consequently, the attitudes and responses to issues of race differences depend on general and personal experiences of representatives of one race, and cannot be analyzed from one angle. To consider a power system and politics of personal interaction, multiple approaches should be used. In other words, such dimensions as race and ethnicity, race, and class should be taken into consideration when analyzing a social organization and discrimination inside one social environment.
If we take the notion of race as a system of mutually dependant relationships among the representatives of a particular race and, at the same time, the relations of this race with another race, we can discover that only an incorporated and systematic study of different dimensions can provide a flexible theory to “consider large-scale, historically constructed and hierarchical power systems and the politics of personal interactions”.
Thus, only considering various dimensions studied by intersectionality, and treating these dimensions not as discreet aspects of life, but as parts of a “single unit”, can help achieve the destruction of racial oppression and social equality.
Aubry, Erin J. “The Butt: Its Politics, Its Profanity, Its Power”, Web.
Carter, Robert T. “Is White a Race? Expressions of White Racial Identity”, Web.
Ignatiev, Noel. “Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity”, Web.
Kelley, Robin D. G. “Kickin’ Reality, Kickin’ Ballistics: ‘Gangsta Rap’ and Post-Industrial Los Angeles”, Web.
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Leonard, David J. and Jessica Hulst, “‘Made on the Inside,’ Destruction on the Outside: Race, Oregon and the Prison Industrial Complex”, Web.
Ogden, Stormy. “The Prison-Industrial Complex in Indigenous California”, Web.
Trask, Haunani-Kay. “‘Lovely Hula Hands’: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture”, Web.
Zinn, Howard. “Drawing the Color Line”, Web.