Race as a social construct

The timeline we made in class on September 17th gaging the racial events that led up to modern day designated race as a social construct. Humans were not created with the idea of race. We do tend to categorize and stereotype the people we meet because it is easier for our brain to process information in such a way. But race and racism are social constructs in that they are not necessary in defining who we, ourselves, are but are necessary in defining ourselves in relation to the people in the world around us. Race helps us re-orient ourselves.

Woman’s role in society is another social construct of modern times. The 1950s was the epitome of the housewife ideal. When feminism came into full force after the ’50s the single working woman proliferated. But the working woman also is a social construct because it is only an opposite. Because the current ideal of a successful woman is just the opposite of the Victorian-influenced 1950s housewife a woman’s role in society remains a social construct similar to race.

Omi and Winant’s “Racial Formation” says, “Everybody learns some combination, some version, of the rules of racial classification, and of her own racial identity, often without obvious teachings or conscious inculcation … Race becomes ‘common sense’ — a way of comprehending, explaining, and acting in the world.” This statement adheres to the idea that we cannot simply “do without” race. It has become part of our global society. I would love to say it is not necessary but if we were to do away with race we would, consequently, have to do away with the history of our world. There would be no way to explain history without racial issues. If the Civil Rights movement were erased from history books and an entire generation was raised unaware of race, they would be just that, unaware. As a society it is better to be aware, enlightened, of the negative history from which we came, than to know nothing of it, to not know that we are currently evolving.

Ideas brought forth by the Equiano reading include the thought that no matter the skin color, it is the actions of the first impression that render a prejudice. Equiano had never seen a white colored man before. This is not what scared him. What scared him were the actions the men took. “Every circumstance I met with, served on the render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions, and my opinions of the cruelty of the whites” (Equiano). Even in the relatively modern times of slavery Equiano illustrates the idea that race is a social construct. He had never before seen a white man and it was not the color of the skin that alarmed him, but the cruelty of the white men to black men and other white men.


3 thoughts on “Race as a social construct

  1. Hey Haley,

    What you have here is excellent, however you fail to discuss what else in your life besides race is a social construct. If you include a section on something else in your life that is a social construct then you’ll get a U.

    I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. Because of that, you’ll get three weeks from today to have this fixed. You have until October 22nd.


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