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I believe race is a social construct because it deals with society’s perception. The perception of what we see and our innate ability to categorize people as we see them, has defined us from the inception of our country. Race as a social construct crosses all boundaries and people as a whole even today and continues to define ethnicity as a social construct. Race is defined in Racial Formation as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts an interests by referring to different types of human bodies” (p.55). This quote is still applicable today as we reference people by race.
I think the idea of race is something we should continue as part of our society as long as it is used for the right reason. Census bureaus and even the proud heritage of an individual in identifying themselves without other’s perception of who they are is important. It should be used for heritage, race, culture and beliefs. However, when it is used in a stereotypical or damaging manner to categorize and form opinions of that race, it can have a negative impact. To state that one race is superior to the other is a negative reaction and a negative result will follow each time this mindset is pursued. We find ourselves guilty of racial construct in many instances. America is built on equality and on the melting pot, but the perception and thoughts of others prevents this from actually being the truth. I do firmly believe that from a heritage and legacy perspective, as well as an indicator of numbers, racial construct can be a very good social element and is important.
Other things in life that are a social construct might involve one’s perception of someone’s financial or educational status just based on their appearance, where they live or how they talk. Many stories have been shared with people who live as paupers when upon their death, it is discovered that they were wealthy. We might perceive someone who has a different way of talking from another place in the country as a “rednec k” or illiterate due to language when in fact they may have been highly educated. Being part of a fraternity might make someone think the person is better because they are more socially accepted than another, not considering the individual may have chosen not to participate in this and may have numerous friends outside of their college life.
The examples given are social constructs because people have tendencies to place individuals in certain categories within society based on their perceptions without truly understanding or trying to understand why. In Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, after he fled and had tried to escape back to his home, was found by his master’s daughter and “she now promised to intercede for me , and went for her master, who soon after came, and, having slightly reprimanded me, offered me to be taken care of, and not ill treated” (Chapter 2). This was in direct contrast to what Equiano anticipated from his captors. Also, an adopted child who appears to be mixed due to his darker skin, dark eyes and curly hair who is seen with his white mother is assumed to have a black father when he may be adopted and be the child of two white parents. The reaction by both white and blacks could be completely different. In this instance, the child would identify themself as they were raised to be identified and if their past heritage was not revealed to them, may in spite of their ancestry; see themself as a white person.