Racism: A Social Construct

By Brock R

In both Equinos autobiography and “racial formation”, they show how race is a social construct created over the years by people through our experiences and relationships with each other’s race as well as people of a different race. In Equinos narrative he describes a horrible journey of being a slave transported throughout Africa. When he gets to the white people however everything he has suffered along the way pales in comparison to what he must endure from these strange, foreign people. This initial interaction between whites and blacks, with whites, in this man’s perspective being nefarious sorcerers wanting to devour them, while the slave traders behave cruelly by kidnapping because their race feels superior, begins to manifest the social construct. This construct of course has radically evolved from back then to present day but it is still a presence nonetheless. I feel it is important that we do not ignore race but we should embrace it and understand what it means to us and how it affects those around us as well. In Omi and Winants “racial formation” they express how race becomes “common sense” over time and a way to “comprehend, explain, and act in the world”. If we cannot understand race and it’s relationship with us then how can we understand the people around us.
In relation to the course enlightenment is about understanding the world and then going beyond what we already understand about it. The way to be enlightened is to see race for what it is on both a large scale such as the Travyon Martin shooting and on a smaller, more everyday scale. Race, is something that shouldn’t be ignored, because it’s what makes up who we are. Even though Equino’s situation was truly horrible, it happened to him and his people, and it happened in part because of racism, which is something people should learn and understand so that it never happens again.
In everyday life I feel that because I am in a fraternity there is definitely a social construct to act and dress in a certain manner. The Greek life world is a social construct in that every region there is a certain way that one is expected to dress in a fraternity especially for events such as Carolina Cup I.e the Bowties and sun dresses for the ladies. If the proper wear is not practiced at an event like this it would be unheard of and that person might even be told they are unwelcome. However in northern fraternities there is no stigmatism to dress proper in any sense of the word, almost an opposite culture entirely, and going out west people sport cowboy hats! The Greek life organizations are an excellent example of social constructs to look at on varying levels from region to region.
So it is in my opinion that race is social construct that is not only necessary but vital to becoming enlightened and furthering our understanding of the world that we live in.

https://engl382fall2013.wordpress.com/readings/0922-equiano-interesting-narrative/

https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/omi-and-winant-racial-formation.pdf

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One thought on “Racism: A Social Construct

  1. You did a really good job of taking Equiano’s experiences and linking it up to the idea of race being a social construct. I thought the reference to both the white and black races point of view was interesting to see the construct from both sides. I liked your point on how race plays a role in who we are and where we came from. It’s interesting to think something that is a part of us can also trap us in these social stereotypes.
    I thought your social construct of what Greek life members are expected to do was really great! I was in Greek life and I can relate to the expectations on how you were to act in dress in those situations!
    Great Job!

    Grade: S

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