Social Constructs

Race is an intangible, objective idea, as well as a social construct. What I mean by this is that before the imaginary confines of society put an ever-growing symbol behind this idea of race, it carried no more weight than its face value. Thousands of years ago, it wasn’t exactly amongst top priorities to record peoples skin color via censuses. Omi and Winant touch briefly on the question of “what is race?”. I love the way they describe it as both an essence that is concrete and objective, as well as an illusion that is purely ideological. One thing they said that I agree strongly with is that, “race is a matter of both social structure and cultural representation” (Omi & Winant). What I take from this, is that race, if I may state the obvious, is often a strong visual representation of the culture people consider themselves to be a part of. This is what race is on a basic level and what it will always be. On the flip side, and more importantly if you ask me, over time race has become much more than just skin color. Through a horrific history, race has evolved similarly to the people who inhabit these races. This quote by Euqiano does well to show the effects of this history, and illustrate the point that I want to make, “Every circumstance I met with, served only to render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions, and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites” (Euqiano). My reason for choosing this particular quote is because when answering the question of if race has been constructed socially or not, we must not assume that this means our immediate society.

Race has been in the formation process arguably since the dawn of man. Race in this instance referring to the symbol of race as opposed to the skin color/cultural representation side. The symbol of race can be compared lightly to an idea that Euqiano showed time and time again throughout his narrative, and that is that people enjoy being around those that they can communicate with easily. Thus, an inability of communication and understanding is what I feel led to the whites being absolute ass holes to the blacks. The idea of race, and that we should only be comfortable around those that are like us, is something that we should do with out; but, there is not even the slightest possibility of that. People today are expected to have a level of common sense that would, in theory, make it so that they couldn’t hate someone simply due to race, but that is just not the case. Instead, people use conformation bias to support stereotypes, which leads to a negative view of a group of people. It is the farthest thing from necessary in my eyes, but the truth is that I don’t think humans, as we exist today, could go on without acknowledging it simply because of all the history it has. I don’t feel that we need it because if people were smart enough to look past it, we would have one less problem to worry about, which in our world, sounds like a damn good thing to me. We could begin moving along as a human race, the way we should be moving along.

In regards to finding other social constructs, my answer is kind of vague because most of them are started in the same way. As I mentioned earlier, about confirmation bias, stereotypes (which are the stem of social constructs) rely heavily on the confirmation of some idea. For example, people think Asian woman are bad drivers because five out of ten times when you drive past someone doing something stupid on the road, it turns out to be an Asian woman. Though this is a stupid stereotype, because obviously it is illogical to say that an entire gender in a particular race is bad at driving, people still feel this way because of the incredibly small percentage that happen to pass by them. Stereotypes are stereotypes because in many cases they are true, the problem is that these seem to carry more power than common sense. Sad, isn’t it?

 

 

JL

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One thought on “Social Constructs

  1. I liked how you Incorporated your own opinions throughout the entire writing and you used the Omi and Winant sources in an effective manner as well as the Equiano reading. Although, as you even said yourself that your example is vague for a social construct in your own life, you managed to elaborate enough to give reason for your example. Good work!
    Grade: S

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