Is Race a Social Construct?

Equiano’s “Interesting Narrative” and Omi and Winant’s “Racial Formation” tie together very well I think. Equiano’s story was about a black boy who was kidnapped from his home and sold to whites for slavery while Omi and Winant discussed an issue how a descendent of an 18th century white planter and a black slave was claimed to be black on her birth certificate just because she has a portion of “negro blood” in her. Both of these articles give examples of different types of racial issues back in the enlightenment period. Both are showing problems with race against blacks.

Equiano explained, “the change I now experienced was as painful as it was sudden and unexpected. It was a change indeed, from a state of bliss to a scene which is inexpressible by me, as it discovered to me an element I had never before beheld, and till then had no idea of, and wherein such instances of hardship and cruelty continually occurred, as I can never reflect on but with horror.” This sentence really proves how tough his life was a how cruelly he was treated just because the color of his skin. I think that race was definitely a social construct because of the simple fact that he was treated differently just because he was black. It is a case of discrimination and its something that should not happen because its wrong. Nobody should be treated differently because the color of their skin.

Omi and Winant stated, “the designation of racial categories and the determination of racial identity is no simple task.” This statement is very true because problems with race not only occurred back then but still happen in today’s society. It isn’t easy to talk about because its a sensitive issue coming from everything that has happened in the past.

I believe that race is a social construct but it is something we could do without. The color of someones skin should NOT matter in how they are treated or what kind of jobs they get, etc. Our society has come along way with race discrimination since the old days but it still could use some work. There is always something in the news about someone or something being “racist”.

I also feel like gender roles is a social construct in today’s society. Although women can do everything men can, we are still seen as weaker. We are all called ditzy and dumb just because we are female. Even statistics say that men make more money than women and more men are CEO’s than women. Even if that is true, why should it be brought to our attention? Because some women do make more money than men and many women are CEO’s of companies. Also, some men still believe that the wife should stay home and take care of the children when who’s to say the man can’t. This is not a huge problem but its still a social construct that should not even be an issue. I think men and women are completely equal just like whites and blacks.

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One thought on “Is Race a Social Construct?

  1. I think you did a great job taking both the readings and applying them to this idea of race as a social construct. I particularly liked your Omi and Winant quote because I think it frames the dilemma of what to do with race well very. I thought the idea of gender roles as a social construct was awesome! It goes with this whole idea that society treats people differently based on their perceived qualities that make certain people “lesser”.

    Overall great job!

    Grade: S

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