Race and the Enlightenment

I Found that Equino’s “Interesting Narrative” and Omni and Winant’s “Racial Formation” fit rather well together. “Racial Formation” Was more of a scientific view of how racial stereotypes are formed, while “Interesting Narrative” is a story by a boy who personally suffered the horrors of slavery. Omni and Winant define race as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.” Equiano’s personal view of racism and slavery aligns perfectly with this view. Near the end of chapter 2 in “Interesting Narrative,” he says “Learned you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends, to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice?” According two both authors, it seems that race stereotypes are tragic results of humankind attempting to make distinctions among ourselves.

I tend to think that race is more of a social construct than a biological trait- especially since nobody is able to succinctly specify the differences in the races.

However, this is not to undermine the very real fact of racial prejudices and other huge issues. I think that if, as a society, we were just starting out, we could definitely do without  these social constructs. However, since this is how we have been for hundreds of thousands of years, I don’t think we can do without the constructs at this point. Despite the terrible repercussions of racism, there are some positive effects of the recognition of race in our culture. The main thing is the appreciation of different cultures; the music, foods, the languages, and arts associated with each culture. If we could have a society with the positive celebration of differences, but none of the negative racism and hate crimes, this would be a the perfect society. Unfortunately, our world doesn’t work that way and sometimes, it takes knowing the bad to form the good. I think we have made progress as far as acceptance of different races, but we still have a long way to change and grow.

In my life, I find that a social construct that is often around me is that of greek life. Even though each greek life person is an individual with individual interests, sororities and fraternities have gained a certain image of all being the same in how they dress and act. I think this social construct would be hard to break, especially if it’s continually being reinforced. Although, It could be good in some ways, such as providing a uniform standard for a group of people to live up to.

Racial Formation:


“Interesting Narrative”


-Chrissy Harper


One thought on “Race and the Enlightenment

  1. Good response. I like how you applied the readings to strengthen your comments on our present day racial situation. You included all the necessary elements so you’ve earned an S

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