Race is a social construct. Our human brains work to sort information in neat categories. Thus, since we observe differences in skin color, we tend to subconsciously categorize based on those differences. A good example of this is present in Equiano’s “Interesting Narrative”. In Equiano’s story, he grows up in Africa, never before seeing white people but immediately after meeting them he begins to categorize them based on his social observations of them. He says “Every circumstance I met with, severed only to render my state more painful, and heightened my apprehensions and my opinion of the cruelty of the whites. The whites that he was captured by are no means a unanimous example of how all whites were during the enlightenment, but because of their behavior, Equiano begins to form racial opinions of difference based on skin color.
In Omni and Winant’s “Racial Formation”, they define race as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies”. This definition highlights the fact that race is nothing more than something created by social and political circumstances throughout time. In other words we made something out of nothing. Race is a man-made thing and categorizing people based on skin color is often racist, unfair, or at the least discriminatory. Even so, I do not think that race is something that we can get rid of from our society, nor do I think that it would be a good idea even if it was possible. Instead of deeming social, cultural, or racial, differences as “weird” or “bad” we should embrace and celebrate our differences. Instead of saying that race is only skin deep and that inside we are all the same, we should acknowledge whatever differences there may or may not be, embrace them and use them to create a sense of self-worth and uniqueness without gaining the mentality of being better or worse than the next person.
A social construct in my life is one that pertains to English majors. As an English major, people always thing that I am supposed to be able to spell everything correctly. Sometimes friends will ask me how to spell a particular word and I reply “I am not sure, google it” and they respond with “aren’t you an english major? You should know how to spell yadayada yada”. I hate it. Also I hate when people expect english majors to have read every book. I like to write, read, and all that but at the end of the day I’m just a regular guy. I’m sure all of us English majors are regular people. The rest of the world needs to shed their socially constructed nonage about our people!