Racial Formation in the United Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Many white people were indentured servants. However, as slavery and blackness became increasingly common categories of negative description, the notion of slavery as a black and racial state of being became accepted, and black national identity of country origin was erased. The idea of white as racially non-black is also a relatively recent innovation. Once upon a time, Jews, Irish people, and Chinese people were considered alien, other, and non-white by European society. In the United States, however, although such groups were discriminated against, because of the early history of slavery, whiteness and blackness, free and slave, became the dominant categories within the American framework of thought about race.

Race can thus be transformed by societal change, self-definition, and political struggle, but it cannot be ignored or subsumed under ideas that class, gender, or national origins is what 'really' matters Omni and Winant analyze race's intersection with society on macro and micro level. At the macro level, when groups of people identify with or against a race they are more likely form collective social structures, such as affiliations of economic, political, and cultural origin. This requires a kind of micro level of racial identification in the lived experience of politics, society, and culture. For example, to apply this theory to a contemporary context, the discrimination experienced against persons with national origins in Asia and common United States experiences has created the concept of an Asian-American, although this category might include people with ancestors in both China and Japan, whose great-grandparents might have been national enemies. Micro-level identification and current macro-level identification in the contemporary context of the United States creates the 'Asian-American' racial category.

Gender may also impact the way that race is viewed, but it does not erase the category of race. For example, while many feminists may fight for the right of women to work, many black women have long worked, often in underpaid and ignored positions. The cultural solidarity of particular groups may differ within racial categories -- women who are black might have common issues to unite together, under a general banner of racial and gender unity, for example, but the category of 'women' or of 'lower class working women' cannot erase the fact that black women are perceived as different, and thus subject to different abuses, then women socially categorized in a different fashion. Race is a matter of history, current society, and how people see themselves and have been taught to see themselves -- it cannot be erased by the decisions of a few people that it doesn't 'really' matter, or that talk about race is 'always' talk about class, nation, ethnicity, or gender.

Works Cited

Omi, Michael & Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s. New…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Omi, Michael & Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s. New York: Routledge, 1986/1994.

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