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Racial Hierarchy

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Racial Hierarchy

American Ethnicity

Final Exam Question

Racial Hierarchy

In reading and examining the arguments made by Blauner, Ture and Hamilton and Steinberg, I have come to realize or maybe just acknowledge more so, the many aspects of race, racism and its role within our nation. Not to say that I was oblivious to it (race) before this class, but I had not taken the opportunity before to examine it as closely as we have this semester. Primarily, I had associated race only to the color of one’s skin rather than what it is in actuality; a social construct. Although this social construct / racial hierarchy may change over time with political, economic and historical changes, it has been proven by empirical sociological evidence to be so deeply embedded within our society that it effects both directly and indirectly: 1) the discrimination utilized to mobilize or immobilize certain groups, 2) the stereotypes and stigmas impressed upon groups, and 3) the distribution of resource shares . Each of these three dynamics are central to the placement, progression and regression of racial groups, in which each effects the other in a constant cycle of discrimination, identifiablity, and resource shares (Aguirre & Turner). An excellent example of this cycle is in figure 2.1 on page 36 of our American Ethnicity books.

Groups that are easily identified to be different from the dominant group ethnicity are most likely to be a target of discrimination. This in turn effects their resource shares and consequently results in more of a distinction placed upon them. When this pattern of resource shares becomes evident it creates an association between race and socioeconomic status which, in effect, places stereotypes and social stigmas upon the racial group. This association is then legitimized by overrepresentation of that group within the designated socioeconomic status. In an example from Aguirre & Turner they state that if African Americans are consistently over represented in a lower social class it increases false legitimacy for the social stigma of “not measuring up” to societal standards. This then provides further basis for discrimination which directly effects their already inadequate resource shares and their location within the stratification system (Aguirre & Turner). How are they able to mobilize or progress if they do not have the proper resources needed to do so?

Discrimination has been a key strategy in the immobilization of many ethnic groups over time. It had been utilized against White European immigrants as well as non-white groups such as Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos. The difference between these groups is that these European ethnic groups tend to fit what Blauner called the “immigrant analogy,” while the other non-white minority groups did not. This immigrant analogy is the assumption that there are no long term differences in relation to the larger society (Blauner). There for the initial discrimination that European immigrants experience does subside over time, in which they are able to easily assimilate within the larger society. While the discrimination which non-white minority groups experience is persistent through time, in turn stunting their ability to mobilize, progress and assimilate within the larger society. Blauner described how Robert Park’s race relations cycle is a prime example of this. “On the question of black people, Park was ambivalent and ambiguous. At times he saw them as a group in the process of being assimilated, at other times as an exception to the cyclical scheme.” (Blauner, page 6) This became also known as the assimilation bias.

Ture and Hamilton acknowledge the discrimination of non-white minority groups in the following statement: “The one thing we black Americans have in common with the other colored peoples of the world is that we have all felt the cruel and ruthless heel of white supremacy. We have all been “niggerized” on one level or another. And all of us are determined to “deniggerize” the earth. To rid the world of niggers is the Black Man’s Burden, human reconstruction id the grand objective.” (Ture & Hamilton, page 39) Although Ture & Hamilton acknowledge the discrimination, strife and hardships of all non-white minority groups, they describe the African American’s experience to be a distinctive one because of slavery and other hardships they endured. They also state that it would be wrong to assimilate to the dominant society because discrimination and racism are so deeply engrained within society. Instead we have to reform and reconstruct our society in order to provide equality for its members. With regard to stereotypes and stigmas, African Americans had to be vilified as “lazy”, “apathetic”. “dumb“,

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