SO 342 Park University Unit 5 Role of Racism in Institutions Paper Introduction The purpose of this core assessment is to explain the role of race at the

SO 342 Park University Unit 5 Role of Racism in Institutions Paper Introduction

The purpose of this core assessment is to explain the role of race at the institutional level by analyzing data, existing literature, and applied concepts from the class. Choose one institution and research the practices within it which result in different outcomes for different racial groups. Include academic research and statistical information on these outcomes. Explain how this practice occurs, its overall social impacts, and propose changes to alleviate it.

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For this outline assignment you need to provide an outline of your paper. For the outline you will need:

Thesis: Clear statement summarizing entire paper, with specific claim being made and scope of paper.
Sources: a list of four academic, scholarly, peer-reviewed resources, and any data sources (statistical info) planning to be used.
Evidence for Thesis, including topics to be discussed and information to be included about topics. Must be specific with content of what will be used, bullet points with short phrases indicating content.
Clear line of connection between points that indicates integration and comprehensiveness. Unit 1: Race as a Social Construction
The most fundamental concept to understand in this course is that race is not real (though it is
real it its consequences). Race is a social construction. Race, and racial divisions are not natural
or biological, but are socially determined rules from which we use physical referents to divide
people into arbitrary categories. There is not a single biological or physical trait that all people
within a racial group share. While societies have created rules from which to place a person in a
racial group, each racial group has wide variety in skin color, hair color and texture, eye color,
body size and shape, facial features, and genetic makeup.
Twins can have the same DNA, but be different races
National Geographic- Black and White
As described by the American Sociological Association:
“Sociology uses and critiques the concepts of race and ethnicity, connecting them to the idea of
majority and minority groups and social structures of inequality, power, and stratification.
“Race” refers to physical differences that groups and cultures consider socially significant, while
“ethnicity” refers to shared culture, such as language, ancestry, practices, and beliefs.
The sociological perspective explores how race and ethnicity are socially constructed and how
individuals identify with one or more. Research demonstrates how they are linked to social
Unit 1: Race as a Social Construction
position and to political and policy debates about issues such as immigration, identity
formation, and inter-group relations (including racism).”
Race and Ethnicity- American Sociological Association
What does ‘black’ and ‘white’ look like anyway? Image of President Obama with his maternal
grandfather (right). What Does “Black” and “White” Look Like Anyway? Obama and his
RACE – The Power of an Illusion
Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race
Our eyes tell us that people look different. No one has trouble distinguishing a Czech
from a Chinese. But what do those differences mean? Has the idea of race always been
with us? Is skin color more than skin deep? How does race affect people today?
There’s less – and more – to race than meets the eye:
1. Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people
according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, gender, class,
even language. The English language didn’t even have the word ‘race’ until it
turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring to a line of kings.
Unit 1: Race as a Social Construction
2. Race has no genetic basis. Not one characteristic, trait or even one gene
distinguishes all the members of one so-called race from all the members of
another so-called race.
3. Human subspecies don’t exist. Unlike many animals, modern humans simply
haven’t been around long enough or populations isolated enough to evolve into
separate subspecies or races. Despite surface appearances, we are among the
most similar of all species.
4. Skin color really is only skin deep. Most traits are inherited independently from
one another. The genes influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes
influencing hair form, height, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of
intelligence. Knowing one trait, like skin color, doesn’t necessarily tell you
anything else about a person’s other traits.
5. Most variation is within, not between, “races.” Of the small amount of total
human genetic variation, 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians,
Kurds, Koreans or Cherokees. About 94% can be found within any continent.
That means two random Koreans may be as genetically different as a Korean
and an Italian.
6. Slavery predates race. Throughout much of human history, societies have
enslaved others, often as a result of conquest or war, even debt, but not because
of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority. Due to a unique set of
historical circumstances, ours was the first slave system where all the slaves
shared similar physical characteristics.
7. Race and freedom evolved together. The U.S. was founded on the radical new
idea that “All men are created equal.” But our early economy was based largely
on slavery. How could this anomaly be rationalized? The new idea of race helped
explain why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others
took for granted.
8. Race justified social inequalities as natural. As the idea of race took hold,
white superiority became “common sense” in white America. It rationalized not
only slavery but also the extermination of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants,
and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that otherwise professed a deep
belief in liberty and equality. Racialized practices became institutionalized within
American government, laws, and society and persist even though de
jure segregation ended.
9. Race isn’t biological, but racism is still real. Racism is a powerful social force
that gives people different access to opportunities and resources. Our
government and social institutions disproportionately, albeit often invisibly,
channel wealth, power, and resources to the “unmarked” race – white people.
This affects everyone, whether we are aware of it or not.
Unit 1: Race as a Social Construction
10. Colorblindness will not end racism. Pretending race doesn’t exist is not the
same as creating equality. Racism is more than stereotypes and individual
prejudice. To tackle racism, we need to identify and remedy social policies and
institutional practices that advantage some groups at the expense of others.
Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race-California NewsReel
Other resources:
On the social construction of race:
Black and White Twins and the Social Construction of Race
American Anthropological Association
Glossaries of Sociological Terminology:
Other Sociologist
Introduction to Sociology- Glossary
Unit 2: How the Idea of Race Changes over Time and Place
This week’s readings cover a range of topics that exemplify the ways in which race is
multidimensional, politically constituted, ever evolving and, therefore, not rooted in any natural
or inherent divisions. More importantly, they address the ways in which race is tied to power,
and that racial stigmatization and exclusion result in limited access to resources. Those who
benefit from these processes, those who do not face these forms of discrimination, have racial
privilege, as well as political and social power and authority.
Native Americans, (referred to as First Nations people, American Indians, and by their tribal
affiliation), have systematically been excluded from the resources of their lands since the first
Unit 2: How the Idea of Race Changes over Time and Place
European contact in what is now the United States.
Map of Native Land.
As a result of this systemic violence, Native Americans suffer from the highest levels of poverty
in the country. Additionally, through centuries of cultural genocide in which Native children
were forcibly taken from their families and forced to become Christian, speak English, and wear
the clothing of their colonizers, the result has been a loss of languages and culture for many
tribes. Representations in popular culture, including continued use as mascots for sports teams,
depict Native peoples as culturally inferior, uncivilized, animalistic savages rather than culturally
rich and diverse modern peoples of today, symbolically erasing them from visual
representation. After being removed from their land and forced onto reservation lands deemed
“useless”, today many reservations face fights from groups who now find the land useful in
regards to oil reserves and work to undermine the protections they face, such as the Dakota
Access Pipeline fight. The United States was constructed, and continues to be, in relation to
this history of colonization and genocide. The establishing documents, legal structures,
citizenship definitions were all defined in relation to the question around Native Americans and
where they ‘fit’ in the narrative of democracy. Every aspect of American identity was, and
continues to be, centered around questions of belonging, immigration, land and property
rights, citizenship and autonomy, nature and the environment, each of which is defined in
relation to the place of Native Americans in our national narrative.
Unit 2: How the Idea of Race Changes over Time and Place
As a political strategy in a fight for recognition, Okamoto and Mora describe panethnicity
identity movements occurring amongst Asian and Latin American ethnic groups, as well as the
effects of doing so in reductionism and assumed sameness across these diverse groups. In
order to create visibility, as well as to organize around shared experiences, ethnic groups create
political coalitions around shared identities as a strategy for recognition and resources.
The third reading this week highlight another complexity of race through describing the
racialization of Muslim people in the United States. Despite the fact that the majority of Muslim
people in the world are in Asia and Africa, in the US, Muslim is often used to denote people
who are Arab from the Middle East, due to the geopolitical relationships, and the racial
othering tied to war and conflict. This clear example shows how racial groups are formed
through relationships of power, and exclusion; as well as their changing form.
“What Census Calls Us: A Historical Timeline”
Measuring Race and Ethnicity Across the Decades: 1790-2010
Native American Land Appropriation Over Time
American Sociological Association, Statement on Use of Native American Nicknames, Logos,
and Mascots
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
Color-blind Ideology
Post-Racial Ideology
Optional Ethnicity
Model Minority
In order to fully understand how race operates in U.S. society, and how it is stratified in ways
that privilege and disadvantages different races, it is necessary to explore the concept of
Whiteness. This examines how “white” is a socially constructed racial category, and how white
culture has been established as the ‘norm’ of society. To critically examine whiteness is to
recognize the way in which it works as a ‘default’ which often renders it invisible. In public
discourse, to talk about race, often is a discussion of people of color. However, to understand
the power hierarchy and the mechanism by which white people receive racial privilege requires
a deconstruction of the category of ‘white’. The myth of the ‘color-blind’ society, which
perpetuates the idea that if we ignore race, it will go away, refuses to acknowledge the
hegemony, or dominant ideology, that embeds whiteness into the highest position of the social
order. This allows the most ‘sophisticated’ culture, ‘proper’ behaviors, ‘correct’ ways of
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
speaking, ‘fanciest’ dress, most ‘important’ histories, to not be seen for their racialized
undertones and to operate as ‘inherently’ the ‘best’ of society that all should strive for, or be
judged in relation to. However, whiteness is constructed just as all racial categories. To
identify successful people of color, or to argue that race is ‘no longer an issue’ in contemporary
society ignores the deeply embedded political and social functions of the racial system that
results in unequal advantages and disadvantages along racial lines. To “not see race” is to not
see racism. The category of whiteness has changed over time to include or exclude different
racialized others based on social citizenship and power. As different ethnic groups came to be
seen as white, they gained social status and privilege, at the expense of those they were
distinguished from. The most recognized example is when Irish immigrants first came to the
United States, they were depicted in popular magazines as ape-like. This shows us that the
dehumanization of a racial or ethnic group is not related to skin color, but to low social status.
See more examples in The Society Pages- Sociological Images
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
Whiteness, as understood to be a ‘pure’ racial category, due to the social rules of hypodescent,
is exemplified through former U.S. president Barak Obama. While Obama’s mother was a white
woman, and father a black man, Obama was referred to as the first black president, and never
the 44th white president. Additionally, even though Obama’s children have a white
grandparent, they are never referred to as biracial, but always black. This indicates that while
Obama might be seen as biracial, when passing on his racial group to his kids, he is seen as
black only.
“Colorblindness vs. Race-Consciousness: An American Ambivalence”
“Why Colorblindness Will Not End Racism”
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
Privileges tied to being part of the dominant racial group are often denied, or made invisible, despite
their pervasiveness. Whiteness as a hegemonic form, the dominant ideological construct operates, in
part, by denying its existence or making privilege invisible. Arguing for a ‘color-blind’ ideology,
ignores systemic racial inequality and privilege. This unit’s readings examine how whiteness and
privilege operate to maintain inequalities.
Unit Learning Outcomes
At the conclusion of the unit, the learner will be able to:
Recognize racial privilege and its manifestations in all aspects of social order. (CLO 1,4,5)
Explain inequality as a result of racial privilege. (CLO 1,4,5)
Analyze the political strategies of color-blind and post-racial ideology. (CLO 1,4,5)
Evaluate contemporary occurrences of social media use to illustrate racial privilege. (CLO 1,4,5)
Readings and Materials
1. Textbook Readings
1. Reading 13: Charles Gallager, “Color-Blind Privilege: The Social and Political Functions of
Erasing the Color Line in Post-Race America”
2. Reading 14: Margaret Hunter, “Buying Racial Capital: Skin-Bleaching and Cosmetic Surgery
in a Globalized World”
3. Reading 15: Herbert Gans, “The Possibility of a New Racial Hierarchy in the Twenty-First
Century United States”
4. Reading 20: George Lipsitz, “The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: Racialized Social
READ The Following:
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
Optional Ethnicities: For Whites Only?
By Mary Waters
Mary Waters, a professor of sociology at Harvard University, is the author of Ethnic Options: Choosing Ethnic Identities in America
(1990) and Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities (2000).
What does it mean to talk about ethnicity as an option for an individual? To argue that an individual has
some degree of choice in their ethnic identity flies in the face of the commonsense notion of ethnicity
many of us believe in—that one’s ethnic identity is a fixed characteristic, reflective of blood ties and
given at birth. However, social scientists who study ethnicity have long concluded that while ethnicity is
based on a belief in a common ancestry, ethnicity is primarily a social phenomenon, not a biological one
(Alba 1985, 1990; Barth 1969; Weber [1921] 1968, p. 389). The belief that members of an ethnic group
have that they share a common ancestry may not be a fact. There is a great deal of change in ethnic
identities across generations through intermarriage, changing allegiances, and changing social
categories. There is also a much larger amount of change in the identities of individuals over their lives
than is commonly believed. While most people are aware of the phenomenon known as “passing”—
people raised as one race who change at some point and claim a different race as their identity— there
are similar life-course changes in ethnicity that happen all the time and are not given the same degree of
attention as racial passing.
White Americans of European ancestry can be described as having a great deal of choice in terms of
their ethnic identities. The two major types of options White Americans can exercise are (1) the option
of whether to claim any specific ancestry, or to just be “White” or American (Lieberson [1985] called
these people “unhyphenated Whites”) and (2) the choice of which of their European ancestries to
choose to include in their description of their own identities. In both cases, the option of choosing how
to present yourself on surveys and in everyday social interactions exists for Whites because of social
changes and societal conditions that have created a great deal of social mobility, immigrant assimilation,
and political and economic power for Whites in the United States. Specifically, the option of being able
to not claim any ethnic identity exists for Whites of European background in the United States because
they are the majority group—in terms of holding political and social power, as well as being a numerical
majority. The option of choosing among different ethnicities in their family backgrounds exists because
the degree of discrimination and social distance attached to specific European backgrounds has
diminished over time….
Symbolic Ethnicities for White Americans
What do these ethnic identities mean to people and why do they cling to them rather than just
abandoning the tie and calling themselves American? My own field research with suburban Whites in
California and Pennsylvania found that later-generation descendants of European origin maintain what
are called “symbolic ethnicities.” Symbolic ethnicity is a term coined by Herbert Gans (1979) to refer to
ethnicity that is individualistic in nature and without real social cost for the individual. These symbolic
identifications are essentially leisure-time activities, rooted in nuclear family traditions and reinforced by
the voluntary enjoyable aspects of being ethnic (Waters 1990). Richard Alba (1990) also found
latergeneration Whites in Albany, New York, who chose to keep a tie with an ethnic identity because of
the enjoyable and voluntary aspects to those identities, along with the feelings of specialness they
entailed. An example of symbolic ethnicity is individuals who identify as Irish, for example, on occasions
such as Saint Patrick’s Day, on family holidays, or for vacations. They do not usually belong to Irish
SO342. Unit 3. Racial Privilege, Ideology, and the Construction of Whiteness
American organizations, live in Irish neighborhoods, work in Irish jobs, or marry other Irish people. The
symbolic meaning of being Irish American can be constructed by individuals from mass media images,
family traditions, or other intermittent social activities. In other words, for later-generation White
ethnics, ethnicity is not something that influences their lives unless they want it to. In the world of work
and school and neighborhood, individuals do not have to admit to being ethnic unless they choose to.
And for an increasing number of European-origin individuals whose parents and grandparents have
intermarried, the ethnicity they claim is largely a matter of personal choice as they sort through all of the
possible combinations of groups in their genealogies….
Race Relations and Symbolic Ethnicity
However much symbolic ethnicity is without cost for the individual, there is a cost associated with
symbolic ethnicity for the society. That is because symbolic ethnicities of the type described here are
confined to White Americans of European origin. Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans,
and American India…
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