Race, Class, Gender Review

This textbook argues that racism is still present in America although it is practiced in an institutional, nonracial way. Whereas before the 1960’s racial inequality was based on color of the skin, biological make-up and moral inferiority, modern approach to racism takes on a more subtle manner. The “whites’ insists that American society today “do not judge a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his character”. In other words, in America today a black man is no longer excluded, discriminated or treated harshly just because he is Black.

Yet, in spite of that, the whites continued to retain their supremacy or maintained to enjoy greater economic privileges than the Blacks while the Blacks, on the other hand, remained to be generally poor, less wealthy and received inferior education. The question is just how this is possible when all men in modern America, regardless of their race, are supposed to have free access to opportunities. The answer is because “New Racism” is in operation in America today (Bonilla-Sevilla, 2001, 131-132). New racism is responsible for sustaining the supremacy of the whites over the Blacks.

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New racism is “color-blind” racism that operates by not directly making the Black feel an outcast or inferior because of their color but by making the Black think that their sad plight is largely due to market dynamics, naturally occurring phenomena, and presumed cultural deficiencies. Color-blind racism tends to be more impregnable than color racism because it is not based on absolutes (like all Blacks are this or that …) but on exceptions that makes it easy for the whites to defend their superior position.

The four central frames of color-blind racism are: 1) Abstract Liberalization, 2) Naturalization, 3) Biologization of culture, and 4) Minimization of Racism (Bonilla-Sevilla, 2001, 132). Abstract Liberalization exercised preference to white but makes the effort to hide their “racist” or prejudiced ideas in the cloak of liberalization. For example, regarding romance, a white woman may state that she likes white men but may add that if a black man comes along and she falls in love with him, the white-black issue will not make a difference.

Or for a job position a certain white man may say that everybody has equal opportunities to rise to the top but since that position requires education and experienced, it seems preferable that a white man take it. In the two examples, it is obvious that Blacks are not the primary choice although in the name of liberalism an effort is made not to make it appear as if it is so (Bonilla-Sevilla, 2001, 133-134). Naturalization is another tactic of exercising racism based on the argument that “it is just the way it is”.

Whites may argue that they do not think that segregation in school or in the neighborhood is racially motivated, but explain that the reason why whites do not mingle or make friends with the Blacks or minority group and vice versa is because they do not feel comfortable with each other or that it is just natural to go with the people that one can identify with (Bonilla-Sevilla,2001, 134-135). Biologization of culture may be regarded as a subtle version of putting blame on the biological inferiority of the Blacks or other minorities.

That is, modern times discards the idea that Blacks are inferior because they are born black, yet shifts the blame to the deficiency of their culture. For example, Whites may argue that Blacks are poor because they lack the drive to succeed or to make their lives better (Bonilla-Sevilla, 2001, 135-136). Minimization of racism, on the other hand, means that although the Whites agree that racial inequality may still be a problem in American society today they do not consider it as worthy of attention or that it is actually a result of racism as the Blacks do.

For example, a White person may reasoned that the Blacks are poor because they do not make the best out of their situations and not because they were discriminated (Bonilla-Sevilla, 2001, 136-137). I had observed that the above statements are true. As I am nearing my fifties, I had seen the evolution of the idea of racism in American society. Generally, modern Americans do think it is absurd or unfair to judge people by their color. In fact, they strongly opposed the idea.

Yet there is this “unspoken” belief of the Whites that the Blacks generally lack the drive to succeed although the former try to shake it off or try to understand where they come from. I think the reason for this belief is largely due to the economic success of other minority groups like the Asians. I feel that most Whites do not think this belief can be classified as racist. They may try to justify by saying that they are just stating the facts. Class in America -2006 Gregory Mantsios Mantsios talks about modern America’s effort to eradicate class differences or distinctions.

Most Americans would find it strictly “un-American” to mention the word “upper class” or “working class” for they held on to the idea that America is a classless society who provided equal opportunities for all. People who are rich would likely refer to themselves as “people who have something” while the poor will likely blame their race or ethnic group of their poverty. It seems that the American populace (as promulgated by the media) would like to evade the issue of class distinctions, in order not to tarnish America’s reputation as a land of golden opportunities.

America prefers more to be referred to as a middle class society, where the bulk of the American population is supposed to belong. However, facts revealed that class differences in America today is indeed sharp. America’s wealthiest 1 percent holds 34% of the national wealth, its rich 20 % holds 84% of total household wealth while 13% (or 1 out of 8) of Americans live below the poverty line. And facts revealed that this gap continues to widen as the years go by. For example, in 2004 the average real income of 99% of Americans grow by only 1 % while the richest 1 percent enjoyed a 12% increase.

The idea of the presence of a majority of middle class cannot suffice the wide gap of economic inequality for this middle class in reality holds a small share of the nation’s wealth. What middle class do is to disguise the poverty of the Americans through its appearance, for example, “America has the best dressed poor in the world”. Yet the fact cannot be erased that because of the unequal distribution of income or wealth, aside from differences in lifestyles, America is faced with unequal opportunities for education and health care (Mantsios, 2006, 182-194).

Class distinctions became an issue with my parents. My father’s rich family did not want him to marry my poor mother because according to them she could not even afford to fix her teeth. Fortunately, their love prevailed, they got married and both finished college and earned an incredible amount of wealth. My father recognized that education played a big role in our family’s success and he stressed early on to us the importance of a college degree. I can see that class distinctions is really in existence in America and this distinctions tend to limit one’s opportunities ( like who to marry ).

Dismissing “Sexist opinions” about Women’s place in Science Cornelia Dean Cornelia Dean relates the experience of a transgendered scientist Ben A. Barres taken in an interview. Barres was a woman who undergone surgery to transform into a man. Since he lived a life representing two sexes, he has a firsthand experience of how men and women are treated in society. Barres relates an incident wherein he was the only person who solved a particular problem and since he was still a woman at that time his teacher accused him of cheating.

His teacher said that perhaps it was his boyfriend who solved the problem for “her”. Barres also relates another incident of sexism in a prestigious competition when he took his Ph. D at Harvard. His Dean assured him of winning because according to him, Barres application was so much better than the other graduate student was yet in the end he was not nominated because he was a woman (Dean, 2006, 305 & 307). Barres claimed that gender bias on women are manifested in their difficulty to get a job or to acquire big grants and to have the resources to be successful.

Barres further revealed that women are made to feel less able and emotional and fit for the home only that consequently undermines most women’s self-confidence. Barres defended women by saying said that in reality women could work hard as men when given the opportunity and that men are more emotional for they committed most of the murders. Barres used himself as an example, stating that as a born woman, he is passionate about his work and spends hours and hours in his lab. Although more and more women now are becoming scientists, most of them are found in biology and less in the engineering field.

In other words, there is still less acceptance of women being scientifically gifted (Dean, 2006, 306). One of my experiences of “sexism” happened when I was an intern at Grady Memorial Hospital. I remember a doctor asking me to go to a kitchen and get him a cookie. Here I was in a field that was predominately gendered base (female) and a physician (male) asking me, a licensed medical professional, to basically fetch him a cookie from the place where I belonged (the kitchen). It seems that this physician, like most men, believed that aside from my professional duties, I am still expected to perform domestic work (as any woman should).