Ethnic Studies

1162 Words3 Pages

Race has no biological meaning. There is only one human race; there are no subspecies, no single defining characteristic, traits, or even gene, separates one “race” from another. Instead of being a biological concept, race is a social construct, and a relatively modern one at that. It was created to give light-skinned Europeans an advantage by making the white race superior and all others inferior. Throughout its history, the concept of race has served this purpose well. Ancient civilizations, although they practiced slavery, did not classify people based on race, but on other characteristics, such as religion and status. The concept of race first developed in the 18th century, as a way for slaveholders to justify slavery and secure their economic security. They called upon science to classify what it was that made the races different from one another, both physically and mentally, so that a clear distinction could be made. Thomas Jefferson included racial commentary in his writings, On the State of Virginia in 1784. He said that blacks were inferior to whites in “endowments of body and mind” (My Mix Reel handout). His view was similar to many whites’ at the time. If such a claim was true, it would be only natural that blacks should serve their white owners. Slaveholders were also concerned about the danger of slaves becoming familiar with freed whites. They drafted slave codes that were intended to “dishonor the blacks and thereby elevate the poor white without actually having to give them anything,” (Harris). The poor whites did not have power or influence, but because they were white they at least had a natural superiority over blacks. This helped to segregate them from the slaves, who they also viewed as posse... ... middle of paper ... ...Americans: Resisting Oppression, 1860s-1920s” • Handout from Week 4/Week 5: My Mix Reel • Hazel McFerson: “Asians and African Americans in Historical Perspective, Part 2” • Gary Okihiro: “Regions of Fire,” Island World • Gary Okihiro: “Screening Oceania,” Island World Other works used, but no direct quotes taken from: • Gary Okihiro: “Is Yellow Black or White? Revisited” • Robert G. Lee: “Foreword,” East Main Street • California Newsreel: “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race” • American Anthropological Association: “Statement on Race” • Heyck: “Chronology of Latino Events,” Barrios and Boderlands • Francisco H. Vazquez and Rodolfo D. Torres: “Comparative Chronology…Asian American History Timeline” • Political cartoon, 1898, “Hurrah for the Fourth of July” • Week 4/5: My Mix Reel – 1800s • Handout from week 4/5:1800-1990 Driving Forces

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