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Ethnic Studies

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According to Omi and Winant, the term race can be defined as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.” From their framework of racial formation and concept of racial projects, Omi and Winant asserts that race is a matter of social structure and cultural representation that has been intertwined to shape the nature of racism. Racism has been seen since the events of early English colonization of the indigenous people and the racialization of African Americans through slavery, all in which the United States is molded upon as a nation. Thus, this social structure of domination has caused European colonials and American revolutionists to create racialized representations, policies, and structures in order to oppress indigenous and black populations in their respective eras.

The structure of a society is based on the concept of superiority and power which both “allocates resources and creates boundaries” between factors such as class, race, and gender (Mendes, Lecture, 09/28/11). This social structure can be seen in Andrea Smith’s framework of the “Three Pillars of White Supremacy.” The first pillar of white supremacy is the logic of slavery and capitalism. In a capitalist system of slavery, “one’s own person becomes a commodity that one must sell in the labor market while the profits of one’s work are taken by someone else” (Smith 67). From this idea of viewing slavery as a means of capitalism, Blacks were subjected to the bottom of a racial hierarchy and were treated nothing more than a property and commodity that is used for someone else’s benefit. The second pillar involves the logic of genocide and colonialism. With genocide, “Non-Native peoples th...

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... was imposed on the Indians. Finally, Edward Countryman foregrounds the significance of the American Revolution and its impact on the making of the U.S. as a nation.

Racial formation can be defined as “the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed” (Omi and Winant 55). Both Indians and African Americans were subject to this categorization of race. From Andrea Smith’s racial hierarchy system to Edward Countryman’s examination of projects of colonialism and slavery, the oppression of races, which connects both racialization and colonization, can be seen as the ideal in which the nation is built upon. The creation of racial representation, policies, and social structures seek to undermine other races as inferior, all the while justifying the acts of cruelty and deception in which the nation is founded on.
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