Racial Formation Essay

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Racial Formation in the United States
In the United States, racial relations have changed drastically over a relatively short time period. In Racial Formation in the United States From the 1960s to the 1990s, authors Michael Omi and Howard Winant present several viewpoints on evolving and differing racial theories while presenting their own findings and theories that have resulted from years of study and observation. They believe the present and past theories on race and racial definitions throughout history, individually, are severely inaccurate when applied to modern day and “[fail] to capture the centrality of race in American politics and American life” (p. 2). They argue that race is much more complex than how it has been presented and offer up their own theories in order to rectify previously believed notions of race.

What Are Race and Racism?
As a whole, racism is largely focused on individual people and very specific acts of oppression against very specific groups of people. But how do you define race? Omi and Winant (1994) argue that race and racism definitions as a whole are limited because they “neglect the institutional and ideological nature of race in America” (p. 10). Race relations are so ingrained in American culture that a 'true' definition of race has never been properly established. The narrow focus on individuals fails to note the impact racism has on society as a whole, especially in politics (Omi and Winant, p. 15). The authors also quote Glazer and Moynihan (1963) stating that ethnic groups are not solely bound by skin color or even by place of origin, but more commonly by “ties of interest” (Omi and Winant p. 18). By defining race and ethnicity by biological means, the fact that these ethnic and racia...

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...r class, white majority benefit heavily from preventing minorities from climbing up the economic ladder. This approach would only be possible if “countervailing irrationalities can be tamed by limited and judicious state intervention” (p. 24-25).

With their new theory of racial formation within the United States, Omi and Winant encourage society to stray away from thinking of race on a purely biological or purely sociological scale and view it more on perpetually shifting spectrum that will forever change as society changes. Race and racism, while progressively getting better, is still prevalent in the United States today. With this new model of race relations, Omi and Winant present a progressive way of viewing the role of race within America that may lead to the elimination of oppression and the advancement of minority groups and Americans as a whole.

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