Essay on Racial Formation Of The United States

Essay on Racial Formation Of The United States

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From Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s piece Racial Formation in the United States, they argue that “race” starts with a look at historical “racial formations” that is the “sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed” (21). This occurs through racial projects that link the representation and social structure of racial dynamics through ideology. This means the creation and reproduction of structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race, which is racism. Two groups to examine from the nineteenth century of the United States for the process of “racial formation” would be the Irish and the Chinese.
In the nineteenth century, millions of Irish crossed the Atlantic to America in search of employment having been pushed out of Ireland by English oppression that led to economic hardships and the Potato Famine that led to starvation and death. The Irish then came to a foreign land where they would permanently reside as well as beginning as the ““Other”-as “savages,” outside of “civilization,” and “wild”“ (Takaki 131). The Irish were racialized to have equal intelligence to that of blacks, at the time, as they were “slaves to their passions” given that they had large families while many Anglos kept from children through sexual restraint. Also, like blacks, they were punished for “negative traits”, as being fired for their “laziness, gambling,” and “drinking” (Takaki 141). They were targeted with hate for being catholic in a mainly protestant country, though they are still Christian which supports them later. The Irish were restrained as an unruly and disorderly class, so unre...


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...only ten percent made it through authority examination. A few years later, parents would be working long hours, in order, for their children to strive for an education. Similar to the Irish, this created mixed feelings given the clash of two cultures, which one felt a responsibility to their parents, yet wanted more independence and choice (Takaki 205).
The Chinese were not able to truly escape from the racialization of their persons, but they assimilated into American society regardless through much strife. In comparison, the Irish became “white” and so not just assimilated but integrated into American society with greater ease though not without struggle either. Ethnic solidarity in both groups happened to play a large role in how events played out. While the Irish were white, the greatest opportunity for the Chinese happened to be natural disaster, ironically.

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