(A view of what attributes are associated with being Black through the lens of the black-white binary, essentialism and other theories.)
The classification of race goes far beyond skin color. Race has historically been socially constructed and has strongly influenced, if not completely jaded, the way all races are defined and perceived. Take for instance the survey that was recently taken by the Washing Posts article, “Is Barack Obama ‘black’? A Majority of Americans Say No,” on the racial identity of President Barack Obama. The central focus captured how Hispanics and Whites compared to Blacks, racially categorized President Barack Obama. A high percentage of Hispanics and Whites considered President Obama as being mixed; whereas a high percentage of Blacks categorized him as being Black. Why do Blacks and Whites differ in their labeling of racial identity? This paper will try to explore this question through the lens of essentialism, the black-white binary, white supremacy, and capitalism.
Framework/ Historical Context
Certain things are consider when boxing individuals into a certain race. These things are the following: education, financial status, dialect, cultural practices, and religion. The White race is typically associated with the superior end of each of these categories. While on the other hand the Black race falls at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. This rather rigid ideology can be better explained through essentialism. Essentialism is when cultural identities are defined through the dominant culture’s lenses. Factually, certain characteristics, physical features, and traits were assigned to certain races. As part of the assignment process, the desirable traits were attributed...
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...n Shawshank Redemption, Glory and Bruce Almighty, all further that point. Another example would be Samuel L. Jackson, the stereotypical “angry black man/ villain.” Pulp Fiction, Django, Lakeview Terrace, all help perpetuate this stereotype. There is this recent commercial by Capital One, with Samuel L. Jackson as the speaker. Dressed in suit, he goes through the commercial, with angles zooming in on his eyes and facial expressions, which are rather intense in effort to persuade its viewers that Capital One is the way to go. As if all of these things were not enticing enough, Mr. Jackson’s dialogue ends with their slogan, “Now tell me what’s in your wallet Mother ******.” Was this necessary, I am sure it was not but whenever a black actor or actress is portrayed in the media their stereotypes must follow in order for viewers to correctly identify with that person.
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