Social construction of race




Social construction of race

Human identity and perceptions are defined by many parameters and factors. In a society, issues like race, gender, economic, political and cultural concepts determine relationships and perceptions. Race and ethnicity are two common words that demonstrate human identity, way of life, origin and social orientation. As an American immigrant, social constructions, globalization, interactions and personal experiences have been major determinants of my perceptions and way of life.

Everyone has his or her unique ethnic or racial definition. I am an Arabic speaking person. I am originally from Middle East. I do not have much experience in America having stayed in the country for about 4 years. I am an international student on F1 Visa studying information system technology. The studies have been funded by the government scholarship. I have loved America and would have wished to stay here longer. However, I feel that my acquired skills and experiences are needed more in the Middle East. I plan to go back to my country and work there.

Arabs have unique identity and way of life. The societal culture is characterized by collective norms and traditional family values. We are a heterogeneous people. Our identity is largely defined by genealogy, language, religion and culture. I have encountered several race based messages and conversations. With the growing threat of terrorism and global insecurity, there has been a perception that Arab Muslims in general are terrorists. When I came to the US, four years ago, during a general conversation with friends, one friend asked what I feel about these perceptions. This was the first time that I was directly I feel being perceived as a terrorist because of my race.

Race, ethnicity, and gender have been used by segregationists to achieve their personal and divisive agendas. Historically, the blacks were exploited in America as slaves while the women were not allowed to vote, take formal jobs and influence policies for a long time in this society. However, times have changed in America. I believe that no particular race or gender, including mine has undue advantage. For example, I was admitted into the California state university San Bernardino, purely on merit. My race or gender have not influenced how I am treated in the society or graded by professors. While there have been instances of racially inclined, the society is generally meritocracy oriented where freedoms and rights are protected. Racial color bars no longer exist in America.

While anti- racism policies exist in many institutions, in America, I still believe that nonfactual perceptions about some races exist. I experienced this during the case of Zimmerman’s shooting case. From the online discussions on social media and blogs, aspects of contemporary racism still exist. These issues are not openly manifest but have certain underling connotations. For example, some online writers and bloggers viewed the Zimmerman case as a purely racial issue while some took a more cautious view, terming it an accidental case. As my case where Muslims are perceived as violent, careless and cruel terrorists, evidently, social construction of racism exist, albeit unofficially. Personally, before I came to America, more so after 9/11, I knew that Arabs would have some negative image in America. While these stereotypes are not openly manifested, they are imbedded in the collective psyches of many people. I have also learnt that few people want to talk about racism more openly, with the blacks always viewed as the victims. While historically the blacks have been on the receiving end in terms of discrimination, today Muslims and white too are affected by stereotypical behaviors. Paradoxically, many people focus more on personal view other than social view. People tend to view racists as intolerant people while failing to have a collective societal look into the issues.



The video focuses more on experiences by Tim Wise on issues relating to racism in America and manipulative class systems. Racism is slowly creeping into the contemporary society yet efforts are not being made to address them. While people appear to hate racism, few are bold enough to offer ideological or philosophical arguments against white privileges that are socially and economically costly. Call for personal responsibility in tackling racism by the authorities have failed, more bold approach is needed.

Solutions to the contemporary structured racism, in work, political, social and economic sphere, lie on structural changes, dialogue, honesty and dialogues. There are ongoing effects of institutionalized racism that perpetuate white privileges. Because of racism, the white top class has been able to manipulate the system and classes to maintain their status and power. Those in power and positions of privilege strive to do anything and everything within their means for gain. Race manipulation is the easiest route for the powerful to retain their privileges. Social construction of race has thus helped the rich largely than even the low class whites whom they purport to protect. Social construction of race has thus led to economic deprivation of the poor and the vulnerable. The major victims are the blacks. For this reason, immigration reforms have faced a lot of hurdles over the years, with no concrete solution to date.


From the article, Why Can’t We Talk About Race?, social construction of racism is existent in the society. In 2012 at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, a professor was punished for insensitive lecture on contemporary racism that prompted a protest by three white students of male gender. The male white men, according to the students, are socially portrayed as ‘the bad guys’. Such stereotypical attitude offended the male students. The male students felt that this was a socially constructed racism that the female professor was perpetuating.

Similarly, some years ago, Noliwe Rooks made almost similar comment that invoked uncomfortable comment. Noliwe Rooks had made a comment about campus tour group that he literally described as a sea of white people. Rooks wondered whether such a mix up would not affect the following year’s tour sign up by colored people. A staff member reprimanded him arguing that such comments would make white staff members uncomfortable.

Talking about, critiquing and analyzing structural racism has been viewed by some people as acts of racism. However, research has proved otherwise. 2011 research by Tuft and Harvard universities established that there are ‘replaced blacks’- prejudice against white Americans who are victims of contemporary racial discrimination. However, study by Kellogg Foundation refuted these findings arguing that 1.9 trillion USD is lost annually due to racism, but is the blacks, not whites, on the receiving end. The studies’ outcomes necessitate newer approaches to contemporary racism discussions devoid of misinterpretations and distortions.