Race: The Power of an Illusion: Episode 3

The final segment of Race: The Power of a Illusion was the most powerful and illuminating of all the episodes because of their dissection of race and what it means to be white or black in the social context the notion of race was conceived. The cases of Takao Ozawa and Bhagat Singh Thind were particularly interesting because they were both minority individuals who challenged and attempted to change what it meant to be white. Ozawa argued that being an American goes beyond skin tone and what truly mattered were whether or not someone had American values at heart. Thind argued that South Asians were Caucasian through common ancestry. However, both were turned down for citizenship. What made these cases fascinating was that in Ozawa’s case, the court claimed that through science, he was not white but rather he was of Mongolian descent. However, in Thind’s case, the court ruled that science did not matter but rather whiteness was whatever the “common man” defined it as. The hypocrisy and mental gymnastics the court had to undergo to preserve what they perceived as racial purity was astounding and is profound evidence for ‘race’ being more a social construct rather than a biological one.

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