This episode tied the series up together in the best way. Having built the foundation of race, this episode explained just how much race has shaped our histories, and in turn the present day. It was interesting just how much whiteness was/is tied to citizenship. I’m glad they chose to speak about the experiences of South East Asians fighting for citizenship because that part of history is often left out. It was also interesting to see how European immigrants “became” white throughout the twentieth century. I also didn’t know that different states had different definitions of who was black and who wasn’t. Finally, I thought that their discussion of housing was much needed because it chips away at the meritocracy narrative that is so prevalent in America. That’s not to say that people didn’t work hard for what they got, but the systemic disenfranchisement of minorities is important to talk about as well.
What’s most important is that I think they did a good job of showing just how much we don’t realize how race has shaped our lives and nation. Additionally, I think we oftentimes focus a lot about the experiences of minorities, rightfully so, but we don’t talk enough about whiteness- how it’s constructed and how it manifests itself.
This actually makes me think about the novel we are reading because both this episode and the novel shows just how much some issues stem not only from people but from systems. Along those lines, dominant narratives are constructed to make it seem like an issue among a minority group is based on some moral failing. For instance, the Hmong could be seen as “backwards” for their cultural and spiritual beliefs, however, there are structural limitations like the lack of translators.
I’m left with the question of how exactly do we combat these stories that we have about ourselves and each other? Additionally, when should the topic of race be introduced in the education system? I feel like my senior year of college is a little late for me to learn about this pretty important history of this nation.