Brief for 9/5

In Racial Formation in the United States From the 1960s to the 1990s, Michael Omi and Howard Winant define race as “a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts & interests by referring to different types of human bodies” (55). I interpreted this as relating to both biology and social functions, but it seemed like later on in the paragraph, they placed more emphasis on the social and historical meanings of race. Personally, I think of race as being a foundationally biological concept, with social components in addition. I wonder how others view race (as a more biological or social concept), and if personal race influences one’s definition.

I thought it was interesting how the concept of race and racism has changed over the past decades. In the “What is Racism?” section of the text, there was an outline of the evolution of racism since the 1960s. In the early 1960s, racism was considered to be prejudiced attitudes or discriminatory practices toward members of a certain racial group. The solution was to overcome such attitudes with tolerance, acceptance, and passing laws that made discrimination illegal. In the later 1960s, racism became a more structural feature of American society, as it was “bred in the bone” (Omi & Winant 69). This resulted in fewer efforts towards overcoming racial barriers. As I read this, I was reminded of today’s society, as few members, especially those in power, seem to actively seek to defeat racism.

I always thought that racism was just so deeply embedded in our society’s structure. America’s history has embedded racism in our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc. It would take a massive deconstruction to simply start over and eliminate racism. However, that would never happen in our democratic state. After reading this text, I believe that if the vision of racism can change for the worse, it can also change for the better (although it would be much more difficult). It starts by imagining and talking about the world we want, as adrienne maree brown states in Emergent Strategy. The evolution of any social structure starts with people who desire change, like Lauren demonstrated in Parable of the Sower. Unfortunately, the steps after that are not as easy to take or even discern.

It is important to examine how race and racism have evolved over the years. By doing so, we will be able to see the factors that have caused its change. This will enable us to identify what needs to be altered in order to end racism. Even though ending racism is an incredibly large goal, we must keep in mind the first step is being educated and having conversations. This is why I believe it is useful to have classes such as The System, so that there is a designated time and place for learning about the people, attitudes, and structures of society.

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