Race and Gender Issues in the US
Summary of Readings
The first reading entitled, “Race, class and gender in the United States: an integrated study”, (2007, pp. 1-774) is by Omi and Winant about racial formations (pp. 13-22). The reading discusses more on Phipps case labeling race as a post-enlightenment convenience wherein some global regions are enslaved on while the others are being free of it. It also explains that race is not a scientific determination and should not be justified as being biological. However, these views contest the efforts to reinstitute race with natural origins. In explaining racism in American perspective, it explains on the assignment of children from a mixed race to belong to subordinate groups. This is brought upon the mentality that whites are superior while the blacks as inferior. Also, this explains the rationale behind intercultural difference among Latinos who have sub-associations based on analogous characteristics. The book also highlights that blacks refer to non-whites seeking self-identity including the African Americans, Afro-Caribbean and Asians. Further, it explains that racial formation is the determination of importance and content of racial categories using political, economic and social forces. Additionally, the association of blacks with slavery and whites with Europeanism in mass media affirms of such suppositions further in the reading. The mass media also depicts the blacks as a dependent class on their superior class hence racial divisions become stronger. More, it is not the way to go for America but has become a societal construction in which they unconsciously engage in.
While, the second reading entitled “The social construction of gender” by Lorber (Rothenberg, 2007, pp. 33 -45) defines gender performance as dictated by the society. The author says that gender is a result of human production. It further explains that gender originates from clothing of children at the early stage of recognition, sex designation and society’s pre-determined gender-normative practices and rituals. As such, gender have no biological origin as Lorber asserts in this texts. Racial formations also have the same standpoint. Although, gender roles have undergone modification toward gender equity, it remains a social institution useful in shaping cultural productions, organizing familial relationships and labor. Rothenberg’s text further argues that gender is a process to segregate an individual depending on the society. These ideas are continuous despite the opposition to normative performances strengthened by gender-suited principles. More, the reading says that gender constructs do not serve to propagate male-female inequity. Lorber also claims that gender emanates from cultural and economic symbols which disagree with the opinions of Freud that says masculinity is a male struggle to overcome inferiority sourced from mothers. Furthermore, the reading also attributes power divisions to gender particularly in economic and home production. This attributes to the concept to form identity and tool to reproduce hierarchies which foster inequities. As such, gender has no relationship with biology but rather it results from the nurturing of social-power relations.
Article to Relate the Readings
Rothenberg’s (2007) readings on racial formation and gender constructs in contemporary America relate to a study by Collins titled, “It is all in the family: intersections of gender, race and nation” (1998, pp. 62-82). The article explains the mutuality in gender and race not by taking them as separate entities in defining American identities. The article also says that gender and race inequities aim at balancing and protecting the interests of Americans. Such studies then result to the nurturing of societal hierarchies based in racial and gender discrepancies. Americans are in search of a sense of belonging in the form of a territory, space and a place to call home as Collins (1998) asserts. Having said that, they try to relate and identify with those similar of their kind in terms of gender and race which results to the disparities and divisions. In addition, it gives an example of American women from different ethnic originalities and their role in propagating racial formations. It explains how a white woman try to maintain pure blood ties hence have racial divisions with black men. A similar case occurs to black women who prefer black men in such relationships. Accepting membership to a certain race or gender has its rights, rules, obligations, privileges and challenges as Collins (1998) asserts. This rationale differentiates the superiority associated with men over women as well as the superiority affiliated with the whites over the blacks. The article claims that in the US, race, determines one’s responsibilities and rights as evidenced by the poor funding and infrastructure in African-American schools compared to those of natives.
Personally, I believe that gender and race are integral components of American society. However, their use shapes the ultimate effect they have on society. As an example, if race was used to share identities other than propagate hatred between differing groups then; its effect would be affirmative and positive to society. More so, if gender became a showcase of gender uniqueness and not an avenue to spread male chauvinism while perceiving females as weak and vulnerable, then society would uphold it and its value. The challenge is in shunning the negatives of racial formations and gender while capitalizing on the positive effects to make America more conducive for all race and colors.
Collins, P. (1998). It is all in the family: intersections of gender, race and nation. Border Crossing: Multicultural and Postcolonial Feminist Challenges to Philosophy, 13 (3), 62-82
Lorber, J. (2007). The social construction of gender in: P. Rothenberg. Race, class and gender in the United States. US, New York: Worth Publishers
Omi, M., & Winant, H. (2007). Racial formation in P. Rothenberg. Race, class and gender in the United States. US, New York: Worth Publishers