Is race just a theory?

There have been many arguments about the theory of race and why we even have the label. I remember reading an article in my anthropology class stating that to an anthropologist, there is no race, we are all biologically the same. In Howard Winant’s article he discusses how race became more central when dealing with social problems like crime, poverty, and disease and it would be brought back to race. (171) Later he talks about important movements in history that affect how race is viewed in public and challenged the concept. There are ethnicity, class and nation based theories that suggest different things about race. (179) For example class ethnicity oriented theories suggest suppression of prejudiced attitude could be achieved through contact, integration, and assimilation; and that discrimination can be ended by laws and regulations for equality.

I found a website http://www.aclu.org/ and their goal is to make sure everyone has their individual rights and liberties. They want everyone to be guaranteed these rights and they obviously don’t see race as a factor that should change how you are treated. I was raised in a world where I don’t see race as something that changes how I feel about a person. I think we are such a diverse country and if people are still holding hatred towards a certain group based on race, they are going to have a hard time living anywhere. Many websites I looked at had opinions on if race is actually real or if it is just socially constructed. It is not biologically defined and there is human variation but race is constructed by political processes throughout history and I think I would agree with this theory.

I found an interesting video on YouTube summarizing some major events in history that have separated people and also some attempts to make it equal. I really like a statement in the video saying that just making a law making people equal is going to make it happen. It’s true because even if the government passes laws like the Civil Rights Act (1964) there is not much they can do to make people truly change their behaviors. The picture I have included shows people marching for equal protection under the laws in an effort to change the division by race. Although I know there are still instances of racism nowadays, we have definitely come a long way and still have to work to make people more accepting of others. I am from the Bay Area and we have such a wide variety of races and it is so cool that every place you go you see people of all backgrounds intermingling and that’s something we would not have seen in the past. We are definitely more accepting as a whole, but of course there are still those groups of people who still can’t accept our differences.

Another thing I found that was an article By Jason Eden called “Who Developed Race?” and it was a very interesting article. He talks about how humans have formed the race ideology. He brings up examples of whites fighting and some even dying just to defend the system of racial hierarchy. (171) Eden does says that race has been culturally constructed and is an ongoing progress. His article discussed ways he teaches the idea of race to classes and he makes sure to have them identify specific people and events so there is no blame game among the students. (175) I think it is very important to discuss these issues and this article was very informative. I learned a lot from researching all the race issues in the world. I had heard of the debate “if race really exists” before and there are a lot of conflicting sides. I think race is socially constructed and I think some of the people I have cited and read about would agree.

 Sources:

Eden, Jason. (2011). Answers to the Question: “Who Developed Race?”. History Teacher, 44(2), 169-177. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Winant, Howard. (2000) Race and Race Theory. Annual Reviews Sociology, 26, 169-85.

Wong, Shelley. (2010, March 15)  Critical Race Theory: Understanding the Nature of Race and America. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB27vqknETk&playnext=1&list=PL4E6231005D202852

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The Communist Manifesto- Marx

Sources:

Engels, Frederick; Marx, Karl. (1848) Manifesto of the Communist Party; Samuel Moore Translation (1888) and Hal Draper Translation (1994). (1-28)

Drew, J. (2008, September 25) The Communist Manifesto Illustrated by Cartoons. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/embed/0KUl4yfABE4

I have heard about this document before but have always been scared to actually sit down and read it because I thought it would be very challenging. I actually found it interesting and although it was written a long time ago, I found a lot of the points I could relate to society now. The Communist Manifesto is Marx’ attempts to explain the reasoning behind Communism and talk about the relationships between classes and the struggles they face. He starts off by introducing the bourgeoisie and the proletariat as classes directly facing each other. The bourgeoisie are the “middle class” but more specifically the owners of companies who employ the proletariat. The proletariat are the wage earners, especially manual laborers who make up the working class.

Marx discusses modern industry and how there is always a constant demand and the immense development of commerce has changed the way our system runs. The urban population has greatly expanded with enormous cities making the need for laborers high. (7) Our capitalist society is the system that developed social rank. The classes struggle because the bourgeoisie want low labor costs to make a profit but the proletariat obviously want to be paid more so they can support their families and actually make a living. The problem with the system is that if you ask for higher wages, you will most likely be fired because there are many people waiting for a job that will take your place for the horrible working conditions. (5) Another interesting point was that in trying to make a profit a bourgeoisie may sacrifice health/safety, quality of product, and the overall niceness of the company. It’s crazy that the quality of work isn’t really the issue, our society focuses more on the cheap price.

After comparing the classes, Marx introduces the role of Communists. (10)  He says that they are distinguished from other working class parties by things like common interests and Communists represent the interests of the movement as a whole. The aim of Communists is “formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat” and later down the page sums it up by saying “Abolition of private property.” (11) It is interesting because he describes capital as being social power which is true, but it is how our society runs. They believe there should be no private property and to keep society fair there should be common ownership to manage the economy for the well-being and interests of the proletariat and masses, not the elites.

I went on “YouTube” to see if there were any videos that were interesting and after looking through the website there were a lot of videos that were not so informative, and others that were. I found a video called “The Communist Manifesto Illustrated by Cartoons” and although it sounds silly it was actually kind of nice to see it illustrated. The author describes the video saying that U.S cartoons were thought to be conveyors of capitalist ideologies and consumerism which I never thought about so the video was informative and helped me understand a little more even though it was just pictures to back up the words of Marx. The cartoons used were mostly older, and the creator chose the shows that had images that would describe the words of Marx. I am more of a visual learner, so the video was nice to look at along with the manifesto.

From both the videos I watched and the manifesto, I got many different ideas about Communism. A lot of people say in theory it may be good, but it would never work and would cause problems. I think that we have a huge gap of wealth in the United States that needs to be dealt with, but Communism will not solve this. It would basically force people to redistribute wealth and this would cause problems that I don’t think the economy could be functional. The rich do have a lot of focus on private gain, but I think the idea of Communism is a very radical idea that would do more harm than good. If everyone was equal, there would be no incentive to work hard. Capitalist systems reward those who work hard and as we discussed in class part of human nature is to have personal values in working hard. With a Communist society, this lack of motivation would be the end of production and we would be left with nothing. The issue of communism vs. capitalist society is a length argument that is too long to discuss here, I just wanted to discuss the issue briefly. Basically I found the manifesto and my personal research from that to be very informative and interesting. Of course there are problems with our systems that need to be altered, by trying to make everyone equal and free of private property will cause more harm than good.