The two articles written by Herbert Gans and Rebecca Tiger are exciting and informative. There are many things I have learned from the articles concerning social inequality. Before starting up his argument in the article, Herbert proposed a question in the title; why does the notion of race continue to impact the US? The author tries to answer that question bringing out significant ideas they may have led to widespread race stereotype in the United States. Even though I agreed with many of the articles presented, there are specific points I would like to argue against.
First, I agree with the idea presented in the articles that people started perceiving race as class and status during the slavery period. During the slavery period, the black slaves were cheaper, more able to survive brutal working conditions and the intense heat, and more easily controlled (Gans, 2005). They were given arduous labors at this time, which were mainly associated with a low class. Other non-black slaves, such as white slaves, Asian slaves, Native Americans, and many others, were given much easier tasks like picking cotton and tobacco. After the culmination of slavery in the world, the blacks became farm sharecroppers and laborers, genuine indented servants, therefore, remaining at the bottom of the class hierarchy. The United States needed a cheap labor source when the industrialization pace quickened. The industrialists from the Northern side were unwilling and unable to recruit workers from Southern Black Americans. The African Americans were brought in poor European migrants, who were mostly peasants. They were not employed by the Northern Industrialists mainly because they were almost at the bottom of the class hierarchy (Gans, 2005). The workers were classified into the race and considered nonwhites. The Italians and Irish newcomers were also referred to as black. At this point, the whites were filled with racism to the point that they considered a nonwhite character beneath them. Therefore, the class hierarchy was arranged depending on color, where the white was on top while blacks in the bottom.
Besides, the articles clearly explain how race relates to and is affected by the class’s position. In the article, the example of South Asians is given. Even though the well-educated Sri Lankans and Indians who gained entry to the United States after 1965 were always darker than Black Americans, the whites noticed just their economic success and not their color. They are frequently praised as the model minority, and rarely are they have been regarded as nonwhites (Gans, 2005). Besides, even auspicious color perception does not end the racism against immigrants, including affluent individuals and model minorities. When they compete with the whites for valued resources such as top schools, housing, and highly paid jobs, they become threats to whites. For instance, the Japanese-Americans from California still suffer prejudice and discrimination several generations after their ancestors first gained entry to America.
Furthermore, I have learned that the Blacks are the only racial character not perceived differently with upward movement. Even though the blacks are trying hard to get a better education and good jobs, the whites still perceive them as black as before. The whites still take them to be inferior. Even though a considerable number of Black Americans have upgraded to the middle class since the implementation of civil legislation in the ’60s, they still undergo more and higher pervasive segregation and discrimination than the non-black migrants of a similar class position. Discrimination and segregation prevent the whites from pursuing equality with the whites and keeping the whites and blacks apart. Therefore, the race is used in the US as a class indicator and, by keeping the blacks in the bottom place, the whites have placed a brake on the upward mobility and an enforcer of the class position. For instance, the black criminal suspects always experience more deadly force from the white law enforcers. The Asian and other non-black immigrants are not subjected to the same kind of force as the Blacks.
Further, many individuals use race to decide whether a person should be treated as inferior, superior, or equal. Similarly, race is used to decide whether an individual may be threatening and therefore should be excluded. The Caucasians always consider blacks threatening (Tiger, 2017). That is due to the images portrayed by the media concerning dark skin. In the media, blacks are portrayed as violent, corrupt, and sometimes drug addicts. The media creates a stereotype claiming that the whites are better off and more superior than the whites. For instance, in most films, the African Americans always play the characters such as drug lords, gun smugglers, and corrupt individuals. The stereotype makes the whites look down upon the blacks, making them be considered and ranked at the bottom of the class hierarchy.
Moreover, I agree that the color of human skin can be attributed to climatic adaptations. The dark skin is mainly due to the higher melanin level, which protects those living in sunny and hot environmental conditions, particularly in South Asia and Africa, from cancer. Equally, the light skin is due to low melanin levels in the skin, enabling humans living in low environmental conditions to absorb and store vitamin D after hidden behind the clouds. The color variation was strengthened by inbreeding eras when people lived in small groups that were socially and geographically isolated. The inbreeding also resulted in a difference in the nose and head shapes and other facial features so that people from the Mediterranean area looked different from Northern Europeans. Similarly, the West Africans Looked different from the East Africans in skin color and facial features. Despite the facial features and skin color, we are all humans, therefore, no particular race should consider themselves more superior than the other.
I agree that nonwhite drug users are constantly subjected to cruel punishment by the US’s control systems. There are harsh policies that have been established in the US to reduce the effects of substance abuse in the land (Tiger, 2016). But still, these policies do not apply equally to all people residing in the area. The blacks drug users are often imprisoned as the whites are taken to corrective and rehabilitation centers. The difference in punishment imposed by control systems shows how the whites believe that the African Americans cannot change. Thus, the possible solution is to take them to prison.
In a nutshell, the articles enabled me critically reflect on how racial discrimination began in early civilization. Rebecca Tiger and Herbert Gans presented several essential points that helped me better understand social inequality. They have indicated how whites have used race to rank individuals in the class hierarchy. Similarly, how media plays a part in promoting stereotypes concerning African Americans is also indicated in the articles.
Gans, H. J. (2005). Race as a Class. Contexts, 4(4), 17-21.
Tiger, R. (2017). Race, Class, and the Framing of Drug Epidemics. Contexts, 16(4), 46-51.