Racial Inequality

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Race

What do you conclude about racism and racial identity in reading “Showing my Color” by Clarence Page? Do you think the reading is still relevant today? (3 pts)

The sociologist, William Wilson, argues that social class is more important than race in determining the life chances of African-Americans.
Quoting the textbook chapters 12 and 13 and/or the Reader &/or current events, please present Wilson’s argument and state if you agree with him or not and why. (5 pts)

Reply to anther student in a meaningful way using your sociological knowledge. (2 pts)

1. In “Showing My Color,” Clarence Page discusses the existence of racism and racial identity. He begins his essay by introducing himself as a child. He did not yet know about race and even thought that the water fountain labeled “colored” would produce colored water. This shows how racism and racial identity is a social construct that children learn from an early age. It is not a natural thing. Still, the children learn very quickly as they do everything else. He and his schoolmates quickly learned that they were in different worlds. This was only amplified as they got older. Page writes, “Anyone who tried to break out of those stereotypes was trying to break the code, meaning that a black or Latino who tried to make good grades was ‘trying to be white’” (Page 366). This still going on today as well. Even though it is not as bad as before, there are still many people that discriminate and are prejudice against other races. Some people claim that they are colorblind like some of the whites in Page’s essay. It is impossible to be colorblind unless you have a physical ailment. Instead of trying to tell everyone to ignore color, it may be better to see it and call it as it is. Instead of trying to create one race that includes everyone equally, which is practically impossible, it may be more realistic to accept the difference. I think the mulligan stew is a great idea. Page writes, “Each maintained its distinctive character. Yet each loaned its special flavor to the whole, and each absorbed some of the flavor from the others” (Page 368). Racism and racial identity still exists and the only way to deal with it may be to make some mulligan stew.

William Wilson argument that the social class an African American belongs to will have more of an effect on the life chances. The textbook states, “The upward mobility of millions of African Americans into the middle class created two worlds of African American experience – one educated and affluent, the other uneducated and poor” (Henslin 354). I agree with his argument. Although it is true that young African Americans, especially males, may be faced with less opportunities, it may be that the social status is more significant. For instance, if the father was a doctor and the mother was a lawyer, it would not matter that the child was African American. The child will have better life chances than most Americans of all ethnicity because the child will likely grow up in a nice neighborhood and go to a nice school. If the child has trouble at school, the parents can afford to get him the help his needs. Even the teachers will be attentive to the child’s needs since the classroom would likely not be overcrowded. Worst come to worst, even if the child does not do very good in school and ends up getting a job at the company that one of the neighbors own, the parents will be able to provide for the child while they are alive and when they die through their life insurance.

2. Clarence Page, the author of “Showing my Color”, explains how “race has long had a rude presence” in his life (Page, 364). It’s difficult to watch caucasian friends come up in a wealthier upbringing. After reading what Page had to say, it became transparent that times have changed. We do not face the same deal of racism as we did before, but of course the problem has not completely gone away. Page places emphasis on the fact that he doesn’t want color to be denied. He wishes “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, as do all colored people (Page, 363). There are people who still put a difference when it comes to people of color. Many of my friends have told me that they have experienced discrimination in different ways. Many African-Americans feel this way and even though there has been a decrease in stereotypes, the issue has never completely disappeared as it should. I believe the reading is applicable today because I experience my own struggles as a woman of color. It is noticeable that I am not white and for that, there have been times where people would look at me differently. As much as my white friends attempt to show me that we had the same upbringing, I often notice that we were brought up with different values. I am not the same as them, and they most certainly are not the same as me. I can easily say that we face discrimination to this day, whether it should have gone away or not. Just as Page mentions in his last line, “I can defy it, but I cannot deny” the fact that I am different (Page, 368).

Sociologist William Wilson argues that determination of importance for chances of African-Americans does not depend on race but rather social class. Many people have difficulty finding jobs due to the fact that “African Americans were excluded from avenues of economic advancement”, such as “good schools and good jobs” (Henslin, 347). The basis of Wilson’s argument is the fact that many African Americans had entered the middle class. They had moved up the social ladder and found better lives for themselves by living in more secure areas. It’s very possible that the environment had some to do with the way people are treated. Essentially, Wilson is debating on nurture as opposed to nature. He believes that the way people are treated aren’t completely dependent on race, but the setting and habitat of an individual as well. Personally, I think that no one wants to live in a difficult setting and it is not a personal choice that everyone gets the privilege of making. Of course, people who live in more impoverished areas have a difficult time as opposed to people in affluent spaces, but it has to do with the peers around us as well. I cannot say I completely agree with Wilson’s argument, although I do understand why he would have such a theory. It makes sense to say that the affect our surroundings have are crucial in our lives but it is not always in our own hands. Some are close minded people who have decided what they feel is correct based off of their own beliefs.

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