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Lecture 21

HREQ 2010 Lecture 21: March 27
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Department
Human Rights and Equity Studies
Course
HREQ 2010
Professor
Paul Brienza
Semester
Fall

Description
What is Race? -race can be defined as the perception that significant taxonomic and physiognomic differences, that is differences in appearance, contribute to divergences in temperament, intelligence, trustworthiness and morality -race is generally connected to the idea of genetic or hereditary traits that are passed on from generation to generation -physiognomic differences that we associated with different races have no bearing on interior qualities (intelligence and other features) -no biological groundings for any notion of race -however, race for many has been taken as a biological difference, which can be attributed to various reasons: 1) Pseudo-scientific notion of race: connected to evolution -Charles Darwin: all life emerged from less complex forms to more complex forms, that for instance, human beings evolved from species of primates (assumed to be a scientific path that can be observed from one species to another) -ethnicity often overlaps with race and can be expressed in more cultural terms. Ethnicity does not assume a physiognomic difference -race is, for most who have practiced it, a biological difference -evolution and race: some assume that race distinction was a necessary and viable element in the evolution of human society -Richard Dawkins, for example, claims that race “could be interpreted as an irrational generalization of a kin-selected tendency to identify with individuals physically resembling oneself, and to be nasty to individuals different in appearance” (The Selfish Gene) -what he lacks is the understanding of the social systematic ways in which race is perpetuated -the creation of modern racism is connected to the modern event of the slave trade, immigration, mass migration, etc. -this is not a universal human property -it delimits or sets limits on this idea that racism is a property of a particular social system, which assumes that everyone is racist -is racism then a convenient tool of distinction that allows us to separate who is our group versus who is not? That is, by some (reflected in Dawkins’ statement), a universal element -these notions of race come into the human consciousness -part of what Dawkins’ statement is that: 1) Race as part of human nature: -to be racist and essentially concerned with distinctions between people, is part of human nature 2) Race as a cultural convention: -viable understanding of race Types of Racism: 1) Xenophobia: antipathy towards foreigners 2) Supremacism: -the entire notion of race and racism is premised on a hierarchy -the belief that one’s race or cultural group is inherently superior to others -this belief may be based in ‘biological’ or ‘cultural’ differences -supremacism may often lead to the mistreatment of those who are considered ‘inferior’ -often the category of ‘subhuman’ is used to describe the inferior group: common refrain of White supremacist groups -John Porter: Vertical Mosaic: in Canada, the hierarchy of ethnicities can be observed in terms of income and education 3) Segregation: -this is the separation of human racial groups on an everyday and practical level -fairly recent examples include the American south and apartheid in South Africa -the implication here is that groups should not intermingle or mix -of prime importance here is the idea that groups should not ‘genetically mix’ -it is described as a thing of the past, when, in reality, it is not 4) Discrimination: -this is the more general ‘race strategy’ to be found in modern societies -racial separation is not officially sanctioned or recognized, as in segregation models, but is based on an implicit social practice -therefore, it could involve people being hired based on the subtle indications of a ‘white- sounding name’ -this type of racism can often be ‘unconscious’ since it is passed on from long historical sources 5) Institutional/structural/state/systemic: -this is a type of racism that carried on by governments, corporations and large institutions -in this case, the organizational structure is set up in such a way that it favors people of one group while not provided the appropriate resources and opportunities to members of outside groups -perpetuate the power systems and the hierarchy as it is 6) Economic: -this is a type of racism that is based on the divisions of an economic system -class, in other words, intersects with race -a good example of this can be found in the ‘racialization of poverty’ in countries such as the United States -this often creates a racialized ‘underclass’ that are in a perpetual cycle of economic distress combined with a general lack of social access and opportunity -in these cases, what happens is that class and race evolve into something more akin to 7) Ideological: -this type of racism is largely based on the presentation of images in popular culture and news media sources -it is clear that we have ‘ingrained images’ present in our minds of what a particular race looks like, acts and behaves -we connect certain groups with crime, terrorism, mistrust, lack of hygiene, and so on -crime, for example, has become a racialized category—the racialization of crime and the criminalization of race -often this type of racism has a very powerful and sustaining affect and stays with us -deeply ingrained these perceptions can become, which can create real fears in people 8) Scientific: -unilinear theories of social progress, social Darwinism, Eugenics, miscegenation - example: Lombroso -slavery emerged and continued to thrive through a combination of these types. Race Nationalism: -race is often connected, in modern times, with an idea of nationalism -nationalism: is based on the idea that one’s ‘nation state’ is of
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