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Tuesday October 1st Women’s Studies Lecture.docx

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HUMA 1951
Alison Crosby

Tuesday October 1 Women’s Studies Lecture: Race and Racialization - a social constructionist lens of analysis argues that our roles in societies are shaped by our own histories and cultures, and thus change over time. - We still need to ask the question as to why there is a search to prove that there is a link between motherhood itself and the construction of motherhood and the social roles that come with that categorization - The search for difference has really been a search for inequality and prejudice by those who have power o We need to take social, political and economic context when we ask ‘why?’ - Sterling argues we need to problematize why we need to question the search for biological differences - Why focus on the difference? Think about these key concepts: o Colonization o Nation-building o Citizenship o Racialization o Whiteness - Film: Race, the power of an illusion (part 2 ) o Race was never about how you look. It was about how people assign meaning to how you look o Race is an idea that evolved overtime, that it is constructed by people of power in societies to further societies goals o “Notes on the states of Virginia” book written by Thomas Jefferson, writing about white and blacks and how they are inferior to whites.  His words appeared to justify slavery, while also promoting equality for white people at the same time? Hypocritical. “Equality is fine, but it only applies to certain people.”  “all men are created equal, although some slaves are not infact men, and thus not equal” o Regarded a person’s status in life more so than what their background was and what colour they were – 1600’s  However, hierarchies of social classes intertwined with race gradually and eventually o The word “Christian” turned into “white” eventually in colonial societies o Many of the lower class Europeans associated themselves with higher class whites by having their colour in common, in order to distinguish themselves from the lower class blacks and further divide them o Racial divide emerges and people view it as natural, slavery was so widespread that it was seen as natural o Jefferson viewed Indians as equal to whites in mind and body, but NOT about black people. He viewed black people as different, physically and mentally on different levels, something innate.  “Indians are savages but they could be civilized, their problem was not race, it was culture. We can convert them” o USA decided that the cheapest way to avoid a war and to obtain the land of the aboriginals was to “civilize” them by converting them to Christianity.  To assimilate them into “brown-white” men o Jefferson built a case that was specifically geared to tell the world that black people are different. Theories of race are used to do just that. o Cherokee tribe agreed with assimilation of their culture into western society, beginning in 1790. They were quickly able to become “civilized” by Jefferson’s view. By 1819 they signed away over 90% of their land to America.  They did this not to want to be white people, but in order for things to be civilized between the two cultures o Indian Removal Act passed in 1830 o The trail of tears 1838, when the Indians were being forced by gunpoint to leave their homes. ¼ of the Cherokee population died in camps. o Mexicans also seen as savages went to war with them and stole 1/3 of their land. o White Americans using science to support the idea of white superiority.  Race is the great issue of the age o There was tension in white society because there was a huge divide between those who opposed slavery and those who supported it o Monogenists and polygenists – the idea that did we all evolve from the same person, or are we of different species? o Morton owned the worlds largest collection of human skulls and wrote books describing innate differences between the races  Argued he was using purely scientific research to come with his conclusions, and low and behold, discovered that white American males are the smartest race on earth, and black on the bottom. o The power of the ideology of race was so prominent o “Some are born to rule, and some to be ruled” o “Types of mankind” – among the best selling book of its day further describing the differences of race o It’s a way of naturalizing a social structure that everyone saw, that the negro or aboriginal were at the bottom of the hierarchy. o Black people had no rights, which the white man was to respect – black people were refused citizenships. o “Beware of how we give rights to the blacks, by virtue of how they affect the habitats of the whites. They will hold us back from progressing” o Unifying principle of white supremacy is the principle of shared racial identity, “you may be poor, but the thing that separates you from other savages is that you’re white” o “Pear soap” claiming to
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