Class Notes (837,186)
United States (324,898)
Sociology (300)
01:920:101 (90)
Lecture 9

Lecture 9

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Professor Wilhelms

Race and Ethnicity C hapter 9 Race and Ethnicity Chapter Outline I. Why Focus on Brazil? A. Like the United Sates, Brazil is considered a melting pot of culturally and racially diverse peoples. Brazil’s ideas about race, however, are very different from those of the United States. 1. Since 1600, the United States has worked hard to make everyone who has lived in and immigrated to the country fit into one of its official and ever-changing categories. 2. For most of its history, the United States was a country that discouraged sexual relationships and marriage between whites and nonwhites, but especially between whites and blacks. 3. In contrast, the Brazilian government did not present race as categorical. Most Brazilians do not see themselves as a particular race; rather they see themselves on a continuum of color with black and white as endpoints. 4. From the beginning, the Portuguese colonizers were officially encouraged to “marry” the conquered indigenous and enslaved African peoples. a. Interracial mixing was driving by the broader purpose of ‘whitening’ the population. II. Race A. Core Concept 1Sociologists define race as human-constructed categories that assume great social importance. B. When sociologists study race, they study its social importance—the meanings assigned to physical traits, the rules for placing people into racial categories, and the effect race has on opportunities in life. C. Although it may seem natural to divide people into racial categories, upon close analysis, it is illogical. 1. There are no sharp lines to mark the physical boundaries that distinguish one race from another. 2. Millions of people in the world are products of sexual unions between people of different races. 3. The diversity of people within any one racial category is so great that knowing someone’s race or color tells us little about him or her. 4. Racial categories are problematic because they vary across time and space. III. Racial Formation Theory A. Anyone who lives in the United States (or elsewhere for that matter) must 91 Chapter 9 learn to “see” its racial categories—that is, they must learn to see arbitrary physical traits, such as skin color and hair texture, as meaningful and significant. 1. Racial common sense - shared ideas about each race believed to be so obvious or natural they need not be questioned. a. Involves seeing racial categories as natural ways to divide humanity and involves unquestioned assumptions held about those with a specific racial category. B. Racial Categories in the United States and Brazil 1. Core Concept 2: Most societies, if not all, have created racial categories and rules for placing people into those categories. Keep in mind that, when subjected to scrutiny, category schemes rarely, if ever, make sense. 2. The U.S. government recognizes five minimum racial categories, plus a sixth category labeled as “Some Other Race”—a catch-all used as a last resort when people resist identifying with one of the five racial categories. a. American Indian or Alaska Native - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment b. Asian - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent c. Black or African American - A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa d. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands e. White - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa f. It is significant that the definition for “Black” or “African American” omits the words “original peoples” and substitutes “Black racial groups of Africa.” g. The 2000 Census represented the first time in U.S. history that the federal government allowed people to identify themselves as belonging to more than one racial category. 3. The Brazilian view of race includes three category schemes. a. The official categories used by the Brazilian Census Bureau i. White (branco); brown (pardo); black (preto); yellow (amarelo), and indigenous (indigena). b. The popular language used to refer to race or color. i. When presented with an open-ended question asking people their race, Brazilian’s answered with 135 distinct terms. c. Brazil’s black consciousness movement uses a two-category scheme—negro or blanco. IV. Ethnicity A. Core Concept 3: Like race, when sociologists study ethnicity, they are 92 Race and Ethnicity interested in studying the processes by which people make ethnicity important (or not). 1. Ethnic group—people within a larger society (such as a country) who possess a group consciousness because they share or believe they share a common ancestry, place of birth, a history, a key experience, or some other distinctive social traits they have defined as the “essence of their peoplehood.” a. Selective forgetting—A process by which people forget, dismiss, or fail to pass on a connection to one or more ethnicities. b. Ethnic renewal—occurs when someone discovers an ethnic identity, as when an adopted child learns about and identifies with newly found biological relatives or a person learns about and revives lost traditions. B. Involuntary ethnicity – occurs when a government or other dominant group creates an umbrella ethnic category and assigns people from many different cultures and countries to it. 1. Everyone in the U.S. is assigned to one of two ethnic categories: “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” a. The term Hispanic, created in 1970, applies to people from, or with ancestors from, 21 Central and South American countries that were once former colonies of Spain. 2. The Brazilian government seeks to identify only the ethnicity of the 1 million or so indigenous peoples who live within its borders. C. Dominant ethnic groups are the most advantaged ethnic group in a society 1. Hidden ethnicity—a sense of self that is based on little to no awareness of an ethnic identity because its culture is considered normative, or mainstream. D. The Roles of Chance, Context, and Choice 1. Core Concept 4: The racial and ethnic categories to which people belong are a product of three interrelated factors: chance, context, and choice. a. Chance - something not subject to human will, choice, or effort. We do not choose our biological parents nor can we control the physical characteristics we inherit from them. b. Context - the social setting in which racial and ethnic categories are recognized, created, and challenged c. Choice - the act of choosing from a range of possible behaviors or appearances V. The Foreign-Born Population A. Core Concept 5: Every country in the world has people living within its political boundaries who are immigrants and were born elsewhere. Often considerations of race and ethnicity figure into immigration policies. 1. Race and ethnicity considerations have played a major role in U.S. immigration policy. 2. Legislation that focused on race and ethnicity was designed to curb the numbers and types of immigrants entering the U.S. a. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited the entry of 93 Chapter 9 Chinese laborers into the U.S. for 10 years. b. The Immigration Act of 1924 established a quota system that set numerical limits on immigration. These limits were based on national origin. c. The Bracero Program, which began in 1942, allowed Mexicans to legally work in the U.S. in order to relieve labor shortages in rural areas and to bolster the American workforce during World War II. d. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 permitted illegal workers in the U.S. to apply for amnesty if they could prove they had worked here for at least 90 days between May 1, 1985, and May 1, 1986. e. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. government made many changes to immigration laws and procedures. B. Until 1808, Portuguese colonizers in Brazil prohibited other Europeans from immigrating for fear they would try to claim territory within Brazil. 1. Between 1550 and 1850, the Portuguese “imported” an estimated 4 million enslaved peoples out of Africa to work on sugar cane and coffee plantations. 2. After slavery was abolished, immigration policies were enacted to recruit European immigrants to populate their land, work in coffee plantations, and to “whiten” the Brazilian gene pool. VI. The Consequences of Racial and Ethnic Classification A. In the U.S. and Brazil there are dramatic differences between racial groups in regard to life chances. B. Minority Groups 1. Core Concept 6: Minority groups are subpopulations within a society that are systematically excluded (whether consciously or unconsciously) from full participation in society and denied equal opportunities to access power, prestige, and wealth. 2. Sociologist Louis Wirth (1945) made a classic statement on minority groups, identifying a number of essential traits that are characteristic of all minority groups. a. Membership is involuntary. b. A minority may be the numerical majority in a society. c. Minority groups are excluded from full participation in the larger society. d. Social and spatial isolation. e. Minority status overshadows any accomplishments. 3. Involuntary minorities--Ethnic or racial groups that were forced to become part of a country by slavery, conquest, or colonization. A. Assimilation 1. Core Concept 7: Assimilation is a process by which ethnic and racial distinctions between groups disappear because one group is absorbed into another group’s culture or because two cultures blend to form a new culture. 2. Absorption Assimilation - A process by which members of a minority
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