Race and Ethnicity

1) Pretend that you are trying to convince a skeptic that race is socially constructed. Answer the questions below making sure to draw from the assigned text chapters (Matrix of Race) and course lectures/materials in your responses.

(a) How do we know that race is a social construction?

What evidence do we have from the history of race as a concept? (Recall our lecture material about Audrey Smedley’s work on the history of race in Western conquest, for instance.)

What other evidence would you present?

(b) What does it mean to say that race (or anything else) is “socially constructed”? How (3 ways) will the meaning of anything that’s socially constructed tend to vary?

(c) What did Omi and Winant call the process through which racial categories are constructed and applied to populations of people? Please define this concept and the (3) characteristics of this process. (Recall our lecture material on this subject.)

2) What are the differences between race and ethnicity? Why are these differences important?

3) answer any two of the three options (a, b, c) below:

(a) A significant contribution of Stuart Hall to the study of racial social control and white supremacy is his development of Gramsci’s concept of hegemony. What does he mean when he says that dominant (hegemonic) ideologies (including the white racial frame or the ideology of white supremacy) are not automatically effective—that they go through a process of encoding and decoding?

(b) Eduard Said names his central concept, Orientalism, after an academic discipline that emerged in 19th century Europe. How does Orientalism work (recall the three meanings from your lecture note)? Can we still identify Orientalism in American politics? Please give an example.

(c) What did Franz Fanon (from his work, The Wretched of the Earth) have to say about how white colonizers should be resisted in the colonized world? Why does he argue for such a strategy? What do you see as the major strengths and limitations of this approach?

4) (a) Please define WEB DuBois’s concepts of double consciousness and the

(b) Are these concepts still relevant? provide a real life
application/illustration of one (not both) of these concepts.

Sample Solution