SOCI142_midterm[part2] - 4. Yetman talks about the...

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4. Yetman talks about the arbitrary, irrational, and socially constructed nature of racial and ethnic categories. What is meant by the social construction of race? Give three examples from the reading of the “varied and arbitrary definitions of race.” To begin, race refers to a social category that is defined on the basis of physical characteristics, as opposed to ethnicity, which is distinguished by cultural characteristics. Racial categories found in each society are social constructs or conventions cause biologically, there are no “pure” races. Characteristics that define one racial group from another are arbitrary and thus are socially defined and constructed. o So what is meant by the social construction of race? Well, a group is defined as a race when certain physical characteristics are selected for special emphasis by members of a society; furthermore, it means that it is not about a race being classified by their biological or genetic differences, but by society’s perceptions that these physical differences relate and reflect other apparently innate mental, emotional, and moral differences. Many groups possess physically identifiable characteristics that do not become the basis for racial distinctions. Moreover, there have been irrational categories that have been constructed by separating “races” through linguistics, religion, and national categories, all of which reinforces the notion that racial designations are artificial. Thus, the criteria selected to make racial distinctions in one society may be overlooked or considered insignificant by another. That is why some scholars have chosen to throw out the word “race” and instead subsume it under the broad category of ethnic groups. 3 examples: 1. In much of Latin America, skin color and the shape of lips, which happens to be an important distinguishing criteria in the United States, are much less significant than are hair texture, eye color, and stature. Therefore, a person considered black in Georgia or Michigan might be considered white in Peru or the Dominican Republic. 2. In our own American history in 1926, three members of the NAACP asked defense lawyer Darrow to defend a Detroit black man who had been accused of murdering a member of a white mob that was threatening his home. However, this “black” man happened to be a dark-skinned man of Puerto Rican descent that was mixed up as a Negro. This example shows that racial identity is not primarily a matter of skin color or physical appearance. It is, much more significantly, based on the social categories to which people are assigned.
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3. Gregory Williams, dean of the Ohio State University School of Law, grew up in Virginia believing that he was white. When he turned ten, his parents’ marriage and father’s business failed, so he and his brother moved with his father to Indiana. His father told them that in Virginia, he was considered to be white, but in Indiana, people will treat you differently. They will treat
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This note was uploaded on 10/22/2008 for the course SOCI 142gm taught by Professor 10:00-11:50 during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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SOCI142_midterm[part2] - 4. Yetman talks about the...

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