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Ethnography - Jasmine [email protected] Composition for...

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Jasmine McElroy @02652197 Composition for Honors II ‘Racism’ Within a Race? It is widely known that, historically, black vs. white racism was a huge problem in the United States. However, it seems that many people believe racism is gone. Although the intensity of the racism issue between blacks and whites may have decreased somewhat, other issues dealing with skin color still exist. As stated by Walter Lang, “Any concept of one person being superior to another can lead to racism.” In the United States, many people believe in the idea of hypodescent when placing people into racial categories. Hypodescent places each child of mixed ancestry, having a majority parent and a minority parent, into the racial group of the minority parent. For example, the ‘one-drop rule’ is “a historical colloquial term in the United States that refers to the idea that a person with any trace of African ancestry is considered black” (White 2010). The development of this rule was a way to illustrate the supposed superiority of the white race. Therefore, if a person has any black ancestry, regardless if he or she has white ancestry as well, he or she is considered to be black. In United States, subcategories of the black versus white categorization currently exist. People who identify themselves as black have their own concepts of what being black entails. More specifically, many black people place themselves and other blacks into two skin color categories: ‘light skinned’ and ‘dark skinned’. Since the white race was historically more highly valued over the black race in the past, an interesting question is: is light skin valued over dark skin in black America? And if so, why is that true? There are many ways one can approach the answers to these questions. People who are involved with the study of different disciplines would look at the subject in their own distinct ways. Two of the
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perspectives I find the most enlightening to address the questions from are that of a cultural anthropology and psychology. Through thorough research, I have determined that light skin is more highly valued in black America, which can be explained through aspects cultural anthropology and psychology. Using what I knew about cultural anthropology I looked at the issue from a holistic cultural perspective. In anthropology, holistic means viewing a culture as “an integrated whole, no part of which can be completely understood in isolation” (Bonvillain 2010). From my observation and research, I realized that American society categorizes almost everyone as either black or white, due to physical traits that are supposedly shared throughout each racial group. However, there are no specific physical characteristics that definitively divide people biologically. In fact, races are part of a social, cultural system, which is created in a society, and “social ideologies are then developed to justify the system” (Bonvillan 2010). Based upon this idea, the various subcategories of people recognized within those black and white racial categories are socially created as well. That is where the division of black people into ‘light
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