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What Does It Mean to Be White

Updated May 14, 2022
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What Does It Mean to Be White essay

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Describe the life experiences that have informed your racial attitudes and beliefs and reflect on your level of interaction with members of other racial/ethnic groups. What in your life has facilitated or hindered you in interacting with members of different racial/ethnic groups? When I was growing up, I felt like I never could define people by their skin color and the same was said for them. That’s not to say that I didn’t see that one person was black or another was white, but I could not form any opinions on them solely based on their race. A race can be defined as the physical attributes of a group that makes them alike such as facial features, hair color and most importantly skin color.(Fitzgerald, 23) The interesting thing about race is that it has proof of any significant genetic difference between one race and another. I think the moment that really made me aware of both my race and others’ happened when I got to highschool and I started to look more like an adult.

At the time, there had been a couple that was robbed downtown by a black man in a durag. There was also a police sketch that was going around. When it happened I didn’t think anything of it because I just assumed that since it had nothing to do with me I wouldn’t be bothered about it. But one night I was with my dad driving downtown and we ended up getting stopped by the police nowhere near where the robbery happened. They questioned us for what felt like forever about if we knew anything about that night and where we were. It was probably one of the scariest days of my life. It was one of the only times in my life where I felt like my race put me and my family in danger. I rarely ever have any truly upsetting experiences that have prevented me interacting with other racial groups. I feel like I’ve been raised to listen to everyone’s opinions. To other people’s annoyance, I actually like the cultural clash and disagreeing with people of other racial groups. I think that that is a great way for everyone on both sides to learn. If you are a nonwhite student, reverse the questions.

For instance, list five ways you have been discriminated against due to your race. Were these examples difficult to come up with? Speculate on why or why not. Additionally, speculate on a few ways you think your life might have been different had you been born white in American society. One time I was with my dad at the store getting groceries. The cashier asked us if we wanted to pay with cash or ebt, or food stamps. My dad taught me not to jump to conclusions and he did that by waiting to see if asked the next person in the the same question. He did not. So my dad confronted him about it. The cashier said that they were required to ask due to their policy. We ended up just leaving and submitting a bad survey to report him. Another time I felt like I was discriminated against was when I was banned from a cvs pharmacy for stealing. I was hanging out with my friends once and we decided to go to the store to get some chips and stuff. I ended up not getting anything and unknown to me my white friends had been stealing a bunch of candy. When we left the store a security guard stopped us and made them return it while also banning us from the store for the rest of the school year. This experience showed me a couple things.

I felt like because of my skin color the security guard assumed that I was also stealing despite there being no proof of doing so. The other thing it showed me was how my friends were able to get away with stealing so many times without me being there. Otherwise they wouldn’t have had so much confidence that hey would get away There have been other smaller instances where I felt like I’ve been talked down to by my peers because they felt like I wasn’t trustworthy or reliable. One person went so far as to call me useless. When I would tell people that I lived in Palo Alto, about 70% of the time white people would try to correct me by saying “Do you mean East Palo Alto?”. I feel like these are all little things that if I had been white in these situations. My legitimacy wouldn’t be put into question. I think everything that I’ve used as an example could fit under Institutional Privilege. The idea of Institutional Privilege is not necessarily a group putting itself above another. It’s the idea that the way that many white people live is supposed to be the standard.

The white person is supposedly the one that’s supposed to get the job, get into the school, or live in the nice town. If it’s anyone else, it seems more likely that they are questioned about how they ended up there. If possible, describe white privilege to two white people you know—friends, coworkers, or family members. What is the general reaction to this notion? Why do you think this is so? Is it possible for you to not see white privilege after reading this chapter? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why not? Describe white privilege to two people of color that you know—friends, coworkers, or family members. Describe the general reaction to this notion. Tie this in to the idea of standpoint perspective described in Chapter 1. The first person that I explained whit privilege to was my friend Alex.

He’s one of my oldest friends who also happens to be white. When I was telling him I somewhat felt like he had a preconceived idea of what it meant and didn’t really get what I was trying to say. I was trying to explain to him how in most cases white people are seen as individuals and how the single don’t define the many. He was somewhat dismissive of it and when I asked him what he thought it meant, and it surprised me when he said that he thought it had more antagonistic meaning towards white people. He felt like when we bring up white privilege, we are saying that white people should feel bad or uncomfortable. I just think that there was some form of guilt that he has subconciously. Like he feels that its his fault that things aren’t equal like they say they are. In reality it isn’t and there’s no reason for him to feel personally responsible for any of it. I also talked to my niece and brother about what white privilege was.

For them it wasn’t necessarily any new information. But it was more of a realization of the feeling that they both collectively had. It was like I was able to put their thoughts into words. I think that Black people have an understanding of what white privilege feels like instinctively because of the institutional privilege that we all experience. We usually realize that some things are going to be even tougher to achieve just because of our names or the color of our skin. Provide evidence of the “ethnic revival” or “symbolic ethnicity” in your family or community. Were these hard to identify? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why? I think that the main thing that my family has kept intact as a form of ethnic revival is listening to jazz music. Not only listening to it but also playing as well.

Everyone in my house has a long history with jazz. My mom is a dancer and singer and my dad plays multiple instruments. Another thing that I think is evidence of ethnic revival in my family is the food that we make whenever we have a family gathering. Whenever family comes over for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or any other time during the year. The family always makes traditional African American foods like black eyed peas, fried chicken, collard greens etc. These things weren’t really hard to think of because I have always been aware of my heritage. Growing up I was always informed why it’s important that we make these dishes and why we listen to the music we do. We still eat all kinds of foods but I definitely have more love for the foods we eat for special occasions. Had you previously considered the gendered nature of early racial/ethnic conflict and inequality? If not, why do you think that is? Speculate on the ways racial/ethnic inequality is gendered today. I actually hadn’t thought about the idea of gendered racism before reading about it.

But when I was reading I also realized how it applied to my real world. If I am understanding it correctly gendered racism is the association race and gender to minorities and the expectations the come with that (Fitgerald, 133) It wasn’t something that I realized that was happening because in my mind all minorities were equally being discriminated against. I hadn’t that about how being a black woman would make it even more difficult because they also have to deal with the prejudices of being a woman. I feel like a good example of racial inequality being gendered today is women in sports. Many of the women in professional sports are treated unfairly in many different ways. Whether its is how they are paid or their actual skill. But the one thing that I’ve realized has become more and more popular is the wording that people use to describe black vs white players. I’ve noticed how many black female players are seen as manly or ugly while white players are considered to be more beautiful.

I find it interesting because this isn’t something that I see coming from white men. I also notice that it is black men discriminating and seeing them as less than. Do you have ancestors belonging to any of the groups discussed in this chapter (whites, Native Americans, Chinese Americans, Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, or African Americans)? If so, how does this information make you feel? As an African American, I still find everything here very disturbing. I especially find the emergence of Jim Crow disheartening. Considering it was started shortly after the slaves were freed for the sole purpose of taking away the rights of newly freed slaves. It was amazing to me how threatening the idea of a African American having basic voting rights was to the white lawmakers.

Of course the rise of the Ku Klux Klan is also very disturbing how easily they were getting away with murdering hundreds of black men, women and children only because they felt black people had no rights that white people had to respect. (Fitzgerald, 152) The KKK would hold public lynchings where they would hang, dismember, and castrate the people before killing them. The dehumanization of the African Americans is most disturbing because of how recently this all was. We like to think about how far gone we are past slavery and Jim crow but all of this was happening within the past 150 years.

Which in the context of everything is no time at all. Explain how the racism of the dominant group can be understood as prejudice plus power and how the color-blind ideology is an example of dominant group power. The text explains how everyone can be racist. But what it does explain is that white racism has much more of an impact than the prejudices that are thrown out buy other races. Which is where the idea of prejudice plus power comes from. The thing that makes white racism so dangerous is that it is naturally enforced by society and the racism doesn’t seem as obvious to them. In many cases they use a color-blind ideology. Basically they believe that we are past racial differences and everyone is equal. There are two different types of color blind ideologies. Color-evasion is a passive ideology based on color that emphasizes the sameness between different people. Then there is Power-Evasion that implies that everyone of all colors has the equal opportunity.

Both of these are dangerous and hypocritical in a way because it is one group that is deciding that everyone’s the same despite there being obvious differences between races. Think about some arena in which you hold privilege (race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, nationality). Identify five ways you see privilege operating in your life. The first thing that I know that I know that I am privileged is by having two parents at home. I know that a lot of people especially black children live in homes without parental figures at home. Not only are they both together but they are both educated with masters degrees. Another way that I know that I am privileged is being able to eat everyday. Coming home I never had to worry about whether or not I was going to be able to eat that day.

I am also very healthy and have never had any major health complications. This is especially important to me because my dad had cancer when I was younger and I just remember how scary it was to watch him go through that so I am thankful that I don’t have to spend extended time in the hospital. The next thing that I know I’m privileged to have is a home to come to everyday. In America, and especially San Jose, there is a large homeless community so I am completely aware of what I have and do not take it for granted. I know that I am privileged to have my clothes and a way to clean them. I think that many of the opportunities that I have been given are things that are expected to be given as part of being an American. So if anything I am privileged to live in the USA.

Provide evidence that this period in history, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was a racial dictatorship. Conversely, provide evidence that this period could be described as the beginning of a racial democracy. The reason that the late nineteenth and early twentieth century should be considered a racial dictatorship is because of how the races other than whites were being discriminated against. Once slavery was ended by Lincoln the white men were threatened by the African Americans.

So to take away what few rights they had finally earned the created the Jim Crow laws that were intentionally created to keep black people as less than equal without them being slaves. Another group that was heavily discriminated against were the Native Americans they were literally forced off their land at gunpoint by the US government. This is what would later be known as the trail of tears(Fitzgerald, 173). If the Native Americans did not obey the US Military’s orders they were considered to be enemies and were considered to be at war. During the Reconstruction Era after slavery ended there were three major acts that proved to be the beginning of racial democracy. The first one was the Thirteenth amendment in 1865 which ended slavery perminantly in the United States.

The next one was the Fourteenth Amendment which is responsible for giving the former slaves us citizenship rights. Then the Fifteenth Amendment gave black men the right to vote. Not only did this allow black men the ability to vote but it made it illegal to deny the right based on color.(Fitzgerald, 148) Why did these protest movements choose to use nonviolent direct action to challenge the white power structure in the beginning of the movement? Explain why most of the movements (with the exception of the Asian American movement) shifted away from nonviolent direct action toward more militant positions.

The reason that the protest movements were nonviolent is because there were they were not trying to incite violence as a means to equality many of them believed that violence was a means to only more violence and nothing would be solved. An example of this were the Freedom rides in the early 1960s. The Congress of Racial Equality would hold these interracial bus rides through the south turning the segregation rules around by having the white activists sit in the back and the African Americans sitting in the front.(Fitzgerald, 195) They did this knowing that this would agitate white southerners but chose not to fight back I think that people were tired of things not changing as much as they had hoped so they would tend to lean towards more violent protests. An example of this is the Black Panther Party out of Oakland, CA created by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The demographic that they were mostly targeting were the urban black communities. They taught people how to fight for themselves and even armed them. They also were responsible for the creation of many much needed services in the area. But they tried to use their power to create fear in white people to force change through violence.

What Does It Mean to Be White essay

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What Does It Mean to Be White. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-white/

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