Race: The Social Construction of Race & Its Function in Contemporary American Society

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    • 00:04

      [Race: The Social Construction of Race & Its Functionin Contemporary American Society]

    • 00:12

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS: Hello.My name is Leslie Baker-Kimmons and I am a sociology professorfrom Chicago State University.Today I will be discussing race.I will examine the basic components of raceand its function in society.I will define what race is, first by asking the question,is race real or is race a myth?

    • 00:32

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: I will discuss race as a socially constructed conceptand why the concept of race continuesto be a sensitive topic of discussion in today's society.[You Don't Have to be Black to be Outraged]My hope is that this discussion will illustratehow and why the components of raceare the source of the many social, political challengesthat this country continues to struggle with to overcome.

    • 00:55

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: To understand the social significance of race,I will cover the following key concepts--the social construction of race, ethnic groupsand racial groups, minority groupsand dominant groups, prejudice, discrimination,and stereotypes.Race continues to be an important issue

    • 01:17

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: because the ideas that were formed outof the social construction of racecontinue to undermine the progress of race relationsin this society.Understanding the social construction of racebegins with answering the question-- is race realor is race a myth?[The Social Construction of Race]

    • 01:39

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: The answer is that race is both a reality and a myth.The reality of race is that human beingscome in all sizes and colors.People inherit the color of their skin,the color of their eyes, the shapeof their nose and their lips, and the texture of their hair.The variation of human form is directly relatedto how humans adapted to diverse climates, therefore,

    • 02:00

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: race is a reality and can be defined as a group of peoplewith inherited physical characteristics thatdistinguish it from other groups.Race is a myth because, due to centuries of intermixing,humans show a mixture of physical characteristics,underlying the fact that there is no pure race.

    • 02:22

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: The fact remains that outside of inherited physical traits,there is no biological basis to support these differencesin phenotype to there being mutually exclusive races.Race is a socially-constructed conceptcreated to perpetuate the myth of racial superiority

    • 02:42

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: and inferiority.The social construction of race meansthat race was created to support the ideaof biological racial hierarchy and the ideato support political, cultural, and scientific developmentsdesired to explain human differences.Two components developed out of racial hierarchiesare ethnic groups and racial groups.

    • 03:04

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: These are ways in which society categorizespeoples' physical and cultural differences.Now, racial groups refer to those physical characteristicsthat distinguish one group of peoplefrom another, whereas ethnic groups refersto those whose cultural heritage distinguishesone group of people from another, such as regionsof origin, language, clothing, distinctive foods.

    • 03:30

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: [Dominant Groups & Minority Groups]Dominant groups are the group in society with the mostpower and privilege.This group shares physical and cultural traitsand considers its dominant positionthe result of innate superiority.

    • 03:51

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: The dominant group uses its positionto discriminate against those consideredto have inferior traits.The group that is believed to be inferioris called a minority group.Minority groups are singled out for unequal treatmentand believe they are subjected to collective discrimination.["And I'm not sure about the word MARGINALIZED,because I don't know what that means."Assistant Vice Chancellor Dr. Frank Cuevas]Their physical and cultural traits

    • 04:12

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: are seen as inferior by the dominant groupwhich treats them unfairly.Minority group members tend to marry within their own group.[Why People are Prejudice]The division of society between minority groupsand dominant groups can result in prejudice.

    • 04:32

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: People learn to be prejudiced by internalizingthe dominant norms.Prejudice is defined as an irrational thoughtabout an entire group of people.Why are people prejudice?Prejudice can be explained through a few theories--scapegoat theory, authoritarian personality theory, culture

    • 04:52

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: theory, and conflict theory.Scapegoat theory claims that prejudice resultsfrom the frustration that people feelwhen they are disadvantaged.They are prejudiced against thosethey believe are responsible for their disadvantages.Authoritarian personality theory claimsthat prejudice can be a personality

    • 05:14

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: trait of certain individuals.These people typically have little educationand have a deep respect for authority.Culture theory claims that prejudice is rooted in cultureand we learn to be prejudice from society.And, lastly, conflict theory claimsthat prejudice is a tool used by the powerful

    • 05:36

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: to divide and control.[Discrimination]Sometimes people act on their prejudice.Prejudice can be understood as an attitude or thought,but discrimination is an action.And there are two forms of discrimination--individual discrimination and institutional discrimination.

    • 06:01

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: Individual discrimination is the negative treatmentof one person by another, whereasinstitutional discrimination is negative treatment thatis built into our social institutionsso much so that it can occur without the awarenessof either the discriminator or the onebeing discriminated against.

    • 06:22

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: [Stereotypes & the Vicious Cycle]How are these thoughts and actions maintained in society?Prejudice and discrimination are reinforced through stereotypes.A stereotype is defined as a negative generalizationabout an entire category of people.

    • 06:44

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: Prejudice, discrimination, and stereotypescreate a vicious cycle when stereotypescan justify discrimination, whichreinforces the prejudice that underlies the stereotypes.And this vicious cycle continues and isalmost impossible to disrupt.

    • 07:04

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: [Conclusion]To conclude, we have discussed the key componentsof race and the fact that race is socially constructed.This social construction created a racial hierarchythat both minority and dominant groups have internalized

    • 07:26

      LESLIE BAKER-KIMMONS [continued]: and reinforced through prejudice, discrimination,and stereotypes.For more information on race, pleaseread "The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicityin the United States" by John Ferrante and Prince Brown Jr.

Race: The Social Construction of Race & Its Function in Contemporary American Society

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Abstract

Professor Leslie Baker-Kimmons presents a basic overview of the social construction of race and ethnicity. She highlights the way prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination reinforce one another, and she describes the different theories that underlie prejudice.

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Race: The Social Construction of Race & Its Function in Contemporary American Society

Professor Leslie Baker-Kimmons presents a basic overview of the social construction of race and ethnicity. She highlights the way prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination reinforce one another, and she describes the different theories that underlie prejudice.

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