1. Describe how 3 of the texts we have looked at affirm or challenge the biologically essentialist notion of race.
2. Based on the readings and class discussion, how has the U.S. federal government policed racial boundaries in 19th and early 20th century?
3. What are the similarities and the differences between Susan Guillory Phipps, Long Lance Buffalo Child, and Takao Ozawa?
4. The four levels of racism as described by Colorlines are: internalized racism, interpersonal racism, institutional racism, and structural racism. Using examples from our class readings and discussions talk about all four levels of racism and its impact on American society.
5. What is the role of the individual both in constructing racial inequality and challenging racial inequality in U.S. society?
PS: Again you can also watch a movie by title “The House We Live In.” (Race) to support most of your essay questions.
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Most articles in class, such as those written by Eva Marie Garroutte, Don Apollon and Barbara Jeanne Fields affirm that the biologically essentialist notion of race still exists. Race as an essentialist notion is the idea that the individual’s race defines who they are at the exclusion of any other physical, emotional, or social attribute. For most of American history, race was an essentialist notion used to divide Americans into separate, and sometimes unequal classes. However, this thinking is slowly changing through investigating the complexity of race, gender, and religion as intertwined entities.
In “The Truth about Long Lance,” Eva Marie Garroutte deconstructs the myth that Long Lance should be solely considered a Native American. Allen argues that he was a far more complicated individual, stating that in reality, Long Lance was named “Sylvester Gunn” and appeared to be fully Native American, but was actually part African-American, Caucasian and Native American. Due to this interest in complicated bloodlines, many people who believe they are Native American are once again investigating their ancestors to determine their connection to the old tribes. Native American essentialism led to significant improvements in social standing, such as the suspension of federal tax obligations on reservations. However, this phenomenon also led to social deterioration as life on the reservations became more isolated. Phenomenal alcoholism rates on reservations are currently destroying lives to the point where it is almost expected that a boy will grow up to succumb to the bottle. Gunn Allen notes that the movement to recognize hybridity allows more people with mixed Native American ancestry to identify as native.
Barbara Jeanne Fields’ essay makes a very interesting racial essentialist argument by starting with the controversial remarks about black athletes made by the famous football announcer Jimmy ‘the Greek’ Snyder. Fields argues that the American government attempted to isolate African Americans for hundreds of years by creating a separate racial distinction for blacks. Institutionally, African Americans were less equal or human than other races, even in the 21st century when legally they were equal. Fields even extends this analogy to other countries; in ancient Greece and Rome Africans were considered mentally inferior; in Russia nobles believed that serfs had black bones even though they were white to cast them in an inferior light....
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