Scientific Racism And Principle Racial Ideologies
Racial ideologies are defined as systems of ideas set into place in order to characterize or explain racial differences in terms of political, physical, social or cultural classifications. These collections of ideas may be considered “real” or imagined but regardless of its truth, there are legitimate threatening consequences on the lives of those who pertain to these ideologies. There are several principle racial ideologies. Referring to one of our chapter readings, “The Central Frames of Color-Blind Racism” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, he interprets that within the types of racial ideologies there are specific “frames” or ways of understanding information relating to those sets beliefs; abstract liberalism, naturalization, cultural racism and minimization of racism. According to Bonilla-Silva, out of these four ideologies, abstract liberalism is one of the most important. Abstract liberalism justifies racist matters conceptually by using ideas associated with political liberalism; for example “equal opportunities” which is the thought that force should not be used to accomplish social policies and implementing economic liberalism, which represents individualism and choice. An example of abstract liberalism concerning choice would be the justification of whites having the freedom/right to choose to live in segregated neighborhoods and cities and admitting their children into segregated school systems. Another frame of racial ideology is naturalization. Naturalization is a rationale that whites use in order to describe racial experiences by declaring it’s a natural occurrence. For instance, naturalization would be present when whites believe that neighborhoods are segregated because blacks tend to stick with people of their own color and who are similar to them. When in reality, segregation took place because of white people. Thirdly, another frame of racial ideology is cultural racism that relies on arguments that are culturally based and inferred. For example, from the Bonilla-Silva reading he quotes, “Mexicans do not put much emphasis on education” or “blacks have too many babies.” These culturally racist statements are dependent upon racial stereotypes and assumptions to further explain the social or economic status of certain minorities. Lastly, the minimization of race proposes that racial discrimination was formerly a major discrepancy amongst the lives of minorities because “it’s better now than in the past,” (Bonilla-Silva 77). This explanation of racial ideology tries to validate the severity or extent of inequality by sugarcoating the fact that today’s society isn’t as bad or as harsh as years before. Realistically, just because we do not have segregated water fountains anymore does not mean that racial discrimination is not still happening and that is what the minimization of race is trying to disprove.
In my opinion, the most problematic out of these 4 frames of racial ideologies is the minimization of race. I believe the minimization of race is the most impactful to society because this idea is adopted to reassure that discrimination or biases towards certain minorities are not occurring and therefore do not have the worthiness to be fixed or focused on. In other words many years ago, life as a minority was extremely difficult and now it’s “not anymore.” That is so problematic to the world because in actuality, people are continuously experiencing discrimination and it may not be openly discussed/portrayed publicly as much as previous decades but that does not signify it’s absence.
Seeing that the repercussions of racism are noticeably real, people assume that race itself must be concretely real in the human body as well. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate that race is a socially constructed concept and impacts the lives greatly of individuals in such a substantial manner. People infer that race is as objective and as “cut and dry” as biology. Although, various experiments and studies have determined that there is lack of genetic or biological differences amidst all races and in fact have more similarities than actually thought of. According to one of the readings we read in class called, “The Science, Social Construction and Exploitation of Race” by Rashawn Ray reports that in relation to this study, humans experience more generic variation and disparities within races than across them. That is to say that a black and a white person may have more of the same genetic make up than two white people. This phenomenon relates to one theme that was one of the focal points in our class throughout the semester, which is the concept of scientific racism. Scientific racism is the pseudoscientific position that gathers practical evidence to advocate or support racial inferiority. This biological-belief race theory has led to the exploitation of race for potential social, legal and economic advances. For example, Nazi Germany used biological ideas of race to perform “racial hygiene” acts to eliminate Jews in order purify their population, which was led by Adolf Hitler. Another example of scientific racism and its use for possible benefits to society was the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment from 1921-1972, where black male farmers were unknowingly infected with syphilis so that researchers and medical “professionals” could detect how the disease destroyed the human body. This experiment goes hand in hand with the dehumanization of African Americans. The doctors who conducted this experiment chose black males instead of white males solely because the scientists themselves were white males and it was a known fact during that era that blacks were considered less of a human compared to whites.
With the invention of race dating back to Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish taxonomist who suggested that because people appear physically different (skin color), there must be psychological differences as a result of skin diversity. Throughout this time period, whites were considered pure and perfect whereas blacks were at the bottom of the racial hierarchy pyramid, being treated like property or animals. The spectrum of lightness to darkness of skin determined the amount of worth, intelligence, humanity and freedom one contained. This idea is closely associated with the history of slavery in this country. Thus, these racial myths transmitted across various means contribute to evolving ideologies of race in many areas. Respectively, these myths are responsible for the availability or lack of available chances and opportunities in life within reach for individuals. The misinterpretation of the science of race and the social construction that race has added up to be is being practice to justify race as a whole and it’s economic, legal and social growth.