Race, Class, and Standpoint Theory
Race and social class issues are common phenomena in America. More often than not, people see the racial issues as a plot of the whites to demean the other races in the nation, but the problem of racial differences is deeply rooted in the American history. As Americans acquired independence from the European colonies, different races became part of the American population thus raising the issue of racism. Most of the races came to America willingly and in a voluntary way while others became part of the American population involuntarily. In both cases, the new racial groups had to fit into the new culture of the European Americans who were the dominant population at that time.
The people of color, a title used to describe the brown and the black people, did not have much of a choice in deciding which cultural practices to embrace. However, regardless of a unity display in the public places, the people of color still maintained their cultural practices to remind them of their existence especially the Asians and the Germans. The Africans on the other hand did not have the freedom to practice their cultural believes because they were slaves for a long period, but later managed to become part of the free American population. As such, the issue of race and class in America is an historic issue and all the races contributed in some way to the current situation in the nation.
In the video, ‘the color of fear’ ten men from varied cultural backgrounds discuss their ideas about racisms. The men of color show a lot of anger and dissatisfaction with the titles and the position in which the society has placed them. In fact, some burst in anger during their discussion to show how racism brings a sense of oppression to the people of color. The whites on the other hand, are not aware of the many issues that the men of color deal with on a daily basis. The social location of the men of color places them in an ideal place to understand the injustices of the society better than their white counterparts.
As stated earlier, the demarcations between the white and the men of color was drawn long ago as the history of the American people evolved. As such, people have grown already with knowledge of what the society expects of them based on the color of their skin. The men of color are on the receiving end of the negative impacts of racism while their white counterparts do not experience most of such issues. The whites are even unaware of the thing that hurt the men of color because they are not on the receiving end of the problem. For instance, the men of color do not appreciate the fact that the white men refer to them as the men of color. Additionally, the men of color have had to abandon their culture to embrace the American culture, which is not the case with the white men. Therefore, the position of the men of color makes it easy for them to understand the impacts of racism more than their white counterparts.
The dominant groups within a society have the power to define the social principles and policies of the society. In the case of the American people, the whites have more power to determine and guide the social aspects of the society. The marginalized groups have a tendency of living in fear and in defeat because their cultural and racial background does not command the processes in which the society is run. The dominant groups take charge of the social aspects of life in many ways. For instance, the rest of the races in America have to conform to the European American mode of living.
In the conversation between men of color and the whites, the men of color are infuriated by the fact that the whites do not abandon their culture to form a new American culture. Instead, the men of color are forced to embrace the white people’s way of operation to fit in the society. Consequently, the ease with which the whites get better jobs and higher earnings make it possible for them to live better lives than their counterparts do. The difference in living standards creates social classes. As a result, the men of color and the marginalized population counter these social standards set by the society through violence and resentment against the whites. The processes through which the marginalized populations challenge these social realities created by the dominant groups create an even greater gap between the two groups.
The ten men in the fear of color video present varied perspectives and experiences of cultural and racial difference in the American population. The differences in their perspectives can easily be explained by the history of the racial groups forming the American population. Some of the men, especially the black Americans are highly affected by the racism problem because they entered the nation involuntarily. The means through which a racial group became a part of the American population determines how that group of people views racial differences in the nation. People who became part of the American population involuntarily, such as the blacks, the Mexicans and the Indians have a very negative attitude towards the whites because they were literally forced to leave their families and their lives to embrace a new identity. The fact that they did not have a choice or a role to play in the dismantlement of their lives has led them to grow with a lot of bitterness towards the whites and racism in general. One of the men in the video burst in anger towards one of the whites simply because he has lived with the pain of exploitation and manipulation for a long time.
On the other hand, some men of color in the video show a moderate reaction to the racism issue in the American culture, especially the Caucasians because their entry to the American population was a voluntary action. Despite the fact that they belong to a minority group, they had and have the opportunity to go back home. Therefore, the ability to choose what to do with their lives in the new location gives them a different perspective of racism in America. Consequently, those who entered America voluntarily were already willing to embrace the American way of life and thus do not blame the whites for the way that the society is programmed.
The standpoint theory asserts that the authority of a person is deeply rooted in their knowledge. Additionally, the theory indicates that a person’s standpoint creates the world in which they live. The experience of the men in the color of fear video can easily be explained by the assertions made by the standpoint theory. For instance, the men of color live in oppression eve in the current world where discrimination is not as much as it used to be in the recent past. Their world is created from their standpoint and the fact they have lived in oppression for a long time. Additionally, the knowledge that the people of color possess plays a role in determining how they view the world. The history of America is quite clear on the position that each race held in the society since the beginning and such knowledge continues to influence the today’s world.
On the other hand, the blacks are ignorant of the many issues that affect the men of color because they do not live in such worlds. The lack of knowledge on such issues, causes them to have a negative attitude about men of color who engage in illegal activities. Further, as Wise argues in his theory, the knowledge that the men of color and mostly the blacks are violent people makes the whites to discriminate on such groups even without being conscious about it. The same idea is displayed in the Native American woman’s conquest where the women seem to have more knowledge of their situation thus placing them at a better place to advocate for changes.
The wise’s argument is one of the controversial theories in the current world, especially on the topic of racisms, class, and unequal privileges. The theory explains that people of color and the whites cannot simply get along because the society has already set those standards. However, Wise argues that the same problems that the people of color can are in fact experienced by the more privileged in the society. The only difference between these two experiences is the names that are attached to the incidences once they happen depending on where they occur. For instance, a child of color who commits a crime will be easily sent to prison and branded a criminal. On the other hand, if a white child commits the same crime, it will be more of a mental disorder and medical case than a criminal case. As such, equality is possible if only people could embrace it in the society.
Wise argues that the society operates in a way that the oppressors do not even recognize their power to oppress when they do it. The men of color are pushed to live in less conducive environments where issues such as crime is a norm, thus forcing them to embrace such kinds of living. Consequently, the privileged community has an already formed perception about the less privileged people in the society, which makes it almost impossible for the marginalized groups to rise above the set standards. Mistakes to the less privileged are a personality problem while to the privileged society, it is simply a mistake or an influence from the surroundings. As such, the privileged groups rarely understand the level of oppression that they exert on the less privileged people on a daily basis.
In conclusion, the men of color in the color of fear video would simply agree with the Wise’s assertions since their stories coincide with most of the claims made by Wise’s theory. The white men in the video would also agree with the analysis of Wise to some extend although their view of the American society is more aligned to Johnson’s theory of privilege and power.