I think Racial Formation needs to be looked at...
I think the one aspect of discrimination in society that isn’t the most obvious, but most important; racial formation. Racial formation in society is the sociohistorical process in which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed. Believe it or not, racial formation is an everyday experience, and a form of racism. It doesn’t mean we are racist in the sense of hatred toward another human being, but it clearly shows that, in some instances, if another human being is not your color or race you feel uncomfortable. In today’s society, one of the first things we notice about people when we meet them (along with sex) is their race. We utilize race to provide clues about who are a person is. That bothers me, but truth is, we all do it. This fact is made painfully obvious when we encounter someone whom we cannot conveniently racially categorize-someone who is, for example, racially "“mixed” or of an ethnic/racial group we are not familiar with. Such and encounter becomes a source of discomfort and momentarily a crisis of racial meaning.
Our ability to interpret racial meanings depends on preconceived notions of a racialized social structure. Comments such as “Funny, you don’t look black,” betray an underlying image of what black should be. We expect people to act out their apparent racial identities, indeed we become disoriented when they do not. The black banker harassed by police while walking in casual clothes though his well-off neighborhood, the unending faux pas committed by whites who assume that the non-white colleagues are less qualified persons hired to fulfill affirmative action guidelines, indeed the whole gamut of racial stereotypes- that “white men can’t jump,” that Asians can’t dance, etc.- all testify to the way a racialized social structure shapes racial experience and conditions meaning.
We, as a society, constantly analyze these stereotypes. They reveal the always present, already active link between our view of the social structure-its demography, its laws, its customs, its threats-and our conception of what race means.
We expect differences in skin color, or other racial coded characteristics, to explain social differences. Sexuality, intelligence, aesthetic preferences, and so on are presumed to be fixed and discernable from the palpable mark of race. Such diverse questions such as our tastes in music, our confidence and trust in others, and our very ways of walking and talking become racially coded simply because we live a society where racial formation is so pervasive. Basically, we live in a society that is too comprehensive to even monitor consciously, and despite periodic calls-neoconservative and otherwise-for us to ignore race and adopt “color-blind” racial attitudes, skin color “differences” continue to rationalize distinct treatment of racially identified individuals and groups.
To conclude my ideas, the theory of racial formation suggests that society is suffused with racial projects, large and small, to which are all subjected. This racial “subjection” is quintessentially ideological. Racial formation, therefore, is a kind of synthesis, an outcome, of the interaction of racial projects on a society. As a society, we need to be more accepting of all races, religions, sexual preferences, ages, etc. What concerns me most about society is, as a whole, we are too selfish, are unwilling to open up to new views, and we don’t want change our opinions that we have. The contemporary racial order remains transient. By knowing of how it evolved, we can perhaps, as a society, better discern where it is heading.
[This message has been edited by JBaker515 (02-01-2002 12:23 AM).]