(4) essay questions on minorities and race, sociology homework help

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Question Description

These are essays (and not short answer questions), and as such, the answers should be fully developed. 2 paragraphs per question.

1. Define ethnocentrism and comment on how research suggests that ethnocentrism by itself does not necessarily lead to racial inequality unless there is also scarcity, competition, and unequal power. In what ways does this idea support explanations of racial inequality offered by the conflict perspective? In what ways does it apply to the early experiences of African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans in the United States?

2. The essay from the Rothenberg text entitled, “Becoming Hispanic: Mexican Americans and Whiteness" by Neil Foley (see attachment)equates becoming Hispanic with becoming white. According to his essay, are all Mexican Americans currently considered white in the United States? Compare and contrast Foley's account of how some Mexican Americans came to be categorized as white with the accounts of how members of other ethnic groups (for example, Greeks and Poles) came to be included in this category.

3. Identify the functionalist and conflict perspectives on race and ethnic relations. How might both of these perspectives meet societal needs by contributing to the efficiency of society and tend to keep wealth and power in the hands of a chosen few.

4. The essay from the Rothenberg text entitled, “The Invisible Whiteness of Being" by Derald Wing Sue (see attachment) writes about the concepts of individual racism, institutional racism, and cultural racism. Define each of these terms and provide an example of each that you have observed or experienced. What was involved? Who was harmed? Who benefited? Why do these racisms continue to play such a critical role in the pattern of racial and ethnic inequality in the United States?

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Becoming Hispanic: Mexican Americans and Whiteness Neil Foley In 1980 the U.S. Bureau of the Census created two new ethnic categories of Whites: “Hispanic” and “non-Hispanic.” The Hispanic category, an ethnic rather than racial label, comprised Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Panamanians, and other ethnic groups of Latin American descent. Creating a separate ethnic category within the racial category of White seemed to solve the problem of how to count Hispanics without racializing them as non-Whites, as it had done in 1930. To identify oneself today as a “Hispanic” is partially to acknowledge one’s ethnic heritage without surrendering one’s “whiteness.” Hispanic identity thus implies a kind of “separate but equal” whiteness— whiteness with a twist of salsa, enough to make one ethnically flavorful and culturally exotic without, however, compromising one’s racial privilege as a White person. The history of Mexican Americans in the Southwest is thus more than the history of their “becoming” Mexican American or Hispanic; for many, especially those of the middle class, it is also the history of their becoming White. Unlike Black Americans, who experienced de jure segregation throughout the South before 1960, Mexican Americans in the Southwest experienced de facto segregation based on custom rather than statutory authority. Legally, Mexican Americans were accorded the racial status of White people; socially, politically, and economically, however, they were treated as non-Whites. With the rise of the so-called Mexican American generation of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, Mexican Americans began insisting on their status as Whites in order to overcome the worst features of Jim Crow segregation, restrictive housing covenants, employment discrimination, and the social stigma of being “Mexican,” a label that, in the eyes of Anglos, designated race rather than one’s citizenship status. Many middle-class Mexican Americans did not object to the segregation of Blacks or challenge the assumptions of White supremacy. On the contrary, they supported strict segregation of Whites and Blacks in the schools and in public facilities. The basis for their claim for social equality was that they were also White, that some unfortunate mistake had been made in regarding persons of Mexican descent as non-Whites. A group of Mexican Americans, mostly urban and middle class, founded their own organization in 1929 in Corpus Christi, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to foster the goals of Americanization in Texas and other states of the Southwest, restricting membership to U.S. citizens and emphasizing English language skills and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. LULAC members sought to set the racial record straight. In a 1932 article in the LULAC News titled “Are Texas-Mexicans ‘Americans’?” the author asserted that Mexican Americans were “the first white race to inhabit this vast empire of ours.” Another member of LULAC boasted that Mexican Americans were “not only a part and parcel but as well the sum and substance of the white race.” As self-constituted Whites, LULAC members considered it “an insult” to be associated with Blacks or other “colored” races.1 In 1936 a LULAC official deplored the practice of hiring “Negro musicians” to play at Mexican bailes (dances) because it led to “illicit relations” between Black men and “ill-informed Mexican girls.” He urged fellow LULAC members to “tell these Negroes that we are not going to permit our manhood and womanhood to mingle with them on an equal social basis.”2 Not surprisingly, therefore, LULAC, the premiere civil rights group for Mexican Americans, turned its back on opportunities to forge ties with the NAACP during its own civil rights battles in the 1940s and 1950s. The African American author and Nobel Prize– winner Toni Morrison deserves credit for stating bluntly what many Mexican Americans have been slow to acknowledge: “In race talk the move into mainstream America always means buying into the notion of American blacks as the real aliens.”3 Of course, African Americans are not “aliens” in any legal or cultural sense; they are natives of the United States, share in intimate ways the culture and history of the United States, and in many important respects have shaped White culture. W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that he saw through the “souls of white folks”: “Not as a foreigner do I come, for I am native, not foreign.... I see the working of their entrails. I know their thoughts and they know that I know.”4 Blacks are inside American culture, but Morrison’s point is that they remain alienated and estranged from the domain of White power and privilege. Mexican immigrants may begin as racial outsiders and “illegal aliens,” but their U.S.-born offspring are sometimes able to forge identities as ethnically White Hispanics. Unlike the experience of most immigrants, however, discrimination against Mexicans in the United States has been continuous, pervasive, and systemic. After Mexican Americans established LULAC and the G.I. Forum (founded in 1948), they challenged school segregation and other forms of discrimination in state and federal courts. While these organizations and their middleclass Mexican American leaders sought equality based on their constitutional rights as U.S. citizens, increasingly they came to the realization that race— specifically, being White—mattered far more than U.S. citizenship in the course of everyday life. The majority of people of African descent in the United States were citizens, but that fact did not enable them to sit in the front of the bus or attend White schools. As sociologist Mary Waters observed, “If the Irish had to sit at the back of the bus sometime in the past, and now being Irish just means having fun at funerals, then there is hope for all groups facing discrimination now.”5 The assumption here is that most immigrant groups, including Mexicans, have had the “option,” unlike Blacks, of becoming White and thus benefiting from what historian George Lipsitz has called the “possessive investment in whiteness.”6 Choosing the Caucasian option, as had the Irish before them, enabled some Mexican Americans to forge White racial identities that were constructed, as Toni Morrison has accurately observed, “on the backs of blacks.”7 Having failed to convince Anglos that the word “Mexican” denoted nationality rather than a separate race, LULAC members and other urban Mexican Americans constructed new identities as “Spanish American” or “Latin American” in order to arrogate to themselves the privileges of whiteness routinely denied to Mexicans, Blacks, Chinese, and Indians. Becoming Spanish or Latin American also enabled Mexican Americans to distance themselves from recently arrived Mexican immigrants who were often illiterate, poor, nonEnglish speaking, and dark skinned. Mexican Americans thus began to object strenuously to being labeled as “colored” or forced to share facilities with Black Americans. Increasingly, middle-class Mexican Americans during the thirties and forties began to call themselves “Spanish” and insist on their whiteness.... Many Mexicans had learned whiteness and “whitening” (blanqueamiento) before coming to the United States. Long-term interaction among African, indigenous, and Spanish peoples had led to the formation of a complex, hierarchical racial system in Mexico. After centuries of mestizaje, or racemixing, society in colonial New Spain was composed of multiple ethnoracial groups. By the early twentieth century, the Mexican government had created census categories for three racial groups: Whites, Indians, and mestizos. The population of Mexico in 1920 consisted of about 14 million: 10 percent were classified as raza blanca (Whites), 30 percent as raza indígena (Indians), and about 60 percent as raza mezclada (mestizos).8 Mestizos had occupied an awkward position in this racial hierarchy, often hated by the Spanish for being part Indian and shunned by the Indians for being part Spanish. Those able to construct identities as Spaniards often regarded mestizos, Indians, and Africans with racial contempt. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, many urban mestizo elites claimed to be Spanish, or mostly Spanish, in order to establish racial and cultural distance between themselves and Indians.... Some Mexican Americans were therefore mortified when Anglo Americans made no effort to distinguish between “Spanish” or “White” Mexicans and “Indian” Mexicans, which also became a source of irritation to the Mexican government. Mexican consuls frequently complained that Mexican citizens were not being treated like White people in the United States. In 1933 the Mexican consul in Dallas wrote a county sheriff to protest that a Mexican citizen had been jailed “with the negro prisoners” instead of with the Anglos. “It is my opinion,” the Mexican consul general wrote to the sheriff, “that there is no reason for segregating Mexicans from white Americans, inasmuch as they are both of the white race.”9 The different views of the Texas sheriff and the Mexican consul over the racial status of Mexicans in the United States reflected their countries’ legal and cultural perspectives on the issue of race mixing. For Mexicans, theoretically at least, mestizaje produced racial strength. The fusion of Spanish, Indian, and African created a race of people that was greater than the sum of its parts, what the Mexican philosopher José Vasconcelos called the “cosmic race.” To the Texas sheriff and the average White person in America, however, race mixing was a menace to the purity of the Nordic race that, unchecked, would lead to the demise of White civilization. When Spaniards mixed their blood with Indians and Africans, White Americans believed, they removed themselves from the domain of whiteness. This “dark stream” of “peon blood” was inferior to even that of southern European Jews and Slavs whom the eugenicist Madison Grant accused of producing “race bastards” and other “amazing racial hybrids” and “ethnic horrors that will be beyond the powers of future anthropologists to unravel.”10 The history of discrimination against Mexican Americans in the Southwest is a thrice-told tale and does not bear repetition here. What is key, however, is the way in which the courts and the census constructed whiteness and the often conflicting and contradictory way in which Whites themselves constructed it. Historically, if not legally, Mexicans had been regarded as nonWhite and denied most of the rights and privileges that whiteness bestowed. In school segregation cases, however, the courts uniformly ruled that Mexicans belonged to the White race; and in the one naturalization case concerning a Mexican American, the court ruled that Mexican citizens, regardless of race, were entitled to become U.S. citizens as a result of treaty agreements. Mexican Americans reasoned that if the law said they were White, then Anglos broke the law by discriminating against them as non-Whites.... The Supreme Court acknowledged that many immigrants from eastern and southern Europe who were considered White in the 1920s—Italians, Greeks, Slavs, and Jews, for example—were outside the bounds of whiteness in 1790 and had only later been granted status as Whites. The courts, especially those adjudicating whiteness for the purpose of naturalization, often relied on “common knowledge,” or how the average White person viewed the whiteness of a person. Between 1878 and 1909 the courts heard twelve prerequisite or naturalization cases to determine whether a person seeking U.S. citizenship was White or not. In eleven of the cases, the courts barred the naturalization of applicants from China, Japan, Burma, and Hawaii, as well as that of two mixedrace applicants. As in other prerequisite cases, the applicants sought to convince the court that they met the racial criteria of whiteness by either scientific evidence (the division of humans into five racial groups: Mongolian, Negro, Caucasian, Indian, and Malay) or “common knowledge.” The courts used either or both of these criteria to decide who was White and who was not. Takao Ozawa, a Japanese citizen educated at the University of California at Berkeley and resident of the United States for twenty-eight years, petitioned the court to become a citizen on the grounds that his skin color made him a “white person.” The court disagreed with this literal interpretation of whiteness and in 1923 denied him citizenship on the grounds that he was of the Mongolian, not the Caucasian, race. White skin, by itself, did not guarantee one’s “property right” in whiteness.11 Three months after ruling that Japanese were not Caucasian and therefore not White, the Supreme Court in United States v. Thind (1923) rejected its own equation that only Caucasians were White. Bhagat Singh Thind, one of approximately 6,400 Asian Indians in the United States by 1920, applied for citizenship on the grounds that Asian Indians were Caucasian and not Mongolian, were therefore White, and were therefore eligible for citizenship. The court did not dispute that Thind was a Caucasian but ruled that not all Caucasians were White despite the technical link between Europeans and South Asians. “It may be true,” the court ruled, “that the blond Scandinavian and the brown Hindu have a common ancestor in the dim reaches of antiquity, but the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences between them today.”12 The Supreme Court thus ruled in the same year that Takao Ozawa was not White because, although he had white skin, he was not of the Caucasian race, whereas Bhagat Singh Thind was denied citizenship on the grounds that, although he was a Caucasian, he was not White. Whiteness, the courts increasingly ruled, was whatever they said it was. The Thind ruling was the Supreme Court’s final concession to the subjective, cultural construction of whiteness.... To many Whites it must have seemed long overdue when the census bureau announced in 1930 that it had created a separate category for Mexicans. For the first time in census history, Mexicans had become racialized as a nonWhite group. The absence of a separate classification for persons of Mexican descent before 1930 had prevented immigration restrictionists and antirestrictionists alike from knowing the demographic dimensions of the “Mexican problem” during the 1920s when immigration restriction was hotly debated in Congress.13 Accordingly, the instructions to the enumerators for the 1930 census stated: “Practically all Mexican laborers are of a racial mixture difficult to classify, though usually well recognized in the localities where they are found. In order to obtain separate figures for this racial group, it has been decided that all persons born in Mexico, or having parents born in Mexico, who are not definitely white, negro, Indian, Chinese, or Japanese, should be returned as Mexican.14 Unlike census instructions before and after 1930, the 1930 census presumed Mexicans to be non-White unless “definitely white.” Although no instructions were given to determine who was and who was not “definitely white,” enumerators had to decide which Mexicans to count as Whites and which to enter in the non-White “Mexican” column. The outcome, not surprisingly, was that over 1.4 million persons were returned as “Mexicans” and therefore non-White, while only 65,986 (4 percent) of persons of Mexican descent were listed as White.15 The majority of Mexicans in the United States were therefore recognized by the census, if not the courts, as non-Whites. Both the Mexican government and many Mexican Americans objected strenuously to the new classification scheme, and much to the dismay of eugenicists and assorted nativists, the census abandoned the category in subsequent censuses. Although having their whiteness restored did not lessen discrimination, the Mexican government and Mexican Americans fully understood the implications of being officially or legally recognized as a nonWhite group. Segregation statutes consistently defined all those without African ancestry as “whites.” Texas, for example, defined “colored children” as persons of mixed blood descended from “negro ancestry” for purposes of its school segregation laws and defined all persons besides those of African descent as White for purposes of its antimiscegenation and Jim Crow laws.16 Chinese and Mexicans in Texas were thus White under state laws governing the segregation of the races, although in practice Mexicans were segregated into “Mexican schools” on the grounds that they needed special language instruction, were “dirty,” or had fallen too far behind to be educated with Anglos of the same age. In Texas the line between de jure and de facto segregation became increasingly blurred as school officials made decisions about district boundaries, school construction, transportation, and so forth that resulted in segregation of Mexican children from White schools. In the absence of statutory segregation that existed in the South between whites and blacks, Mexican Americans first challenged school segregation in 1930, the same year in which they achieved segregated status in the census. In Independent School District v. Salvatierra (1930), the Mexican American plaintiffs of Del Rio, Texas, sought to prove that the actions taken by school officials were designed to accomplish “the complete segregation of the school children of Mexican and Spanish descent... from the school children of all other white races in the same grade.” This clever wording recognized that Mexicans were not White in the sense that Anglos were, but that they belonged to a parallel universe of whiteness. The Texas Court of Civil Appeals agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled that “school authorities have no power to arbitrarily segregate Mexican children, assign them to separate schools, and exclude them from schools maintained for children of other white races, merely or solely because they are Mexicans.”17 However, it was a Pyrrhic victory for Mexicans because the court also affirmed the principle that children could be segregated if they had language difficulties or if as migrant workers they started school late. School officials were barred only from segregating Mexican children arbitrarily. Mexican Americans had learned that the courts ended officially sanctioned segregation of Mexicans only when they insisted on their status as Whites. But how was one to become de facto White as well as de jure White? LULAC members had tried just about everything they could to prove how Americanized they were: they spoke English, voted, used the court systems, got elected to office, actively opposed Mexican immigration, and excluded Mexican citizens from membership in LULAC. They organized baseball teams and ate quantities of hot dogs. What more could they do to assimilate whiteness? Assimilation, however, is not only about what one leaves behind; it is also about what one is moving toward, what one acquires in the process of cultural exchange and fusion. For many immigrant groups, assimilation, in part, meant becoming “American,” which is also to say, becoming White. And becoming White, Toni Morrison has written, means that “A hostile posture toward resident blacks must be struck at the Americanizing door before it will open,” adding that African Americans have historically served the “less than covert function of defining whites as the ‘true’ Americans.”18 As with other ethnic groups in the past— Italians, Poles, and Irish, for example—for Mexican Americans the path to whiteness i ...
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Running Head: RACISM

1

Minorities and Race
Name
Institutional Affliation

RACISM

1
Question One

Ethnocentrism is a cultural belief that people view that their culture is more superior than
other practices of individuals around them. Besides, the term is taken as a standard by which all
cultures should be approximated. However, ethnocentrism is not the only cause of racial
inequality unless there is inequality of power, competition, and scarcity. This reason is that
America has struggled so much to eradicate the notion that one’s culture is more superior than
others. Additionally, there has been cultural interaction through intermarriages that has somehow
done away with ethnocentrism. Nevertheless, the more common ways that racial inequality is
outlined is through competition between different races, unequal representation in the Congress,
and scarcity of natural resources. Competition is shown when the particular group of people who
share the same ethical background joins forces to outdo the other individual. This situation
would create nepotism and favoritism in the day-to-day life. Hence making other people view
themselves to be racially inferior to their competitor ( LeVine, & Campbell,2002).
Secondly, different power is another reason that causes racial inequality. This situation is
whereby people from a particular race are elected to the chosen positions due to their tyr...

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