The Dialectical Fluidity of Race —
Between self-definition and other-definition, between an individual’s chosen racial identity versus society’s imposed racial identity — facilitates an understanding of race as a social construction
Ben Carson – Slaves and the Carnival Cruise Ship Filled with Hot Dying Men/Women and Children with Dreams and Aspiration of a Better Africa
WASHINGTON ― Ben Carson made his debut as secretary of Housing and Urban Development Monday by telling agency employees about the virtues of the “can-do” American society. Carson said this value system was best exemplified by slaves, whom he characterized as immigrants who came to the United States with very little and worked very hard.
“That’s what America is about,” Carson said. “A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
By 1830 slavery was primarily located in the South, where it existed in many different forms. African Americans were enslaved on small farms, large plantations, in cities and towns, inside homes, out in the fields, and in industry and transportation.
Though slavery had such a wide variety of faces, the underlying concepts were always the same. Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black. Their status as property was enforced by violence — actual or threatened. People, black and white, lived together within these parameters, and their lives together took many forms.
Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them. But it would be too simplistic to say that all masters and slaves hated each other. Human beings who live and work together are bound to form relationships of some kind, and some masters and slaves genuinely cared for each other. But the caring was tempered and limited by the power imbalance under which it grew. Within the narrow confines of slavery, human relationships ran the gamut from compassionate to contemptuous. But the masters and slaves never approached equality.
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Black Group Identity
Work on Black group identity is not easy to characterize, in part because of relatively limited research on this issue, especially that which examines ethnic group differences (Porter and Washington, 1993). Typically, analysis highlights the influence of social class on identity (e.g., Landry, 1987; Farley, 1984). Some inquiry suggests that class is only a part of the puzzle. Broman et al. (1988) reveal that older, less-educated respondents in urban areas and highly-educated Blacks living outside the West were most likely to feel close to other Blacks. Gurin et al. (1989) show that identity, defined as common fate and as more Black than American, was not simply related to class. Males and those of upperclass status were more likely to feel a common fate with Blacks. Younger Blacks and those who did not work full-time were also more likely to feel more Black than American. Williams, T. K., & Thornton, M. C. (1998).
Introduction to the Subfield
The sociology of race and ethnicity began to take shape in the late 19th century. The American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, who was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, is credited with pioneering the subfield within the United States with his famous and still widely taught books The Souls of Black Folk and Black Reconstruction.
However, the subfield today differs greatly from its early stages. When early American sociologists focused on race and ethnicity, du Bois excepted, they tended to focus on the concepts of integration, acculturation, and assimilation, in keeping with the view of the U.S. as a “melting pot” into which difference should be absorbed. Concerns during the early 20th century were for teaching those who differed visually, culturally, or linguistically from the white Ango-Saxon norms how to think, speak, and act in accordance with them. This approach to studying race and ethnicity framed those who were not white Anglo-Saxon as problems that needed to be solved and was directed primarily by sociologists who were white men from middle to upper-class families.
As more people of color and women became social scientists throughout the twentieth century, they created and developed theoretical perspectives that differed from the normative approach in sociology, and crafted research from different standpoints that shifted the analytic focus from particular populations to social relations and the social system.
Note: Ben Carson you should take another look…
Source: Huffington Post
Source: The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, George P. Rawick, General Editor, with A Comprehensive Name Index for The American Slave, compiled by Howard E. Potts and Subject Index, from Index to The American Slave, edited by Donald M. Jacobs, assisted by Steven Fershleiser.
Source: Williams, T. K., & Thornton, M. C. (1998). Social construction of ethnicity versus personal experience: The case of afro-amerasians. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29(2), 255-267. Retrieved from http://nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/232586794?accountid=13217