It is almost conventionally accepted that color is so powerful that everyone sees the world through the lens of color. People see each other and evaluate them by how they look Black, Hispanic, Asian or Caucasian and make a judgment that are absolute on the authenticity of race. However, how many people ever realize that race is just, but a social construct? Scholars such as Ruth Frankenberg have stated in the book “The Social Construction of Whiteness, White Women, Race Matters” on how powerful and critical race plays a role in life. The common practice of passing ethnicities as if they existed from the start attempts to explain the existence of cultures that are simply constructed. Let us use the African American population in the United States to deconstruct the belief that race is important. In my case, I make the argument that race and ethnicity in America, is a function of history, socialization and design of the society.
Understanding race dynamics requires that one understands that a social construct is ontologically subjective at the same it epistemologically objective. A social construct becomes ontologically subjective when the construction and the persistent perpetuation of the constructs become contingent on social groups. The collective acceptance of the imposed constructions validates their existence and makes the construction a kin to reality. Still, the perceived reality is hollow since there is no substance onto it. However, clad in the panoply of ignorance, human mind cannot resist but explain the constructions.
The African American experience in the United States provides the perfect example of this analysis. The experience of African American in America is unlike any other experience faced by other immigrants. The African American society is not a homogenous society. It is a socially constructed group of immigrants from Africa whose ancestors were forcefully brought from Africa. The origin of slaves was from all corners of Africa: West Africa, East Africa and even South Africa. The slaves spoke different languages and practiced different cultures. Amongst the contingent included Muslims, Christians, traditional African believers and others. The groups also varied from the phenotypes ranging from black to brown depending on the place of origin in Africa. The only combining thing for African Americans is the experience of slavery and the collective history of living under oppression for over 500 years. This makes the community very much diverse internally. However, for outsiders, the African Americans could be an ethnic group because of the supposedly shared culture that do not exist. The diversity of the initial group and the very fact that later comers like African immigrants, and people from Caribbean are easily classified as African Americans make the whole concept a construction.
Similarly, another constructivist analysis stems from the color consciousness among the black community. In the United States, dark skinned blacks have lower economic status and even more punitive relationship with the criminal justice system, lower prestige and the chances of holding and elected office. The coloring of black people stems from the relationship that one has with the dominant community in this case whites. The lighter one is, the closer he is to the whites. Still, the color factor do not dissuade the lighter blacks from being tagged “African-American.” How would you explain the tagging of someone like Halle Berry or Colin Powell as black? There is only one explanation to that, blackness is construction. It does not exist. If there were groups for every color tone, there would be tones of classification for people this is unrealistic. Therefore, the society devised a method of calling people black if they have 10 percent black blood in them.
Being black also varies from places to places. A light-skinned African American would be classified as white in places such as Africa or Brazil. An individual who is legally classified as white in Brazil would be black in America. This means that societies define what they think fits their understanding. Most of the time, the understanding is created with rules that cannot be justified.
Even though Anthropologists have argued that there is nothing like race, it will take time before people realize this and practice it in life. This is because the idea of race is complex. For the most part, race is associated with pride that the dominant people get from the acquired status. The dominant group are not ready to lose the status for the sake of equality. The minority should be given more power; money and influence that ill make them develop the self esteem and confidence to fight this social evil. The dominant people will also respect them because of the status they have achieved in the society. However, one thing I know is that it will take time before this is realized.
The world today is homogenous in culture; almost every country in the world is multiethnic, multiracial and multilingual. The need for cultural and racial enlightenment is imminent yet little is done to correct the situation in this world full of ethnophaulism and discrimination. In US jails, people of different races are not mixed together because of fear of violence. What is this? Who can save humankind from these evil? Most people acknowledge the racial conflict that exists in the world, but they remain dumfounded because of nothingness, the feeling that they can do nothing!