Physical features determine one’s position in the society as they provoke prejudice about intelligence, personal characteristics, work ethics and all aspects of life. Although it could be argued that there are differences between different races, in this paper, I will argue that the racial diversity also implies cultural diversity which enriches the world people live in. Whereas The Sneetches is a children’s story, Alcoff’s text is a scientific research about the same problem of racial prejudice. These two texts are similar in a way that they both describe that there is no biological difference between the races as neither one is superior.
Moreover, as Alcoff says: “In our own materialist society, where science triumphs religion and where cultural rituals – whether religious, patriotic or familial – must increasingly revolve around the exchange of material commodities in order to retain their significance, what is true is what is visible” (Alcoff, 15). This premise is about preserving the dominance of the white race. It is scientifically proven that there are no differences between races in terms of achievements of society, and in spite of that the white race insists on being superior. The reason of that is economic. The differences that are visible are merely an excuse for the continued dominance of the white race.
Another issue is ignorance. The good example is from the children’s book The Sneetches: “Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small. You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all” (Dr. Seuss). Some of the sneetches have stars on their stomachs and the others don’t. Although the stars are very small, it is prestigious to have them so that the clans can stick together differentiated from the rest of the plain sneetches. This book is aimed at children because they should be taught from early childhood about the insignificance of skin color. People are supposed to be evaluated by their treatment of other people and by their contribution to the society. Race has no influence in these matters.
Furthermore, each race has its own cultural habits which enrich the culture of the country as a whole. The United States are a perfect example of a mixed races country. It is impermissible to discriminate people based on their races. However, the roots of this kind of discrimination date from a long time ago and only open-minded and benevolent people can accept the differences. For example, basketball players in NBA are very appreciated and most of them are African-Americans. Even this fact hasn’t changed the way that most African-Americans and Latinos are still treated as a lower class. Alcoff says: “The legitimacy and moral relevance of racial concepts is officially denied, even while race continues to determine job prospects, career possibilities, available places to live, potential friends and lovers, reaction from police, credence from the jurors, and the amount of credibility one is given by one’s students” (Alcoff 16).
Comparatively, as Alcoff says: “there is a newly emerging biological consensus that race is a myth, that the term corresponds to no significant biological category, and that no existing racial classifications correlate in useful ways to gene frequencies, clinical variations or any significant human biological difference” (Alcoff 16). This is why there is no dominant race. It is man-made way of establishing prestige. This is simplified in The Sneetches, but this story is true. If there are no biological differences between the races, there are no differences at all. However, the progress of a specific race can be at stake because the dominant race will try to keep their significance. That is why the world is still confronting negative implications based on biased judgments of the skin color. It is all about social prestige and economics. Better jobs are reserved for the white race and they are treated in a better way than other races especially in a country such as the United States where the first people who inhabited the country were white and tried to keep their status as the dominant race. The Indians were there before, but as a peaceful population, they couldn’t defend themselves properly. At first, only white people could get American citizenships. Much has changed since then, but the social awareness is still low.
In addition, there are negative examples of people of all races, but that is not supposed to be treated as a rule for the whole race. Whenever a white person does something wrong they get punished less harsh than people of other races. It is of the utmost importance that people realize how the cultural differences only enrich one’s culture. Culture is formed on the economic basis, but it is equally important. Economic grounds serve as a starting point and an essential foundation for the development of creativity, but, culture is what makes life worth living. Differences are what matter and there would be no differences if there were no different races. There are many people who are not white, born in the United States and they are Americans. Alcoff says: “Visual differences are ‘real’ differences, and by that very fact they are especially valuable for the naturalizing ideologies of racism” (Alcoff 19).
Consequently, as Alcoff says: “Members of racial groups share a set of characteristics, a set of political interests, and a historical destiny. Current racial identities are stable across history” (Alcoff 16-17). That is the reason behind the people who deliver wrong judgments. It is rooted in history. The same story happens to the sneetches in the children’s book, but it is easier for them to realize that there are no real differences because they don’t live in a society with political and economic interests. “Changing their stars every minute or two. They kept paying money. They kept running through until the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one or that one was this one. Or which one was what one or what one was who. Then, when every last cent of their money was spent, The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went” (Dr. Seuss). People believe what they see and form their prejudice upon that. What is visible is what is true for them.
Moreover, the problem of the races being treated differently is social and sociology should deal with it. When it comes to entertainment all the races are the same. Most of the white people have adopted the African-American culture because on their creativity and sense of style. There is no dominant race apart from it being invented by the white race in order to protect their political and economic interests. However, there is still prejudice. “While undergraduates walking into an introductory philosophy course in upstate New York might not expect and Asian instructor, but after an initial surprise the students appeared to feel at ease in the class as he – I’ll call him John – discussed Descartes and Leibniz and patiently explained to struggling undergraduates how to follow an argument in early modern texts” (Alcoff 24). Only after achieving good results are the members of the non-white race accepted to the society. Another example from The Sneetches is that if people are put in the position of the people they are judging, they will see how unfair all that is. That is why this children’s book is important for adults too. Open-mindedness is the only key and it is what matters when making conclusions.
Alcoff, Lina Martin.”Towards a phenomenology of racial embodiment”. Radical Philosophy. 95: 15-26, 1999. Print.
Dr. Seuss. The Sneetches and Other Stories. New York: Random House. 1961. Print.