Archive for November 13th, 2012

I wrote this for my Cultural Anthropology class my freshman year at university in 2008:


Understanding Race

            The film, “Understanding Race,” ventured deep into the heart of society to bring to light the many concepts of race and its social roles. Although the film was a bit outdated, it presented ideas on the subject on a wide variety of angles which was an aspect I found intriguing. Race is a very puzzling thing and can have so many different meanings depending on the culture. Is there a standard definition to explain it? Each person could very well have their own way of explaining this topic that has caused controversy over this differentiation that has been occurring over the centuries. I myself have trouble coming up with my own set definition, but this film brought to light more ideas that are helping to clear up the muddy picture in my head.

It’s amazing how we all look different in our own unique way. It’s very easy to separate ourselves on the basis of appearance. We can’t help but classify ourselves into categories. Over the centuries, this has been happening. The film mentioned that the genes of every single human being on this earth are 99% alike. This probably would surprise many. I didn’t realize that everyone was that similar. Just that small percentage changes how we look, the color of our eyes, hair, and skin. Then again, I was born into a family that all had the same skin color, so that created division right away. I wonder if there would be an entirely different situation if a child was born into a family where no two people looked alike; every person had something about their appearance that made it impossible to believe they all belonged to the same race. Would that child find this diversity among relations to be completely normal? I don’t think he or she would learn to disassociate him or herself from people of different colors in the same way as everyone else might that is born into different situations. We are taught as children that we are all unique, yet we tend to gravitate towards others who appear the same. This causes a gap that widens among society. Too often, we choose not to venture across it. How limiting this perspective is! No matter what someone may believe, we are all of the same species and can’t be biologically divided into groups.

All too often, people take it upon themselves to regard different races in a negative manner. For centuries, hierarchies have been created which regards one race in particular superior, regarding all others as inferior. This has led to alienation, fear, and hatred. Centuries ago, it inspired slavery all over the world, primarily in the United States. Blacks were not even counted as a whole person! Native Americans were pushed aside into reservations while whites spread themselves all over the country and settled down. The film presented some instances that really affected me. One case was the mention of the WorldChurch of the Creator. It’s founded on the basis of white power and saving the white race. The leader, Matt Hale, spoke of how it was their group’s goal to have everyone else leave the United States, keeping it free of all other races. It surprised me how matter-of-fact and serious he was as he spoke! I can’t imagine how someone could think that it would be possible to have an entire country devoid of diversity! Seeing as how our country is receiving more immigrants by the day, I don’t see this ever coming to be. These thoughts also turn to violence. Countless people have been killed because of their race. Massive holocausts and genocide were held by groups to purge the lands of people who are different. There were also smaller, more direct attacks. In the film, it showed how, in a time when segregation was prevalent, a grocery store owned by blacks was giving opportunities for them to vote. The whites didn’t like this at all and one night torched the store. Then later they stormed to their house and set it on fire, intending to burn the family alive. The family managed to escape except for the husband. When trying the case, the court was corrupt as well! I found this to be horrifying. How can some be so self-involved in their race that they would treat someone different in that manner? Where does this come from? I’m grateful that our society is granting equal rights to more and more.

It always makes me smile to know that people reach out to one another across differences. One black man in the film had an utter fascination with the KKK and sought to gain as much information on the group as he could, collecting pieces of their memorabilia and even went among the groups to speak with them. In maintaining relations and gaining respect and friendship, some members of the group even gave up their membership in honor of him. This astonished me! I had always believed members of the KKK to be extremely close-minded and unwilling to accept diversity! Now I stand corrected, finding that everyone has it in their hearts to change and build up new principles in their character. I find that man to be brave, and he sets a very good example for those who would make the decision to bridge across differences that will broaden their understanding and lead them to bring more compassion to their lives as better individuals.

Race will always be important to talk about. It shouldn’t be taboo or shunned. It may be at times be uncomfortable and sensitive, but the more experience you have in reaching out to others of different races, embracing their differences, the more well-rounded you will become. I learned quite a bit from this film and have managed to gain a wider understanding of the attitude that is important in living out my life with all the diverse people in the world. This world we live in is too vast for us to close ourselves off to others. Joining together, we become a strong community, building off of each other to help us be the best we can be.



❤ Me

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