Tatum's Theories Of Racism

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The major thesis in this book, are broken down into two components. The first is how we define racism, and the impact that definition has on how we see and understand racism. Dr. Beverly Tatum chooses to use the definition given by “David Wellman that defines racism as a system of advantages based on race” (1470). This definition of racism helps to establish Dr. Tatum’s theories of racial injustice and the advantages either willingly or unwillingly that white privilege plays in our society today. The second major thesis in this book is the significant role that a racial identity has in our society. How we see others have an impact on how we create laws and access to quality education, financial and social resources. Furthermore, how…show more content…
Tatum uses the theoretical perspective of both symbolic interaction and conflict theory in this book. The symbolic interaction in this book looks at the social interaction between racial identities, how we see ourselves and how others see us. Furthermore, it manifests itself in the stereotypes and prejudices that are perpetuated in our society; stereotypes help to reinforce negative images and ideals that we have about different races. An example in her book Dr. Tatum explains that one of her white male student once responded in his journal “is not my fault that blacks do not write books” (1445). The perpetuation of stereotypes allows prejudice ideas to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, basically we see and believe stereotypes about individual races and when one person or a small percentage of people in that race exhibits that behavior, it reinforces our stereotypes and…show more content…
Tatum uses the conflict theory to look at racism, economic and social inequalities. The power structure of the white dominant society in the United States, does not often recognize white privilege, while others do not believe this is a privilege at all. They believe that the power structure in the United States is one that if you work hard, everyone will have the same opportunity for success. This is an example of how white privilege helps racism to continue to exist. The inability to recognize white privilege helps to creates perception and ideals that racism in our society is a thing of the past. When racism and the cost of racism is recognized, Dr. Tatum explains one of her white students’ honest response was he a recognize how racism provided advantages for him, however, “he would not do anything to try to change the situation” (1571). What reason would individuals have to change injustice and inequality when it benefits them the most. This explains the reason why some in white society are reluctance to admit or seeing racism and white privilege, it is much easier to define the other groups as lazy and not taking advantage of the opportunity that are available to
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