Pewresearch On Race In Society

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In the past twelve months various incidents have sparked a contentious debate amongst American citizens concerning the issue of race and its place in society today. A poll conducted by PewResearch after the grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases exhibited the fact that a large majority of African-Americans believed race was a factor in the verdict not to indict, whereas the majority of white individuals did not believe race to be a factor at all (PewResearch). This divide speaks to a much larger social issue in this country. Currently, there are systems of social, political and economic significance that perpetuate inequality based upon race. A major problem is that the people who benefit most from these systems, …show more content…

Does that mean that not a single white individual can act authentically in this kingdom of whiteness as Birt suggests? This is where our author and I differ. I agree wholeheartedly with his position that society is structured in a way that allows white individuals to ignore their inherent whiteness while receiving the benefits of their strata within society. Nevertheless, there is still a large part of me that refuses to accept that it is impossible for a white person to be authentic and that he/she is condemned to being in a position of bad faith. My critique and a drawback to Birt’s position is that he is a victim of race essentialism. By denouncing all white individuals as inauthentic he is insinuating that a person’s whiteness causes them to be inauthentic. Just as slave owners and racists have asserted that black skin was the cause of their oppressed position in society, Dr. Birt is arguing that a person’s white skin is the cause of their ignorance to their position in society. Although I may disagree with his position, this is a pessimistic approach that is difficult to critique due to a lack of experience on my part. A fundamental aspect of African-American philosophy is based upon the idea of human experience, specifically the experiences one has as a black person in this society. I do not have these experiences. I have never had a judgement placed upon me through history, religion, and society. I have never had to deal with police brutality due to the color of my skin nor have I had to live in a society that operates unequally towards me. When I take these facts and thoughts into account I fully comprehend how Robert E. Birt has come to the conclusion that authenticity is impossible in society as the way it is structured. However, I

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