Summary Of Michael Omi And Howard Winant Racial Formation

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Critical Summary “Racial Formations” by Michael Omi and Howard Winant discusses the definition of race, race as a social construct, racial ideology and identity, the historical development of race, and unresolved questions regarding race. The article opens with The Phipps case, which ruled that a law which “quantified racial identity” would be upheld (Omi and Winant, 1986, 12). The article describes how race is viewed from both scientific and religious standpoints. Race was used to determine the characteristics and treatment of those who did not look like the European standard. While some argue that race is a biological concept, many have rejected that view and instead view race as a social construct. This revised viewpoint stems from the …show more content…

Omi and Winant then define racial formation as “the process by which social, economic and political forces determine the content and importance of racial categories” (Omi and Winant, 1986, 15). In the context of identity, we use race to define who someone is. We use racial identification in order to assume the behaviors of people and to determine how they are different from “us”. The idea that all people of a certain race will behave in the same way only perpetuates racial stereotypes that are inherently untrue. The use of the term “black” was a result of slavery in order to differentiate the Europeans from the enslaved Africans and natives of the land they colonized. Many stereotypes that plague African Americans also affect Latinos and Asians, as seen by Exclusion Law and the push against immigration. Race is not concrete or permanent; it is constantly changing based on the political struggles of our society (Omi and …show more content…

Selective tradition perpetuates and enforces the ideals of the dominant culture and excludes the traditions and ideas of the past. In “Racial Formation”, the assignment of the term “black” to differentiate between non-white/non-European people from the white Europeans demonstrates selective tradition. The dominant Western European culture created new standards and ideals to be followed and the identities of African and Native Americans were completely transformed. As for “‘Night to His Day’: The Social Construction of Gender”, society’s ideas of what males and females look like and the roles they take on in society “are legitimated by religion, law, science, and the society's entire set of values” (Lorber, 1994, 56). As our society changes, so do our views on gender, becoming more progressive every

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