Social Identities and Systems of Oppression in US Essay Example
Social Identities and Systems of Oppression in US Essay Example

Social Identities and Systems of Oppression in US Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1577 words)
  • Published: May 13, 2022
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Over the course of DOC , we were given superficial definitions of keywords where each played a critical role in developing U.S history. But through class analysis and readings, my insight of the problematic history of white dominant America expanded. In each keyword comes multiplicable layers that erase the transparency of my past definitions of U.S history.

DOC shown me that U.S history isn’t as blatant as previously taught to me. Formerly, I was only taught the surface of the system of oppressions within America. But DOC dove deeper into how the U.S profits off these linings by instilling social, cultural and institutional forms of differentiation, inequality, and resource distribution. The keywords in DOC dissect the socially-constructed dimensions that outline the foundational ideas throughout history. Through DOC, I’ve realized that over the course of history institutional f


orms of oppression are based upon differentiation and is used by elites as the overarching form of social control to maintain their dominance in all facets of society.

In order to dissect U.S history, we must dissect the manipulative background of each keyword taught in DOC. While racial formation is the claim of the abusive effects of racialized difference within the social and cultural structure, it’s also important to analyze different aspects of historically marginalized groups in order to go past the overgeneralizations and stereotypical surface of their problematic pasts taught in my past U.S history classes. Granted that racial formation is deeply embedded in the history of America, many other aspects of identity are also included in the system of oppressions. Only being taught the surface of racial formation in my past years, intersectionality introduced to me the idea that

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while racial linings perpetuate the power of white elites, so does gender, class, and other identity linings. I chose counter-hegemonic acts to accentuate the implantation of identity differentiation, created by white hegemonic powers, into the people’s mindsets. Elites manipulate superficial differences of identity to create tensions among groups, keeping them unorganized and exploited. The historical backdrop of organized separation within America is what allows our biased eurocentric government to prevail today. Although, attempts to rectify this authority enables us to perceive our capacity and obligation to battle against oppressive systems. DOC guided me to unlearn the pre-made mentality set before me by previous classes but also to likewise progress towards a self-defining post-hegemonic future. Word count: 397

Racial Formation

The Racial Formation theory, from Omi, Michael, and Howard Winant. Racial Formation in the United States, defines race as “socially constructed,” where racialized difference is invented, perpetuated and reinforced by society, (Omi and Winant 34). Racialized difference functions as a means to maintain the interests of the whites who constructed it, marginalizing those of color. Racial formation and inequality in America arises from the delineating differences that white elites produce between different ethnic groups to maintain upper-class white interest in markets and politics. This formation constructs circumstances of economic discrimination and insecurity within many minority groups. However, racism wouldn’t be ingrained into U.S institutions if it weren’t also internalized in the minds of the citizens themselves. Racial formation is built upon cultural assumptions, created by white elites, that are absorbed by society which, in turn, can either consciously or subconsciously reform public institutions and society with racialized difference.

Racial Formation has become deeply rooted into American society, that racial

linings have become the basis of America’s stratification systems for centuries. To illustrate, the “redlining” crisis of the 1930s where the federal housing association classified neighborhoods depending on detailed data such as housing age, quality, occupancy and other risk based attributes. However, other non-housing characteristics were also seen as risks such as race, ethnicity, immigration status, etc. This created an “ethnic tolerance” within the housing market, where using government ensured assets to aid potential homeowners of color were a risky bet to take, (Race: Power of an Illusion PBS 40:13). Other future government policies implemented this reasoning with private lending and insurance companies following suit. Race gradually came to be considered a financial risk, its mere presence a sign of a neighborhood’s downward trajectory. Government principles not only plotted to stagnate colored families within inner cities but they also made it a lot less problematic for white families to uproot from the slums and assemble value and generational riches in suburban communities during this social reconstructing. Redlining left families of color more economically at risk and steered them to become easier targets for a cluster of representational problems that revolved around poverty in urban neighborhoods. Racial formation and economic exploitation intertwine exhorting marginalization in society on severe scales. This creates disadvantageous systems that bar people of color from potential wealth accumulation due to multiple institutional barriers. The racial subconscious consumed by society authorizes the profiteering off marginalized communities which ,in turn, empowers white dominance throughout society. Word count: 404


Intersectionality is the evaluative groundwork that approaches multiple facets of identity ,not just race, as intertwining categories of experience that affect all aspects of life which concurrently

structures the experiences of one in society. Different identities overlap and are summative in the effects of one’s experiences in society of either/both privilege and oppression. In addition, multiple identities create multiplicable layers of discrimination which highly disenfranchises those who identify with multiple historically oppressed groups.

Everyone’s experiences in society differs because the differing connections of their identities create distinguishable oppressions. This causes many marginalized groups throughout history to become distorted or overgeneralized, forgetting that people within those groups also existed within other minority groups and faced other facets of marginalization. This created a system where different social movements and organizations who share a certain identity, commonly disregarded those who share other identities with other minority groups. Tending to only look at one identity at a time, people become incapable of facing the most insistent issues and experiences of those most marginalized.

Intersectionality plays an explicit role in creating conflict within counter hegemonic movements. According to Anna Nieto Gomez’s “La feminista,” Chicana feminists in the late 1960’s fought for, “calling attention to her socioeconomic oppression as a chicano and as a women,” (239). While fighting against both racial and gender formation, they often clashed with their male counterparts due to “...the idea of race being the larger issue,” (Strom 11/30). Even with the existing diversity in the movement, other social issues were not seen of significance. Due to the mentality that the feminist issues would detract from the principle focal point of the development itself. The distribution of equality becomes one-sided, leaving other minorities within neglected and their oppressions disregarded. Not taking account of intersectionality, leaves minorities within to compete for equal representational rights. As a result,

counter-hegemonic acts tend to be self-destructive where the tension within causes their downfall.

Moreover, the experiences of the Chicana women aren’t incorporated in the traditional boundaries of either race or gender discrimination independently because the intersection of the racism and sexism faced enacted into their lives in ways that cannot be captured wholly by looking at the dimensions of their identities separately. By only considering one identity, other minorities and their issues become invisible within society empowering hegemonic-dominated social landscapes. Word count: 386

Counter Hegemonic Acts

Hegemonic powers can be defined as the capitalist elites in society who exercise identity differentiation in society by disseminating it as the “status quo” of the time. Thus, when institutionalized systems are exposed as the standard in society, society then complies with the way it is ruled. This allows internalized colonialism to thrive and preserve exploitation within minority groups. Hegemony is an active process that is continually transformed to preserve hegemonic power that manipulates the intersection of identity to deny minority access to society’s full benefits.

With hegemony’s soul purpose of creating an objectionable society of “subordinates” and “elites”, constitutes counter-hegemony. Counter hegemony is the alternate ideologies that scrutinize and challenge prejudiced prevailing philosophies and practices. Historically patterned differentiation of minorities leave oppressed groups to feel they owe no obligation to the society that created their condition. And severely marginalized populations don’t see routine politics as a solution so subsequently they resort to solving their problems by rejecting the legitimacy of the U.S. government. America’s fallacies and prolongment of protection and security led marginalized communities to take it upon themselves to serve their own needs and defend themselves against their oppressors. For example,

the Black Panther Party created black communities that, “fought against racial hierarchies by challenging [America’s] structure and representation,” (Strom 11/19).

The Black Panther Party’s institution of isolation from white America and implementation of community relief programs were used as a tool to enhance the community, uproot systematic marginalization and mainly to spread light on the effect of the racialized political and economic systems that primarily drove these historically oppressed low-income and ethnic minority communities. Through micro level communities, the black panther party projected a critique of the overlapping systems of discrimination and injustice that produced their oppression in the first place. Counter hegemony acts to emphasize the recognizing the sites of our own power and the systemic patterns that exist which will then influence the disbandment of differentiated exploitation. While America’s stratification systems use differentiation as a tool for the organization of society, we must instead utilize delineation as a tool to cease the continuation of differentiated oppression within the frameworks of today’s hegemonic society.

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