During our class this Thursday we briefly touched on the impact of both laws and public opinion on human behavior with particular concern to attitudes about racial issues. In Rebecca Kook’s (1998) article The Shifting Status of African Americans in the American Collective Identity, she traces the development of the African-American identity in America through landmark events in our history driven almost entirely by public opinion. As her article makes painfully obvious, most positive progress, unfortunately, has only come in the past 50-60 years. The preceding decades were marred with a series of terrible injustices that were condoned and perpetuated by an American society that was intolerant, ignorant, apathetic and for the most part overtly racist.
This picture, to me, racializes Barack Obama as a leader, by painting him as “primitive” and tying this notion with his policies. This picture shows how Black public figures in the United States still must face the challenge of representing their entire race with every action. .
When I started reading an article for this class last week and realized that it was about Hurricane Katrina, I was confused. To be honest, I did not know that Hurricane Katrina had anything to do with race. The only negative things that I heard about Katrina (besides, of course, the terrible damage that it did) was that the government took a long time to respond. When I learned about the hurricane in school, the main things that were discussed were what happened, the effects on people, what types of things I can do to prepare myself if I am ever in that type of situation, and how to help. Race was never even mentioned. And, at that point in my life, why should it have been? To me, at that stage, racism was gone, and that wasn’t the issue at hand; the issue was helping people who had lost everything. Now, years later, I know that in almost every situation, race will always be an issue at hand. Unfortunately, it is always an issue.
I found this interview very interesting because it shows how Arab Muslims in the United States are the most recent group to be oppressed because of their social identities in a country which has a long history of doing that just that to many different groups. Dr. Bagby insightfully notes that while on paper American Muslims succeed in America, in reality they often face overt racism. He also calls on the American Muslim community to not only be pollitcally active in defending itself but to legitimize these actions by becoming a part of mainstream American society as well.