The Significance of Social Cognition in Determining Racial Ideology

As I read the section entitled “The Birth and Death of Slavery” in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, the key role social cognition played in creating racial ideologies became abundantly clear.  As Alexander explains in her historical analysis of the creation of race in colonial America, a fledgling country had certain capitalist needs for an increase in land and an increase in labor; in order for these demands to be met, Native Americans were killed and forced off their land and blacks were brutally enslaved and exploited as a free labor source.  … Read more

Don’t We All Culturally Appropriate?

In light of the recent posts regarding the performance of historical dance works by Muhlenberg College students as cultural appropriation, I find myself questioning cultural appropriation, its nature, what is appropriate, and what is not. To put it even more simply, can anyone really emulate someone else’s experience via performance? And if not, what is the point of performance, if it is not to express an experience of an artist? In my opinion, it comes out of individual perspective and individual accounts of the purpose behind art.  If someone of color sees a performance as offensive and a direct account … Read more

The “Bad Kid”

I went to the same public school system for first through eighth grade. My town was not that large, so the size of my grade never exceeded 70 people. Aside from a few students who moved either to our town or out of it, the kids who were in my class stayed relatively the same each year. The reason I’m writing about this is that it recently occurred to me over these eight years, there was only ever one black male student in my grade. That is, based on my perception there was only one black male student in my … Read more

From Blackface to Blaxploitation: Racism and Representation in Entertainment

At some point this week, I came across a BuzzFeed post entitled, “The BuzzFeed Black History Reading List,” which included a series of essays and articles reflecting upon the end of Black History Month. One of the articles in this post shines an accusatory spotlight down on Hollywood’s use of Blackface today. After some initial disbelief and some precursory digging, I found the amount of performers who have performed in blackface appalling and the names I cam across equally as shocking. And, no, these were not performers from the Civil Rights Era-America of the 1960s; these were household names that are … Read more

Supremacy and Privilege: The Insidious Consequences of Language

The social constructs that define our reality seem so natural and organic it is as if they were created along with the four elements. But we know that things like race and gender were built by people in order to create a hierarchal society, so how do we begin to deconstruct the categories we both rely on and often cannot see? I suggest that the first step to deconstruction is changing how we describe our identities and the identities of others. I, a white female, have the privilege of calling myself an American.  When I introduce myself as such there … Read more