Essay on Color as a Construction of Race

Submitted By kryan730
Words: 572
Pages: 3

Color As a Construction of Race Since the beginning of time, the color of one’s skin has mattered tremendously in terms of the opportunities and advantages that an individual will be entitled to. In the United States, racial categories such as White, Asian American, African American, Native American, etc. are used to classify one’s race. However, this is not the worldwide standard. Many countries have numerous different ways of classifying the people who live there based on this socially constructed aspect of race.
For example, in Brazil there are more than 28 separate racial or color groups (Palmer, 2010). They are not determined by familial lineage (like in the United States), but based on one’s appearance. Instead of assuming the status of one’s parents, an individual will be categorized solely on how they look. Therefore, a child may be considered a different race than their parents. Brazilian classification of race is extremely ambiguous and fluid. Their system does not have clear rules for defining race, so avoidance of an undesired status is often attainable, at least in name. Ambiguity thus allows many Brazilians to switch identities instead of being confined to discrete categories like in the United States.
In the early 1900s, many southern states in the U.S. including Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas passed “one drop” legislation that defined anyone as black if they had a single ancestor from Africa (Davis, 1991). On the flip side, in Haiti one is considered white if they have a single European ancestor. State courts have generally upheld the one-drop rule, but some have limited the definition to one-eighth black ancestry, or made other limited exceptions for persons with both Indian and black ancestry. Most Americans seem unaware that this definition of blacks is extremely unusual in other countries; perhaps even unique to the United States, and that Americans define no other minority group in a similar way. It is blatantly obvious here that race was and still is a defining factor in many societies. We can see that being classified as white is considered a privilege, while being labeled ‘black’ is seen as negative and undesirable. Thankfully, this ideology is continually in the process of changing.
The Racial Formation theory is how racial categories are…