Michael Omi

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, United States, Human skin color Pages: 2 (580 words) Published: April 13, 2005
In Michael Omi and Howard Winant's essay "Racial Formation", we see how the tendency to assign each individual a specific race as misleading. This essay suggests that race is not merely biological, but rather lays more in sociology and historical perspective. Once we look at someone and say, "They're white", it brings forth all the stereotype's that go along with that "race", and once the race is assigned, it is assumed that we can know something about the person. Indeed, if we were to accept that people do fall nicely into specific races, it would seem to ascribe a sort of universality to the group. In other words, if a black man from Kenya was raised in Chicago, IL, rather than Kenya, due to his biological race, it could be assumed the way this man would act. This is far from the truth and much where the paper hinges. It would be safer to say, much in line with the "nurture vs. nature" argument that the society in which this black man from Kenya entered would affect him greater and adjust his attitudes than some sort of genetic clock-work. There would not be some sort of ancestral memory of how this man should act: his religion would be removed if he had no one reinforcing it in his life. This may seem to be an obvious example, as there are certainly some compelling arguments that may attribute certain specific biological facts to a certain group of people. For example, people of African decent are more likely to come down with sickle-cell anemia, directly related to genetic make-up. But this is a small truth for the scientist to have in order to convince that a "race" is a cut and dry notion. This also doesn't convince us that attributing every individual to a certain category is even beneficial or necessary. Ultimately, the paper states that once we designate someone as a certain race, we then have a basis to differentiate ourselves. This serves a people in power the most, as when the Irish-Americans, though viewed as somewhat...
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