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Misunderstanding Racial Identity The wrong interpretation of race has caused racism and prejudice problems, which have been passed from generation to generation. In America, where there is a large diversity, more people are guilty of “categorizing” others by using race and stereotypes. The incorrect “sorting” of individuals has become more evident on T. V, daily life, and current political and public views. In this text, I will explore some of the ways in which popular culture contributes to the dangerous trend of perpetuating and promoting unjust classifications through the use of stereotypes.

Today, we identify people in such a way that people’s emotions are affected. Media has an immense impact on this because that is how people keep up-to-date with popular culture. Also agreeing with my perspective is Omi, who states that “Popular culture has been an important realm within which racial ideologies [that] provide a framework of symbols, concepts, and images through which we understand, interpret, and represent aspects of our “racial existence” (Pg. 628). The way that media present people from different cultures influences the way we develop prejudices.

By looking at these features, we come up with ideas (or stereotypes) about the people that are being presented. I consider myself as a person that gets categorized by other people and also participate in categorizing because I am like any other human being that criticizes people’s actions, appearance, the way they speak, etc. While judging others, we come up with assumptions about them and classify them into a group or category. Based on the image that we form, we construct their identity in our minds and consequently treat people based on that image we have created of them.

The classification of people into groups is so grave that global issues have occurred and are likely to keep occurring. For example, consider slavery; Europeans made a hierarchy of races putting African Americans at the bottom of the list. If we recall, African Americans became slaves in the United States and were treated with cruelty because they were seen as the lowest class that had no rights. Since a large portion of Americans viewed African American as the lowest class, the belief has remained throughout generations, therefore; many Americans still classify African Americans as the lowest class.

Many times advertisement is a way in which specific groups are targeted and this can be offensive to the group because the commercials, ads, or posters present stereotypes instead. Propaganda and advertisement are meant to appeal to the attention of certain groups, but when the groups are racially targeted, it is a problem that we should strive to resolve to better our communities. Other situations where stereotypes are observable are when we watch Television. For example, when a Hispanic family is presented along with violence and maltreatment, the stereotype of “macho” and violent men is spread throughout society.

As a result of such events portrayed by the media, we form perceptions about people or groups, and in our minds generalize the situations by applying it to a whole race. Stereotypes are not limited to advertisements and music but are also seen on daily life situations as well. For example, I have noticed the changing attitudes about racial identities in my community some of these changing attitudes are reflected by the way certain members of the community are classifying others based on racial or ethnic membership.

According to the CNN Wire Staff, the city of San Bernardino in California went into bankruptcy in the year of 2012 (“San Bernardino Files for Bankruptcy” 1). As a result, different ethnic groups were blaming racial groups for this situation. A couple of days later, I heard an Anglo-Saxon American leader of a business association blaming African Americans and Hispanics for the bankruptcy. He blamed African Americans communities for wasting money and having countless babies that took a lot of money to maintain.

Moreover, he said that there were too many Hispanics taking away jobs and making San Bernardino look bad by having so many illegals living in it. As we can notice there is tension between racial groups and consequently, we are all affected. In daily life situations divisions like these occur because of stereotypes and intolerance that overwhelm our community. Another situation that reflects stereotypes in daily life includes checkpoint locations by the police. In suburban areas where the majority of the population is white, checkpoints are rare to nonexistent because those communities are made up of “the best” race: the Caucasian.

In urban areas where minorities inhabit, checkpoints are much more often seen because the locations are meant to target to specific races. For example, Hispanics that often don’t have their driving licenses or legal papers or African American that have pending tickets to pay because they can’t afford to pay them off. Omi agrees when he says, “Dramatic instances of racial tension and violence merely constitute the surface manifestations of a deeper racial organization of American Society – a system of inequality” (Pg. 625). As Omi states, there is “inequality” and “racial segregation” (Pg. 26) as can be noted in the fact that people are classified by race and not by their nationality. Race is not a way to identify people because not everyone is the same within the race even though we have similar looks. Our bad habit of identifying by race will keep creating problems especially now that there is an increase of mixed races. Popular culture has made its debut in current political and public views. As some of us have experienced, living in a racially divided America creates discomfort not only for foreigners, but also for native-born Americans as well.

Today we see people being categorized into a racial group which closes doors for people even if they belong to a traditional American family. The Caucasian race is known to have the highest rate of people who have a college degree, but some doors are closed on them because they have appearance that resemble to those of minority races. For example, many people in these types of situations encounter different challenges, like not finding jobs in the United States because sometimes they are mistakenly distinguished as a race they don’t belong to.

Although America is supposed to represent equality, discrimination in employment, schooling, and housing is present. Identification by race is incorrect because it negatively affects society to the point that it can lead to severe cases of discrimination, causing the violation of civil rights. By looking at other “races” as less than others, we are discriminating against people, and it is something that we notice some people do today. For example, people think that every black person is the same and consequently assume that all African Americans are delinquents.

Many African Americans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Jamaicans and members of other nationalities that are of black descent, face discrimination today when in restaurants, renting apartments, buying a car, and many other services. I am a witness of this because I have been living in apartments since I came to the United States. Where I currently live, we have a Hispanic manager that admits she doesn’t like to rent apartments to black people because they are troublemakers. This is denying African Americans the right to live there, which is known as racial discrimination.

Discrimination by race is becoming something that more people are struggling today with because in our popular culture, it is becoming acceptable to divide people and groups by their racial identity. In the speech, A More Perfect Union, Obama said, “I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time, unless we solve them together, unless we perfect our union” (Pg. 1). I believe solving our challenges would require getting rid of the racial classifications because that way there wouldn’t be divisions based solely on skin color.

In other words, we would become united and represent one nation, not one race. Working together we would reach our goals, or if we don’t have goals, at least we could help others attain them. There would be a better representation of the American culture, the American people, and of ourselves even if we don’t belong to this nation. We come to this nation because this is where we want to accomplish what we aim for, but the path becomes narrower because of the difficulties popular culture presents.

If we were united, there would only be one direction, no races that want to stay away from each other, and we could all move forward together without taking race into consideration. To conclude, to get rid of racial identification and to achieve union in our society, we must limit the use of stereotypes, prejudices, and racial categories that are presented by popular culture. Instances of racial categorization have become more common on T. V, daily life, political and public views because our popular culture has gradually accepted racial identification.

Calling or identifying others by stereotypes should be something illegal because it not only affects our emotions, but also the development of our self-identity. It is true that we have the freedom of speech but there are certain limits when it is using discriminative words because we cannot interfere with others’ pursuit of happiness. By sorting individuals by stereotypes we are putting their race down; this sometimes causes a sentiment of ethnocentrism, a belief that the race we belong in is superior to the rest, in our communities which can cause even more divisions and tensions.

If we stop using race as part of our identity on papers as they did on the census, we could make a change because individuals would probably see themselves as what they really are, and not an assumption of what they are being forced to consider themselves as. In addition, a lot of job applications, government papers, and other documents have race as a way for applicants to describe their identity. That is something that we should stop using in papers and instead only include our real identity, which are nationality, ethnicity, hair color, eye color etc. , but not including skin color.

When we use skin color as our identity, I have noticed that people criticize by the way we look and not the true individual with traditions, beliefs, and morals. Works Cited CNN, Wire Staff. “San Bernardino Files for Bankruptcy. ” CNN. Cable News Network, 2 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2013. . Omi, Michael. “In Living Color: Race and American Culture. ” Signs of Life in the U. S. A: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers. By Sonia Maasik and J. Fisher Solomon. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. N. 626. Print. Obama, Barack. “A More Perfect Union. ” Huffingtonpost. com. TheHuffingtonPost. com, Inc. , 25 May 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. .