Diverse Racial Experience
Diverse Racial Experience
The chapter by Ruth Frankenberg entitled, “Introduction: Points of Origin, Points of Departure”, argues that the way one is perceived in society drastically changes their experience and advantage over others. Therefore, white women are often distinguished by their whiteness which gives them a more diverse racial experience (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 1). With being white comes various additional components that set it apart from the other raced women of the world. Moreover, being a white woman automatically links them to a more favourable position of superiority in the way that they are often identified.
This means that they get certain benefits by being white, as colonialism positioned them to have a large portion of control and authority over others. This provides them with the advantage to define the public and its individual beings the way they believe or want it to be. Moreover, they see their whiteness as a normative position in society that is invisible. Frankenberg`s goal is to make whiteness visible so that a white person can identify that they have an advantage over a person of colour by virtue of their skin. She also takes into consideration the intersectionality of class, culture, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in a white racialized body (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 1).
Colonization is an important factor to Frankenberg because of how it uncovers the concept of whiteness and how it subsequently became associated to a position of authority and power. In the article `The Murder of Pamela George`, the author observes that history of colonial violence permitted white men to annex land that did not belong to them and treat it as though they were entitled to it (Razack, 2004 ,pp.127). This perception has perpetuated the control and authority of white people throughout history.
A critique in the second wave of feminism made white feminists reconsider what and for whom they were advocating. The movement of feminism was envisioned to include all women but it only targeted one specific group of white middle class women. This occurred because the women could only see there suffering from their particular standpoint. This is seen in the article “The Problem That Has No Name“ by Betty Friedan since she assumes that all women are homogeneous and all have the same lived experiences. She does not consider race, class, and sexuality as a factor in feminism (1997).
White women mostly consider their whiteness as undetectable and thus not subject to racism (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 3). These white feminists in the second wave were unintentionally being racist towards other women; this made them unsure about how to precede and resolve this issue (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 4). Frankenberg educated herself about racism by positioning herself to learn from the standpoint of women of colour. Enakshi Dua stated in her article that, in order to understand how race and gender are interconnected one has to listen to the lived experiences of women of colour (2005, pp. 64). Frankenberg followed this method formulating questions that she wanted to investigate to find out how racism affects a white women`s life and how society propagates racism through societal means. After answering these questions Frankenberg proceeded to figure out how white women can fight against racism.
Most white women believe that their race is invisible and do not realize that it gives them a distinct experience in the world. This is because the dominant class structures society and thus normalizes whiteness. White women and women of colour have distinct experiences that are subject to how they experience racism. Whiteness is socially constructed and it does affect a white women`s life. However, white women usually tended to regard racism as something that has no effect on them and that women of colour only have to live through (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 6). This belief does not put the onus on the white people and it does not identify the perpetrator of the subjection. Racism does not just happen, it is constructed (Tim Wise 2005). Therefore, it impacts the lives of white women which makes race and gender intersectional for all women not just women of colour.
There is a denial in the observations that there is one specific dominating male gender. There is also an abundance of only white women`s experiences by this masculine hegemon. After women realized that the world view did not only have to be seen on a male standpoint the world started to shift views (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 8). Women of colour now want to focus on a standpoint from a radicalized point of view in order to stop racism. Moreover, since white people are the oppressors they cannot see how their situation is reinforcing racism.
People of colour are the oppressed and know exactly how they are underprivileged. Subsequently, women of colour were the first to see how gender, race and class forms a persons experience in life (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 8). White women did not see their race as something that was constructed. They did not see themselves as racialized because they were coming from a position of privilege. This position for a white person was normalized throughout American history. Therefore, in order to deconstruct race white women have to admit it is something that affects them (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 11).
Race is in a fluid motion and changes constantly with society because it is an economic and political construct. Historically, the white dominance was vindicated because of false biological account that white people were superior (Frankenberg, 1993, pp. 13). This biology justified colonization as well as the enslavement of people of colour that soon followed. The justification shifted to culture as the reason that made people inferior and if they integrated with American culture they would achieve success on merit like white people.
However, this belief kept blaming people of colour for their position in society.People of colour were first seen as different from white people, then there was an embrace of colour blindness, and finally people realized that they needed to be able to see the differences in society so they can explain them. This last movement’s purpose was to make people aware of race; this was led by the people of colour themselves. They did not want to be invisible because there situation was not improving because people were ignoring the underlying problem.
The racialization of people of colour and white people was constructed with colonization. The European culture was embedded into the way the United States constructed its country. This constructed whiteness as belonging and being a person of colour as an outsider (Dua 2005, pp. 60). The dominant western culture –which was white- positioned itself to dominant over the other races. This created the standard citizen that belonged and made people of colour not included in the so called superior western culture.
Frankenberg`s argument illuminates how the dominant class rationalized whiteness as not being racialized. Colonization formed the dominant race and reproduced it through society. By normalizing whiteness the white people did not need to consider how it benefited them and subsequently how it negatively affected people of colour. By naming whiteness, Frankenberg will be able to pinpoint how that perception can change so that people can be equal even with there differences. In conclusion, by admitting that white people are racialized will assist anti-racist feminists in their mission to stop the racialization of all people. This would stop white people from believing that they are the only ones that belong in North America and eventually create a system based on meritocracy rather then privilege by virtue of a persons skin.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 November 2016
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