Racial Identity Development Essay
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I am an Asian and I am from a prominent region of the continent—Hong Kong. When I am abroad, I become a lesser equal of other people especially the citizens of the country where I am visiting. I become deprived of several powers and privileges for a variety of reasons. For the most part, racial differences take a big role in stripping non-citizens of any country of a number of powers and privileges. Others see my race as inferior to their own race which, in effect, puts me in a lower social position.
Gender and ethnicity are two other factors which contribute to the inequalities mentioned. I am a male and I personally do not believe in gods. Because of those traits, it is personally difficult on my part to be involved in social groups and enjoy certain privileges that people with strong religious affiliations can enjoy. However, I have observed that there are still influences of male dominance. Since I am a male, I am still able to have an advantage over females in many ways, from physical endurance to the capacity to perform physical work over a longer duration.
I think I am in the stage of “pseudo-independence” because I have experienced racial oppression in many ways, from simple to complex ones. I am still trying to understand the differences that people have, including race, gender and ethnicity. I believe I have been able to progress from the stage of “reintegration” because I have gone past acknowledging the supremacy of the White race. In the past, I have been slightly intolerant towards people who belong to other races. I viewed my Asian heritage as far more superior than the rest during those days.
However, I have come to know that there are generally perceived privileges given to the Euro-American race. I believe that, as of now, I only have the conceptual knowledge about the sociopolitical aspects of different races. In the coming days, I am looking forward to actually experiencing these things and encounter how it feels like to actually fight racial bias, prejudice and discrimination even in my own little ways. The impact of the generally accepted perception of White supremacy and the inferiority of other races on my self is that I am unable to fully become an autonomous individual.
Everywhere I go, I am confined to how the White race has perpetuated the idea that to be White is to have better access to various social services and privileges. Whenever I hear the news about Asians being heavily scrutinized in airports out of suspicion of being a terrorist, I cannot help but think about how White people are exempted from that security routine in many places. The status quo where the White race is perceived as the better race indeed have far reaching consequences to myself and to others.
Sometimes, I even wish that I belonged to the White race so that I can get rid of the racial prejudices and biases. My current perception towards “the other” or those people who are not Asians is that they are partly intolerant of my own race. Although not all people profess and practice racial intolerance, I think there are individuals living in the world who either fear or disgust my race. The society has constructed the very idea of White supremacy and, as a result, other races like the Asian race had to endure living in a world where they are the “lesser” equal.
In Hong Kong, there is still that construed image Westerners as people who frequently travel to far places such as ours and spend their resources just to enjoy some of life’s finest luxuries. They see White people as wealthy and, therefore, as individuals who have the power and privilege to relax and indulge in what Hong Kong can offer. Johnson’s concept of stubborn ounces reminds us that we should not take for granted the little efforts that we do (Johnson). No matter how small my efforts can be to push back the causes and effects of racial bias, prejudice and discrimination, they still serve their own little purposes.
I think that my goal of at least being free from all thoughts of racial intolerance can be fulfilled with the help of what other people may see as “stubborn ounces”. I can try every day to get closer to people who are of a different race such as Latin Americans and even Europeans. I can smile at them whenever I walk in front of them or wave a hand at them as simple gesture of kindness. These “ounces”, when put together, can turn into a huge chunk of effort in giving my own share towards a world free from racial intolerance. Like the monopoly game, our society sometimes rewards those who have the greed for wealth and power.
However, the game also contains what Johnson considers as “paths of least resistance”; these “paths” are acceptable ways of behaving in the society. Since entering college, I have learned that we should try to reach out to other people who may or may not be of the same race as ours. Instead of avoiding or hating one another, we should strive to respect each other and tolerate our differences as if there were none at all. Because society sometimes rewards the greedy, we should strive to change that social system and replace it with a better one.
However, it does not mean that we should take actions that stray away from the rules. Rather, we should take the paths of least resistance and consider every ounce of effort as part of the larger picture. Indeed, it is entirely better if part of the collective ideological pursuit of removing racial intolerance comes from those who are perceived to be perpetuating it such as Whites and Europeans. Since entering college, my understanding of the broad concept of race has widened. Yet I know that it does not end there because the greater challenge lies in real life situations.