Ethnic Studies Final Paper


EthnicStudies Final Paper

Howhas race determined inclusion, exclusion, and segregation in U.S.society? What can be done to ameliorate historic inequality alongracial lines caused by institutionalized privileging andunderprivileging of specific racial groups?

Racehas played a significant role in determining inclusion, exclusion andsegregation in U.S. society throughout its history. This paper arguesthat race has promoted inclusion, exclusion and segregation byclassifying whites as separate identities from other races of colorincluding the Latinos and Black Americans, and according privilegesto the Whites that other races did not have. This historic inequalitythrough institutionalized privileging and under-privileging can beameliorated trough affirmative action that limits the privileges ofthe privileged and improve the privileges of the underprivileged.

First,property was racialized through racial identities. Some people wereaccorded the identity of Whiteness that gave them the right toproperty. Immigration played a significant role in this form ofracial identity segregation. Systems of oppression for NativeAmericans and Black Americans also differed. While Black Americanswere appropriated through labor, the Native Americans wereappropriated through property ownership. By law, Native Americansowned property and Black Americans participated in the labor markets,working in the property of the Native Americans as laborers. In thisregard, Harris (1993) suggests that the relationships between race,slavery and property were determined by racial identities.

Racegave the basis for property rights allocations. This began during thetime of colonialism when Blacks were captured in Africa through theslave trade and sold in America to work for the colonizers. TheNative American workers were given different roles from those ofBlacks. Blacks were significantly considered as laborers. Harris(1993) says, “Slavery was the only appropriate status for them.”iThe Whites were privileged through property land rights providedthrough laws. This was justified by the seizure and conquest of landsby colonists. Although Indians were one of the first races to occupyAmerica, their race excluded them from the property rights ownershipprivileges. Black Americans were subordinated to being laborers andhad no right to property. In this case, race played a significantrole in exclusion and inclusion in property ownership in U.S.society.

Racealso caused exclusion and segregation through the legalization ofwhiteness as a property. According to Harris (1993), white identityis a property because it gave people valuable and tangible benefits.It was regarded as a valuable possession to only a few people who metspecific criteria or standard of proof. Therefore, some races who didnot meet the standards of whiteness such as Blacks and Indians werenot privileged to benefit from the white identity. Whiteness initself was a property that came some races privileges over others. Ifa person was Black, then he lacks the property of Whiteness and hencelacks the privileges that come along with being White. In this case,race became a basis for exclusion and inclusion because Black raceswere excluded in the privileges of property ownership while Whiteraces were included. U.S. society is structured in a racialsubordination where white privilege is an expectation, and whitenessis an essential property for personhood.ii

Racehas also created inclusion, exclusion and segregation throughracialized hierarchies of the U.S. societies. White races have theprivileges of higher hierarchies and benefit from those privileges ineducation, housing, inheritance and employment opportunities.Whiteness is considered as an identity created to rank white races atthe top of U.S. society hierarchies.iiiAccording to Lipsitz (1998), white supremacy can be associated withany race that supports it. Insiders are considered as part of thegroup if they exclude outsiders.ivThis shows that the concept of white supremacy in American societysought to include some races and exclude others from the privilegesof accessing basic resources and economic benefits.

Immigrationwas also an essential manner of racial inclusion, segregation andexclusion. Immigrants entered United States from Africa, Mexico, Asiaand Europe. Immigration laws were formed to exclude some races, e.g.the Chinese exclusion laws which excluded Chinese immigrants fromU.S. society activities and institutions. The harsh treatment ofMexican immigrants is seen through this statement by Hernandez, “Soyoung Harlon picked up his shotgun and headed out to find the Mexicanboys.”vThe boys were playing around in his house and were considered to becausing disturbance in the neighborhood. This shows that the Mexicanimmigrants were treated harshly.

Discriminationin terms of hiring, housing and education were based on races.Unequal education and school segregation was common during the JimCrow system that allowed separate but equal schools. This system hasled to “racially segregated neighborhoods and school districts.”viTherefore, the legal separation of schools through Jim Crow lawsencouraged racial segregations. Employment discrimination was alsobased on race. For instance, black women and immigrants gotopportunities to work as domestic workers while white races wereeligible for white collar jobs that earned more income and moreprestige.viiThe legalization of separate schools caused low quality of educationin Black schools because Black people were offered less economicopportunities and jobs to earn income. Segregation in neighborhoodswas also based on race because passengers in different means oftransport are separated in terms of race.

Inthe modern period, the problems of privileging and under-privilegingcan be improved by using affirmative action. In this case, awarenessis created to eradicate the problems associated with racialidentities and privileging of whiteness as a property of benefits.viiiThis can be achieved through the courts as judges provide thedoctrines and discourse of affirmative action. However, affirmativeaction has been considered as a threat to the whites as blacks becomeemancipated. This problem can be overcome by encouraging equality inall public institutions including equal access to education andemployment regardless of color or race. The affirmative action shouldalso be used to “distort the prism of whiteness as property.”ixThe legal system should be reinforced to provide distributive andcorrective justice in order to protect the interests of all citizensregardless of their race. However, for affirmative action to beeffective it should be properly conceived and protected.

Itis clear that race has played a significant role in the segregation,exclusion and inclusion that was seen through the history of UnitedStates society. These racial segregation, exclusion and inclusionpractices are clearly seen through violence against immigrants anddiscrimination in schools and hiring. School separation and exclusionof races from employment were encouraged by the legal considerationof whiteness as a profitable property. The privileges andunder-privileges of races can be ameliorated through affirmativeaction.


Davis,AngelaI. Women,Race and Class. NewYork: Vintage Books, 1981.

Gomez,LauraE. ManifestDestinies: The Making of the Mexican AmericanRace.New York and London: New York University Press, 2007.

Hernandez,KellyLytle. Migration:A History of the U.S. Border Patrol.Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010.

Harris,CherylI. “Whitenessas Property,” HarvardLaw Review,46, no. 8 (1993): 1707-1791.

Lipsitz,George. ThePossessive Investment in Whiteness.Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

i Cheryl I. Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” Harvard Law Review, 46, no. 8 (1993): 1721.

ii Cheryl I. Harris (1993), p. 1730

iii Laura E. Gomez, Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (New York and London: New York University Press, 2007), p. 98.

iv George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998), p. 4.

v Kelly Lytle Hernandez, Migration: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2010), 83.

vi Angela I. Davis, Women, Race and Class (New York: Vintage Books, 1981), xviii

vii Davis, A.I. Women, Race and Class (New York: Vintage Books, 1981), 83.

viii Harris (1993), p. 1757.

ix Harris (1993), p. 1993