AuthorWomble, Nichelle

    When it comes to race, White people claim to be unaware, and a majority are unaware, of their racial identity and the implications that it has on social ideologies. The problem with being unaware is it shows how Whites view racial issues and race. Unawareness, or claims of it, show lack of consideration for anything other than the problems they face as White individuals. Not only does it show lack of concern, but the oblivion also allows Whites to neglect the meaning and the influence of their racial identity on society. The problem then becomes that racism is excluded from the foundational structure of society; this leads to it being regarded as a baseless ideology that is dependent on other forces and ultimately is disregarded and ignored. (1)

    We live in a racialized society where Whites are privileged, and Blacks are underprivileged. A racialized society is one in which the economic, political, and social ideologies are created by the placement of people in racial categories or races. (2) The human traits used to create the categories are based on social-not biological traits. (3) This is a social construct. (4)

    There is not one group of traits or genes common to all Blacks and Whites. (5) It leaves one wondering then, how are social constructs created? Who determines these social constructs, and how individuals are categorized? Is it based on what they have, who they are, what they do, etc.? These questions remain stagnant and, as such, social constructs and racial categories are not fluidly defined. (6) You are grouped with who you are like, not necessarily who you are, whether it be poor or rich, light or dark skinned, amongst other social constructs.

    In a racialized society, the creation of those categories is almost always based upon some sort of recognized societal hierarchy. (7) Those hierarchies are what define and create the division of social relations amongst those racial categories. (8) In the hierarchy system, the race placed at the top is always in a superior position to the others, and as a result, receives better economic status including jobs, wealth, health, and positions of power. (9) The higher ranked race is afforded a higher societal estimation and is considered "smarter" and "better looking." (10) For that racial group, the higher ranking means being able to choose whether to "exhibit less virulence" since they are in control of their interactions with other races. (11) They can also easily establish themselves as the more dominant race in every interaction because those in the less dominant class cannot. (12) Classic examples of loss of control over interactions for the dominant race happen during revolts or when Blacks move into White neighborhoods having the audacity, from the White perspective, to send their Black children to private schools. (13) Stereotypes are born from social ideologies which are then used to justify a race's place in society.

    According to Bonilla-Silva, those stereotypes may originate from three different categories: "(1) Material realities or conditions endured by the group, (2) genuine ignorance about the group, or (3) rigid, distorted views on the group's physical, cultural, or moral nature." (14) Stereotypes are not always a perfect fit to a "group's true social position"; however, in order for the stereotype to survive, it must reflect the "group's situation" and the social ideological function it represents. (15) The stereotype's objective is to put individuals in categories and create certain notions about them, whether true or not. This way, the hierarchy remains intact and continues to have a dominant race and an inferior race. When certain notions about specific groups disappear, and their status starts to mirror that of the dominant race, stereotypes disappear too. (16) This is when problems arise because the dominant race never wants to lose their position or feel as though another race is beginning to take over--threatening to make them the minority or inferior. (17) Racial practices that in turn create inequalities in today's America are increasingly secretive. (18) They are "embedded in normal operations of institutions," a practice better known as institutionalized racism. (19) To get around the laws in an imperceptible manner to most Whites, institutionalized racism avoids direct racial terminology. (20) The racial disparities between Whites and Blacks are a social reality, though they tend to be threatened as times change. Still, they tend to remain about the same, placing Whites as the dominant race and Blacks as the inferior race. (21) The struggle remains for the dominant race to remain privileged and the inferior race to try and change the status quo. As Blacks create movements to change the status quo, Whites fire back with their own retaliation. However, as the times continue to change, there are new forms of racism that emerge every day. (22) Racism is no longer just overt. There is also now "colorblind" racism by Whites, i.e., "[I] don't see color." (23) It is a constant back and forth struggle, but one thing remains the same, though times have changed, whiteness has not.

    Racism and discrimination remain topics of focus that continue to shape the lives, experiences, and results of the American people. These aspects continue creating privileges, systematically and socially, for Whites while disadvantaging Blacks. Today's White person claims to not see color, but is that the truth? Perhaps they do not see color, but maybe a more honest statement is that they do not see blackness.

    Where did it all begin? To answer these questions, this paper explores "The Birth of a Monster," better known as "whiteness," by encompassing white privilege and supremacy. It will paint a picture from segregation to present day, of the development of White identity, in both White people's minds and our court systems. Further, it will cover how this development has continually shaped the open anti-blackness mindset of today including, policing, the killings of Blacks at the hands of law enforcement, the lack of action by the courts, and the issues around housing, education, healthcare, and jobs.



      Over time ideologies have changed, stereotypes have evolved, and racism has grown; but one thing has always remained, White as the dominant race and Black as the inferior race. (24) There is no distinct answer to how this became the norm and where it began, but one thing is for sure, we did not arrive here overnight. Anti-blackness has existed since slavery. Years after slavery, the world seems to have made up its mind. Our courts also continue to get it wrong as they feed into the idea of the monster, or as I call it, whiteness. Most people categorize slavery as the worst time in American history. Once outlawed, many believed things were supposed to get better. Then came segregation, (25) and with it, a whole new set of issues emerged.

      As slaves were freed and moved into society, Whites, who did not want to co-exist, realized they needed to do something--beginning what we know as segregation and marking the commencement of the birth of the monster. (26) At the same time, amendments were being created to solidify the freedom of the emancipated slaves. (27) This was a time of turmoil as Whites began their own movement to make sure that life as they knew it would stay the same, keeping them as the superior race. (28)

      Then, the Fourteenth Amendment was born. With it, the Constitution had finally given Black men full citizenship and promised them equal protection under the law. (29) In response, starting in 1865, Whites created what would be known as the "Black Codes"; a set of laws passed in the South that dictated the lives of Black people, from limiting where they could live, work, and be allowed in. (30) This was also the rise of the insurance of cheap labor provided by Blacks, even though slavery had been abolished. (31)

      The Black Codes were a prominent example of one race trying to keep another race down. (32) Blacks were criminalized for who they were and not for what they did. As the newly freed slaves began trying to gain some economic self-sufficiency and independence, the White landowners feared what would happen if they did gain full independence. (33) Concerns arose as Whites feared that Blacks would rise to superiority, revolt against them because of the hardships they endured during slavery, and destroy their current economic state. (34) The fear of what could happen resulted in the White landowners creating a system like the one they had during slavery to control the labor force. (35) Mississippi Black Codes required that Blacks have evidence of their employment, in writing, each January for the coming year; and if they left before their employment contract was up, they would be forced to forfeit earlier earned wages and were also subject to being arrested. (36)

      Even though the codes granted Blacks certain rights, including the rights to own property, make contracts, and testify in court, there were still limitations on those rights. Blacks could own property, but it had to be in unincorporated cities, and though they could testify in court, it had to be against other Blacks only. (37) These codes were enacted by a political system where Blacks had no voice and therefore, no choice. The Black Codes "were enforced by all-White police and state militia forces" who were often Confederate Civil War Veterans. (38)

      Blacks continued to see little to no change as the Reconstruction period ended. The federal soldiers in charge of making sure all federal laws were enforced left, sparking vigorous efforts by Whites to thwart the little change Blacks did see. (39) White Supremacy groups began to emerge starting with the Klu Klux Klan ("the Khlan"). (40) The Klan was just another effort to suppress the Black man, kick him while he was down, and ultimately keep him down. The Klan was made on...

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