Free Custom «Summary of

Free Custom «Summary of "Race: The Power of an Illusion"» Essay Sample

Race: The Power of an Illusion consists of six sections, which represent the most substantial issues about a race and racism. Every particular section examines important questions referred to the definition of the race and its conception, the division of people according to possible categories and groups, human diversity, etc. However, the main idea of each section is to define how a race segregates society causing racism and poverty.

The first section What is Race? depicts the primary points and interesting facts about a notion of a race. The point is that most people believe in stereotypes, which define a human attitude towards each other. In this case, a race has nothing in common with biological existence as it is “a neutral division between groups of people” (PBS). Unfortunately, society judges an individual according to his/her race including personal physical features, not taking into account that appearance can be different. The content of this section suggests ten main things, which all people must know about the question of race. A race is considered to be a contemporary idea based on ancient points of view. The science has proved that Ancient Greeks did not segregate people according to their physical differences; however, they divided the rest according to class, religion, and language. Moreover, there were no distinctive characteristics, which made people different. Neither gene nor any particular trait distinguished the members of various races. Although the gene affects the skin color, it does not reveal anyone’s nature, and thus, it is impossible to learn anything about human intelligence by appearance. Thinking about another vital issue connected with race, it is obligatory to mention about the existence of slavery in the past, however, the main reason for it has nothing to do with race but with numerous wars and other historical events. Besides, according to the U.S. principle of human equality, society has realized that there is no reason to deny the rights and liberties of others. Even though this fact is understandable, the question of racism is still under great consideration, which may be changed through the reformation of social policies, eliminating stereotypes and prejudice.


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The second section Sorting People demonstrates how society sorts people according to their physical traits while exploring the nature of any individual. In fact, there are many equal criteria used to classify people into certain groups, which represent different political priorities and cultural ideas. In case of the criteria changes, people are divided into several groups. Independently inherited traits do not explain anything essential about the group and appropriate race characteristics. Moreover, it is evident that “categories are socially constructed, so there are inconsistencies in the way different groups are defined” (PBS). However, it is not right to classify people in terms of their race and skin color. In this case, the federal government of the United States of America allows giving definitions for such ethnic and racial groups as “American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and White” (PBS). These categories are introduced according to civil rights laws approved to eliminate discrimination. Multiracialism includes the so-called potential to change human assumptions referred to race. However, the question is how to get rid of racism and racial categories. The problem is that it is necessary to define the same meaning of the suggested classification making all people equal. Unfortunately, society treats people not according to their moral and spiritual values but according to their appearance based on racial differences. Eventually, groups of people are sorted according to “fingerprint type, tongue-curling, hand clasping, and skin color” (PBS).

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The third section Race Timeline discusses about race as a popular question, which troubles the whole world. Returning to the ancient times, such issues as class, religion, and language distinctions were more vital than physical traits. The conception of race did not relate to science, and many researchers made considerable efforts to examine the questions of superiority and inferiority. Gradually, numerous ideas and particular definitions referred to the race exploration had changed. The point is that all indicated groups contributed to the creation of the American society. As for the modern experiments and views, the social contexts of scientists affect the representation of race inequality. Therefore, modern scientists try to understand whether slavery or race was the first to appear. Attempting to determine the main reasons for slavery, it becomes evident that the initial causes might be debt or war excluding physical differences. There was an assumption that race was nothing more than the fact of life. Moreover, many people perceived and justified slavery as a positive thing. There is also a mentioning that “Africans were enslaved because they were thought to be inferior” (PBS). Even though Africans were supposed to have good skills and abilities for labor, planters did not respect their works and punished them anytime. Moreover, they enslaved Native Americans, who tried to escape slavery. As a result, the majority of slaves had to work in nonliving conditions or suffer from poverty being unable to survive in case of slavery avoidance. Undoubtedly, the historical circumstances negatively influenced the concept of race and racism.

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The fourth section Human Diversity explains that there is no precise characteristic or trait, which can make groups of people different due to one race. It is true that “Beneath the skin, the humankind is one of the most genetically similar of all species” (PBS). The science divides animals into subspecies, but humans are considered to be quite young species being able to lead an extremely mobile life. According to the given facts, a human origin refers to African ancestors, but animals have much of genetic diversity. The main reason for this diversity is a selective breeding. On the other hand, geographical features and habitats limit animals, and thus, many groups follow the life in isolation being genetically different. In contrast to animals, people have more opportunities to adapt for any geographical area even being limited by geography. The most interesting fact is that all humans refer to various subgroups. As mentioned before, different genes have a considerable impact on most of traits inherited independently. All people are different because of genetic distinctions, but in this case, it is necessary to speak not about race but ancestry. Additionally, “the social reality of race can have biological effects” (PBS). Thus, one believes in race interpreted as a biological process, and he/she gets a chance to observe the existent social key elements, which contribute to the intensive development of inequality.

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The fifth section Me, My Race & I shows that racism affects society including adults and a young generation. All institutions and individuals experience its negative impact. Even coming back to the historical events based on “the enslavement of Africans, the dispossession of Indian and Mexican lands, and the exclusion of Asians from immigration” (PBS), it becomes evident that race still influences human lives. The main idea of this section is to find out why white people are superior to the black one. The question of the racial identity is based on personal perspectives and experience, which is mainly negative. In fact, the white think that having a white color of the skin gives more advantages and even privileges. These allow them to get a better higher education and then, they may have a respectable job while pursuing their careers. Namely, these possibilities and limitations at the same time make the black experience racism in different forms. One of the most important problems refers to the establishment of communication between the white and other races. Besides, racial stereotypes and human bias worsen the problem destructing society and its social norms. Economic and social inequalities have dramatically risen due to human interference, which destroys the balance and stability of the social system and the structure. Thus, the racial inequality based on the violation of human rights and freedom causes interpersonal conflicts, unemployment, the fall of economics, and innocent people have to combat poverty due to the color of their skin.

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The sixth section Where Race Lives is devoted to the achievement of the American Dream. In order to reach it, people need to buy a house, but the lack of money limits many to fulfill their goals in life. In fact, Americans associate home with a happy future connected with “education, business opportunities, retirement and resources for the next generation” (PBS). The government tries to provide all social classes with the necessary living conditions, but a large part of Americans can neither buy nor rent convenient houses. The problem is new policies, which do not allow low-income families to use the suggested resources and possibilities. Consequently, this fact leads to the separation and inequality between whites and blacks. Unfortunately, the American government contributes to discrimination while limiting African Americans to live life by fostering a poor existence in the suburbs. People cannot participate in programs, even to buy homes far from the city center, and thus, they remain the minorities characterized by their skin color and poverty.

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In conclusion, Race: The Power of an Illusion explores the question of race through a negative impact on society by leading to the racial inequality and violation of human rights. All six sections prove that racism destructs the humankind and its values. Eventually, minorities have to suffer from violence and poverty being unable to cope with the social opposition.

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