Essay On Race & Ethnicity Conversation

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Four Conversations about Race by Professors Hazel Markus and Paul Moya

Professors Hazel Markus and Paul Moya compiled a collection of essays that offers target audience a unique analysis of race and ethnicity in the modern society. The authors investigated the topic of race and ethnicity by examining scenarios that people encounter every day. Markus & Moya explore the issue through history, psychology and anthropology research perspective. Some of the findings of their research include eight conversations about race that Americans revert to in conversations. Four of the eight conversations will be described herein and reasons why the lessons the professors give about race are unproductive in the contemporary society.

“Race Is In Our DNA.”

Markus & Moya implied that race is not genetically determined through the conversation, “Race Is in Our DNA”. The authors found the inaccuracy in genetic-based argument about race by arguing that biology or unchanged cultural characteristics cannot determine the race of a person (Stanford Humanities). In addition, they described race as a product of society and history because people would interact among themselves in different settings to make up the world they are living presently. Research findings then conflicted with the authors by finding out that human genome determines race, and it has been approved by many Americans. The conversation held that race is a much more complex subject that the inherent qualities of an individual or groups of people. The argument holds true for African-Americans commonly referred to as black Americans. Blacks arose as a result of the slave trade in South America and its neighborhood.

“That’s Just Identity Politics.”

Markus & Moya found another troubling misconception about race and ethnicity under the conversation they called “That’s just identity politics.” The two scholars found out that people turn to such interjections when the political movement of the day does not favor their race or ethnic community (Stanford Humanities). The authors identified people who treat race and ethnicity as irrelevant and use such comments as a scapegoat from critical universal concerns. The professors underline that race or ethnicity does not define or result in consequences that people face in history or political contexts. The authors argued that the people who draw attention to themselves through the lens of race or ethnicity are weak and fight for a lost course. The proponents of identity politics in the 1990s used connotation PC police to sustain or end conversations that were directed towards a disadvantaged group of people. The term was used by the right wing politicians who wanted academic and culture consideration for the minority.

“Everyone’s A Little but Racist.”

The conversation was used by Markus & Moya to shed light on race with respect to social, political and economic power arenas. The proponents do not acknowledge that people are different, and there is the unequal distribution of wealth among different racial groups. The professors recognize “Everyone’s is a little bit racist” as a stereotype that hampers effort of fighting racism cases in America. The conversation has a powerful effect on people’s social origin such that they cannot hold meaningful conversations with people who consider their orientation inferior (Stanford Humanities). The foundation of Avenue Q song entitled “Everyone is a little bit racist” is racism. The song undermines the role of race in healthy conversations. In addition, European racist attitudes towards its Eastern and Orientals colonies were retrogressive at the time. The attitude resulted in a gap between the East and Europe and the alienation prevailed the entire colonial time. The racial generalizations took center stage in the process, and the Europeans gained advantage over their colonies.

“We’re Beyond Race (“Race Doesn’t Matter any more”)

Conversations that are dominated by racist and ethnic connotations are hindrance to productive discussions. Markus & Moya acknowledge unproductive racist talks by delving in the common conversation dubbed “We’re beyond race”. The professors were among the proponents of the idea that America was living a post-race era when they did the research (Stanford Humanities). The two scholars hoped that Americans would stop to use racial context when they are setting out to accomplish their goals or taking advantage of a prime opportunity. Professor Markus was hoping for a society that would acknowledge the notion of racial equality. The authors looked forward to seeing people recognizing race and ethnicity as components that make up society and individual experiences. Americans have voted a black president twice and that shows that they are gradually healing from the belief that does not race determine the destiny of an individual. The racial orientation of President Obama did not have any effect on the electoral vote in the entire America. People voted based on the agendas the president hoped to accomplish during his tenure. It can be presumed that the voters were not even aware of the race of the contender when they were casting votes.

Reasons Why the Lessons about Race Would Be Unproductive

Race is created when people interact in different settings every day. They go about in their jobs and engage in social processes conversations that conflict with the goals that Professors Markus and Moya hoped to achieve. The existence of web utilities where people from varied social, cultural and economic ground interact evokes inevitable racial debates. People go about in their social relations well until a political issue erupts, and they argue in favor of their racial and ethnic side.

The lessons learnt about race from the four conversations are unproductive because of the way the American education is structured. Racial and inequalities have persisted in American public school systems, and the negative norm has been passed on from one generation to another. The menace occurs in a way that is invisible to the school administrator. The administrators cannot handle such a problem if they do not have concrete evidence about it. In addition, the criminal system and social policies of United States hold controversial clauses that have continued to propel the anti-black movement. The situation has rendered the lessons from Markus & Moya futile and applied to specific cases only.


Stanford Humanities,. 'Examining Conversations About Race With A Multidisciplinary Scope'. N.p., 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.