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How is the concept of race tied to power?

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geegirl452 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 11, 2009 at 5:20 AM via web

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How is the concept of race tied to power?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 11, 2009 at 5:28 AM (Answer #1)

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I assume you are talking about what sociologists say about the connection between race and power.

Many sociologists argue (and please remember that these are all just theories -- you can't prove this stuff) that the idea of race has been constructed by white elites as a way to keep their power.

These sociologists argue (as do most biologists) that there is no physical/scientific meaning to the racial classifications we use in the US.  There are as many genetic differences between various "black" people as there are between "black" and "white" people.

So why have these racial classifications?  Some argue that they are there because they help put down some people and raise others based on their "race."

Is that what you're asking?  Let me know if you need to discuss this.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 11, 2009 at 5:41 AM (Answer #2)

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That is a great question. This question can be taken in so many different ways.

1. It is possible that race has nothing to do with power. If race is not an issue, then race and power have very little correlation. For example, in a homogenous society, race will not play a huge role, since they are all the same.

2. However, in societies where there are many races, often times power is linked to one dominate race. In this case, the race in power creates a world where they set the agenda and spin ideologies to substantiate the way things are. They create truth, in short. For example, Foucault says that each society has its régime of truth. Those in power "create" truth by creating a world view where things seem evident when in fact the world actually favor a small population. If this continues, then there can be explicit racism.

3. If there is a society where various races share equal power, then there may be a struggle - some pushing and some pulling.

In short, I suggest that you read the work of M. Foucault on power. He has some brilliant insights.

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