Date: Mar 9, 2018
Category: Book Review Essay
Abstract Race, Class, Gender in the United States is a completion of essays which Rothenberg uses to paint a picture of oppression for women, the minority and financially oppressed members in the society. In the book, race has been defined as the sole determinant of human characteristics and capacities and that racial variations leads to unjustified superiority of a particular race. It describes the view that the socio-cultural and economic advantage position of the Europeans and Americans be maintained at a higher level than other races in a normal life situation. The power of race, gender, and class are explained in this collection of essays with the variations in power are based on class system. Introduction This collection of essays provides a study of class, race and gender. Through past experiences, it is clear that racism has been practiced in many generations, however the numerous efforts that have been directed to change the differences in race, gender, and class in America. The past views of the Europeans and Americans superiority in all aspects against other races has been emphasized by Rothenberg in this collection of essays. In the History of the United Sates, racial and gender discrimination has been documented to have resulted due to the differences in race and gender. Racism is defined as a belief that race is the sole determinant of human characteristics and capabilities that racial variations that produces an inherent superiority against other races. Discrimination has been described as the process in which two stimuli have difference responses in some aspect. Themes Race, class, and gender are common problems in the American society, through history several groups have faced stigmatization due to their race, sex, and class as well. Many people in lower classes, particularly in wages and salaries, have been slandered in areas that they stay and not having the economic capacity to acquire the basic needs. In the American society, women have been considered a weaker sex for many centuries. This book has several themes it tends to explain. Firms it criticizes the pretentious nature of the Americans that racism is something of the past. In addition, class is a social issue that many would not feel comfortable to discuss, particularly the upper class. Furthermore, in gender issues, women are still considered the weaker sex hence, continues to lag behind, especially when it comes to wages or salary. Racial Discrimination is a major theme in this collection of essays. Skin color differences have been used to explain the differences that exist physically and artistically, and justify the maltreatment or dehumanization of an individual from an inferior race. People of properties are considered to be superior in intelligence and traits. An example illustrated in the book concerns cases, People v. Hall, 1854, Dread Scott v. Sandford, 1857, and Bradwell v. Illinois, 1873, that led to a creation of class differences in the rulings of the cases between European- American males, Negroes, Chinese, and women. (Rothenberg, 2010) claims that race is more of a political categorization than biological or scientific categorization. Thus, racial differences are more correlated with the changes of a society’s politics in America. Another example is the case in California, 1854, in which the state Supreme Court ruled in a case People v. Hall, which stated that the Chinese should be barred from testifying against Americans or the white, since the Indians and the Negroes had been barred with a Californian law. The state judges discriminated against he Chinese-Americans terming them as inferior and are unable to progress or have intellectual development beyond a certain level (Rothenberg, 2010). In addition, the Orientals and the Hispanics were considered to be suited to undertake brutal, crippling, farm labor which the Americans, the white were not suited to perform physically. Furthermore, in 1857, the ruling of the United States Supreme Court, Dred Scott v. Sandford, clarified that the Negroes were not considered as part of the citizens of the United States (Rothenberg, 2010) Race is another theme illustrated in this collection of essays. Gender defines a particular set of socially constructed meanings that are associated with each sex. Women and men alike have been portrayed as polar opposites having differing abilities. Thus, the notion of differences is a construction that suggests the claims made that women are different naturally, and the profound difference reflect a political and social ideologies instead of the distinction provided by nature. For example, in 1873, the Supreme Court Ruled in Bradwell v. Illinois that women were not allowed to practice law and further degraded the women that they belong to the “domestic sphere” (Rothenberg, 2010). However, every society has different notions as to what constitutes a woman’s gender role verses a man’s role. In 1973, Roe v. Wade was considered a significant step in the recognition of the right’s of women. These followed the after effects of abortion rights that were accorded open discussions on the importance of the case to women’s movement. Man should not consider a woman as weaker sex since, in the biblical context man and woman should be one in flesh and should not allow competition to one another. In history, there have been differences in attitudes against other races and gender. The Euro-Americans have made restrictions in voting, ownership of property, and the forced evacuation of the Japanese-Americans in relocation camps. This explains that discrimination has been in existence in America. However, in the current century, there has been an increase in number in social movements advocating against gender and racial discrimination (Rothenberg, 2010). However, there is an overemphasis on race and gender to portray differences that are immutable and cannot be bridged in spite of any form of special programs and education. Class system is another social issue in America; generally, class refers to the distinction that exists between individuals which differs from one society to another, or even within a particular society. Different groups have the belief that ideas such as age, gender, education, religion, income, family origin can put an individual in an upper class or position in a society. This is evident in the collection of essays that the Euro-Americans were in a higher class, hence could not do the hard labor jobs that the Irish and the Blacks were doing. They were entitled to higher wages compared to the slaves, and the Indian-Americans. Therefore, the concept of class system in America today provides more reference to personal income, occupational prestige and educational attainment. However, many Americans believe that the American society is divided into three classes, the poor, middle class, and the rich, and that the groups are more diverse culturally and economically. Some also view that the issue of class is not easy to distinguish because of rich cultural diversity making it difficult to draw distinctive lines between social classes in America. I find the collection of essays in this material to be very informative of the historical forms of discrimination and the various opinions of authors who contributed. Rothenberg illustrated only a single side of discrimination an gender issues on a very angry style. It is true that all the discrimination was not only practiced by the Euro-Americans, for instance, Pem Davidson Buck stated that the northern whites looked down their noses at the Irish in the same manner they looked at the free blacks (Rothnberg,2010), creating a “psychological wage”, instead of monthly monetary benefits for the employees or parking places reserved. The teaching of Calvinism was that being poor was a punishment from God and success is an indication of righteousness before God. Furthermore, this resulted into more differences in class in the American society, including gender discrimination, racial discrimination, as well as, homophobia. There were also the differences between the rich and the poor, white and black, men and women, which are viewed as a construction of innate differences between people. These are used as a justification of equality in the distribution of power and wealth emanating from economic decisions that are made to perpetuate privilege. I like the collection in the book because it came at a period in which Americans were in dire need of change. The book illustrates the social issues that affects man daily and are still in existence. It also provides several variables that define our personal life history and determine how we live and co-exist with others in the society. Thus, these variable, gender, race, and class are necessary in providing a definition of our historical backgrounds. These variables assist in determining our past from a personal perspective, as well as, our future. I do admit that dealing with such social issues and emerging a victor in several situations in my life has plated a great role in reshaping me as an individual.