Race in Sociology

The sociology of racism, according to Clair and Denis (2015) is the study concerning racial inequality, racial discrimination, and racism and the associated features. Racism basically is the domination of another race based on the percept and preconception that the dominating race is superior culturally or biologically. This thinking of superiority is used to justify the ill treatment of people from other races. Racialization has led to people being divided into various groups based on physical appearances such as color of the skin, shape of the eye or hair and languages spoken, among others. These groups are then called races. Racial discrimination involves unequal treatment meted to these groups and manifests itself prominently in such areas as education, income, and health.

Race is a construct of the society. It has no biological bearing, as there are no behavioral differences in humans that can be attributed to differences because of factors such as skin color. It however plays a big role in how society is structured. From the standpoint of sociology, when studying racism, the primary interest is in society’s construction of race. North America saw ideologies driven by racism justify appropriation of land and colonial violence targeted at the indigenous groups and the enslavement of people of African descent in the 16th century. Race was also utilized in justifying violence against blacks as well as other minority groups under the infamous Jim Crow laws. How states and nations talked about, understood, and viewed racism changed only in the mid-20th century, because of increased immigration of non-Europeans into Western countries, anti-colonial fights and anti-racial movements that were gaining support and prominence at the time and the activities of the American Civil Rights Movement (Clair & Denis, 2015).

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1954 Racial Discrimination Case: Brown Vs Board of Education

The Brown Vs. Board of Education case comprised of appeals challenging the “segregated but equal” argument for the public school segregation in Kansas, South Carolina, the Columbia District along with Delaware. The 5 appeals were brought before the Supreme Court almost concurrently, and since the subject of the cases was the same, the court decided to hear them together. Given that the first case to arrive was the one from Kansas, the case was referred to as Brown Vs. The Board of Education. The legal representative of the plaintiffs was the legal office of the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.” The lawyers from the NACCP included Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Hill along with Spotswood Robinson contented that the rights of the black students had been being breached under the Fourth Amendment’s Clause of Equal Protection. The key concerns in all the cases were transportation, structures of schools, and inequality in curriculum (Library of Virginia, 2003).

Supported by NAACP’s local chapter, Oliver Brown together with a dozen other parents, filed the suit in opposition to the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas in 1951. The board had denied their children access to the white schools in the neighborhood. The black kids had to take public transport to schools that were many miles away from their neighborhood. The Board’s attorney countered that going to racially separate schools equipped trained the children for the outside world that was equally segregated. They gave examples of figures like George Washington Carver, Booker Washington, along with Frederick Douglass to prove that one could successfully make it through the system and yet be a success. While concurring with the argument of the plaintiff that segregation was causing damage to the black children, the presiding justices ruled in the Board’s favor as they relied on the Plessy legal precedent. Undeterred, Brown later brought an appeal on 1st of October, 1951 (Library of Virginia, 2003).

Racial segregation issues were brought to the attention of the nation like never seen before when the Supreme Court’s ruling was handed down, explains Delinder (2004). The Court ruled that it was inherently unequal, unjustified, and uncivil to have separate educational facilities; they ruled that such discrimination casted racial issues into the entire nation’s consciousness,…


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