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Contemporary Racial Identity

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Contemporary Racial Identity

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In America, in the 1800s one of the tasks presents was identifying individuals into their races with individuals who were of color being segregated being stereotyped and finally being pushed off the national identity despite their efforts in contributing to the economy (Anderson & Victor). Racial identity was a social construction to separate people with regard to their physique and color. Thus, there are no specific genes that are different for black or white people. According to Banton 1977, the historical, political and economic forces that transcended the individual’s choice generated racial identity. The social race is understood to be derived from one’s appearance to be either white or black (Anderson & Victor). The construction of racial identity relies on how one identifies him/herself collective basing on how common the perception of belonging to the same heritage that is common with a specific racial group. The issue of identity labelling for years has led to the development of racism whereby people have been judged and characterized according to their color. The African American literature has been said to be writing by people in American that are of African descent. These writings have majorly focused on the African Americans roles within the larger society dominated by white Americans and explain what it means to be an American (Anderson & Victor). These literatures are usually characterized by the themes they present that usually are about the interests of certain back people in American and issues they often face such as racism, slavery, freedom, equality, segregation among others. The genre of the African American literature was first introduced in the 18th and 19th centuries with books like up from slavery give an autobiography account of themes present such as the white supremacy, the racial pride, solidarity and self-help. The main aim of this type of literature was to explore the freedom and equality issues that the blacks were denied for a long time. The contemporary racial identity was developed in the early 19th and 20th century whereby the main characteristics of this contemporary issue in the African literature was to break the normal and the traditional way of focusing on the racial identity theme (Anderson & Victor).

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In contemporary society, the effort to understand African American social identity has often been clouded and affected by the ideology of race. The racial classification that has often been reduced from the color-conscious social classification is a mistake as it tends to develop disparities that create a gap between people of color (Muhammad & Gholnecsar,8). Marked with a legacy of slavery, the African American racial identity is traced to the ancestry and origin of what was termed as blackness. However, in the contemporary society racial identity has seen the development of black solidarity and black social identity that has represented a resistance of dishonor, mistreatment and discrimination in the united states. The contemporary African American identity has developed to see the social class of those identified with the black color to be an elective identity. This has seen the breaking of the traditional way the African American literature that often focused on the negatives and challenges of the black community in the united state change their culture to defining racial identity (Muhammad & Gholnecsar,13).

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Based on the research on the African American literature the contemporary racial identity provides new and changed definition of race and identities through the review of social constructions that are more realistic with a social-cultural view of the world ignoring the outdated notions of the 1800s presented in most of the African American literature(Anderson & Victor). In the contemporary united states, racially-based issues such as immigration, job opportunities and affirmative actions are a source of controversy and argument (Gulasekaram & Pratheepan,162). The research paper examines racial, social dynamics and compelling issues in the contemporary society that the field of race has similar to African American literature. Industrialization in the united states saw the immigration of the African Americans to the nation in quite large numbers who are distinguished by size and diversity in terms of the geographical population across the continent and yet they usually tie with them their historical origin (Gulasekaram & Pratheepan,170).

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Similar to the African American literature the contemporary racial identity is also disguised with the definitions that are based on color and physique of an individual. Since there is a reference to the same historic origin the African American who are often black in color identify themselves with each other through their color that is usually black and refer to themselves as black Americans (Anderson & Victor). The color of their skin and physical appearance warrants their social and racial identity that is usually developed through social construction. There are no specific biological genes that can be traced to white or black people, only the color. With the election of Barack Obama to the presidency renowned author Colson Whitehead, who is an African American novelist mentioned that the United States of America had become a post-racial society (Bhopal & Kalwant). However, with the identification of Barack Obama as a black president who traced his historical roots to a rural village in Kenya shows that the racial identity in the contemporary society is still fixed to the ancient description that focused on the physique of an individual especially in terms of color (Obama,811).

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In case the case of issues as racism, slavery, freedom, equality, segregation that was manifested in the various articles in the African American literature are similarly present in the current society. Racial identity was characterized by the issues and inequalities that the blacks faced in the 1800s as expressed by slavery, lack of freedom, discrimination among others. In most cases, these practices led to racism. These issues are highlighted in various works of literature that sought to express the anguish and pain the people of color had to go through under the rule of the Americans who socially constructed and defined people according to their physique (Bhopal & Kalwant). The issues despite being developed, scaping of slavery and inclusion are still part of the contemporary society that has seen a large part of people of color being racially discriminated leading to the development of racism that was thought to have declined. In the current social issues discussed in the African American literature are presented in for of denied job opportunities, criminal justice, immigration and racial discrimination that is usually common. These can be supported by the move for a travel ban that was imposed by the Trump administration in an attempt to limit the immigration movement to the country whereby they cited that these immigrants steal jobs from the natives.

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In African American literature, contemporary racial identity is used to enhance and develop new works of art that are used to show how racial identification has evolved over the years. Disparities in the education systems that are inclined to favor other students but not the African American, the criminal justice that focuses on ethnicity and race rather than the form and content of the case(Burch & Traci,398). This somehow shows similarities with how the racial identity in the African literature was described. In the 1800s the students who were not white or rather considered as slavers were denied and excluded from accessing education which is the trend in the contemporary society although they are allowed basic education the form has followed the African American literature identifications whereby racial children who do not have undocumented registration in the united states are subjected to conditions that they are likely not to carry on with education well as other students of color are not offered equal chances of joining colleges of their choice despite having passed their exams (Amuta). According to a recent study by Stanford University, educational disparities are a result of the performance gap between white and black students (Amuta). This is seen as a result of the high proportional rate that students of color are being suspended thus on standardized exams they perform poorly. The criminal justice system in the united states even though with hopes of change as Obama took control of the country seemed to incline on the stereotyping of blacks as the offenders (Burch & Traci,398). It often has a racial bias as crime rates are high in a certain class of people with low income whose prevalence being people of color is high. In most cases, African Americans are recorded to be incarcerated 5 times more than whites’ white imprisonment of black women being twice that of white women in the current study. This incarceration often affects the likelihood of one getting a job by almost 70 percent. Access to medical care as an individual of African descent is hard as most of the hospitals do not consider and care for the patients of color as they would care for a white person that was also evident into the 1800s whereby the slaves were denied medical attention (Amuta).

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The evolving and development of racial identity over the past has seen people racial being identified with more dignity providing new and changed definition of race and identities through the review of social constructions that are more realistic with a social-cultural view of the world ignoring the outdated notions of the 1800s presented in most of the African American literature. However, the effects of racial identity which are mostly discrimination and racism are yet to decline. Colson Whitehead, who is an African American novelist mentioned that the United States of America had become a post-racial society after the election of the first black president in the history of the united states. This statement received a lot of criticism from the white counterparts who labelled it to be ironic. Even with the efforts of enhancing equalities and inclusion of the African Americans in the national identity the people of race continue to struggle.

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Works cited

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Amuta, Chidi. Theory of African Literature: Implications for practical criticism. ZED Books Ltd., 2017.

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Anderson, Victor. Beyond ontological blackness: An essay on African American religious and cultural criticism. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

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Bhopal, Kalwant. White privilege: The myth of a post-racial society. Policy Press, 2018.

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Burch, Traci. “Skin color and the criminal justice system: Beyond black‐white disparities in sentencing.” Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 12.3 (2015): 395-420.

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Gulasekaram, Pratheepan. “Immigration federalism.” Controversies in American Federalism and Public Policy. Routledge, 2018. 151-170.

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Muhammad, Gholnecsar E. “The role of literary mentors in writing development: How African American women’s literature supported the writings of adolescent girls.” Journal of Education 195.2 (2015): 5-14.

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Obama, Barack. “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform.” Harv. L. Rev. 130 (2016): 811.

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