The social construction of “RACE” in the United States.
We are often made to believe that we are not living in a post-racial society with valuable historical links. We sometimes stay away from the topic because we get very sensitive when it is brought up or even discussed. We struggle on how to distinguish European Americans from African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinas and Latinos, Native Americans and other groups. Whenever race comes up, an interesting question appears not to be discussed, “How has race been socially constructed?”
Race always has mattered in the United States as both social and individual. The social construction of race has been developed within various legal, economic, political, cultural and sociopolitical contexts, and maybe the effect rather than the cause of the main race-related issues that our society faces today. From the early 1700s and 1800s up to the late 1900s, who was Black or White was a matter of state laws. You could be black in one state, but when you crossed the state line, you were no longer considered black. Some states said “if you look or even act Black, you’re Black.” Some states said, “if you have one-quarter of Black blood running through your veins, you’re Black.” Some states declared “if you have one drop of Black blood you are entirely Black.”
The social construction of “race” in the United States was constructed by the power to help create dichotomies between Whites and Blacks to show some form of inferiority and superiority. A social construct does not have a basis in the natural world but an artificial distinction created by human beings to show some dominance. To jump ahead, the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to Whites (European-Americans) only. The Jim Crow law between 1877 and the mid-’60s shows that Blacks and Whites were to be separated not equal. The construction of race in the United States has not been a Whites vs. Blacks issue, but a human cause. The Anti-Irish sentiment or hibernophobia included racism, oppression, bigotry, persecution, and discrimination. Irish Americans along with Polish and Italians were not considered entirely White.