Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Race: The Power Of An Illusion

I have watched two of the three parts documentary aired in ABC (Australia). You can see the descriptions here and here.

...isn't it true that race has always been with us, right? Wrong. Ancient peoples stigmatised "others" on the grounds of language, custom, class, and especially religion, but they did not sort people into races. The Story We Tell traces the origins of the racial idea to the European conquest of the Americas and to the American slave system, the first ever where all the slaves shared a physical trait: dark skin.

Politics have always been about reserving the power and the wealth of the influential people. According to what I understand from the documentary, the earlier US government, in protecting the status quos, formulated legistrations which introduce the race inspite of the constitution's declaration of equality for mankind by suggesting biological differences between races.

Today we may question why people with darker skin trends to have lower social status. In the second episode I watched yesterday, a theory was proposed.

But if race doesn't exist biologically, what is it? And should it matter? The final episode, "The House We Live In," is the first film on race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior but on how our institutions leave different groups differently advantaged. Its subject is the "unmarked" race, white people. The shows makes visible the benefits that quietly and often invisibly accrue to white people, not always because of merit or hard work, but because our laws, courts, customs, and perhaps most pertinently, segregated neighborhoods, racialize opportunity.

Since my work is on role play simulation, I am very interested in making this lesson availble to a boarder community. The question I have is how to create the scenario which will bring out the issues clearly. Any suggestion will be highly appreciated.

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