Segregation in our Society
Even after the speech, “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr., there are still differences between colored people and white people that are being addressed in today’s society. Being naturally introduced to one social classification may give somebody unearned social preferences, while being naturally introduced to another class may give another person unfair advantages. In Allan Johnson’s essay, “What is a System of Privilege?” he gives the readers a brief explanation of what privilege is, and what type of people earn it. bell hooks, an author of ‘Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor.” defines privilege in a way of showing herself as a low-class studying at Stanford University. Both essays show economic class stereotypes between white people and colored people, such as how Allan Johnson stated in his essay how blacks are most of the time considered criminals. Which led to bell hooks essay, where she sets examples of pop culture and mass media to show how the lower class radiates negative stereotypes, and what people can do to make the change.
Allan Johnson and bell hooks discuss economic class stereotypes through society’s innate racial profiling. Society is set to believe that white people are powerful and should not be accused of anything until they show signs of being criminals. Allan Johnson effectively shows how privilege works to reinforce economic class stereotypes by asking people, “One way to see this is through a survey in which respondents were asked to close their eyes and picture a drug dealer. When asked to describe what they saw, almost 95 percent mentioned a black person, even though the vast majority of drug dealers in the U.S. are white.” (Johnson 455) Since the survey showed that 95 percent of the people mentioned a black person as a criminal, it is impossible for society to think that a white person would commit a crime.
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When people go to urban areas they think that this is the place where crimes happen most of the time, because they might see black people more than white people since it is downtown or a city. When in the rural area not many crimes happen and it gives a reason for people to think that this a white people area, because they might not see people on the streets. Everywhere nowadays people blame African Americans for committing crimes because society does not let them see themselves in a better way. However, the author of “Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor” bell hooks tells her readers that even though racisms still exists today people are still trying to make the society better.
Bell hooks argue about racial profiling in her essay and she states, “Thankfully, there are huge swaths in America today where racism and Jim Crow are correctly deemed low class, ignorant and morally abominable.” (hooks, 3) The argument on racial profiling from bell hooks show the readers that the country has definitely changed and racism is not as bad as it was. People see things happening but they do not compare it to people of a different race, because they came to the realization that not all people are the same even though they come from the same background. Allan G. Johnson shows how privilege work to reinforce economic stereotype by including examples of how black people are considered criminals most of the time because they are black. In which bell hooks explains to the readers that our society can still get better if people change the way they view others.
Allan Johnson makes another point to show economic class stereotypes, in which he points out how white people get better treatment without earning it simply because they are white. A person should not be treated better or poorer based on the color of their skin. He shows the readers that people of other color do not deserve the “unearned advantages” that only white people deserve. Allan Johnson states in his essay based on this argument, “when you organize a society in this way, the result will be patterns of unearned advantage that are available to whites simply because they are socially identified as “white.”
This statement shows the readers that whites are able to do anything, but people with other skin color are limited. Johnson wants people to realize that there should not be any separation between people from one society and people should earn advantages from working hard and earning them. Bell hooks make a connection to Allan Johnson’s essay in her essay which makes readers think that being white is having class. She mentions the biggest events in history to make her point about how unearned advantages are to white people because of the history of African-Americans. With factual evidence, bell hooks state, “During times of slavery and Jim Crow, the United States was racially segregated.
Therefore, for many years the idea of social class was based on “whiteness” or white privilege. Aspiring to “be white,” that is molding oneself on stereotypes of “desirable white behaviors,” for many decades was a sign of class.” She adds slavery to show the readers that white people are considered “high class” because they did not work like the African-Americans, or they were not treated like them. Racial segregation has always been one of the biggest times in the history of America, which still makes some black people feel like it exists today too. Allan Johnson and bell hooks make connections on unearned advantages that white people seem to have and people of other colors do not. They want the readers to know every person should work hard to earn their lifestyle and there should not be and separation within a society based on the color of their skin.
Education is the key to having the life you dream of, which includes living in a big house, driving the newest car of the year, or having a family. Most people think that education is something that defines who you really are, where you belong, as in low-class or high-class. If a person is going to a community college instead of a university people automatically judge because in their mind the bigger the college the better education and the way to see someone as a “high class.” bell hooks talks about how people think that getting an education is a way to becoming rich. In her essay, “Seeing and Making Culture: Representing the Poor,” she states, “Part of the American Dream of upward class mobility is going to college and getting a bachelor’s degree. Americans see college as a ticket to moving from a lower class to a higher class.” (hooks, 1)
People do see education to becoming successful in life, but not everyone can afford it. bell books statement explains to the readers that without education you are considered poor because when you get a bachelor’s degree, you get a better job that can support you financially and makes seem like a “high-class.” bell hooks uses an example of how privilege work to reinforce economic class stereotypes by showing that people think not going to college is being lazy and going to college defines your standards. Whereas, Allan Johnson shows his readers in his essay that there is no such thing as seeing someone poor for not going to college, but people have that set in their mind which makes a reason for the society to think that.
He wants people to understand that there could many reasons for someone to not do things that most people do, but that does not mean those people have higher standards. In Allan Johnson’s essay, he states, “When a category of people is named the standard for human beings in general, the path of least resistance is to see them as superior, there being no other reason to make them the standard.” (Johnson, 456) He shows the readers that when a group of people is set to the default race for human beings, they are looked upon as the only group to be superior and no other group can be equal to the title they hold.
This statement shows an example of some people can not go to college because not everyone can afford it, but people do not think that and they see differences in high-class and low-class. High-class people may think that low-class people cannot be at their level because they are poor. Allan Johnson shows economic class stereotypes by showing his readers how poor people think that only rich people have standards because they are able to afford it.
Both authors give different examples of how privilege work to reinforce class stereotypes, and how can people change that. Allan Johnson provides an example of black people being considered as criminals because they are black. bell hooks mention the biggest events in the history of America to support Allan Johnson’s statement to where they think that black people are being treated this is because of slavery, which leads white people to have unearned advantages. Having an education is another reason that defines someone as a low-class or high-class.
People make huge between going to a community college than a university because they think that a community college is for failures, but there are some people who can not afford it. Not being to able to have the life that high-class families do may lead someone to commit crimes. Allan Johnson and bell hooks show readers how people today compare others with themselves, and society may be getting better, but racism will be there.