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Sarah Frazier
Professor Paul Price
Sociology 001
December 11, 2016
Understanding Race
1. What is racial profiling? Provide examples of how law enforcement, government officials
and/or ordinary citizens used racial profiling label and harm others (See the Michael
Brown case)?
Racial profiling is a term that refers to an individual being unjustifiably singled
out for a crime, or for the assumption they will commit a future crime, by the police
based on the color if their skin or their perceived nationality. I have witnessed racial
profiling firsthand. Recently my husband, who is Black and Pilipino, was the victim of a
hate crime. The police were called by a witness to the crime, and when they arrived on
the scene, prior to speaking with anyone, they assumed my husband was the person who
initiated and caused the confrontation. He has also been pulled over by police on several
occasions because of the color of his skin. Ironically, in every case where police made
assumptions about him, after they found out he was a Navy combat veteran, they
completely altered their attitude towards him. A more trivial example of racial profiling
by an ordinary citizen is when I was noticeably followed around a clothing store by an
employee, I assume to make sure I wasnt trying to steal anything. Racial profiling and
labeling are very dangerous, as weve seen in the media so frequently as of late. It can
result in an innocent person losing their life, or in an individual being harassed, shamed


and humiliated based on their skin color, which will impact ones perception of and
interaction with law enforcement or anyone else in a position of power.

2. Discuss various ethnocentric practices historically used by those in power that have
contributed to prejudicial attitudes towards racial and minority groups.
I think religion is an ethnocentric practice that has been used by those in power to
perpetuate prejudice and racism. When African slaves were brought to America, they
were forced to convert to Christianity and to adopt the dominate values held by those in
power as a form of social control. Another way ethnocentrism has contributed to
prejudicial attitudes is through affirmative action. Even though affirmative action was
developed to assist and promote minorities because of the disadvantages inherent to
institutional discrimination, I feel that innately its a system that identifies minority
groups as being less than and in more need of help. I do believe that systems like
affirmative action are somewhat necessary, but there is this prevailing assumption, which
Ive heard throughout my life, that when a minority is given a leg up because of
affirmative action, a more qualified (White) individual is losing out on a deserved
opportunity. I do not hear people talking about how affirmative action helped a wellqualified candidate get into a good school, I hear people saying theyre only here
because theyre Black/not white.

3. What is the social construction of race? Provide a symbolic interactionist perspective.

How can this concept (social construction of race) be applied to Americans from multiple
racial backgrounds?


Society has created the concept of race and the idea that people with different
physical attributes is due to a significant genetic variation. Humans do not actually vary
genetically on a significant level, however the concept of race has been used throughout
history to identify a particular group of people and label them as inferior and a means to
justify social, cultural, and economic oppression.
The control hypothesis is the idea that when people from different racial or ethnic
groups willingly interact, it will breed a deeper understanding of those different to us and
eliminate any existing prejudice one may have towards a particular group. Being from
multiple racial backgrounds will give you multiple perspectives. Being of mixed race
myself, I grew up with a White family and a Black family, and was exposed to different
cultures, values, religions and food. As a result, I have intimate knowledge of Black and
White culture that someone with two White patents may not have.

4. Define the term model minority. Discuss which minority group is perceived as living up
to that image. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of being a model minority.
A model minority is a group that has overcome the obvious disadvantages of
being a minority group. Asian Americans are referred to as the model or ideal minority
because of their high socioeconomic status. An advantage of being a model minority is
access. Access to education, access to jobs, housing, healthcare and all the other
advantages that come with being a non-minority group. However the downside of being a
model minority is the lack of individualism and acknowledgement of cultural differences
within a broader race.