Privilege, Racism, and Race

I completed my service learning hours at Nyansa Classical Community, an afterschool program for low-income elementary school students, this semester. They meet on Wednesdays and Saturdays and have the option of being tutored by volunteers or participating in focus groups where they can improve their writing skills and learn about history, culture, and Christian values. I decided to work with New Orleans’ children because they are directly impacted by the city’s struggling public education system. These children deserve to be enrolled in a school that values their education and encourages them to continue their education beyond high school. This program will help the students receive any additional help they require and push them to continue their education even though they are being held back by their socio-economic status.
Working at Nyansa has given me insight into these children’s live, how they view themselves and how they want the world to perceive them as well. These students were not given the option to live in higher income neighborhoods and they have the probability of social re-production, but they do however have the option to continue their education and break free from that cycle. Their race is a primary factor to how they act in social situations and why they are a part of social reproduction. There are four types of distinct ideas that can represent race which are status-race, formal-race, historical-race, and cultural-race. They represent different parts of society and how people will stereotype you. In the case of interacting with the students of Nyansa, historical-race and cultural-race best apply to their attitudes towards society. Historical-race shows the continuing of racial subordination and being racially disadvantaged by government conduct. For cultural-race, it is related to African American culture, community, and consciousness (Gotanda, 257-258). These neighborhoods are mainly African American, creating this community that these kids are surrounded by all the while they are being taught more things that are connected to their history and culture. One thing I noticed while working at Nyansa is how the younger students perceive themselves compared to the volunteers who were caucasian. They have complimented many of the volunteers who were caucasian while not being proud of their own skin color. It seemed that they believed volunteers had a privileged advantage because they were caucasian. What this reminds me of is “Whiteness as Property” by Cheryl I. Harris which discusses the issue of how whiteness is valued more than other races. These children view the volunteers to be better than they are just because of the color of their skin. Whiteness is perceived as interpersonal hierarchy that affirms whiteness as public reputation and personal property (Harris, 282). While working at Nyansa I have noticed the disconnect between myself and the students. They are all growing up in low income neighborhoods with parents who might have not completed higher education and cannot help them with their schooling. I respect the fact that these kids have committed to coming to Nyansa and they are beginning their quest for higher education.
In fact, racism makes itself noticed in various areas of our lives, affecting not only everyday ideas, but also the sphere of politics and even science. Traditionally, racism is understood as a concept that, first, raises all the differences between people towards racial traits allegedly found in physical signs such as skin color, nose shape, eye profile, shape and hair color and so forth; and proclaims on this basis the eternal inequality of races, insisting on its legal design. Such racism, generated by the era of colonialism, proceed from the notion of higher and lower races and, contrary to all available scientific evidence, claimed that it was racial differences that determined the course of history.
A successful fight against racism requires a clear understanding of what a race is and what racism is. Modern anti-racism often inadequately perceives its adversary. There is the reason for it: in recent decades the term “racism” has lost its traditional content, has become more blurred. Therefore, in order to combat this phenomenon effectively, we must first clearly define what we are investing in the notion of racism. The definition of racism, which was used in the past by fighters with him, suggested that the human race is an objective reality. Even today, among liberally minded intellectuals and even among human rights activists, there is an opinion that models of human behavior and the features of thinking are predetermined if not by race, then by ethnicity. However, it is precisely such ideas that serve as a breeding ground for racism. Such a position is morally vulnerable, deliberately dooming any struggle against racism to defeat. Additionally, it radically differs from the conclusions of modern science, in the light of which the previous approach to racism was revised.
I see a huge amount of racism nowadays. Children from Nyansa only have to struggle to fight for their place in the world, as they will be able to bypass all the misconceptions of this world. When they grow up, they will have to face and heart unpleasant statements towards themselves, because of people’s intolerance. There are only rare examples of real-life experiences, when not white ones became successful in life. Modern sociologists, seeing in the race an artificial construction, one of the means of creating and describing identity, emphasize that the race continues to be a very important concept that determines and legitimizes the socio-political actions of people. At the same time, they point out that “race is a product of racism, and not vice versa.” From this point of view, groups called “racial” turn out to be racialized, that is, groups whose specific social, political or economic status is described by society in racial terms. Therefore, the analysis of racism can be productive only if we take into account the broad social context formed by a specific political culture. The assertion that the race is a social construct does not at all indicate its phantom.
Growing up in the United States, you come to believe that you should apologize for the discrimination and prejudice against African Americans, yet my family did not move to this country until the early 1960s when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. In the chapter, “What Do We Owe One Another/ Dilemmas of Loyalty” from Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do written by Michael Sandel, it provides the argument that people of the present generation should not apologize for the wrongs done by the generations before us (Sandel, 211). The argument adds to my way of thinking in dealing with the kids because I do not have to constantly apologize for the actions committed before, but I rather take what happened as a challenge for them to continue to do better and work towards a better life. Another excerpt from the book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do is the chapter “Justice and the Common Good”. This connects well with the previous chapter because it speaks on moral beliefs and justice for all. It states that justice involves more than just respecting freedom of choice, but also virtue and how important the common good is (Sandel, 261). Justice stands for all people who feel they have been discriminated against and how they can fight for their own justice. Politics lack attention to inequality, so people who aren’t involved in that must fight for its importance themselves.
In terms of classic utilitarism, society can be viewed in such a way that utilitarianism will become the most rational concept of justice. That is true: each person in the implementation of his or her interests is clearly free to determine the balance of their own acquisitions and losses. People can make sacrifices in the present for greater benefits in the future. However, it is not related to the issue of racial discrimination. People tend to act quite rightly when, in order to achieve his greatest good, he or she sets himself or herself as far as possible rational goals, if the interests of others are not infringed upon. Just as the well-being of one person is built from a series of gratifications experienced by him in different periods of his life, so does the welfare of society consist of satisfying the desires of many individuals belonging to society. Since the principle for the individual is the greatest possible attainment of one’s own well-being, the realization of his desires system, the principle for society will be to pursue the greatest possible prosperity of the group, to realize a comprehensive system of desires that are formed from the desires of individuals. The most natural path to utilitarianism is spreading of the principle of rational choice for one person to the whole society. Once this circumstance is realized, it will become quite understandable in the history of utilitarian thought the place of an impartial observer and the emphasis on sympathy. After all, the principle for one person can be applied to society through the concept of an impartial observer and using sympathy to direct our imagination.
I thoroughly enjoy going to work at Nyansa and I get to experience being with these kids while watching them blossom in school. Some social issues I see and have experienced is how they get competitive with one another and immediately get into fight mode. I believe they react like this because of the way they were raised. Growing up in an unsafe environment makes you grow thick skin and an instinct to fight. Another social issue I witness is how easily the students give up on their work because they feel education is not important and they will never understand it. The core belief that I formed while working at Nyansa is Aristotle’s philosophy of justice. His philosophy shows a give and take ideal where not everyone is equal in general, but they are equal in justice by their actions and opinions (Yack, 217). The kids believe that they aren’t capable of being smart, but if they change the opinions of themselves it would give them a more equal opportunity to succeed. Many of these kids believe they are different from others, but if they believe they deserved the same rights and opportunities as others then they would be seen as more equal to society (Gallagher, 667). Coming from a more disadvantaged background does set you back in society and creates the idea that you will not be able to achieve, but if you believe that you are equal in exchange of pushing yourself to accomplish more than it is possible. It is not possible that just believing you deserve rights will bring you rights, but it gives the opportunity to push for a better society where it is possible. The kids, who attend Nyansa are more deserving of equality of opportunity since they have been discriminated by their neighborhood location and how much the residents pay for property taxes. They have not been given the best educational resources, so with this core belief I believe they need to be thought of as equally as the children who have been provided with the foremost education.
Skilful laws are determined by how fair they are. Generally everywhere, the cause of disturbances is the lack of equality, as long as this latter turns out to be inconsistent with those in unequal position. However, there is an equality is of two kinds: equality in number and equality in dignity. According to Aristotle, justice is not an equal distribution of goods and is not a right judgment. Justice is a correct estimate of the volume and degree of complexity of labor, which is manifested in exchange and can be measured in money. The point is that one can never divide anything in justice. It is also unfair that people from the common good, such as the earth, are grabbed by anyone who can. In any case, there is a brute force or self-serving cunning.
Aristotle stated that an equal retribution means proportionality, but not equality, because society is held by the fact that people are compensated proportionally to his activities. Due to justice, society avoids disturbances and internal troubles. Justice is an economic category. The division of labor Aristotle represents, first, as a division of mental and physical labor. Physical labor is the lot of slaves, who, although people, because they have a speech, yet their task is to expend muscular labor. The role of labor organizers is given to the slaveholders of the householders. They must know the economy and be both masters and technical specialists. Free householders are also engaged in education and philosophy, that is, humanitarian studies. The latter body is powerful, suitable for performing the necessary physical works, while free people are kept straight and are not capable of performing such jobs, but are fit for political life.

One core belief that I do not highly believe in is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a belief that the goal of human acts is for the greatest good for the greatest number which is the higher amount of people (Cahill, 627). African Americans have been the minority group since the beginning of our country’s founding which does not apply as to be the greatest number of people. It would benefit a larger majority group to support their own needs rather than help the minority group and utilize their needs and concerns as well. In the article, “Utilitarianism, Multiplicity and Liberalism” Jeff Sebo gives insight that utilitarianism also applies to self-government in how government should not interfere which their concept of a good life and rather let the citizens decide what is a good life for them or not (Sebo, 326-327). People should be given somewhat a concept what could be a good life for our country and how people should monitor themselves while perceiving these ideals. Some citizens can believe a good life can proceed as a place where discrimination and prejudice is acceptable and minorities belong in the lower class. This is why it is important to have all groups represented in government and have a basis to how we should function within society. This is why majority groups do not control all government and minorities are growing at a rapid pace in representation. Legislature has passed laws to protect our minorities and push towards equality within our society. This core belief goes against the equality I foresee all citizens deserving if they are hard workers and try their best to be good members of their communities.
Nyansa has taught me a lot about myself while also giving me the time to connect with the kids that I could have lived my entire life without meeting. They are all in this program to beat social reproduction and continue their education past middle and high school and hopefully into college. Having the ability to use sociological thinking while working there has given me the chance to understand why the children act a certain way or why they give up so easily on themselves. Aristotle’s philosophy of justice also shows me that if they believe they are equal in exchange of them working hard on their goals it is achievable. I never envisioned myself getting involved with children, but after moving to New Orlean and learning about the failing public school system I knew I had to act and I did. All children deserve equal opportunity to receive the best education possible because it is one of the main things that will break the social reproduction process.
In a broader sense, utilitarianism is a theory that attempts to assess any resolution of a political issue in terms of its consequences. The benefits are considered to be the only, or otherwise, fundamental value. It is the use that gives meaning to all our actions, and everything else has only an instrumental value. Everything is valuable only in so far as it helps to ensure the benefits. Therefore, under any conditions for utilitarians it is always better to benefit more than less. Hence the conclusion is that the goal of utilitarianism is the maximization of benefits. Nature has placed mankind under the control of two supreme rulers: suffering and pleasure. They are given one to determine what we can do and indicate what we should do. To their throne are tied, on the one hand, a pattern of good and bad, on the other: a chain of causes and actions. They control us in all that we do, that we say that we think: every effort that we can make to reject this citizenship will only serve to prove and confirm it. In words, a person can claim to deny their power, but in reality he will always remain subordinate to them. The principle of use recognizes this subordination and takes it into the foundation of that system whose purpose is to build the building of happiness by the hands of reason and law. Systems that question it, engage in sounds instead of meaning, whim in place of reason, gloom instead of light.
Yet in time, some of these scientists also began to understand that race is more a social construct than a biological reality, that the term “race” primarily hides relations of domination and subordination. The development of genetic studies has shown that any so-called “racial trait” is determined by several different genes, each of which has its own area, and the boundaries of such areas do not coincide. And this, in turn, created a powerful support for a truly scientific approach and made it possible to declare that “there are no races, but only clinical variability” 17. In recent decades, this approach has been recognized by many Western physical anthropologists, and its discussion has been included in educational programs.
The current racists prefer to operate on the notions of biological rather than cultural superiority, and in their interpretation, culture appears as a kind of “genetic heritage”. On this basis, cultural communities are allegedly conferred with innately lower cultural qualities, which determine their attitude to them. This occurs in countries where, as in Germany, citizenship has long been determined by ethnicity of the indigenous population, and where, as in the Netherlands, the concept of “ethnic minorities” initially acquired a negative connotation due to association with the backward countries of the Third World. Such attitudes also affect ideas about the processes of world development. Where previously it was a question of the national liberation struggle, now they start talking about the resistance to the imposition of foreign cultural values. It is in this context that the idea of a “clash of civilizations”, which means communities with disparate value systems, is widely spread. This idea also belongs to the arsenal of “cultural racism”.
Due to my work, it becomes clear where this world problems. It is hard to believe that people’s lives will be fair and that people of all races will be accepted and not discriminated. In other words, the historical transformation of the late 20th century had a painful impact on our intellectual elite, making it highly vulnerable to ideas. In this environment, the ideologies of the new racism, which acts in cultural racism that declares certain cultural codes and behavioral stereotypes, is immanently inherent in specific human groups, and “defensive racism”, preoccupied with “extinction”, spread with frightening speed white race. The flip side of such sentiments is “ethnic racism”, expressed in the desire of individual ethnic minorities to maintain their identity and achieve acceptable political status by reference to their supposedly special racial type. Summing it up, ethical racism is more spread all over the word, for the reason that the “classes” of people are strictly determined not only by one’s wealth, but also by skin color, and that is why, the only way to improve our lives is raising children thought of an absolute equality of all people with all physical features.

Works Cited
Cahill, Lisa Sowle. 1981. “Teleology, Utilitarianism, and Christian Ethics .” 601–29.
Gallagher, Robert L. 2012. “Incomprehensibility in Aristotle’s Theory of Reciprocal Justice.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20(4):667–701.
Gotanda, Neil and Kimberle Crenshaw. 1995. “A Critique of “Our Constitution of Color-Blind”.” Pp. 257–75 in c.
Harris, Cheryl I., Kimberle Crenshaw, and Neil Gotanda. 1995. “Whiteness as Property.” Pp. 276–91 in Critical Race Theory: The Key That Formed the Movement.
Sandel, Michael. 2008. “What do we own one another?/Dilemmas of Loyalty.” Pp. 208–43 in Justice: What’s The Right Thing to Do? .
Sandel, Michael. 2008. “Justice and the Common Good.” Pp. 244–69 in Justice: What’s The Right Thing to Do? .
Sebo, Jeff. n.d. “Utilitarianism, Multiplicity, and Liberalism .” 326–46.
Yack, Bernard. 1990. “Natural Right and Aristotle’s Understanding of Justice.” 18(2):216–17. Retrieved (http://www.jstor.org/stable/191342).

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