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Can You Really Paint With All The Colors Of The Wind?: The Personal Effect Of Ascribed Status

1564 words - 7 pages

What I remember primarily about my childhood room is that I had white walls in my room, and those white walls were distinguished by two things—A painted picture of my older siblings who passed away before I was born (which seems slightly morbid when I think back upon it), and a large, framed movie poster of Disney's Pocahontas that showed the Disney-fied versions of Pocahontas and John Smith embracing passionately. Perhaps it's only natural that that poster is prominent in my memory, since the love story that Disney presented was my favorite as a child, outranked only by Gumby: The Movie in my child's mind. However, what I didn't realize as a child was the underlying implications that Pocahontas had regarding race and the status that we have according to our race, and the conception it instilled in me regarding the ideal of equality between all races. My increasing exposure to social justice issues and my continued higher education has led me to examine my own status in society, particularly my ascribed status as a white person, and I have come to realize that the struggle for racial equality is still continuing.
First, we must examine the full implications of ascribed status. Ascribed status is generally assigned at birth, and includes the categorization of humans at birth according to factors such as their kinship, age, sex, caste, group, or race. For the sake of focused discussion, I will focus upon my ascribed race, which is white, as aforementioned. Because our ascribed status so impacts every facet of our lives, from our educational and employment opportunities to the way we interact on a day to day basis. As for those of white skin, we enjoy (whether we are aware of it or not) “white privilege”—That is, “...[the] right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities” (Clark). Of course, this has shaped my life choices because of the availability of resources that I have had as a white person. I find that getting accepted into college was almost expected of me, and I have never had an instance where I was prohibited from a certain action due to my race. Other white people don't cross to the other side of the street when they see me walking late at night, and if anything, I consider the fact that I am a woman before I consider my skin color when I am deciding if I should attend an event or make a particular decision. I keep these examples deliberately vague, because being white has infiltrated every aspect of the way that I experience day to day life and my perceptions of other people. Even our basic social interactions (and we are by nature social beings!) are determined in some part by the color of one's skin. My boyfriend is white; would I date a white person if I was a black woman? Or if I was a black person, would I date or be friends with someone like myself? I'm unsure of the answer. The bottom line is...

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