Intraracial Conflicts: Self Inflicted Or Imposed?

1646 words - 7 pages

Conflict Management Research Design and Methods

15 June 2010


Intraracial Identity Conflicts: Self Inflicted or Imposed?

The social identity of African-Americans is one that is considerably disregarded by society due to its unique and complex nature. The term social identity refers to a person’s sense of who they are based on their group membership(s). According to the Social Learning Theory created by Henri Tajfel, “the groups which people belonged to were an important source of pride and self-esteem.” Tajfel states that identity is formed in three stages: social categorization, social identification, and social comparison.
According to Tajfel, social categorization is merely assimilating objects according to similar appearances. This process is also done in formulating groups based on association. The next step in the social identity process is social identification. In this process, an individual adopts his identity based on the group in which he belongs. Supplemental to this step, is an emotional element that is linked to the individual’s self-esteem. The last step according to Tajfel is social comparison in which groups compare themselves to other groups to support their self-esteem.
Upon researching the social identity theory process and the factors needed in order it for it to take place, questions are raised. Can social identity theory explain the African-American identity? Are intraracial identity conflicts self inflicted or imposed? The complexity of these questions is rooted in both quantitative and qualitative research since the social identity theory will be tested by using intraracial conflicts among African-Americans. Subsequently, the variables that will be used in this research are beauty, intelligence, and criminal behavior based on black skin tones. I predict that the relationship that they have on intracsim will ultimately affect the social identity theory inversely.
The African-American identity seemed to begin with the imposition of slavery and the slave master’s behavior toward the field slave and the house slave. In other words, the identity of the African-American was given by European slave masters instead of their personal creation. In order to maximize the cotton product, African women were raped and the slave master’s preferential treatment of their offspring created a hierarchy among the slaves. Bi-racial or light skin Blacks were given lighter worked loads along with more humane housing quarters while dark skin slaves received more strenuous work loads, and poorer living conditions. Educational opportunities were also given to slaves with lighter complexions. The indoctrination of Jim Crow Laws and white supremacy proved to keep the ideology of slavery going even after its abolishment. The days of picking cotton are long gone; however the mental captivity holds the dichotomy of light and dark. The conflict exists not only in black...

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