Social Stratification In The African American Community

969 words - 4 pages

Social Stratification in the African American community has changed over the years. Social stratification is defined as a rigid subdivision of a society into a hierarchy of layers, differentiated on the basis of power, prestige, and wealth according to Webster’s dictionary. David Newman in Sociology Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life describes stratification as a ranking system for groups of people that perpetuates unequal rewards and life chances in society. From slavery to the present, the African American community has been seen to have lower status compared to white people. Today, the stratification or hierarchy difference between whites and black are not really noticeable, but it is still present. However, during slavery, the difference in social stratification was noticeable. Whites dominated over the blacks and mulattoes (offspring of a white and black parent). The mulattoes were seen to have a higher stratification than an offspring of black ancestry. Because the mulattoes were related to the whites, they were able to obtain higher education and better occupations than blacks. For example, most slaves of a lighter skin tone worked in the houses and darker slaves worked in the fields. As the people of light skin tone had children, they were able to have advantages too. The advantages have led into the society of today. In this paper I will discuss how stratification has been affected in the African American community over time by skin tone to make mulattoes more privileged than dark skin blacks.
Over the years, research shows that lighter African American have had a higher level of attainment, shaping there social and economic stratification. Many blacks of lighter skin tone have had an advantage over darker blacks for the past generations. The light skinned African Americans have had higher statuses in the black community. Many studies show that light skinned blacks were favored by the dominant white society allowing lighted skinned blacks to have a better opportunity for lighted skinned blacks in the business world. So the advantages by lighted skinned blacks have accumulated over time so the light complexion African Americans are seen as the most successful.
Looking back in time, slaves were differentiated into mulattoes and pure blacks. Pure blacks did most of the outside labor leaving the house labor to mulattoes. For mulattoes, being a house servant brought advantages including food, shelter, and clothing. Mulattoes were trained for skilled occupations and these skills allowed mulattoes to separate themselves from other blacks. The light skinned blacks were exposed to cultural views and practices such as proper speech, dress, and mannerisms. Once a mulatto was emancipated, he/she was better prepared for negotiating with whites because mulattoes knew how to handle them. Mulattoes had a sense of being superior over the darker slaves. Because of the color similarities between mulattoes and...

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