A text discussing something as important as racism is bound to invoke some personal connections in everyone. These should not necessarily be personal experiences of racial prejudice –it might be increased awareness of racism as represented in culture. The reading made me more aware of two examples of such representation: the Futurama animation series and the Native American mascot controversy.
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The first chapter of the reading demonstrated the notion that I have a personal connection to when discussing the history of race as a concept. According to Rattansi (2007), the base assumption of racism is that biological traits are closely and inextricably linked to certain behaviors and inclinations. I responded personally to this idea because I remembered a prominent example in one of my favorite cultural products, the animated TV series Futurama. In one of its episodes, an evil scientist is allowed to ask for anything he wants in exchange for his help. Among other things, he requests five grad students to tutor and specifies that least three of them have to be Chinese (Morton & Dietter, 1999). The scientist displays an essentially racist belief that Chinese students are better in science simply due to being Chinese. I felt an immediate personal connection to it when reading because I remembered how Futurama mocked it.
I also have a personal connection to the notion described in Chapter 3. Rattansi (2007) describes the concept of a “noble savage” – strong, resilient, and living in perfect harmony with nature. I have a personal connection to it because it helped me recognize the ethno-racial implications of the Native American mascot controversy I am invested in. Prior to this, I refused to understand how people may support assigning superficial labels to racial and cultural groups by reducing them to mascots. The reading helped me understand why the other side of the argument sincerely did not see anything wrong with the practice. Apparently, they based their reasoning on the cultural idea of a noble savage, which they perceived as positive, despite its racist implications.
To summarize, the reading made me aware of the racist implications of some of the cultural products surrounding me. I noticed how the base assumption of racism manifests and is mocked in one of my favorite TV shows. I also learned about the stereotype of the noble savage as one of the causes of the Native American mascot controversy.
Morton, L. (Writer) & Dietter, S. (Director). (1999). A big piece of garbage (Season 1, Episode 8) [TV series episode]. In Groening M., Choen D. X., & Ken Keeler (Executive Producers), Futurama. The Curiosity Company.
Rattansi, A. (2007). Racism: A very short introduction. Oxford UP.