Last Updated 27 Jul 2020

Racism in Tatum

Essay type Research
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In the society of today, racism is still prevalent even though many people remain ignorant to it. According to Tatum (1997), racism is “a system of advantage based on race” (p. 126). Tatum also states that racism is a form of oppression, either from outside forces or people of color who have internalized oppression. In different ways Tatum describes racism, for example that preschoolers are exposed to early stereotypes in an early age by films they see.

In addition she writes about how one of her students could not believe that Cleopatra was a black woman because the rationalization of the student was that Cleopatra couldn’t have been black for she was beautiful. The views of that student in the subject of perceiving beauty is obviously misconstrued. According to Tatum (1997), “if one defines racism as a system of advantage base on race…people of color are not racist because they do not systematically benefit from racism” (p. 128).

In Peggy McIntosh’s essay “White Privilege”, she list all the privileges she has came in contact with, sometimes unknowingly, that are tied in with her race. According to McIntosh (1988), “whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege” (p. 178). Instead of knowing all the benefits and privileges one certain race has, those who have white privilege are unknowing in the privileges they receive or choose to ignore them.

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McIntosh also states that “obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all” (p. 182). Her statement repeats her earlier sentiments that many of those who have white privileges do not acknowledge the fact that they have certain privileges that non-white people do not have because they want to believe in the myth that everyone is equal and everything is available to all those who deserve it.

No matter how much people want to believe that everything is democratically equal, in reality it is not at all. Racism has been ingrained in history since the beginning of time. There were rules and regulations to continue separation between races. In Pem Davidson Buck’s essay, “Constructing Race, Creating White Privilege”, goes through history and mentions the different rules and consequences that are made to insure that people do not associate with other races or marry them.

According to Buck (2001), there were laws “to keep the racial categories separate, a 1691 law increased the punishment of European women who married African or Indian men” (p. 33). In today’s society there is not law that would punish two people in matrimony, but they are stigmatized by both their races. For example if a mixed couple were seen walking down the streets, passersby will be prejudice against them and not see that they are married for love and that it doesn’t matter what their skin color is. All the authors who write about racism have similar notions.

The authors can agree that they consider “White” to be the dominating race, though some want to change that perspective of domination. Through history it is shown that racism existed and will continue to exist today. Racism lingers around every corner, possibly without one even knowing it is present. However, how we perceive racism and the changes we can make in the behavior will slowly change the way racism is ravaging through society. The world is an imperfect world, but perceiving it differently will make the greatest change of all.

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Racism in Tatum. (2017, Apr 12). Retrieved from

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