unit 1 post

In Toni Morrison’s “Black Matter(s),” she develops the idea of “Americanness” (pg. 15) and the different said “traits” that identify the nationality. There was one section of the text that really opened my eyes to the way we view racial labels geographically regarding where one lives in the world and the color of their skin. Morrison claimed that in today’s society, we tend to associate someone as their race (as in “Asian”). Typically, when we identify someone as “American,” we tend to automatically assume that they are white. The image of the 1950’s inspired “nuclear family” instantly comes to mind. 

However, when we refer to someone as black, we say “African American,” instead of just, “American,” which automatically places them in a different category from the people who are their next door neighbors, co-workers, and friends. Even if they have grown up in America their whole life, we categorize them differently. This idea really stuck out to me because if America is considered the melting pot of the world, why do we classify a large portion of our country’s population differently? We have grown up in the same place, celebrate the same national holidays, and abide by the same laws, yet they are a different type of “American.” This really opened to my eyes to yet another way our country is racially divided. I am not saying that being called “African American” is a bad thing, the black community is really proud to be called an African American, I just find it interesting that we classify members of our own country with different labels. If we cannot categorize all Americans by the same name, how can we be unified as one nation?

Along with Toni Morrison, I would add Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Chiminanda Ngozi Adichie to the panel to discuss the ideas of stereotyping and labels in today’s society.

My questions are:

  1. Society is always caught up in identifying people properly. What is the significance of these labels, and why do they offer a prominent place in society?
  2. Who do you feel is responsible for making the changes needed in society? Is it those who make racist comments, or those who identify as a minority. 
  3. How should the reformers of society identify and make these changes?