Essay on Racial Formation (Omi and Winant)

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What is Racial Formation?

Omi and Winant defined racial formation as the process by which social, economic, and political forces determine the content and importance of racial categories, and by which in turn they are shaped by racial meanings.

The theory of Racial formation identifies that race is a social construct that cannot be varied, the main reason for this would be that those who seem to be at the top of the racial hierarchy implement it. This is a theory in which one race sees others as less or an outsider. The race is simply all about inequality even though as a society we have progressed from further racial issues such as slavery, Omi and Winant still believe that is based on inequality and try illustrating that by them saying race is a master category and a frame used for organizing all manner of political thought This idea could be seen through oppression struggles as a POC in the United States.

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As a reader, I can take quite a lot from this as I agree with a large matter of their theories however, I still am intrigued as well as left empty by some of it as well. I agree about their views of race being a social construct to a certain extent and that race is a concept in which one can be seen in a greater matter than another due to the color of their skin, therefore allowing one racial group to be an oppressor and the trying to fight back with a form of resistance. This, therefore, results in a conflicting theory of what is seen as the higher elite class and the lower street class. They also spoke about intersectionality which is that everybody has their own experience of some sort of discrimination or oppression and that could be gender, race, social class even disability. The reason why they bring this up was to coincide with a theory of women`s movements sticking with racial movements. However, I found this quite confusing and was not really sure where they were trying to go with the point, and I felt it lacked any real correlation to the main point.

In comparison to each other, I would say both readings almost have a similar thesis however they use different viewpoints and examples or explain that thesis. I believe they both speak about how in contemporary society we are still living in a world of major inequality when as a society we try to promote equality. The difference between them would be those blamed for enhancing these constructs that a race deserves more attention than another or that a race is more powerful than another one. For example, the Grenfell reading illustrates to us not directly but with a soft connotation that there was a lack of resources and the building was undersupplied and even years behind on their ideology and even reports of who is actually in the building. This can only be due to the neglection that a housing complex in such a prestigious borough is underdeveloped as we see in mainstream media all the positives about Chelsea and Kensington however they won't show you this side, this is something I agree with definitely because I was brought in areas of not so developed and populated with ethnic minorities just like Grenfell and not much was ever supplied to us and this was over 10 years ago and to see something like Grenfell just goes to show the little development made by the government and their interest of places populated by ethnic minorities. In contrast, the other reading tries to direct more at the races than a specific community (government politicians), I agree with this approach as well but that`s a real insight into what life is like in contemporary America, I first hand have seen it because I`ve not only lived in Britain I've also lived in the United States, race over there is a major social construct over there and if you don`t subdue to that construct of an elitist also widely known as the traditional white man you`re seen as lower and disregarded by a certain member of the public. Although both readings do give their arguments, I believe the reading on Grenfell is a lot more convincing due to its sentimental factor. It indulges the reader into a more passionate state of mind when reading because no matter what race you are just being based in a highly ethnic minority-based population affected the lives of innocent people.

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Essay on Racial Formation (Omi and Winant). (2023, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“Essay on Racial Formation (Omi and Winant).” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2023,
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