D3: Henry Louis Gates’s argument in his 1986 text Race, writing, and difference

When I read Gates argument first, honestly, I thought he was crazy.  I thought he just sat down at his desk for a long time, spaced out and came up with some way to connect the issue of race to language.  Then I thought about it again and decided he was actually right.  The only reason people are ever portrayed as racist is because of what they say, write, or how they act and in what tone.  People perceive the way things are written or spoken and make judgments based on those words.  The issue of race would not exist had someone not brought up that someone was inferior or superior based on qualities that made them different from someone else.  It takes language to tell someone that they are different (not in a good way) because of their skin tone or where they were born.  Without these strings of derogatory sentences there would be no real issue of race. 

On the side of acting language can be very powerful in the realm of racism.  For instance, in my project I chose to tackle the issue of race as it pertains to advertising. In one print advertisement there is a white manager standing ‘over’ a group of African American men in sprinters stances wearing running singlets.  If someone had never made the comment that African Americans were inferior and made the connection of natural athletic ability, this advertisement would never have been a problem.  It would just be seen as a group of people who are faster by nature and that would not be a good or a bad thing.  Since people prior to this advertisement had placed white people on a different standard than African Americans this portrayal caused an unnecessary uproar.


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