Same Race Different Faces Essay

This essay has a total of 2247 words and 9 pages.

Same Race Different Faces



Same Races, Different Faces In
"Black vs. White" is not a story only seen in the United States of America. It is a
problem which has, and still continues to plague many sections of the world. This
problem, in many instances, goes beyond a stereotypical belief that the battle is fought
due to cultural differences. What does this mean? Factors which unite such as religion,
culture, and political beliefs, play no actual part in unity in this scenario. Cultural
differences do play a certain part, but does not take 'center stage.' Now, what happens
when you add a third "color" in there? In the United States people of color are many
times classified as a group, minorities. In other countries, colors play parts rather
than a stringent line of division. A country which can bring this problem into a closer
scrutiny is the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is a small country which
shares an island, in the Caribbean, with Haiti. 95 percent of the Dominican Republic is
Roman Catholic, the other five is made up of Santeria, Episcopal, and Voodoo. Three color
groups which people fall into, in the Dominican Republic are white, tan, and black.

The book, La Presencia Negra en SantoDomingo by Carlos Andujar Persinal, gives accounts
about certain incidents, customs, and beliefs that cause rifts among the different color
groups in the Dominican Republic. According to this reading, the hierarchy that exists
due to color consists of the whites on top, followed by the tan, and at the bottom the
blacks. In the Dominican Republic, white Dominicans control 73.5 percent of the country,
while the tan control just a 'bit' more than the blacks. If religion, most political
views, and culture are very similar what causes this dilemma? In Perfil de Dos Naciones
en la Espanola, by Jean Ghasmann Bissainthe, this same question is presented. Small
groups from the color groups were asked to give their opinions on the other groups. The
answers given dealt with serious stereotypes that stigmatize these color groups. For
example: some said blacks were savages, tans conformed to both groups, and the whites were
greedy and power hungry. Later on in the book another sample group goes on to express
feelings of disgust just because of the difference in skin tone. Many sources try to
explain why people would think another group of people are bad even if their cultures are
similar and views on pretty much all of life are similar. Brehm and Kassin's Social
Psychology Third Edition give the concept of Ingroup Favoritism. This concept is defined
as the tendency to discriminate in favor of ingroups over outgroups. The whites could
know nothing of the tans, the tans could know nothing of the blacks, the blacks could know
nothing of the whites, and vice versa, yet because they are different groups will
discriminate in order to promote their group. People will try to enhance their
self-esteem by discriminating against others and having a sense of belonging to a group.
This concept, according to Brehm and Kassin's Social Psychology, is called Social Identity
Theory. Again, the groups could know nothing of each other, but could possibly be so
discriminatory just to boost up their self esteem.

Excuses are a very popular form of discrimination, due to color, in the Dominican
Republic. In Masso's work, (an Inwood/Washington Heights, N.Y. neighborhood pamphlet)
popular excuses for discrimination are as follows: White à Both blacks and lighter skin
blacks are from Haiti. Tan à Blacks belong in Haiti and the Whites are all European.
Black à Both Whites and Browns are Europeans. These excuses or opinions were expressed by
a number of people interviewed, by Masso and fellow sociologist Dr. Miguel Sebastian, in
the Dominican Republic. An interesting point brought up by this 'study' is the fact that
blacks belong in Haiti. The history between these two 'extremly neighboring' countries
has been less than pleasant. The Dominican Republic used to be under the control of Haiti
for many years. The larger part of Haiti's population is black, by association many could
tie the blacks in the Dominican Republic to Haiti. The 'lighter blacks,' as the tan were
referred to in De Colores, are considered the descendents of the Native Dominican Indians
(Tainos). The whites are considered to be the descendents of the European (Spanish,
French, Portuguese) settlers.

"Que tiene que ver el pasado con el presente (What does the past have to do with the
present?)? Mucho (Plenty!)!" This question is considered by Masso to be the beginning
of unraveling the problem of discrimination. The ideas and ignorance to each others
cultures and biological differences set the dreadful for today's play of prejudice. An
example of an instance that coincides with this idea is found in James Jones' Prejudice
and Racism. British explorers described the darker skinned people's color and sexuality
the most. "…proceedeth of some natural infection of the first inhabitants of that
country, and so all the whole progenie of them descended, are still polluted with the same
blot of infection." This was a description given when an Englishman noted the color of a
child conceived of a black woman and white men. They referred to color as an infection.
This idea is carried from hundreds of years ago and sets a standard of living for many.
It works the same way in different situations. The Taino Indians of the Dominican
Republic were massacred at the hands of Spanish settlers, and according to Masso, some
people are still mad at the whites because of that. There is a statue of Christopher
Columbus in the center of the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo, which get
vandalized frequently by angry meztizos (Taino, or any Native Indian descendants). "Que
tiene que ve ideas de la sociedad con los problemas de hoy (What do societal views have to
do with today's problems?)? Mucho (Plenty!)! The Oxford English Dictionary definition
of black, prior to the 16th Century was: "Deeply stained with dirt; soiled, dirty,
foul….Having dark or deadly purposes, malignant; pertaining to or involving death, deadly;
baneful, disastrous, sinister….Foul, iniquitous, atrocious, horrible, wicked….Indicating
disgrace, censure, liability to punishment." A dictionary is a prime influence of
society. We learn and apply the concepts labeled to words. An experiment conducted by
Dr. Mario Samuel, University of Santo Domingo(UASDà www.uasd.santodomingo.
psicologia/intrnl/409.?) recorded reactions of babies to white, brown, and black adults.
There were 120 babies ranging from the ages of 8months to 3 years. The babies would be
individually placed into a room full of toys and adults would walk in one at a time. The
adults were of various different colors. The results were recorded according to reaction
and speed of reaction. Out of the 120 participants, 75 percent reacted in a neutral way,
or cried when coming into contact with a stranger. The other 25 percent cried when
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