Race and the Sociological Imagination Essay

For generations African Americans have been disadvantaged in America and effects of these injustices have made a lasting impression. Education is one of the leading problems in the black community. Though there have many reforms in education over the years, racial injustices still exist because no attention in placed on how legislature affects people of color. I was raised in a middle-class family of educators. My entire life I’ve been told to “stay in school, get an education, and work hard so that you can beat the system.

” Recognizing the structural forces in my life has helped me understand my place in society.

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Being able to “understand everyday life, not through personal circumstances but through the broader historical forces that structure and direct it” (Desmond and Emirbayer 43) has really had an impact on me. My father was born in 1968, the year we consider then end of the civil rights movement. He went to Luscher Elementary during the 70s and at that time the school was integrated.

He had mostly White teachers and schoolmates. He received a quality education because of the resources given to whites were now available to blacks. He chose to attend St. Augustine High school.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans constructed St. Augustine High School with funds solicited from Catholics of the Archdiocese through the Youth Progress Program. The Archdiocese of New Orleans placed the school under the patronage of St. Augustine of Hippo, a preeminent Christian and scholar of Africa, and a Father of the Church. This was appropriate since from its inception the school was designated for the education of young men from Black Catholic families of New Orleans. St. Augustine High School led the way in battling segregation in New Orleans.

The successful legal challenges mounted by the school resulted in the de-segregation of the high school athletics in the state of Louisiana. The famed Marching 100 was the first African-American high school band to march in the Rex parade on Mardi Gras Day. My grandfather and father attended St. Augustine High School and through the education they received along with athletic scholarships and financial aide they both went on to attend Loyola University. My position in society was shaped by my economic position, which was an effect of my grandfather and father’s educations.

My grandfather was able to attend college but this was not true for his parents. Depending upon a persons situation social welfare programs can either enforce progression or plateau disadvantages. I was able to attend Isidore Newman School and I lived in an integrated neighborhood where resources such as schools, hospitals, parks and grocery stores were better than those in other parts of New Orleans. My integrated neighborhood provided me with a good education. Blacks in poor neighborhoods are inhibited from achieving the same education as whites because of zoning legislation, transportation and lack of funds.

My family was able to establish themselves financially because of social welfare programs such as war bonds, Pell grants, and the integration of schools. My grandfather was able to own their own home and provide for our family. He had a career as a school administrator they paid well. He provided opportunities for his children to attend college and for his wife. Desmond and Emirbayer argue that , “If we hope to drive racial domination from the gates of our schools we must continue the work of confronting whiteness in the curriculum” (346).

I understand that as finding ways to end institutional racism and raising awareness of ideologies that will end prejudices. Until I attended Loyola I had a naive impression of racial awareness. Personally, I believe education is the key to combating racism. We must education our peers on our cultures. We must explain that “colorblindness” in society is not what’s best. Only by embracing and recognizing each other differences we will be able to break the social bubbles we live in. I’ve gained a stronger sense of racial awareness through this course.

I have the ability to challenge and change other people’s ideologies and understand my own. I know because of my social position have scholarships, financial aide and the values of hard work and education instilled in me by my parents and grandparents. I’m also aware that many people are not able to gain that same access. Because of my racial awareness there is so much more I want to find out about the contributing factors that led to my family’s social position in New Orleans. It is through my racial awareness I plan to beat the system.

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