Date of Award
Master of Arts
My Thesis examines: the nature of racial barriers, by what means racial barriers manifest in society, and the ways in which we can use racial barriers to evolve toward a more just society. I argue that within particular contexts a look of the Other will construct a racial barrier between racialized bodies. More specifically, when one perceives a threat from a look of the Other, one will undertake a particular-what social psychologists call-self-representation, in attempt to exhibit a particular type of persona they feel is called for in that context. Furthermore, I argue in my paper that racial barriers emerge not only in the presence of particular individuals, but also in the presence of unjust social structures. Thus, I show that one may experience two different types of racial barriers as a result of a perceived threat from the look of the Other. In order to do make this argument for social structures, I draw form the work of Iris Marion Young and her definitions of social structures and structural injustice. By putting Young's work in dialogue with some fragments of Sartre's, I am able to show that social structures also have a "look" and "face" and these faces may take the form of objects or symbols, such as the Confederate flag. I use the example of the Confederate flag to illustrate my point that some objects have a "face" of the social structure that is white supremacy. In the final chapter, I argue that at the junctures in which people of color perceive a threat in the form of racial barriers as lived experiences or racial barriers as social structures are trouble spots that need attention and reformation. I further argue that while racial barriers as social structures contravene in our attempts to achieve justice, some racial barriers as lived experiences are imperative for justice-they help people (particularly whites) become aware of the ways in which they are racially privileged or oppressed and thus, serve as measures in developing self-awareness and understanding how race continues to influence our judgement and behaviors.
Received from ProQuest
Kayla Rachel Mehl
Mehl, Kayla Rachel, "On Racial Barriers" (2018). Open Access Theses & Dissertations. 1488.