Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Race and Outliers - epilogue

[Outliers Reading Group]

The epilogue at first appears to be the final presentation of a randomly selected and researched outlier. But we soon learn that the closing outlier narrative is in fact a narrative about the author, Malcolm Gladwell. We learn, perhaps not surprisingly at this point, that Gladwell’s own success emerges from the hidden advantages and multiple opportunities that his parents and grandparents received.

Among other important issues, Gladwell explains how light skin color allowed his otherwise disadvantaged black relatives to excel in ways that their fellow dark-skinned Jamaicans did not. Having an ancestor who had “a little bit of whiteness” or having one who got a chance at meaningful work became an “extraordinary advantage.” It was an advantage not simply based on working hard but rather on arbitrary yet powerful cultural and structural factors.

What stood out to you most concerning Gladwell’s discussions of skin color and advantage (or disadvantage)? Why?

13 comments:

Olivia Slater said...

I recently wrote a paper on Affirmative Action and the epilogue reminded me of the argument I was making. My argument was to get rid of Affirmative Action, which places an emphasis on minority status in the application process. I agree that in the past, race played a crucial role in determining what privileges you would receive, which in turn may have helped or hurt our families, and by association ourselves. I do however believe that our racial background only goes so far, and it is up to the individual to decide their fate.

Jaleelah Muhammad said...

What stood out the most to me was that there was so few white women in Jamaica that the white men had no choice but to have relations with a black woman, They would use their offspring as some sort of liaison between themselves and the slaves. One thing important to note is that even in Jamaica, the lighter slaves were treated better than than the darker ones. Despite locations, that principle is still the same.

Jasmine Williams said...

What stood out to me was the emphasis he put on the opportunities that were available to him because of his light complexion. I do agree with him in the fact that those with lighter skin are treated differently than those with a darker complexion.However, a lighter complexion is often looked down upon by other black people. My father was told he "wasn't black enough" by others because of his complexion. It's sad that so much emphasis is put on the color of your skin even in today's world.

Brianna Reed said...

What stuck out most to me was how different the reaction was about interracial couplings in the Caribbean than here in the United States. It honestly reminds me of what goes on today with how some people place light or brown skinned women higher on the scale of beauty than a dark skinned woman.To some extent, it is clear that the division still exists today.It does seems that blacks and other races who are non Caucasian receive a bit more privilege in current times because of their minority status, but I believe the disadvantages due to skin color are still very much prevalent even now that hasn't changed.

Alicia Sears said...

What stood out to me the most about this chapter was that these same racial divisions still exist today. As we can see many times on Twitter and Facebook blacks often compete by claiming "team lightskin" or "team darkskin" the more fair skin blacks are seen as superior and better looking than the darker blacks which causes tension within our own race.
Alicia S

Paris Smith said...

I do understand where he is coming from because the color of your "blackness" did have an advantage because light-skinned people were lighter in color and appeared to be higher up than people who are dark-skinned. There is still a little bit of that mentality today but it is not as heavy as it used to be because now only the individual and their qualifications are factors in their life.

Mikaela Suggs said...

While nothing really stood out most because of my understanding of history, it baffles me that skin color could play a huge role in determining people's success. It is now known that regardless of color, one can be just as successful as the next.

Anonymous said...

What stood out to me about Gladwell's discussions on the advantage some have because of their skin color is that his beliefs can still be applied to todays society. Gladwell talked about how lighter skin was favored over darker skin in Jamaica concerning marriage and dating. In todays society you can still find moments when someone will say "she/he is cute but she/he's too dark for me". That same mentality of color that Gladwell explained in Jamaica is still prevalent in todays society.
***Brittany P.

Terri McFadden said...

Lighter skinned people having an advantage over darker skinned people stood out the most to me. It stood out the most because it is extremely relevant in terms of public eye. It is often said that people with fairer skin are more attractive then the rest of the race. Not because of features but simply because of skin tone. At the same time dark skinned girls are often told "you're pretty for a dark skinned girl." I've heard this has been an issue for our race since slavery because of house slaves and field slaves but where ever the problem started it is still here today.

Tashawna Nash said...

What stood out to me the most in the discussion of skin color was that the idea that the lighter you are the better you are compared to everyone else. I think that although this is sad it is still true and even people of color still find themselves doing the same thing, judging based on how dark skinned someone else is. I think that is very unfortunate that light skin is preferred and seen better than dark skin.
~Tashawna N.

Tiera Williams said...

Nothing really surprised me in the sense of things I had never heard before. Something I would like to point out, however is the fact that the lighter the complexion you were had to do with your level of importance. I feel as though some people still look at things that way today. I just feel that blacks allow the philosophy of color and opportunity offends them and hinders their potential to change it, which should be the way to go about it.
Tiera W.

Taylor Morgan said...

I also did not find anything too surprising in this section. Hearing terms such as "dark skinned" or "light skinned" can be done in today's society. A lot of times within the African American community, people will joke about the roles each person would have received based on the pigmentation of their skin. Those jokes usually go along the lines of fairer skinned individuals worked indoors (better work) while darker skinned individuals were field workers (worse work).

Fiona Hill said...

Nothing surprised me in the sense that I have never heard any of it before; I was made aware of white privilege from a very young age and this, and recent activities in the world, have only confirmed the existence of white privilege.