Racism: An Essentialist Category

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At one time and still today to many people, race is an essentialist category meaning that the race of a person is a category innate in them that sets them apart from others and makes them act in a certain way. Reb, for instance, one of the main characters of the story 'The Bread Givers ', thinks it axiomatic that a woman cannot learn Torah, nor be educated but is fit only to work in the house. All of Reb's dealings with his daughters and the way that he perceives other women including his wives, work around that essentialist premise: that women are made to support the man by working in the home. Reb's own cultural experiences came form Russia a country that has its own black and white thinking and that tagged people according to a primitive sense of races. Races were hooked in levels of hierarchy and it was thought that there was a hereditary origin to races (namely that born in a certain race, you possessed those characteristics and passed it on). Interestingly enough, the same perspective is indicated in the "America and I" but here in terms of 'Americans' where the 'Americans' who employed Anzia Yezerska told her that she did not need wages for the very fact that she worked for 'Americans' was reward enough. Anzia Yezerska herself had had prior inflated expectations about 'America' and about its people' but the longer she lived in the country, the more she saw that this was pure hubris and inflation. That Americans were people like everyone else and the country was a
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