One of the most complicated and at the same time the most essential problems of the modern world, the racial segregation, and the racial hegemony is to be considered because of the growing number of issues arising due to the racial prejudice.
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No matter how far the advocates of racial equity could have gone, there is still no doubt that the modern world still has a strong hierarchy based on certain racial issues. The Hispanic Project, the picture shot by one of the most prominent artists of the century, Nikki, is strong proof to the idea that “long-standing patterns of racial hierarchy still hold” (Winant 127).
Considering the picture closer, one can see the elements that point to Hispanics’ inferior state quite distinctly. To start with, it is evident that the background chosen for the picture serves to outline the basic sphere of Hispanics’ life.
Sitting in an obviously fashionable yet quite gaudy car, the crowd of Hispanic people seems to take the position that can be defined as the mock-elite of the Latin American world, which practically means that the people in the picture are rather a laughing stock for the ones who take really strong and solid positions in the U. S. world.
To be more precise, the people in the picture are shown from the viewpoint of a “taken-for-granted, commonsense (Gramsci) feature of everyday life and global social structure” (Winant 129). Taking a closer look at the background of the picture, one can see the police motorcycle in the distance, which serves as a reminder of the problems with police that the Hispanic population is said to have in the U. S.
It can be concluded that the environment depicted in the photo fits the common prejudice about the Hispanic people described by Torres: “At the first meeting I was turned off by the lack of awareness of the cultural diversity. Offensive terms and phrases were used, such as: “Those people, they do drugs; illegals,” and a lot of blaming came out (109).
Hence, it is obvious that the most unappealing elements of prejudices connected with the life of the Hispanics are brought to the audience – perhaps, unintentionally, yet rather graphically. To be more particular, in the given case, the elements of the picture “mirror the North-South patterns that colonial rule developed and the Pax Americana has continued” (Winant 130).
Moreover, the rest of the elements, namely, the front images of the picture, also contribute a lot to Winant’s viewpoint concerning the hegemony of the racial prejudices.
It is essential that the Hispanic people in Nikki’s photo are pictured in the middle of the motion – it is completely clear that each of the characters in the shot is pierced through with the typical partying light-minded and even somewhat “tipsy” mood, which adds to the general idea of the Hispanics’ lifestyle. Creating the impression of “socially dangerous” types, the people in the picture shows clearly that the racial domination of the white population and the unacceptance of the other races continue even in modern society.
Steering clear of the multi-layer culture that the Hispanics have created during the years of living next to the American population (Torres 16), the photo in question depicts the most explicit and, therefore, the most superficial features of the Hispanic lifestyle, therefore, distorting the latter completely. The most specific elements that chain the audience’s attention immediately, the gestures of the people in the picture are also an element of the prejudice concerning the Hispanic population.
Earlier believed to be fashionable and “meaningful,” these gestures are nowadays an obtrusive part and parcel of the Hispanic image in the modern world. The gesticulation mentioned above, like an accent or even less noticeable thing, remains “the thing that determines someone’s place on the social ladder, more than race or class” (Laferriere 53).
Another proof that the Hispanics are rather a secluded group that is far from becoming a superior one, the elements of the social prejudice depicted in the photo make it clear that the mentality of the white race is still the one that governs the world tendencies.
Another important element of the picture that enhances the traditional set of prejudices against the Hispanic culture is the air of cheap glamour about the people in the picture. The promotion of modern tendencies is achieved at the expense of the image of the Hispanics in the given photo.
Creating the idea of tastelessly dressed young people wearing cheap decorations to make the effect even stronger, the picture enhances one of the strongest prejudices of the Hispanic people, namely, their specific culture, with the elements alien to the American people (Torres 212), thus, blocking the Hispanics’ way to the top of the world’s hegemony pyramid for good.
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The last, but not the least feature of the photo that points to the inferiority of the Hispanic race is the specific attitudes the people in the picture try to strike. Analyzing the way the people in the picture sit to the camera, one can conclude that the people in the picture are considerably too loose and relaxed, which makes them look somewhat vulgar. Perhaps, trying to create an atmosphere of ease and close relationships, the people in the picture look rather pretentiously and create not the desirable air of looseness, but a vulgar sight.
Another element that adds to the overall misconception of the Hispanic culture, the atmosphere created in the photo confuses the people who know little about the Hispanic culture the most. As Laferriere put it, “You don’t just meet a girl, I’ve come to see, you meet a culture. And you don’t’ leave that culture easily” (150).
Therefore, one can see distinctly that the problem of the racial segregation has not been vanquished, but has given a profound basis for the structure of the modern world. In response to Shen Wu, who asked mournfully, “Will race ever be transcended? Will the world ever “get beyond” race?” (136), one can say that the humankind is highly unlikely to ever stop the traditional treatment of the people of the “inferior” races.
Triggering various unfavorable consequences for the representatives of the nationalities that used to be considered inferior to the white people, the prejudices described above, without any doubt, lie in the fundament of modern society. Hence, even though the change of the social ideas and principles seems hardly probable, one still has to take all possible measures that presumably can help the society take a new, unbiased approach to the representatives of the other cultures.
Laferriere, Dany. I Am a Japanese Writer. Vancouver, CA: Douglas & McIntyre, 2011. Print.
Shen Wu, Jean Yu-wen, and Thomas C. Chen. Asian American Studies Now: A Critical Reader. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2010. Print.
Torres, Jose B., and Felix G. Rivera. Latino/Hispanic Liaisons and Visions for Human Behavior in the Social Environment. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. Print.