1) How are racial categories and hierarchies constructed? How
have social, cultural, economic, and political institutions
created/promoted social categories and racial stratification?
Racial categories and hierarchies are constructed through a complex
interplay of historical, social, and cultural factors. They are not fixed or
inherent, but rather socially constructed concepts that have evolved over
time. Social institutions such as education, media, and government play a
significant role in creating and promoting these categories. For example,
the media often reinforces racial stereotypes and portrays certain racial
groups in a negative light. "Assumptions above race become so ingrained
that people come to view racial differences as natural" (Flores 2020). The
way we understand, describe, and represent race is related to how society
is organized, and this can have real and significant problems in terms of
social inequality and consequences for things like access to rights and
2) How is ethnicity socially constructed for some?
According to the article "Optional Ethnicities...", Waters explains that
white Americans have the option to choose between claiming any specific
ancestry or to just be "white" or American, but for black Americans,
Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians, the choice to
claim a specific ancestry is often limited or non-existent; their ethnicities
are socially enforced, and they are not interchangeable. "The situation is
very different for members of racial minorities, whose lives are strongly
influenced by their race or national origin" (Ore 2022). These minority
groups are deeply rooted in their social experiences and are not easily
interchangeable due to societal expectations and historical contexts.
White Americans have many options in terms of their ethnic identities, but
for minority groups, it is more complicated; they are constantly judged by
their actions or the way they act.
3) How does the legal status of immigrants who migrated as
young children affect their life chances/opportunities?
According to the reading "Learning to be Illegal...", when young children
begin to assume adult roles that require legal status as a basis for
participation, they begin to suffer and begin to lose great opportunities in
their lives. Without legal status, these children may not be able to access
education, health care, and employment opportunities. "Undocumented
young adults cannot legally work, vote, receive financial aid, or drive in
most states, and deportation remains a constant threat" (Ore 2022). Some
of them start to work at an early age and begin to assume financial
responsibilities in their homes, making them feel apart from society and in
limbo between childhood and adulthood. This lack of legal status not only
limits their opportunities but also creates a constant sense of uncertainty
and fear for their future. "Undocumented young adults are forced to alter
earlier plans and reshape their aspirations for the future, and coming to
grips with the possibility that their precarious legal circumstances may
never change." (Ore 2022).