Disciplining the racial body

Research on racial, ethnic and feminist studies reveals that gendered power relations traverse active production and mediation of ethnicized and racialized bodies. What this means is that by virtue of their femininity, women for example are often relegated by society to less powerful positions in comparison with men, on the basis of their feminized bodies and images. As a result, the feminized and racialized body is often a culmination of a “double-edged construction of otherness” (Guzman and Valdivia 207). For instance, if we decided to feminize and devalue Latino bodies, it means that Latino bodies get displaced twice.

On a general point of view, the Latino bodies could be seen to lie beyond the Latino culture margins, as well as the mainstream of beauty and femininity. Furthermore, Latino bodies would also be categorized as dangerous and impure bodies in need of medical interventions and state-sanctioned inspections, in large part due to powerful cultural discourses of cross border contamination as well as disproportionate sexual reproduction. As a result of such historical shifts as geographical Diasporas and migrations, global economic transformation and newly established global identities, these forces have combined to bring to the foreground erstwhile minoritized cultures. Specifically, cultural and demographic changes in ethnic and racial diversity imply a representational and empirical growth in Latino and Latina bodies (Guzman and Valdivia 208). In recent years, the Latinos in the United States have continued to enjoy increases in market power, population, and culture influence. As a result, this has led to the need to acknowledge the complexity, multiplicity and richness of this racial group.

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However, the tendency to describe and categorize the Latino and Latina bodies in the United States population as “Latino and Latina” is a more recent development. The entry of the Latina and the Latino bodies into the mainstream culture in the United States has been racialized by the gendered process of Latinolization (tropicalism). The gendered elements of “tropicalism’ has been commodified by the global media. For example, the dominant Latino male lover is often depicted as dark-haired, macho, and mustachioed. On the other hand, the female Latino is portrayed as a submissive, red lipped, hot, curvaceous, with long brunette hair, and seductively dressed beauty with long earrings (Guzmann and Valdivia 213).

The use of such words as “energy”, “hot”, and “motion” mostly associated with the yellow and red images of suns and fires add to the nearly combustible and tropical feel of Latino and Latina bodies and selves. Whether mobilized in combination or in isolation, such a categorization often constitutes the “tropicalisation” elements of Latino and Latina bodies and populations in the united states, a process that is also seen to homogenize, organize, and policies a hitherto heterogeneous, multiple and dynamic “Latinidad”. There is extensive evidence in literature to support the claim that women of color have for a long time now had their bodies (and more so their buttocks and genitals) excessively exoticized, sexualized, and pathologized. A good example here is Jenifer Lopez whose butt has excessively been objectified by the media, prompting even her to joke that even before the Americas got to know her name, they were already familiar with her butt. The Latino population in the United States is for example, often positioned by public policy discourses as inherently diseased, mostly immigrant, and sexually uncontrollable (Guzmann and Valdivia 225). By default, the rise in the number of Latinos among the United States general population is usually seen as a public health problem.

Since Latinos have documented higher birth rates in comparison with the other races, as a result, they are therefore often regarded as a threat to the dominant national identity in the United States, in comparison with other segments of the population.

Breaking the taboo on sports and race

That Blacks are quiet dominant in such sports as athletics, soccer, rugby, baseball and cricket, is not in doubt. One might then wonder if this is largely due to the combined force of genetics and race. Viewed at from another point of view, Entine (4) wonders if this is nothing more than white voodoo designed in such a manner as to let the Whites dominate the boardroom, while the Blacks are banished to the basketball court, the track, or the football field, the modern-day equivalent of the plantations. In as much as this may best be seen as nothing more than pure scientific debate, nevertheless, there is compelling evidence in literature to support the claim that black superiority in athletics is indeed decisively and persuasively “ confirmed on the playing field” (Entine 5). In the sporting arena, Blacks have asserted themselves as the superstars.

In addition, the ratio of Blacks in a majority of the sports by far outnumbers that of their White counterparts. This apparent disparity is often impacted on by the genetic as well as cultural forces. Seeing that the existing socio-cultural barriers are fast getting eroded, consequently, we can only project that this disparity will widen in the years ahead. On the other hand, the issue of black superiority in sports has not gone down well with proponents from certain quarters. Some see racial stereotypes of black moral and mental inferiority in all this. In other words, the admission of the success registered by Blacks in sports by the Whites is not so much a compliment as a racialist proxy (Entine 5). The significance of this statement does not go unnoticed. Historically, the whites have demonstrated a fascination for black physicality, and this is a central issue to colonialism.

Many people associated such racist stereotypes of an “animalistic” black nature to the idea of physical differences, and the resultant suggestion that somehow, blacks are intellectually inferior to their white counterparts. Black athletes may have for a long time now been seen to dominate sports but in general, the Black race has not in fact dominated sports; it is only the Black athletes who have been successful, and not the larger black race. For instance, the Whites are very much in control of the top management and ownership of the diverse franchises of major sports. In this respect, whiteness may be seen as a symbol of wealth, political power, rationality, economic advancement, and civilized culture. In contrast, issues of the natural, musicality, sensuality, laziness, hyper-sexuality, cultural pathology, intellectual deficiency, and athleticism, are associated with blackness (Entine 4).

In addition, these forms of deeply ingrained stereotypes play a very significant role when we wish to explain for instance, why “the image of a raging Mike Tyson spitting out the torn piece of ear of his opponent stirred such personal reactions among both blacks and Whites” (Entine 4).

Works Cited

Entine, Jon. Taboo: why Black athletes dominate sports and why we’re afraid to talk about it. New York: Public Affairs, 2001. Print.

Guzman, Isabel and Valdivia, Angharad. Disciplining the ethnic body. Latinidad, hybridized bodies and transnational identities. New York: Taylor & Francis inc.

, 2004. Print.


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