Race as a Social Construct “Race dominates our personal lives” (192 Lopez). Race is constantly a part of people’s lives and throughout the film Rabbit Proof Fence directed by Phillip Noyce and the Critical Race Theory written by Ian Lopez, we are able to see in what ways it affects people. The film depicts a group of three half caste Aborigine girls, who are taken from their family by a white man, Mr. Neville. The girls are taken to be trained as servants and also so they can assimilate to the “White” culture.
The article explains how race can be mistaken to be a biological difference, but how it actually is a social construct created by society. Throughout their works, Lopez and Noyce portray that race is not determined by biological factors, but rather by society creating social constructs. The Aborigine’s uneasiness towards whites because of how the whites treat and degrade them for their physical attributes exemplifies how race is a social construct. In the movie, the half caste kids were nervous of being taken and never being able to see their mothers again.
The half castes were taken to their new “home” where they were “[checked] for skin color and the fairer ones who are cleverer” to see who can be freed to leave and get a good education (Noyce). The whites were the ones who were free and had many more opportunities than the Aborigines did because of the color of their skin; hence, “Their race in the end determined whether they were free or enslaved” (192 Lopez). Their freedom was controlled by the whites, who caused them and their family’s pain because the whites thought their race was superior.
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In Rabbit Proof Fence, the whites separate themselves and the Aborigines because of their skin color and make the mistake of determining race by biological differences. Although Molly’s wit is able to fool Mr. Neville, Moodoo knows where the girls are, proving that race is created by society and not by genes. There are times when Moodoo senses the girls nearby, but seems to ignore it. When he is with the white man looking for the girls he says “she’s pretty clever that girl, she wants to go home” (Noyce) because he wants to pretend he does not know where they are.
He understands that it is unfair for these helpless people to be taken from their families out of force because he can relate since his daughter was taken as well. In the Critical Race Theory article, Lopez talks about how “Black and White are social groups, not genetically distinct branches of humankind” (193 Lopez). To Mr. Neville, whites are thought to be superior because of how they look compared to the Aborigines; therefore, the fairer ones are more intelligent and clever. Molly and Moodoo prove Mr.
Neville wrong when they outsmart him, which verifies that race is a social construct. Race can be thought of “as a vast group of people loosely bound together by historically contingent, socially significant elements” (193 Lopez) from their ancestry. Society has categorized people based on many different characteristics ranging from “hair, complexion, and facial features” (192 Lopez). We see this categorization in the movie when the whites put the half caste Aborigines in a special camp away from their families because of their skin color.
The Critical Race Theory explains to us that race is a social construct created by society and Rabbit Proof Fence provides us with examples from the article. Race is constantly mistaken to be people with different physical attributes, when in reality a person’s biology should not and does not determine which race he or she belongs to. Race is a social construct. Works Cited Delgado, Richard. Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1995. Rabbit-proof Fence. Dir. Phillip Noyce. Perf. Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, and Kenneth Charles Branagh. Miramax Films, 2002. DVD.
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