Essay Sample on The Absence of Race in Technological History Studies

Published: 2023-03-30
Essay Sample on The Absence of Race in Technological History Studies
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Race Racism Discrimination Social issue
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1351 words
12 min read

The achievements of the supreme race obscured the concept of race's contribution to technology. The absence of race in technological history studies can be traced from ages ago, for instance, in 1820, when inventors were recognized for their backgrounds and not for lack of abilities. The effect of this was that black people lost their battle in the technological race to white people who were viewed as superior. The main reason for this is that the society was predominantly anti-black, and thus it was seldom for an African American to gain recognition for anything.

Furthermore, as a result, the inferior races could not have made it in technological history books. Besides, in the 1820s, schools such as Franklin Institute made technological knowledge accessible to only white children. Immigrant public schools and private black teachers training schools were not privileged enough for such knowledge. Although the technological knowledge hierarchies were inaccessible to such schools, it did not mean their students did not possess the knowledge of making things and physical environment manipulation to achieve a particular goal. However, that was not remarkable enough to go down the history books of technology.

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Proper evidence to support the involvement of race in the study of the history of technology is lacking. Scholars play a significant role in the study of the history of technology. It is through their literal works, research, and findings that knowledge in technology is expounded. However, historians acknowledge that race and technological history in the U.S. are similar even though history books have omitted race in the development of technology. However, due to the unavailable resources, historians face a challenge in encouraging race studies in technological history. There is also the tendency of researchers and scholars to fail to see what can be found in the available sources. Scholars cannot interpret what they already have as a means of drawing race out of the archives, and this tendency bars them from entirely, including race, into their analyses.

Sources available in the study of the history of technology cannot be used as evidence to show the link between race and technology because they were meant for other reasons. The reason for this is that the studies only focused on specific innovations rather than the innovator. In the history of technology, White was not regarded as a race; hence even though contributions to technology noted down were mostly from whites, historians still could not associate race to technology.

As an attempt to include race in the history of technology, historians and scholars view race as an epistemology used in producing and consuming technology. With such a concept in mind, it is easy to comprehend the importance of the obvious; that is, people create, maintain, and protect their interests using technology. If a race is allowed to represent non-whites, then it is essential to acknowledge that the most potent race created by science and technology is the white race(Pena, 2010).

Racial differences became worse as technology advanced; however, scholars were not able to see beyond the technological advancements, and the relationship between race and technology went unnoticed. Black Americans faced segregation that created a gap in science benefits received by both whites and blacks. The blacks and Native Americans perceived technology to be more harmful than beneficial. For instance, the Native Americans had their lands transferred to the whites because they were deemed inferior in possession of technical knowledge. Whites, through phrenology, were regarded as more intellectual compared to other races (Pena, 2010). Even with such narratives, the race has still not managed to make it an essential part of technological history. Race's absence is not because material evidence is not enough, but because the focus of the scholars is elsewhere. The focus is on the physical objects of technology and not how these objects contributed to racial discrimination or how racial differences led to the development of these objects. The social and cultural aspects of the history of technology have not been given much importance, hence the reason why race is absent.

The Visibility of People of Color through Technology

Having colored skin has been a nightmare for many people living in America. It has resulted in the cry for Justice by these people to become louder. Racial discrimination has seen the people of the color resort to all means possible in retaliating and ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights upheld in the United States. For a long time, people of color have been invisible as society turns a blind eye to their suffering. Movements like Black Lives Matter came to be as an attempt of African Americans to make themselves visible; to tell the world that they are human too and their lives matter despite their skin color.

Fischer and Mohrman (2017) give an insight into the discrimination of African Americans in the United States through the shooting of a 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was a St.Paul Montessori's school lunch supervisor. On July 6, 2016, a police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, shot Castile after pulling him over (Fischer and Mohrman, 2017). This incident is one of many that have occurred in the United States, and it is like a dark shadow hovering around the people of color; hence, they fight back.

Fighting for Justice is a struggle, but with technology in the twenty-first century, people of color have reason to be at ease. Technology is one of many mechanisms that have helped the people of color to stand up for themselves and fight for their rights. With the emergence of smartphones and social media, it is almost impossible for anything to go unnoticed. Social media platforms have made every person a reporter in their manner. Information circulates faster, leading to prompt solutions. Facebook is one such platform, and it has an option to stream live videos, which enables real-time viewing. Fischer and Mohrman (2017) describe how the Castile Shooting went viral as it was happening. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was accompanying him, sought a Facebook Live streaming option, the moment the officer fired the shot. Reynolds knew the situation of the blacks in the U.S.; hence, she was quick-witted and used technology as her weapon of defense.

The tables have turned in the struggle for visibility, and the higher-ups are now on the limelight. Individuals whose history has witnessed as subjects of racial discrimination; racialized practices of surveillance become empowered to use Sousveillance as insurgent surveillance from below. Fischer and Mohrman (2017) explain that technology is enabling people of color to avert their gaze from themselves to the ones above, the institutions. Sousveillance is also helping in preventing the stereotype that black people are thugs. Social justice movements can now challenge racism in institutions with concrete evidence and the eye of the public as their witness. People of color are slowly gaining visibility through technology, as the same technology sheds light on the actual culprits.


Race and technology have an irrefutable relationship, be it in history or the future of technology. Historical studies of technology might not have documented race's involvement and contributions, but it cannot be denied that the two ideologies have come a long way. Technology contributed both negatively and positively to the race issue in the United States of America. For instance, back in the 1950s, whites were considered superior to other people because of their technological advancement. They ensured that other races did not have access to the innovation, and hence they controlled them.

Another negative impact of technology on race is that it has led to the rise of white supremacy. The reason for this is that videos and stories published about white supremacists motivate other white people to join their movement. There are several positive impacts of technology on race. The most crucial impact is highlighting the plight of African Americans in the United States of America. For instance, the death of Castile culminated in an outcry against racism in the law enforcement agency. Technology played a crucial role in .since they possessed technological knowledge. In conclusion, scholars should undertake to do more research on the topic. By doing so, they would be highlighting the plight of minority races in the United States of America, forcing the government and other agencies to act on it.


Fischer, M., & Mohrman, K. (2017, March 3). Black deaths matter. Sousveillance and the invisibility of Black life.

Lerman, N. E. (2010). Categories of difference, categories of power: bringing gender and race to the history of technology. Technology and Culture, 51(4), 893-918.

Pena, C. (2010). The history of technology, the resistance of archives, and the whiteness of race. Technology and Culture, 51(4), 919-937.

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