The sociological theory that aligns with this research project is critical race theory. The ideas behind critical race theory, and its commentary on systemic inequities for marginalized populations in today’s world, are rooted in the historical treatment and classification of race. Looking back at the origins of the concept of race, it was not until the 15th century that such an idea existed which began with the marginalization of Jews in Europe. As this discrimination against Jews continued, Europe created racial classes based on nationality and were seen to have rivalries based on where someone was from. (Frederickson 2010)

It was not until European imperialism became popularized and the colonization of Africa introduced white Europeans to their darker skinned, continental neighbors. Through colonial expeditions such as the Spanish in the Americas and Belgians in the Congo, racial hierarchies were elevated to be the primary basis of these colonies. The Belgian Congo is one example of exploitation and abuse of power through the concept of racial hierarchy that brutally tore apart the local population of the Congo in the late 19th century. (Hochschild 1998) Among those examples is the Spanish colonization of Central America, where the Spanish took hold in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The civilization of Tenochtitlan and the Aztecs intrigued the Spanish explorers with its intricacies and architecture but was still destroyed due to the racial dominance that the Spanish assumed as the local colonizers. (Stannard 1996) Alongside the transatlantic slave trade and slavery as a social institution in the United States, these historical aspects of racial hierarchies lay the groundwork for systematic oppression of marginalized peoples.  

The concepts within critical race theory which state that the majority possesses a material determinism and racism as an ordinary idea can be connected to colonial dominance of the local populations in the colonies. The white colonizers in this historical framework were motivated by a resource and monetary profit to boost their economy, establishing a relation to the white population generally belonging to a higher socioeconomic class which takes away their incentive to get rid of racist systems.

The concept of racism as being ordinary connects the social construction of race during the colonial era, which was rooted in physical features and region of origin, and the racial hierarchies that were established during that time to the commonplace racial stereotypes that are seen contemporarily. These racial hierarchies have translated to racism in policing through mass incarceration, medicine through unequal access to healthcare, and even politics through practices such as redlining. Through these forms of institutional racism, oppressed marginalized groups experience inequity that places them at a disadvantage in their lives while the majority benefits from the said institutions. I plan to explore the connection between critical race theory and racial representation in resort media advertisements.