Posts Tagged ‘race’

One of my favorite socials topics of discussion is the subject of “race”. To me, race had only benefited a select few people who tried to sort out the world from a biological perspective. Everyone one else, including myself, should drop it and walk away. Most people don’t even know what race is. Do you really? Don’t second guess your thoughts now because I’m going to tell you exactly what race is. Race is a socially constructed category made up of people who share biologically transmitted traits that people of society consider important. Most of you are saying “duh”, so I’ll ask my next question. What is ethnicity? Here’s a clue, its not race.

In the nineteenth century biologists tried to “organize” the world’s diversity by constructing three distinct racial types. People with light skin were and fine hair were called Caucasoid, people with dark skin and coarse hair were called Negroid, and people with yellow or brown skin with distinctive eyelids were called Mongoloid. Categorizing can be damaging and harmful. Simply because there are no “pure” people in any society. Within the categories there are even ranges. For example a Caucasoid could range from very light, such as in Poland, to very dark, such as southern India. Same goes for Negroids and Mongoloids.

To answer “What is ethnicity?”, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. My religion, my cultural celebrations, my common ancestors, my language define my ethnicity. The great thing about the United States is that we are a multiethnical society. Our cultures mix and it creates an array of colorful pictures for everyone to learn from and grow together. I personally have many ethnicities in terms of distinct common ancestors, language, and cultural traditions. But I’m considered one race because of my physical  appearance that is important to society. This is why, to me, race is stupid. Over generations here in America, the genetic traits of other races have mixed in people making a big gray area. Most of us genetically classify with multiple races. So the real question is in the last part of the definition of race, the classification of physical traits that are important to society. Race is here because we put it here. It’s like Santa, if you don’t believe in him, he doesn’t exist. Though you will hear many people say race isn’t important (and it is becoming less meaningful in American society) people are still sensitive to people’s racial background. The main reason society makes race important is because it creates a hierarchy. We then classify races to be inherently “better” than another. Trust me when I tell you, there is no scientific evidence linking genetics to races being better than another.

We construct the reality of race and ethnicity. Often individuals will play up or play down cultural traits to fit in or stand out in society. I think most of us have fallen victim to that at some point or another. Martin Luther King Jr said it the best when he said to judge not by skin color, but by the content of character. The truth is we all belong to the same species no matter what color you are. I believe we will one day get to a point where race wont matter and we can all enjoy the “American” culture.