The Miss understanding of Race is not a Myth; it's a Neighbouring reality

by Shannonodowd on September 9, 2016 - 7:51am

In one of the first lectures of my third semester class “ The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism,” we were told a logical reasoning that there is no such thing as human races, but rather a single race known as the human race. Following this discussion, we were asked to identity which ‘race’ we are.  Without hesitation, I answered, “I am Caucasian,” thinking this was a simple question. Yet seeing from the responses of my classmates, I was deemed wrong.  The individuals sitting next to me truly believed that being Jewish or Irish was a race. I thought race was a logical concept understood by most the world, although it seems this truth is very much a naive misunderstanding. After this class activity, I became intrigued into knowing how the traditional concept of races is characterized. According to Jared Diamond in his article Race Without Color, he reveals the different geographical traits such as natural selection, sexual selection and random genetic factors (Diamond, 1994, para.12- 14). As Diamond describes in relation to natural selection, environmental pressures have produced altering body shapes, and sizes of individuals based on the climate of their region. Such as the difference between Eskimos and Niolitic people, who’s bodies have adapted to the heat by either having a large or small body surface to keep or dissipate heat (Diamond, 1994, para.20). Other visible traits influenced by geography can have an interconnection with sexual selection (nipple size or chest hair) and can have an impact on the sex appeal towards the opposite sex and for intimidation of rivals (Diamond, 1994, para.22).  Finally, Diamond’s last argument is the connection between geography and random genetic factors, which implies no significant function in the survival of a race (Diamond, 1994, para.26). For example, blood types and fingerprints have differences within different regions; the characteristics that situate each group of individuals could include different visible patterns of arches, loops, and whorls (Diamond, 1994, para.25). Yet, with all this geographical proof, we still seem to fall towards the traditional traits of hair texture, skin color and other characteristics to separate races. As we discussed in class, if we were to separate ‘races’ by any of the previous characteristics mentioned we would get inconsistent results such as the ‘black’ race would have a variety of individuals from India, Africa and even Australia.  With these arguments brought forwards by Diamond, I ask myself how some people still believe race exist, but then I realize that it isn’t just some individuals but actually the people I see in every day passing by me in the halls. Ask yourself this, what if the earth was physically flipped or rotated a different way, would our “races” be classified by another geographical trait?

Word Count: 458

Diamond, J. (2016, winter). Race without Color. In A. Nouvet (Ed.), Anthropology 381-101-LA: The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism. Saint-Lambert, QC: Champlain. 

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