Race: arbitrary or not?
by Alexis96 on September 13, 2016 - 11:50pm
Growing up, race was never a concept that I fully understood because it simply confused me and so I never really bothered to touch on the subject due to its sensitivity. Belonging to the Caucasian ethnicity, I never really experienced such issues that come with racism, so touching on the concept of “race” and how it impacts our society was never really a concern. However, through; personal experiences that my friend has been through, Jared Diamond’s article called “Race Without Color” and class lectures, I will be discussing why race is so arbitrary.
Jared Diamond clearly states what we already know about our human society, we have a common mindset when it comes to race, and certain factors like appearance are the reason behind why we belong to a certain race (Diamond, 1994, para 2). Diamond states that there are so many ways to define race, but individuals must come up with an interpretation for race (Diamond, 1994, para 5). He goes on to mention that it is simple for animals to be placed in a hierarchy because race would not be an issue, however with humans there is a hierarchy in which there are many discriminatory acts against one another creating superior and inferior conflicts (Diamond,1994, para 6).
The article really made me think a lot about the concept of “race” and made me think back to an activity that we did in class. My peers and I were told to go in different locations of the room depending on certain characteristic each had if any (these characteristic could be about having freckles, naturally curly hair or even being able to curl your tongue). I observed that when we would change the characteristics different people would always end up among mixed groups. It can be said that some people receive negative attributes who are not of the Caucasian “race”. A friend of mine constantly faces racial discrimination for being Hispanic. He often has to deal with discrimination by law enforcement because Hispanics are seen as malicious people with illicit intentions. This is a major issue because race brings nothing but negative stereotypes and creates problems among different races. It is unbelievable how many battles a person can face because of the pigment of their skin, the color of one’s skin should not have to place a label on someone or even categorize them among a certain “race”. As we can observe, there are many problems that come with the concept of race and such concept must be understood and treated with respect in order to eliminate discrimination and racism among “races”.
My friends personal experience, class lectures, and Jared Diamond's article “Race Without Color” really helped me understand that “race” is just a social construct created by the dominant group in society. There is nothing scientific, logical or justifiable about race, but it will continue to exist as long as society fuels this concept. All humans have 75% of the same genes it is time people faced the facts that skin color is arbitrary and as long as society continues to categorize people for their skin tone, we will not be able to grow and prosper as a unified society.
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