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

 

532 words.

Comments

The introduction of this post really related to me and my thoughts on racism. Growing up visibly caucasian in a predominantly white community, I never had to deal with racism. In school, we learned about it and I was always truly disgusted by the idea of it and the problems that it caused in the past. Other than that, it was never a part of my reality and I honestly never understood the reasoning of others who partook in racist or discriminatory thoughts. Though skin color and other visible traits are clearly present, the choice to differentiate between them in a negative way is a socially constructed concept that should be resolved. The author ended with a statement regarding the need to move past categories in order to succeed as a society. I agree with this wholeheartedly and believe that humans should understand and celebrate their differences instead of using them as an excuse to discriminate.

This article drew me in because of its take on the "race" issue. I agree with the conclusion that you come to- that race is a social construct and therefore meaningless in terms of judging a person's abilities and dignity. I particularly like how you used science to make your point. The statistic that all humans are 75% genetically similar is true- and makes a very powerful argument for why race doesn't actually exist. I also appreciated the personal experience that you worked in to this article. I also grew up in a largely Caucasian community and therefore never thought of racism as a serious problem until I got out into the "real" world. Having met people who have dealt with racism their whole life, I have developed an appreciation for the differences within the human race. I agree with the final sentence- that until we are able to look beyond skin tone we will never prosper as a society.

When I saw your post and started to read the first few sentences I immediately could relate to your situation where race never really bothered me and never really understood what it meant. But as I grew older I started to realize how much race was more impactful on people of minority groups and how it was so much intertwined in their daily lives. As a child I never felt or witnessed discrimination, but my Namibian friend told me a story about how when he was little he was verbally abused by two caucasian children and how it impacted enough for him to remember to this day. It goes to show that the concept of race and racism is taught as a social construct.

When I saw your post and started to read the first few sentences I immediately could relate to your situation where race never really bothered me and never really understood what it meant. But as I grew older I started to realize how much race was more impactful on people of minority groups and how it was so much intertwined in their daily lives. As a child I never felt or witnessed discrimination, but my Namibian friend told me a story about how when he was little he was verbally abused by two caucasian children and how it impacted enough for him to remember to this day. It goes to show that the concept of race and racism is taught as a social construct.

This post caught my attention because the title made me contemplate whether or not race is actually arbitrary. After pondering this myself, I decided to read and evaluate another person’s opinion about it. I thought your personal example explaining the activity you did in class perfectly exemplifies why race is arbitrary. The different features such as freckles and hair color which do not segregate people are very similar to the color of the skin which actually is used for discrimination and segregation. I was able to relate to your thought processes because I as well am a caucasian who did not pay attention to racial inequality later in life. Since I never had to experience the impact of racial issues it wasn’t important to me. This changed drastically when I began dating someone who is black. After that I began evaluating race differently. I then began to really evaluate race in depth which is ultimately why I chose this article to read. I completely agree with your conclusion that difference should be celebrated instead of used as a means to discriminate.

This post caught my attention because the title made me contemplate whether or not race is actually arbitrary. After pondering this myself, I decided to read and evaluate another person’s opinion about it. I thought your personal example explaining the activity you did in class perfectly exemplifies why race is arbitrary. The different features such as freckles and hair color which do not segregate people are very similar to the color of the skin which actually is used for discrimination and segregation. I was able to relate to your thought processes because I as well am a caucasian who did not pay attention to racial inequality later in life. Since I never had to experience the impact of racial issues it wasn’t important to me. This changed drastically when I began dating someone who is black. After that I began evaluating race differently. I then began to really evaluate race in depth which is ultimately why I chose this article to read. I completely agree with your conclusion that difference should be celebrated instead of used as a means to discriminate.

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