The Fallacy of “Races”

by Laf on September 12, 2016 - 9:48pm

As a child, learning about the term “race” and gradually understanding what racism implied was somewhat terrifying and mesmerizing: why did we separate people, I thought we were all part of the same family? I was curious as to why the concept even existed. As the years went by, I sort of ignored the fact that people were categorized into “races” as my parents never supported this “arbitrary system of racial classification” (Diamond, 1994, para. 39). This course therefore serves as a way for me to understand the history of it all and finally satisfy the curiosity of my five-year-old self.

 

As I read Diamond’s article, I came to understand that classifying humans into “races” actually demanded more work than just paying no mind to the existence of this classification. At the beginning of his article, Diamond gives an example of classification of humans by skin color. This process separated the Swedes from the Nigerians and linked them to other Europeans because, if based on the pigmentation of their skin, they could not be mistaken for one another. Later on, Diamond used another specific human trait to classify, with the purpose of determining if the results would be identical to the previous classification. The conclusion of this experiment was to be expected: the “races” determined with the second trait did not concord with the “races” found by using the skin color trait. This shows why “many anthropologists today conclude that one cannot recognize any human races at all” (Diamond, 1994, para. 5) and that no one should be trying to divide human beings as no logic stands behind this.

 

If I combine what I learned by reading Diamond’s article and what we learned in class so far, I am now completely convinced that the concept of “race” is a social construct and that there is no genetic evidence proving that we all belong in different “races”.  On the very opposite, humans are similar genetically and it is also scientifically proven that there are no particular genes that only a certain “race” possesses. I was not surprised at all to learn this as, in my opinion, “races” should not be used to divide humans. I believe that the culture people identify themselves with is what really counts.

 

A class-activity that really shocked me was the one when we went on a site and classified pictures of people under the five different “races” recognized by the United States. Never in my life had I tried to label someone within a certain “race” as I was fully aware that it usually couldn’t be determine solely by looking at the person’s physical features. This led me to reflect on racism across the world. For me, racism is such an absurd concept as it is mainly the discrimination of people based on their physical traits, which makes no sense. However, I am fully aware that racism is still a serious issue in our society. For example, I have an aunt who makes nasty comments about certain people solely based on the “race” she has attributed to them. It always makes me uncomfortable and rather disappointed that someone so close to me would discriminate this way.

In conclusion, I hope we are heading towards a future deprived of the term “race” and of the concept of racism. I want my children to not even have to learn what “race” means, and have  them personally decide what they identify to.   

 

546 words

 

List of references

 

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. Retrieved from: http://discovermagazine.com/1994/nov/racewithoutcolor444

 

About the author

Laf