The False Concept of Race

by Rosemarie on September 13, 2016 - 10:44am

The concept of race is something that we all think to know fairly well; in a given species, there are different populations because of their different features and this is what we call race. According to this simple definition, we, humans, tend to group each other as such: Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and so forth. However, the thing that most people do not know is that we cannot apply the concept of race to humans. In his article “Race Without Color”, Jared Diamond fully explains why humans should not and cannot be divided into races.
His main point is that skin color is not a valid characteristic to define race, as “there are many different, equally valid procedures for defining races” (Diamond, 2016, para. 5). According to Diamond, people could also be classified according to if they have the sickle-gene or not (Diamond, 2016, para. 16), or if they are lactose intolerant or not (Diamond, 2016, para. 18). Those two traits, along with many others, are as valuable as skin color, so why put people in a same category according to just this one trait?
This idea really struck me because I had never thought about this; I did not even know that race was not a thing among humans…Maybe because I had never been personally affected by this concept? For me, race was just about the same as ethnicity; I thought we could use those two terms equally, but having read all the evidence as to why we cannot classify humans into races really made me change the way I see our society now. I realized that the media put so much emphasis on skin color and that they think it is more important to state what “race” this person is instead of actually giving their name.
For instance, let’s look at this title of a news article about the Olympics: “African-American Women Make Olympic History by Winning Gold in Swimming, Gymnastics & Shot Put” (Democracy Now, 2016). Why is it so important to state that Simone Manuel, Simone Biles and Michelle Carter are African-American, before even mentioning their names? By reading the article, you might say that it is because they all beat Olympics records in their “race”. But then again, why is this relevant? People think it is relevant because they believe the concept of race, but these women beat personal and world records, is that not enough to mention? This example just shows how the media dedicate their energy into talking about race and that they continue to spread this false concept.
In sum, Diamond’s article made me realize that so much effort is put into talking about people’s race and skin color when in fact, it is not even a thing. If only more people knew about this, many social problems could probably be avoided.

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Democracy Now. (2016). African-American Women Make Olympic History by Winning Gold in Swimming, Gymnastics & Shot Put. Author. Retrieved from http://www.democracynow.org/2016/8/15/african_american_women_make_olympi...
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. http://discovermagazine.com/1994/nov/racewithoutcolor444

Comments

The first thing that drew me to this post was the title. The false concept of race is compelling statement. I agree humans should not be divided into races. In this United States during this election season, racial division is used quite a bit. This sickens me. Why cannot people just be people? Why do the politicians have to identify races? Identity politics really bothers me.

Thank you for the positive comment! Indeed, politics really do reinforce this concept.

I agree with the point that race doesn't necessarily have to be about skin color. I never looked at this point of view before but the idea that race is just a classification of people and so doesn't have to just be about skin color but could be about dietary needs or genes is something to ponder. I could be classified as apart of people that are lactose intolerant or curly headed and not just black which I find interesting. However to your point about mensioning race in headlines I feel in some ways it is negative but in other ways it is beneficial. Because of how society talks about black people in not the best light, such as when the news says an "African American male was at the scene of the crime" or how he robbed at bank which created stereotypes that african americans or "black people" steal and are thugs, it is necessary to pin them in a positive light. It is nice to see that African Americans are being successful and not stereotypical. When I see stories about Simone Biles and Simone Manuel it is nice to think that yes african americans aren't less than or thugs and that they do win olympic medals. These headlines beat and hopefully destroy common misconceptions about certain races and stereotypes associated with races.

I am glad I could make you look at the concept of race from a different perspective! And about the headlines, you are absolutely right; it is nice to see something positive about African American because they are often negatively talk about, but in my opinion it would be even better to not mention one's race at all, right ?

This very intriguing and informative post sparked a lot of questions in the way I see society. The notion that there is no race in humans and that color of skin is essential equivalent to a medical condition is a mind blowing thought. Judging from my own experiences growing up in a very racially diverse town and school system, the concept of race was all around. This concept of race not pertaining to humans I feel could help the problem of racism dramatically if it was instilled at a young age. I strongly agree with many of the points made in this piece. In particular the article you documented talking about the olympics is a perfect example. There is no need to add a person's race in their accomplishments. Their personal successes is their own doing and has no bearing on their race.

Thank you for your comment, I am glad my post could make you think about our society and the problems the concept of race create.

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