A New Understanding to the Concept of Race

by Masertnater on September 13, 2016 - 1:45am

 

  Throughout the activities, discussions and the lectures, I have changed my view upon the concept of race. It is much more than the classification of skin color, eye color or hair texture. It is that race is connected to genetic or physical traits, all aimed to classify a group of people. None of which are more important than the other.  

  Throughout my life I never viewed race to be anything but to classify someone based on for example; skin colour. I was arrogant and never saw the bigger picture. Even though it has only been a couple weeks, this class has taught me more than I ever had learned before. Firstly, in the reading “Race without Color” written by Jared Diamond, he says “this seemingly unassailable reasoning is not objective. There are many different, equally valid procedures for defining races, and those different procedures yield very different classifications” (Jared Diamond, 1994, para. 5). The author wrote about how classifying Europeans as white people and Africans as black people, can be a more biased way of thinking. He is saying that there are other respective yet possibly different classifications to put society in. For example; I am a tall white man and I am placed in a group of only white people, I am then later on switched for some reason into a group of only tall people, both groups would be completely different although both perfectly respecting my traits.  So I agree with his statement because someone’s skin colour should not be the first classification when it comes to race.

   I think that a biological trait based on geographic distribution such as natural selection can be used to classify a race just as much as anything else. In the reading, Diamond explains “many geographically variable human traits evolved by natural selection to adapt humans to particular climates or environments” (Jared Diamond, 1994, para. 16). An example would be how people of the old world developed a mutation that helped them survive malaria, the sickle-cell gene. Basically people with this gene have a greater resistance against malaria. Diamond continues to write “not surprisingly, the gene is absent from northern Europe, where malaria is non-existent, but its common in tropical Africa, where malaria is widespread” (Jared Diamond, 1994, para. 17). He ends his argument with “thus human races, if defined by antimalarial genes, would be very different from human races as traditionally defined by traits such as skin color” (Jared Diamond, 1994, para. 18). Both traits provide the same amount of meaning, neither is more important. Maybe skin colour is a simpler way of classifying people although in the long run, it had damaging effects. Groups built a hatred for each other and it resolved in violence for many years. This is just an example as to why any trait can be and should be as important as any other.

  Skin colour is the most common trait used because it the most visible, although it is only one of many and I have learned, they all have the same meaning. They are all equally justified to define the concept of race.

 

·         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

Comments

This post made a really good point. "Skin colour is the most common trait used because it’s the most visible." I've never thought about this this way. I agree with this post because color is a huge characteristic when it comes to separating things into groups. When I describe an African man, I occasionally say “black man with dark hair” because I am describing what he looks like to someone, just as someone would say I'm a “white with red hair.” Yes it’s easy to describe someone based on looks, but in the end, it damages that person and makes them feel worse about themselves. I don't believe that people use the color of someone's skin to demoralize them, but through time, it had damaging effects. My family and I like to be politically correct and we care about people's feelings. My mom raised me to call people based on their origin rather than the color of their skin. Through history, we realize that people take great offense calling them by the color of their skin, so why do we keep on doing it? Like everyone's mom tell them, "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say it at all."

The point this article was very clear and brought up a very good point of how and why we classify race. For example points out how we base race solely off the skin tone of someone is because it is the most visible makes sense. When i read that i truly understood really why that is. I agree with this article greatly because many times when I'm asked to describe a person i often explain their skin tone and hair color and even though this isn't always the best way it is the easiest and that is why race is so often classified as color of ones skin and not just by a group of the individual.

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