Races for Dummies

by Alexleonard3 on September 12, 2016 - 11:36pm

Races for Dummies



The Color of ones skin, hair and eyes are known as physical traits.  The public and social media often classify someone’s race based on physical traits. This ideology is not always one hundred percent factual. Jared Diamond states that physical traits only determine our sexual selection and preference for the opposite sex. (Diamond, 1994, Para 28)


In class, we demonstrated various activities.  There was one activity that helped me to understand Diamonds article.   It was the one where we categorized people into groups by race based on physical appearance.  I realized that it was extremely hard and I identified most of them wrong.


The second activity that I found truly impactful was when you grouped us by certain traits. The example that stood out the most was when we grouped ourselves by “natural curly hair”.  Looking around at my classmates to see who had natural curly hair, it was very interesting to see the diversity in that particular group.   This made me realize that having curly hair can be part of all “races”.  It does not necessarily determine your background or if you are black or white, etc.  As Diamond mentions, hair type and color have no meaning because most people use flat irons and curlers to attract the opposite sex. (Diamond, 1994,para 33)


In my personal experience, I have been identified by others pre conceived ideas that because I have curly hair and dark skin I was of non-Caucasian descent.  I am in fact of Irish descent.  I was also once identified as being of Spanish descent and someone had asked me out on a date based on this pre-conceived idea.   However, when he found out I wasn’t Spanish, he no longer showed an interest in me. That was a perfect example of how people often mistake me for being non- Caucasian.  An additional example would be when my best friends, since kindergarten, thought I was part black.  I never thought anything of it until I took this course. This course makes me reflect on society’s grouping of “races” based on physical traits and appearances. Today’s society continues to make assumptions on others ethnicities.  I strongly believe that the public and social media have people convinced of the myth of race. Perhaps most are uneducated on this subject.  So far, I have learned that even I had made assumptions of what people’s ethnicities were by just looking at their appearances.  I now know that everyone is different.  Just because someone looks a certain way does not mean they are what you think they are.


                                                                                                                             Word count: 430





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


I love how you talked about the activities you did in class, and how they helped you with learning about the article your class has read. From a reader’s perspective, I can only imagine how the activities went, but from what is written in the article the activities seem to be eye openers.
I do not think any person could group others, even if they have had relationships with some individuals, into groups based on physical appearances. It is extremely hard, if not impossible, to determine something about someone based on the way they look. I think people assume that that is what race is. If we can “clearly” see something, it must be true. But it is not.
If you see a women walking down the street with groceries, you would assume she just bought them, but maybe she is on her way to a movie set and those are her props, or she is a nanny and she is delivering groceries to the house or houses she works in. Either of these hypothesis could be true, but since they seem more unlikely than the idea of the women simply buying herself groceries, our other thoughts must be wrong.
We can adopt that way of thinking for concluding race as well. The thoughts we have towards determining race are commonly stereotypical. The author mentions determining race based on the straightness or curliness of someone’s hair, yet in modern society it is extremely common for an individual to style their hair each morning.
I love this article and the simplicity of the concepts. The activities the author has performed in class have now been spread to an online sharing network that helps someone like me, an individual somewhere in the world, see something a little differently.

i really appreciated that you took the time to comment on my article. It is a shame that our society still assumes a lot and especially just by looking at someone. Thank you for your comment it was nice to read that you enjoyed my writing and i hope other people take a step back and realize what they are doing by always assuming things.

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