What's it based on?

by Haleyduncan98 on September 14, 2016 - 2:52am

It’s simple, isn’t it? We can see the things that make humans different from each other. Hair texture and color, body proportions, and skin tone. These differences are so obvious and easy,  how can they be wrong? Well, they can be wrong because ‘races’ are not as black and white as people may think. By just using traits that are convenient to our eye, we create categories that are very subjective and not at all concrete. Since the traits we like to use are not consistent, the lines between ‘races’ become very blurred. To me, this is not a reliable means of separating humans nor is separating humans an advisable thing to do if it is so inconsistent.

In his article, Jared Diamond argues that there is no ‘race’ gene. Although we can, for the most part, differentiate ‘races’ by sight, when it gets down to specific and consistent categories, humans should not be sub-categorized further than being a collective species. Diamond says only some species can be successfully sub-categorized. His example is the yellow-rumped warbler, whose variation in throat color, voice and preference in habitat are all concordant. Which is to say that no matter which of these three traits you chose- throat color, voice or habitat -you will end up with the same categories, because populations of birds with a different voice also have a different habitat and throat color.

In class, we did an exercise where we separated into four categories and this showed just how subjective the criteria for categories could be (length of hair: very short, short, long or very long. But what counts as long?). That really brought to light how blurry the lines between ‘races’ can be and made me question why we use them at all. I suppose we like to simplify everything, even the individuality we have as humans.


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 understand what you are saying but to put things bluntly, we are all different. I am different from everyone in my race, and they are all different from me. Especially by the way we look, and to try to be blind to that fact is pure ignorance. We look at people everyday and see the differences between not only us and them, but them and the rest of the world, the best thing to do is not to group everyone together as "humans" ut to look at each other and accept our differences, because we are different not only in look, but in personality, and i am proud to be different.

I compleatly agree that in our own personal lives, we have the right and the instinct to be individual and I'm not trying to discredit that since I feel it as well. But this paper is for a class that deals with the myth of race and the reality of racism, where we have to look at it from a broader perspective than just our own opinions or inclinations. Thank you for commenting, but my paper didn't aim to discredit a humans individuality, just show that the arbitrary categories that society has been using to seperate its population is not solidly based on anything but visual differences that are quite literally "only skin deep".

This post drew me in because it brought up a point that I hadn't really considered before. The idea that convenience is a major driving point in racism and discrimination is very intriguing to think about. Though I agree with the previous commenter that our differences are what makes us human, I also understand the original author's point. The differences that are easily seen should not be where major judgement comes from. As humans, both our appearance and personalities create who we are and it is an amazing thing that we are all unique individuals. Although I understand both points of view, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. The tendency of humans to judge based on simplicity and convenience has made an unfair and blurred environment with racism and discrimination. On the other hand, people should be proud of their differences and understand that this differences are what makes the human race a society of individuals. The trick is to find the balance between judgement and individuality.

Thank you for commenting, this is the conversation I intended my paper to invoke. The questioning of why we use the categories we do to group people in our society.

I was drawn into your post on racism when you said, "races are not as black and white as people think." I could not agree more that people get separated into, what seems like, very generic categories. It is like saying we only have fruits and vegetables in the world leaving out other food groups and even each individual fruit/vegetable type. No one apple is exactly the same as another apple and the same goes for human beings. What seems like any other ordinary apple can be grown in another country and have a completely different taste. There is no one taste for human beings because we all are very different raised in all parts of the world. It is impossible to try and categorize humans when there is no definite line of distinction. A line such as this one is impossible to create since we are all so unique. Just as you describe in your in-class discussion about hair length, what is really considered long or short? I feel this is more noticeable as less humans are pure bred. My family is a mixture of many cultures so how can I be put into a single category and have it define who I am when it is not, when I am so much more than just white. Categorizations are impossible when comparing the races of the human species.

This post really got my attention. The author talks about how you can't determine someone's race by their DNA. I really liked how the author incorporated this. Even though appearances differentiate people, everyone should be treated the same. I like the statement about how there is no "race gene". I thought that was a very powerful statement. Even though I don't live in an area with much racism I can still understand how importance this subject is and this post really highlighted that. The statement, "humans should not be sub-categorized further than being a collective species" also intrigued me because I totally agree with this. I don't think people should ever be categorized for having a different skin color, hair color, etc.

I found this article very interesting and powerful. This is because the author talks about how differences are so obvious and easy when they clearly are not. Also my favorite statement in the article was “…there is no ‘race’ gene.” I do not believe humans should be identified by their appearance whether it is their hair or skin color etc. These categories should not be important rather the inside is what counts.

I think this is very interesting article. As soon as I looked at the topic it dragged me to this and wanted to know more about it. In my opinion everybody is different and that is what makes us unique. Our color, hair and others defines who we are so you can’t say that we are all the same. However we all human which is that matters. Our look or personality makes us different and unique but it does not separate us.

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