J. Gil – Week 2 – Systems of Difference

People began distinguishing themselves from others in different ways. By doing so, groups of people labeled themselves as superior bunch and called others inferior. There have been many ways people did this. Religion, skin color, language, and culture were all used in alienation. Like Orin Starn stated,  there is still an inclination to see indigenous people as ‘the others’.

According to the lecture, people often misunderstand race as that of biological and inherited. Rather, race is something that is culturally established. Undoubtedly, people with a supposedly same race might not have similar biological characteristics. These physical characteristics were results of environment and genetic drift over the course of time. Thus, some genetics that are not as apparent as skin color are hard to distinguish and may vary from people to people within the same ‘race’. Thus, to classify people by the misunderstood concept of race is rather unfair. Still, race was most commonly used throughout history as difference between us and them.

Culture played a big factor and is closely associated with differentiating between people. Culture embraces a rather large definition because it can refer to what languages people speak, what kinds of customs do they adopt and how they behave in different situations, and what they eat. Often, clashes between cultures led to struggles such as war and violence. Religion is a big part of a culture. They are often associated with each other. For example, Judaism and Israelite, Islam and Middle Eastern, and Christianity and Western are all closely tied together as bundles to define culture.

Then, what are some of the methods that people used to define race and culture? Science has always been utilized to define race. In “Race: Power of Illusion”, black people were measured for their physical characteristics when doing so is not a scientifically accurate. People have always used different methods to legitimize their difference, which has a few benefits for those that do. Politically, minority races were prosecuted to achieve certain agendas. There are many instances throughout history where regimes used racism to meet certain goals. Ethnic cleansing such as the Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide are all political racism. This goes same with religion as well. People with different religions waged wars for as long as human history was first recorded. Crusades and Jihads are examples in which people established difference through religion in gaining superiority and profits over others.

It is nearly impossible to overlook differences between people. However, classifying these differences is when danger of conflicts arise. Categorizing is helpful if it has a pure scientific purpose. But often it is used as a basis for alienating each other and creating quarrel. Will it be possible to educate the global population that everybody is different regardless of culture and race? Is teaching people to be more tolerant a way to go? I think it is important to educate people the differences and the awareness of it, but these differences do not owe it to race or other factors. Rather, it is innate in every human being.

9 thoughts on “J. Gil – Week 2 – Systems of Difference

  1. I enjoyed how you incorporated religion, because often religion is the thing that is overlooked. How had great detail about how race is not something that is is biological, but a part of the culture. I thought that including how skin color comes from location not from biological differences was key. It allows the reader to understand that skin color is a bad way to classify a person because it can be misleading. Religion is the largest part of culture, in today’s society. We often associate Muslims with terrorists, which not the case. Yet, with fear we build an entire culture into a dangerous group in our minds. I do not think we will ever be able to get rid of racism. I think education is the way to start making people, especially the older generations, to be more tolerant of different cultures and races. Differences between people will always be there, but being able to look past them will be the big step.

  2. Your piece was very well thought out and covered a number of things from the lectures and videos, one thing thought that I am curious about is in your last paragraph, are the two question associated to the readings? If so, which readings did they belong to? Also, while I do agree with you that “people with a supposedly same race might not have similar biological characteristics” as it was talked about in the Lecture: 2.2 I think that you should have chosen a different word other than ‘undoubtedly’ to begin your sentence because there are lots of people who believe that race is a biological characteristic as did many scientists until proven wrong. Also, I disagree with you that classifying people is only helpful if it is for a scientific purpose, because in the Article: Chapter 3-Recognizing cultural diversity, it talked about how the field of Anthropology needed to expanded to included people of minority races and create more programs that studied and talked about minority groups. If people weren’t “categorized” than trying to get more minority grad students into programs in the field would never even be thought of. Nothing would ever change. I wouldn’t call this for scientific purposes, I would call this equality.

  3. I enjoyed that wrote various areas of culture and race, religion versus politics, and how our ways of categorizing people is a way of alienating individuals. Indeed, it is wrong to define a person or judge a person by the color of their skin or their cultural background. I agree with you on that completely. According to PBS, people were categorized into groups solely on the color of their skin legally. Of course this has changed over over time, but this was shocking to me as I read it. Indeed these cultural differences have caused differences in the past and still today, but these judgments have greatly decreased. People constantly categorize each other, we cling to those who look similar to ourselves. It is human nature to want to closer to someone like ourselves, but I think it is morally wrong to “categorize” a person who may be different and keep our distance from them.

  4. I like how you broke up your argument into different sections. This made finding the different qualifications quite easy to understand. Also I enjoyed how you were very consistent with the themes throughout your paper. Though this does leave one to desire a bit of difference outside of the typical religion, culture, and race. I am sort of on the fence on how you used “Race: Power of Illusion” as your movie. On one hand, it is very informative and straight to the point, but on the other hand I would have loved to have heard an example of a film that brings a difference that would be more common to have seen. Also your questions you posed were quite good. Saying that everyone is different is a great way to show that these differences really mean nothing. And the asking about teaching is great too because it could very well rub people the wrong way and have them entirely miss the message. Overall I feel as though this is a very well informed blog post, great job.

  5. After reading your blog post, it is made clear that race can be overseen easily and that it can be categorized in an unharmful way sometimes. However, that does not give it any purpose to justify people all the time based on the color of their skin. In this world, everything is different. Without things being different, there wouldn’t be much of a purpose. Mentioning how showing a difference in race or culture is a great teaching method, is important. Those who are not educated on different cultures or races, should be or at least, know the main facts. It’s important because you’ll gain respect and then respect those as well. Growing up as a Latino, I know how it feels to be discriminated by the color of your skin. It is especially important for me because I am usually distinguished by strangers as another race other than what I am. It is hurtful at times because they don’t know me, yet assume I am a certain race based on my appearance. It is sometimes second nature for most, so I understand that part. But overall, it is important to get out of this habit and recognize people for more than just their exterior.

  6. To begin, I find it rather interesting and personally upsetting that still today it is not common knowledge that the concept of race is socially constructed, rather than a fact of science. I agree wholeheartedly with your statement about the dangers of classifying individuals; however, I would say more specifically that the act of ranking the classifications is where issues lie. Although I believe we are on the same page with this idea. In the lecture, the topic of the “Great Chain of Being” is discussed. This is something of great intrigue to me for the reason that the ill-effects of this perspective were both intended and simultaneously unintentional, upon the creation of this unilinear categorization. The minds behind this perspective were of the church, and formed this chain to demonstrate the “natural” allotment of power and what, or whom, is superior and inferior. While they intended this to show respect to God and further instill the belief of man’s superiority over animals, they also perpetuated the entitlement way of thinking that is reflected even in society today.
    Thanks!

  7. This blog has referenced the argument at the beginning – ‘People began distinguishing themselves from others in different ways. By doing so, groups of people labeled themselves as superior bunch and called others inferior’, and analysis around the argument with list a few points and arguments – ‘Religion, skin color, language, and culture’, and the relationship between those several points and arguments are mostly in a parallel relationship. Furthermore, This blog is well-employed the most important thing of the “transition” and “analysis”. The so-called “transition” is the proper words to connect between ideas and examples, so that the ideas and argument materials are unimpeded in language form, in this blog, the transaction can be reflected in ”According to the lecture’, ‘Then, what are some of the methods that people used to define race and culture? Science has always’, etc. In spite, this blog is using “analysis” to point out its essential characteristic, make the facts and arguments on the content can be linked together. The blog gives examples to each points to make it more supportive to the arguments.

  8. The argument is presented by three sections: in the first section, the author uses the example of race to explain people’s disposition to socially categorise people into categories despite its absurdity; secondly, the author proceeds to analyze the factors leading to the origin of social categorisation, among which are culture, science and religion; thirdly, the author, after justifying the utility and inevitability of categorizing, also points out that biases tend to play a role in this, and that it is vital to educate people so that they are aware of their own bias and its detrimental effects. To sum up, the presentation of the argument is well-structured and the contents are convincing to me. I find the fourth paragraph where the examples of holocaust and the Rwanda genocide particularly powerful, as it reveals how vicious political racism can lead to the sufferings of civilians. Such lessons shall never be forgot by any human beings.

  9. Yes I agree with what you said about distinguishing themselves from other in a couple of different ways. Sometimes it can be a problem when people get into their own groups based on their religion and the color of their skin. I also think people should explore and meet new groups and culture to expand their horizon of thinking. I think it is interesting that you say it is nearly impossible to overlook differences between people and I see where you are coming from but I also disagree to an extent. I think that differences do not have to be overlook and classification does not either, but it is stereotyping that is really where the danger comes in. In terms of race, classification based on race is not scientific as the readings have shown that there is no difference from the standpoint of DNA. So, my question is, how helpful is it? I do not know for sure, as I am not a scientist, but I do not think that racial classification really is helpful. It could eventually be looked at the same way that hair or eye color is in that they are physical differences, but scientifically there is nothing about them that is used in any significant way.

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