Reading that the idea of race originated in America is very indicative as to why the country stands in it’s current state. With the election of President Barack Obama, many were quick to conclude that the country had become “post-racial” when in fact there is no truth in that statement. Perhaps yes, it’s a step toward equality but current events tell us that race and racism is still a very much a part of American culture. The social construct of race has permeated this country, as well as others, and with the creation of this categorization it’s become a link in the way that people identify themselves. There are strong ties to racial identity that embrace diversity in the experience of culture. “Post-racial” is not something that seems possible, nor necessary, it’s a “post-racist” society that we need to concern ourselves with achieving. It might help to understand that race does exist as biological determinate, but that it’s social conditioning that has caused the common misconception of difference.
One statement that stood out to me from the American Anthropological Association (AAA) was: “The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.” This statement stood out to me because it references humankind uncategorized by racial difference. It acknowledges that biologically humans do vary enough in their genetic makeup to categorize them as anything but human. More importantly, the statement acknowledges that without the social mythologies about racial difference, race does not technically exist. At this point in history race is not something that can be erased, however it’s not something that can change the human experience biologically. If that were the case people would be largely different than the way they think themselves to be now.
If I were to try and explain the idea of non-existent biological race to someone who was unfamiliar with the topic, I would first ask them to identify what makes someone racially different from themselves. If their answer was at all related to phenotypic differences, like skin color, height, or body type, I would ask them to eliminate those categories from their identifiers think on the question again. Hopefully, this would bring them to the realization that despite physical difference there is one species of human. There is no variation large enough between two people, even of different races, to create a new species. There is no variant large enough to create anything other than human. Race divides us socially, not biologically.