For many years, there has been a current of thought among the American people as well as the rest of the world about the concept of race. The old idea of race was that they both clearly existed as well as were easily defined and visibly recognizable, in addition to being correlated to specific behaviors. However, more recent studies have shown that these ideas are completely false. In fact, the studies that influenced previous views have been proven to be conducted improperly, yielding invalid results. One study conducted to prove the different races was done on only 60 subjects; a sample size much too small to be valuable for proving the existence of races of the entire world.
Along with the parts of the old versions of race are the concepts of how different races generally behave or are perceived to behave. Each culture was perceived to have a set of expected behaviors that affect the way that other groups interact with them. As a result, there is a power structure that is set up where certain ‘races’ end up higher up consistently and other end up perpetually falling at the bottom of the totem pole. This phenomena has resulted in slavery, genocide, and everyday forms of racism. Ultimately, this aspect of the old forms of viewing race have resulted in a significant amount of not only discomfort but violence and trauma for many groups of people who ended up at the bottom of the totem pole. This kind of difference also led to prejudices that affected these groups before learning anything about them. This became apparent when immigrant groups made their way into America later on, and were treated poorly by other ‘racial’ groups. So, rather than attempting to accept these groups, established Americans treated these groups as inferior because of perceived racial differences.
On the contrary, newer studies show that race is more ambiguous by way of showing similarities between groups of people living in the same climate. This aspect of race is the most similar to the old ideas about race. People in similar locations had the opportunity to develop similar traits over time because of the stresses and pressures of a given climate. For example, a group that develops in an area with a higher amount of sun is likely to develop higher amounts of melatonin in order to combat sun-related problems like melanoma or vitamin D poisoning. On the other hand, in parts of the world with less exposure to the sun, groups developed lighter skin as a result of less melatonin because of the need for acquiring larger amount of vitamin D from the small amount of sun exposure, in addition to the lowered risk of melanoma.
Another aspect of ‘race’ that is extremely important to recognize is the cultural aspect. Groups of people that developed in the same area also created a culture over time that is based on their physical surroundings. This part of ‘race’ is important because of its validity as one of the only parts of race that is capable of representing groups in an acceptable way. For example, immigrants that move to the U.S. have a culture that is equal but different to our own, and which should be recognized as such.
Learning more about race from sites like the AAA or the AAPA which have done extensive studies on the topic is important for everyone to do in order to gain knowledge on how to navigate controversial topics like race. These sites show the importance of recognizing the difference between race and identity, as well as how to avoid perpetuating the old views on race that have been so detrimental to so many groups around the world. They are essential for progress in modern society.