The readings and film from this week presented a lot of different perspectives on race from different anthropologists. I had heard many of the viewpoints before, like that race is not based in biology and that there is actually more genetic variation within races than between races. That is something I had learned in many classes, particularly sociology classes. I agree with this perspective completely. I was also familiar with the idea of skin color as a result of geographical location. This should be a more widespread idea but I know many people who have no idea why different groups of humans developed different skin pigmentations. I think much more anthropology is needed in early education. Similar to evolution not being taught enough in schools, I think kids should be learning that race is a social construct. Maybe more people knowing how insignificant the differences between racial groups really are would lead to a decline in racism, discrimination, and hate.
One article mentioned something I had not thought about much before, the fact that there are not really any physical characteristics you can assign to racial groups. While there are stereotypical descriptions of races (like Asians have dark hair), there is so much variation within racial groups that it is impossible to describe what someone of a particular racial group will look like. This part of the reading made me really think about all the variation in racial groups and how much variety there is in physical traits of the human race as a whole.
I had never considered how forensic anthropologists determine the race of an individual when they only have the bones to figure it out. In fact, I did not know that they could necessarily determine the race of someone just by looking at the bones. While that is very useful for anthropologists, I was confused a little bit by how another reading had just talked about there being no biological basis in racial groups. I still have not quite been able to reconcile these ideas in my mind. It does make sense to me though that anthropologists only use three racial groups when looking at bones (basically white, black, or Asian). Because these are such broad groups, I can see how there might be some slight biological differences in the bones. This also made the many very narrow racial groups used in countries all over the world seem even more unnecessary and arbitrary. The readings made it very clear that racial categories are primarily a result of justifying enslavement and mistreatment of other people.
Although I did learn a lot this week, the readings left me feeling frustrated with the emphasis on race in the world today. There are so many important issues in the world that could be dealt with much better if everyone united, regardless of race, religion, sex, etc. It is a shame that so much energy and resources have to be allocated to deal with problems caused by racism and discrimination.