What is Race?

Before reading into the articles and listening to the lectures, I took a moment to try and decipher what I thought race would be in my own words.  Unfortunately, I like most others, was left with grouping the idea of race into external characteristics.   I was completely blown away with the information the readings gave me.   Mistakingly I believed that race was an old established concept, not one that was barely over 500 years old.  Needless to say, I was very interested in my survey responses once I began this activity.

Most people I asked thought I was some sort of anti police brutality protestor about to give them a speech.  With all these horrific events happening in our society lately, I can’t say I blamed them.  I even had some turn away entirely after the word “race” left my mouth.  It is an extremely sad state of affairs as to how controversial of a trigger this word has become.

Although I was able to elicit a response from some more so helpful participants, their answers were more or less the same.  This idea of race that has been passed down is all based on external characteristics and grouping similarities between people from a common area.  Colonial America has only made it that much worse by creating this idea of white power and generating an idea of superiority over people from other parts of the world.  Thankfully I did not receive any racist responses, but I have met enough discriminatory people to know they still exist.  If more people were properly educated on the actual concept of race, maybe we all could realize how similar we, as a HUMAN race, truly are.

3 thoughts on “What is Race?

  1. Hello,

    Reading your post was interesting. You and I both had some similarities when interviewing strangers. I learned many people felt weird and awkward answering the question “What is Race”? You were fortunate enough to not have people give you racist comments. I do agree with you saying “I have met enough discriminatory people to know they still exist”. I too have met many people similar to that mind set. From your post, I learned the term race is about 500 years old. Thank you for that piece of information!

  2. I also had similar responses to the question of “what is race?” from the six people that I interviewed, along with questioning looks being thrown may way as people were formulating their answers. Two of the people I interviewed went a little farther than saying that “race” uses physical features to categorize people and stated that we are all a part of the human race no matter what we physically look like or where we come from. There was one outlier among these six interviewees, as far as responses go. Her answer focused on “race” being the “segregation of individuals into groups based on where they came from or their genetic background”.
    I, like you, found it surprising to learn that the concept of “race” is not incredibly old, nor was it first used in the context that it is used in today. This surprise in learning about the origin of “race”, I think, gives support to your statement that education would go a long way to helping alleviate a lot of peoples’ ideas that humans are so different from one another.

  3. Hey,

    I noticed you blamed colonial America. While its really inconsequential, I was just wondering if perhaps that was kind of a wrongly placed blame.

    While there was racism in Colonial America, where did it come from but the established thinking of the Europeans, who enslaved half the world and instituted racist policies on every continent sans Antarctica? Was it not the British and Dutch who created the African Slave Trade, and the Spanish who worked 50% of every slave they imported to death?

    While Colonial America is where we as Americans can trace our government’s origins, it is hardly where we can trace the origin of racism considering colonies could not even create their own law without the consent of the British Parliament.

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