The most common answer I got for the question “What is race?” as generally similar to when I used to be a Field Manager for a political campaign. It was a lot of “Why do you want to know?” And once I explained, I got things from what animal we are to what skin color we have and so forth. I did get one person who said they identified as American, which was a tongue in cheek response that came with the explanation that he didn’t know why everyone was so tied up in where their ancestors came from instead of who they are now. My assumptions were generally right in that I expected the white people I asked the question generally leaned toward identifying as human, and the non-white people identified as their skin color or racial origin.
I learned from this assignment that race is a sensitive issue that makes people uncomfortable, especially considering all that is happening in the country right now. While many people are as grounded in their ethnic identity as ever, others are trying to see themselves less as something that makes them different and more of something that unites them with everyone else, thus the “human” range of answers.
About conducting Anthropological research, this was very broad and was almost seemed more sociological. It’s fairly intimidating to just approach a stranger and ask them about something so contentious, and clearly just as intimidating for them. I imagine that’s the nature of research but perhaps the answers would be better if the circumstances of conducting the research were friendlier and less forced.