Week 1 Reflection Post

Race is a social construction, we see this most prominently in how different societies define race. The Sorting Peoples exercise provides a very quick and easy example of how one’s own social norms color one’s judgement about the appearance of people from around the world. To add to this idea of social construction, the fact that the US Census Bureau has four classifications for people from across the world reinforces how societies create their own views of race. This ignores the fact that people from each of these groups can procreate with another group, creating a child that does not fit any of those categories. To carry the thought further, I found multiple definitions for what is an ‘African-American’. One suggested that it was a person who was of black African descent as well as descended from slaves. Another simply says “a person of African, especially sub-Saharan Africa, descent”. One definition requires a person to be a slave descent, leaving any post 1865 African immigrant without a ‘race’, while the other would suggest that a North African is not an African American, even though they trace their family to Africa.
I believe I grew up with the Population model of classification. I would say that the fact that “people whose ancestors have …exclusively mated with each other over thousands of years.” This sort of close, long-term association would also allow for development of cultures and languages and certain ‘identity’ on top of physical similarities. I also believe that socio-economic segregation in the US helped to reinforce this idea of race.
Over time, studying history, sociology and the like, it now seems strange how much time people put into looking to find scientific proof of races. On the other-hand it was a very convenient way to exploit and segregate groups of peoples in colonies and societies. By putting forward scientific theories as justification for exploitative institutions, it catered to the political and economic elites, but also helped carve a place into societal norms, that there is a biological difference between groups of people.
I hope in this class we discuss ‘nations’ as in the 19th century idea of ‘nationhood’, which I think really helped ingrain this idea of concrete barriers between groups of people.

One thought on “Week 1 Reflection Post

  1. Great post, I feel like you hit it right on the spot. Race is totally a social construction, the fact is our society uses “race” as a way to pre-judge someone for convenience and it is almost a type of brainwashing in my opinion. I like your point on how the Us Census Bureau classifies people into four other categories. I just don’t understand how or why we can do that. People are so wrapped up in the idea of being different, when we are not. I dont know how people are going to stop judging people by race, when our officials almost encourage it. It is almost stating that people must procreate with there own culture which is just so wrong… Great Post

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