Week 2 Reflection Post

Racism is a controversial topic with several distinguishing features. Some of these features include but are not limited to: the color of a person’s skin, someone’s race or ethnicity, superiority, inferiority, and class. Together these factors influence and discriminate one race or group of people as a means to dominate or be seen as greater than another race and/or group of people. It is unclear when and where racism first began; however according to lecture and readings, Jews are considered to be one of the first groups of people that experienced racism first hand. As early as the thirteenth and fourteenth century, Jews were discriminated against when associated with the devil and witchcraft. Later in the sixteenth century, Jews were discriminated against once more for converting to Christianity. In this example we see that Jews experienced racism based off of their religion. They were faced with several exclusions in an effort to attest the purity of their identification against the decree. This goes to show that racism is not only subject to the color of your skin but to other social characteristics as well.

We then see what is arguably the most known form of racism which was Europeans enslaving Africans for an extensive amount of time. This enslavement was solely based upon the pigmentation of one’s skin. Contributing to this, laws were created to further exclude and segregate black people from interacting with whites. The connection between race and the European Enlightenment shifts the focus of racism from a religious standpoint to humans being subcategorized into different classes.

I disagree with the statement “Modern biological science and the concept of race grew up hand-in-hand.” As mentioned before, there is no clear beginning to racism or the concept of differentiating race. However, its first known experience came about several years before the concept of modern biological science became popular. Therefore, I consider the concept of race as influencing modern biological science as opposed to growing hand-in-hand. I do however consider both concepts as relating to one another. Both place one group as being dominant and the other as inferior. We see this demonstrated in the material presented on Morton’s research to prove inherited intelligence and class and it’s differences when compared to Caucasians.

6 thoughts on “Week 2 Reflection Post

  1. As you did, I went off of the lectures from this week and one from the last to help me better understand racism. Throughout history the Jewish people have been persecuted for their religion or even “race” if you want to call it that, when the eugenics movement of the Nazis began during WWII. Many times discrimination began in the old world as dealing with religious beliefs because that was how people identified themselves. I was somewhat shocked to find out that the Christians during a prior period of WWII, had mandated that Jewish people wear yellow stars on their chests in public so that they could be identified for their wrong doings and such. Similarly, I think the Muslim people in the United States are going through this type of racism or discrimination (but not to that extent of extermination). At one of Donald Trump’s rallies in his presidential campaign he talks about how he thinks Muslims should have a card that identifies their religion, which is similar to the Jewish people before and during WWII that had to wear a Star of David on their chest. Racism is definitely a social construct, as you mentioned. Since the time of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade during the 18th and 19th centuries, African Americans in our country have faced a form of racism that no one should have to deal with. Yes, slavery was abolished; yes, African Americans gained rights during the Civil Rights movement, but no, they are not being treated the same as white Americans in this country. These stepping stones have allowed for progress which still has to be made.

    Based on the idea that “Modern biological science and the concept of race grew up hand-in-hand”, I think I can agree on your stance. The concept of race was first introduced in the 1500s and came before the introduction of modern biological science. As the Enlightenment took place in Europe science, in general, expanded on ideas and it used race as a basis to define certain concepts. For instance, you mentioned Morton and how his measurements for skulls “proved” that Caucasians have larger brains and more intelligence.

    • I agree completely when you say that it is a modern day science. The problem is people don’t realize that race was something that was made up from people that wanted to control and divide. That is why we could never use science to describe one ethnicity of people. When race was first becoming an idea it was based off of separating the jews from everyone else. I think that people have to start realizing that racism is a form of expression, where as differ races of people do not exist.

  2. I definitely agree that modern biological science and the concept of race have influenced each other rather than grew hand in hand. It was certainly obvious that many scientists had racial biases which permeated their research and clouded their judgment when it came to interpreting their findings. However, I can see how they could have considered to “grow” together because of these misinterpretations. When people who hold authority in the sciences make claims that biology proves that races are separate, then it fuels the flame the concept of race needs to grow and spread. It’s important to always take into consideration what kind of biases, both good and bad, may affect research before considering it absolutely true. Luckily, now that we exist in a world that has much more sophisticated technology compared to the fairly rudimentary process of filling skulls with seeds, the evidence that all human beings almost entirely genetically similar is insurmountable. Anyone would have a rough time trying to use modern science to prove that human races are separate.

  3. Hi William,

    My name is Austin. I really enjoy reading your post especially about race or racism. You are very correct that race is not easy explained regardless of where it started because race can be define or categorized in many forms since the late 18 hundreds. Racialization did start with religion and different changes in the social and economic times .They did crucify Jews in 12 -20th century and in turn kill those that did not convert to Christianity and later Christians to Catholics. I really enjoy learning about racialization and the examples that it provided. It was a state to place people in purity stage with the Spaniards and in light of conflicts of those who did not become full in the faith. I like that you pointed out about enlightenment on Europeans enslaving Africans and the shift towards subcategories. I understand and agree why you disagree about both of them, but present Morton’s case on theory. There is still progress to be done.

  4. Hi William,
    My name is Nuria. I would agree that modern biological science and the concept of race have both been key components to the idea of there being different races. There was a significant amount of scientists that misconstrued there findings in order to advocate for the idea that all races came from different origins. I feel like many of us don’t really exactly know how to answer this question. Are we debating if they grew hand in hand the entire time race was being development? Or are we questioning if modern biological science played a role into the concept of race? I answered it as if modern biological science played a role into the concept of race and research helped gave credit to certain racist ideologies. I like how you brought up the slave trade and how despite the slave trade being abolished, people still used to concept of race as a way to sub categorize people.

  5. I found it very interesting that you brought up the fact that racism doesn’t always have to do with the color of your skin. The fact that Jews were discriminated against shows that it has happened to people due to other characteristics including their religion.

    I thought you brought up a good point when you disagreed with the statement that “Modern biological science and the concept of race grew up hand-in-hand.” because there is not “clear beginning” to racism or differentiating race. You bring up a lot of good points here!

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