Week 1: Culture Matters Post

I often times find myself having to explain my stance on this particular subject to those that aren’t necessarily “educated” on the topic.  I assume a lot of people in this class aren’t anthro majors so they may not hear this in every class like the rest of us do, but it can be a difficult concept to grasp when you’ve been taught the opposite, let alone explain it to somebody.  In order to explain what “race” is, one has to have a basic understanding of biological evolution.  Giving a background in how we categorize animals in species and sub-species is a very important part to understanding that race really isn’t a viable categorization method among humans.  As said in a few examples we’ve explored this week, skin color doesn’t go beyond the skin.  All it is is simply a trait of those who’s ancestry lies close to the equator, a reaction to the environment.  There is nothing more than that to it.  That doesn’t mean that racism doesn’t exist, and it also doesn’t justify it either.  Unfortunately a lot of people still play the race game and it causes a lot of divide and discrimination.  Once you look at it, certain racial stereotypes just become ridiculous to even consider to be true.  Separating “race” with ethnicity is also imperative to explaining this subject.  In that case, it’s just that the words being used are simply incorrect, as ethnicity is really the word used to describe where somebody’s ancestors comes from, which is directly related to skin color.

The influence of ethnicity on health should not be ignored, either.  There is a nature and nurture side to ancestry’s and ethnicity’s association with health.  For example, certain ethnic groups are more likely to be predisposed to particular diseases because of their geographical location or other factors.  This doesn’t mean that these groups are for sure going to contract these diseases, but they definitely should be conscious of their risks.  Ethnicity is all about lifestyle, culture, and behavior.  Like your genetics, all of these can affect your life risks (Teng 2014).  We saw the video on the Mexican immigrants who seemed to have better overall health than wealthy white citizens in the same area, but that health dwindled over time.  This is because American culture is described as more socially isolated than the Mexican lifestyle, which emphasizes strong family values and connections among their community.  As these immigrants move into the second and third generations they begin to pick up American lifestyles, and as a result their average health begins to take a dip.  So adapting to the culture they wanted to become apart of actually hurt them physically in the long run.

Teng, Katherine M.D.  “How Your Ancestry and Ethnicity Affect Your Health.”  Cleveland Clinic (2014).  Accessed July 6, 2014.

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