Growing up I was always taught that race was the color of ones skin, that was it. Not where they came from or how their race made them different but I was taught to judge based on the color of ones skin. As I started to get older my views of this started to change because I started to become friends with people who were not the same colored skin as I was and I never thought anything of it until I was really exposed to society norms and how people were treated differently in high school. This continued into college and it just baffled me because people really didn’t understand that just because someone was a different color or they looked differently meant that you had to judge them on their race or where they thought they grew up. I really like the quote from the article What is Race that says “Race is a modern idea.” It also states that ancient people used to “rank” or “classify” people based on wealth or religion, not based on the color of their skin. So what I keep wondering is why we as a society say that one race is more significant than another and then they get treated differently and poorly. What also stands out to me is how science calls the beginning of man onward the human race, but then its broken down into more specific races based on societal norms based on superiority. Based on societal norms, race is a modern ranking system of people.
Ethnicity is another topic that has become such a modern assumption based on different people. Just because someone is European does not mean that they have a higher risk for HIV or aids. If someone is African American does not mean they have a higher chance on developing a chronic condition or disability. ( Racial and ethnic disparities, Mead). What it all comes down to is basic biology and genetics. If both parents have a specific gene that causes someone to have a disability it is more likely, similar to eye color. If both parents have blue eyes it is likely that their child will also have blue eyes. The idea that some ethnicities have higher risks of certain diseases is a myth if just talking about basic genetics and as a general population. There is so much more to look into when researching who someone gets a disease. For instance, you would have to look into diet, medical history, environment, stressors, and siblings to really figure out the real reason that this person has the disease or disability.
To put this into perspective two people, person A and person B have similar lifestyles, they go to work, bring home food for their families and engage in physical activity. Both are around the same weight but person A lives in a low socioeconomic status area and person B lives in a higher SES area. Person A will normally eat more fatty and processed foods than person B and they also don’t eat as much whole foods based on the hypothetical jobs they possess. Person A though they have the same type of lifestyle as person B is much more likely to generate cancer, diabetes, or cardio vascular disease just based on their diet! Not once did I mention the race or ethnicity of these people but their lifestyles and diet habits. Though this does not work for every single case, the majority of the time this is how medical staff can figure out why someone has a disease that they do. They look at all the information they were given rather than just the color of their skin or the way they look and or speak.
Holly Mead, Lara Cartwright-Smith, Karen Jones, Christal Ramos, Kristy Woods, and Bruce Siegel Race and Ethnical Disparities in US Healthcare, A Chartbook March 2008 Page 25