W1: Is Race Real?

The color of a person’s skin has been used to divide individuals for centuries. Race has not only been in issue in every day live, but it has also played a role in medicine settings. In “Lecture 1.2: Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine” we learned that biologically there is no such thing as race. Animals can be classified into sub-species but for humans, there is no sub-species or “races”. This is due to the face that there are more differences within these “races” than there is outside of these sup-species. On the “Understanding Race” website, the “Race and Human Variation section discusses how the human race all started in Africa and then began to spread across Europe and Asia. They also mention that the color of skin could be and adaptation to the UV radiation in different areas of the world as the migration of humans was taking place (understandingrace.org).

Even though it has been proven there is no such thing as different races of humans from a biological perspective, socially people are still divided into groups based on the color of their skin. In the video A Girl Like Me, on the “Understanding Race” website, the girls talk about how lighter girls are usually perceived as prettier and how their dark skin is seen as ugly (understandingrace.org). Humans make assumptions about other people based on the color of their skin.

This is also true when it comes to patients in medical settings. In the doctor’s office, they want you to put yourself into a box categorizing you by the color of your skin. However, a patient could have an Asian ancestor but be of darker skin color and resemble nothing of an Asian. The “Understanding Race” website displays a problem in healthcare studies and race. Statistics show that sickle cell disease is more prominent in the African American population. However, it can be seen that this is due to the fact that in Africa, malaria is more common and having sickle cell give a better survival rate for malaria (understandingrace.org). In “The Problem of Race in Medicine”, Michael Root compares race like a marital status and the only reason it exists is because we created these categories and we treat people differently based on what race box they check off (Root, 2001: 25). He also states, “We assign every person a race but cannot agree on how many races there are, and whereas in one view race is biological, in another it is merely a myth. Race, I have argued, is not biological, but it is real enough in the United States today to be included in our studies of health and disease” (Root, 2001: 35). Race is challenging because it is not real, however people still experience the effects of being separated into a category based on their “race”.

Root, M. “The Problem of Race in Medicine.” Philosophy of the Social Sciences 31.1 (2001): 20-39. Web.

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