The idea of race is the result of an insatiable obsession with “categorization”. Since the being of time, the plague of “categorization” spread from Western Europe and ultimately to the United States. As stated by the American Anthropological Association, our notions of race are influenced by: science and behavioral conditioning. Behavioral conditioning entails: culture, environmental surroundings, propaganda, and much more. Moreover, down through history, the relationship between “race” involving biological & sociological factors and “health” has been tainted.
Race is an illusion. There is not a specific gene the codes for “race” in the human DNA sequence. Of course there is plenty genetic variation in humans, however most of the variation is within that specific individual. Skin color is genetically determined by geography in regards of ultraviolet radiation exposure. If there wasn’t any genetic variation we would all be clones of one another. According to Lecture 1.1, skin color is a socially constructed determinant for “racial variation”. It doesn’t make much sense because phenotypic displays of skin color are the exact same thing as variations in hair and eye color. Before I started college, my whole life I thought race identification was a part of everyone’s DNA. It’s simply amazing and quite unsettling when we finally realize how much the things we see and hear influences our perception on what it means to be a human being.
Moreover, race exists in a social aspect. As discussed previously, the creation of the idea of “race” is a product of the uncanny obsession, “categorization”. A lot of people tend to get race and ethnicity confused. Ethnicity refers to culture, while ancestry points back to race. For a very long time “race” always entailed cultural differences. In addition to that, people connect physical characteristics to various cultural groups. Ultimately, this sociologically entity was manipulated by society and is strengthened by social, political, and economic factors. The issue with society is that people of color are viewed as instrumentally valuable. People of color are deemed as of being important we they are benefiting the “third party”. Once people realize that everyone is has value within their self or in other words, intrinsically valuable; the issue of race wouldn’t even be a problem any more.
Ethnicity is known to influence health. Sadly, often medicine, diseases, and illness are often racialized. Take for an example the medicine BiDil. According to Pamela Sankar and Jonathan D. Kahn (2005), the FDA approved the first race-specific drug and has become the catalyst of an immense amount of controversy over the differentiation between race and ethnicity. BiDil is a blood pressure medication. Black men often have a bad reputation of having the highest blood pressure according to U.S. statistics. The reality is that amongst the whole entire world, Caucasians in Germany have the highest blood readings in the world while Nigeria holds the record of having the healthiest blood pressure in the world (April Greenwood 2016). This proves that race/skin color is not a factor. The reality is that blood pressure is not an issue; it is really dependent on where you are from. There are a number of factors that contributes to high blood pressure. In the case of a black man in America, the reason why his blood pressure is most likely high is because he’s stressed. The person’s environment is the reason why he suffers high blood pressure, not his skin color.
Sankar, P., and J. Kahn. “BiDil: Race Medicine Or Race Marketing?” Health Affairs, 2005. Accessed July 8, 2016. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.w5.455.