W1: It’s all an Illusion

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.

 

2 thoughts on “W1: It’s all an Illusion

  1. Hi Marqui,

    I thought you brought up some excellent points in your discussion of race and health. I especially enjoyed your reference to race as an illusion. Race definitely is something that is seen differently by everyone and is something that can be altered relatively easily. By comparing skin color to hair or eye color, I think you really make a good point of showing that race is not something that can be judged based solely on the color of someone’s skin. There are nearly infinite reasons why someone’s skin may be a certain color, just like there are nearly infinite reasons why someone’s hair is a certain color. Considering this, race cannot be ascertained based on skin color, or genetics, or health.

    I also really liked your outside source on BiDil. That is an excellent example of how, even in the medical community, race has become a distinctive identifier for health. This all comes back to your idea of race as an illusion, because, in reality, there are factors far outside the idea of race that are the real drivers of health and illness. Just by looking at someone, you cannot determine the likelihood of a certain illness or predisposition to disease. As you show, environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors are some of the real indicators of health. Hopefully everyone, especially the medical community, will soon understand that race is not a cause for illness.

    Chelsie

  2. Hey Marqui,

    I thought you did a really good job in addressing the issue we have with race and our obsession with categorizing everything. I thought it was interesting how your study showed that Germans, who have a lighter complexion, had the highest blood pressure, and a nation of dark complected people had the healthiest blood pressure. It is a common misconception that in America if you are an African American male, you are predisposed to high blood pressure or some sort of heart disease.
    I learned in one of my other classes that often food deserts in areas highly populated by African Americans are much more common than food deserts where the population that is affected is mainly white. This shows that the same American citizens who share our rights, have a higher probability for it to be difficult to get fresh, healthy, food.
    I also like your comment stating everyone is “intrinsically valuable”. I hope for a day that people can realize this and understand we are naturally all meant to live together. Race is an issue that was essentially thought up by some humans who were obviously not too smart. It will take humans like us who understand the power behind togetherness to change the idea of race and how it is viewed today. It starts with us!

    Tim

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