What we define as race has come up in my previous classes. In my IAH class we had an exercise, anyone in the class could provide their interpretation of race, and we would find the flaws in their definition. Eventually, we came up with the meaning of “a group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution” (Ronen, IAH 210 Fall 2015). However, biologically, I define race as genetic traits common to their native geographical area. Socially, I think race is more a concept of values shared between persons of the same identifying community. I do not think that race has anything to do with skin color, because now these days people’s ethnicities are so diverse that race means nothing, it’s based solely on how the person identifies themselves. For instance, I found that the racial sorting quiz that we took was very difficult, especially because I can relate to racial discrimination. I am over 75% Native American, and I identify with my tribe, however I look Irish, in which only takes up 15% of my background. These days, it’s hard to define something so fluid.
As far as race in society, having a commonality such as similar life values and rituals can bring a community together and create a very strong bond. Their similar interests can become the structure of their community, therefore beliefs such as health maintenance can differ greatly from one racial society to another. For example, some cultures do not believe in Western Medicine practices, they rather heal holistically. Unfortunately, this can cause intercultural tension, in the case that one approach harms the patient. An example would be a case of a child dying from meningitis. This is a very serious illness and in most cases can not be treated holistically. If the child died from this, some people would be outraged and blame the parents for neglect. Although I would at first be outraged at the parents, this is a prime example of cultural one sided-ness because I am not taking into account that it is what the parents believe.
The example above is also similar to a true case that happened not too long ago. I remember reading about it online and was furious to learn that a loss of a child’s life could have been prevented if the parents had taken him/her to the doctor, instead of feeding the child a honey/sugar concoction. The state was considering prosecuting the parents due to neglect. But thinking about it now, if the state prosecuted the parents, it would be an intercultural argument in court, and could the parents really be punished for something that they don’t see as wrong?
Steinberg, Ronen. IAH 210 Europe and the World. MSU, Fall Semester 2015.