I have never really thought of the concept that race cannot be the same ethnicity. In today’s society, it is so common to naturally define race by skin color and physical differences, when in fact, this is wrong. In the first activity, “Understanding Race,” that we did this week, we learned that skin color is really just a genetic trait, which doesn’t cause people with different skin colors to be considered different races, but makes us more genetically diverse. According to Anthropologist Nina Jablonski, Ph.D. “variations in human skin are adaptive traits that correlate closely to geography and the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, not race.” (Goodman 2016, 1) Therefore, we are all a part of the same race, the human race; we may just have different ethnic backgrounds, genes, and adaptations in skin. So, if we’re all a part of the same human race, then why does it make sense to keep dividing each other ourselves and going against each other, sometimes solely because of what we think to be our different “races”? This lecture got me thinking about this issue more than I ever have before.
We all know that discrimination is still, unfortunately, a part of our world today, but do any of us really understand the effects that discrimination can have on a person? Discrimination and racism are aspects that most would not directly correlate with health issues, but in fact, these can be related. According to a study done on racial/ethnic discrimination and health, the stress induced by personal experiences of racial bias can affect health, overall, in society. (Williams, Neighbors and Jackson 2003) This study looked into past studies of a similar time period surrounding topics such as prejudice, ethnic discrimination, social discrimination, etc. The goal was to review these studies in order to analyze “the association between perceptions of racial/ethnic discrimination and a particular indicator of health.” (Williams, Neighbors and Jackson 2003) After analyzing the 53 studies, 32 of them had a measure of mental health. 25 of these associations were examined to have psychological distress, and 20 of these were found to have a positive association between discrimination and distress. (Williams, Neighbors and Jackson 2003) Obviously, mental health is something that could be more commonly noted to have an association with discrimination, but these mental health issues could lead to more dangerous diagnoses. These could include a diagnosis of major depression, which was found in these studies, and had a positive association with discrimination. There were also positive associations between discrimination and health with relation to hypertension, chronic conditions, and indicators of disability. (Williams, Neighbors and Jackson 2003) To me, this only further supports the notion that ethnicity and ethnic discrimination, meaning social aspects, can have an effect on health. The evidence found in all of our readings and activities this week proves that 1) ethnicity can affect health negatively, if we continue discriminating, and 2) we are all a part of the same race, so why is it even still necessary to put each other down based on skin color, which is really just an adaptation to the sun?
Goodman, Alan. “RACE – Only Skin Deep.” UnderstandingRace.org. Accessed July 06, 2016.
Williams, David R., Harold W. Neighbors and James S. Jackson. 2003. “Racial/Ethnic
Discrimination and Health: Findings From Community Studies.” American Journal Of
Public Health 93:200-08. Accessed July 06, 2016. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.93.2.200.