This week we learned what race is and what kind of affects it has on health. In light of all of the protests and racial conflict going on in America right now, I think this is very important for everyone to learn. I think that the way everyone views race is the problem. What I learned about race this week helped open my mind and understand what a race truly is.
Race has two different contexts: biological and social. They are both different, but just as important as the other to understand. To fully understand what a race is and why it affects us so much, one must know both the biological and social sides of the word race.
Race’s biological context is what threw me for a loop. I was not expecting the information I received. I was unaware that we were thinking all wrong. When we talk about a race of people, we are calling them a subspecies of the human race. If a group of people becomes a subspecies, there are two questions that must be answered. The first question is “Can they create an offspring?” The other question is “Is the offspring able to create offspring?” If one or both of them are answered with a “no” then the group of people is a subspecies. If both questions are answered yes, then the group does not exist, it is just diversity within the big group. For example, if you take a donkey and a horse, they are both a subspecies of the equine group. You know that because they can make an offspring, but the offspring is not viable. If you take humans, thinking that black and white people are different subspecies, you will see it is just diversity. Black and white people can create an offspring and that offspring is able to reproduce as well. This proves that the color of our skin isn’t putting in a separate category, it is showing that we are different from other parts of the only race: the human race.
Race, as I mentioned earlier, has a social context as well. Race is normally decided by what color another’s skin is. The only problem with that assumption is that it is completely false. Ethnicity is the word that race most commonly is mixed up with. Ethnicity is the heritage of that person, for example, my ethnicity is hispanic. My moms whole family is from Spain. So I look a little darker, that does not mean you can tell me what my race is. I think that something that people don’t understand is that race does not truly exist. It was something created to try and divide people up, but the only true race is the human race which brings us all together.
Now that we understand the two contexts of race, we can look and see how race has started to affect our health.
First of all, being a different color DOES NOT AFFECT YOUR HEALTH. What does affect it, however, is where your ancestors are from. For instance, if you are african american, you are more likely to have sickle cell anemia. In Africa, their bodies began to change and create the illness of sickle cell anemia so they would be immune to malaria, which is a big epidemic over there. People who’s ancestors are from America would be less likely to have sickle cell anemia because their ancestors did not have to battle with malaria. It is shown that black people have more cases of sickle cell anemia. This is because of their ancestors, not their race. RACE is not a thing. As I have already stated, the only race is the human race, but not everyone has a higher chance of sickle cell anemia based on where their ancestors live.
Being a certain color will not predetermine any diseases, disorders, or illnesses, but when you are a certain color, it can cause repercussions. Race may not exist, but racial discrimination and racism is still present. Because race still exists socially, that is why these other two things still exist. We got to read about a study this week that showed that Islamic women that were discriminated against were actually at higher risk for premature birth and other stressing factors during their pregnancy (Diane Lauderdale). I think this just shows that even though your skin color can not directly affect your health, the discrimination is the direct affect to your health. The American Psychological Association wrote, “Although the chronic condition of stress can have negative side effects on all persons, the unique psycho-social and contextual factors, specifically the common and pervasive exposure to racism and discrimination, creates an additional daily stressor,” (American Psychological Association).
Either way, race is something that biologically is not a thing, but socially, it is still prevalent. Due to it still being present socially, it causes health issues through discrimination and racism. The only race is the human race; love all people. All lives matter so treat everyone that way.
i. “Physiological and Psychological Impact of Racism and Discrimination for African Americans.” American Psychological Association. Accessed July 20, 2016. http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/racism-stress.aspx
ii. Lauderdale, Diane S. “Birth Outcomes for Arabic-Named Women in California Before and After September 11.” Demography 43, no. 1 (2006): 185-201. Accessed July 20, 2016. doi:10.1353/dem.2006.0008.
iii. Gabriel, Cynthia, Dr. “Understanding Race and Ethnicity in Medicine.” ANP 370 Culture Health and Illness. 2015. Accessed July 07, 2016. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp370-us16/lecture-videos/understanding-race-and-ethnicity-in-medicine/