Social And Biological Perspective Of Race In The Age Of Modern Racism Essay
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Social and Biological Perspective of Race in the Age of Modern Racism
Confusion on the concept of race
Different perspectives of race
Consequences of the disharmony on the concept of race
Arguments on the definition of race
Biological perspective on the definition of race
Social perspective on the definition of race
Loring Brace definition
Pilar Ossorio definition
Definition by other scholars and researchers
The impact of colonial history on modern understanding of race
Basis of race classification in the 18th century
The unequal association of different traits to different races
Institutionalization of the inequality among races in the U.S.
Vast spread of the ideology of inequality among races to the rest of the world
Debate on the importance of the concept of race in science
Likening race to a human cultural behavior that is learned
Richard Lewontin’s sentiments on genetic vs. race differences
Proponents (George Gill)
Relevance in forensic tasks
An ideal vocabulary to enhance student’s understanding
Summary of ideas
Importance of comprehending the two differing perspectives on race (WSU protest)
Recommendation to help in reducing racism
Over the years, scores of people have been mixed-up on the understanding of the concept of the race. Even though racism is a matter that has gained momentum in the modern day society, people still do not understand the origin of the meaning of the word “race”. For those who have taken an extra step into comprehending the origin of the meaning of race, they have become more confused due to the plethora of opposing perspectives into the concept of the race. Scholars and researchers have defined race differently. Whereas others define race in biological terms, others conceive it through a social perspective. Biological proponents in regard to race argue that ecological factors qualify the position race has in science. Furthermore, the proponents of race as a social construction attribute the Colonial history to the modern racism. The lack of harmony in the understanding of the concept of race has heightened the inequality among races in the modern society, especially in higher learning institutions. It is for this reason that this discussion intends to describe the varying perspectives of race, both socially and biologically, as well as proposing how harmonizing the understanding of race will help in trivializing the modern racism.
In the realm of science, the race has been defined biologically and socially. Piglicci and Kaplan are the main proponents of the biological perspective of race and argue that despite a vast number of scientists passing up the idea of subspecies and race, utilization of the ecological concept of ecotype brings a degree of logic into the existence of human races. In this sense, human ecotypes are used as an ideal demarcation of human races. Ecotypes occur within a species due to the environmental habitation, but necessarily translate into a gene flow between other human ecotypes within the species. Phenotypic features, such as skin color, eye shape, nose shape, hair texture and the general body structure, are overly important indicators of ecotypes since similar environments bring forth similar phenotypic features of a human ecotype. Given this, Piglicci and Kaplan claim that abnegating the existence of human races is akin to ruling out the biological research on the human species. In essence, the biological definition of race is that humans portray colossal phenotypic variations as a result of environmental adaptation, hence the existence of human races. The biological perspective on the concept of race focuses mainly on the environmental adaptability rather than phenotypic characteristics.
On the other hand, the race has been conceived from a social perspective. Biological anthropologist Loring Brace is at the vanguard in passing up the idea that race is a biological reality. Brace bases his definition of race on the fact that human physical features vary in a gradual manner and are not dependent on regions of origin. As such, Brace conceives race as apperception of people rather than a biological reality. In the same vein, Pilar Ossorio, a microbiologist, endorses the definition of race as posted by Brace by suggesting that there are no genetic markers that demonstrate the difference between people of different races. Other scholars are in agreement and argue that the concept of the race was instilled into the minds of people all over the world following the colonial history. It is then postulated proposed that race is a set of prejudgments that have the effect of distorting individuals’ ideas about differences among humans and group behavior. In this sense, the race is defined as a social construction that hampers real perception of human differences.
In light of the social perspective on the concept of race, it is overly important to acknowledge the influence colonial history how race is comprehended in the modern society. Historical research asserts that the mere physical differences between humans have had no meaning, not until the social interactions between people assigned meaning to them. In fact, scholars contend that the concept of race, as it is conceived in the United States, was devised in the course of the 18th century as an allusion to the various populations that were drawn together in colonial America. These groups included the English and the European settlers, the Indians who were conquered and the Africans who were brought in to furnish slave labor. Therefore, the idea of the race was used as a tool for classifying people as per their colonial situation. As such, the race involved an ideology of great inequality invented to prune European attitudes and treatment the conquered Indians and the enslaved Africans. Through the concept of race, a rigid social hierarchy was established and was thence justified as a God-given and natural inequality. The physical characteristics of Indians and African-Americans turned out to be symbols of their status difference. In the course of building the U.S. society, European-Americans cooked up cultural characteristics affiliated with race whereby superior traits were associated with Europeans, whereas inferior and the negative ones were linked to Indians and the blacks. As a result, fictitious beliefs about the various people were institutionalized and engrafted in the American society and later spread to the rest of the world. The impact colonial history of the U.S. has on the modern day understanding of race is unmistakable.
Researchers and scholars have endorsed the idea that the concept of race originates from the colonial practices in America and has no place in science. It is argued that just like any human cultural behavior, the race is learned. There is no child who is born with inbuilt language, culture or race. Infants continuously learn race and adjust depending on the prevailing conditions. Bearing this in mind, the researchers conclude that the there is no biological ground for the idea of race; rather, the modern day racism is an outcome of historical and contemporary educational, economic and political situations. The idea here is that race is not a salient concept in science; rather it has to do with the historical events.
The genetic variations are grounded on individual variations to a greater extent than races, and this further dampens the importance of the idea of race in science. Richard Lewontin affirms that 85 percent of the genetic differences are brought about by personal differences among people in a single population, whereas only 15 percent of the differences are attributed to different races. It means that two persons are different from each other not because they belong to different races, but rather it is because they are different individuals. It is then substantiated that perceiving one human race or subgroup as inferior or superior to another is biased. It is because the genetic data proves otherwise. Human populations and races are outstandingly akin to each other. Classifying people on grounds of race does more harm than benefit. Human relations are spiflicated because through the racial classification, one race is associated with positive attributes whereas others are linked to negative ones. People cannot interact freely in the society without being cautious of the race of the person on the receiving end. To that end, Lewontin suggests that racial classification should be done away with now that it has proved to have no social value. Besides, the indication of the generic data that human variations, as opposed to population and race variations, account for the generic differences proved that the concept of race is no taxonomical value. Therefore, Lewontin compounds the argument against the relevance of the idea of race in science.
However, several researchers are still convinced that the significance of the concept of race in science is apparent. George Gill, a biological and forensic anthropologist, reasons that the idea of race is overly important in the sense that races are easily distinguished by blending external and skeletal characteristics. More specifically, Gill beliefs that the concept of race is relevant in the course of forensic tasks, which involve identifying human skeletons. Moreover, Gill argues that students are in a better position to comprehend the biological difference of humans while alluding to the concept of race. Gill conceives race as populations that share an origin. As such, his contribution to the issue cannot be bashed.
In conclusion, the disparity in the understanding of the concept of race has left people confused more than ever. Whereas biological proponents argue that race is an ecological phenomenon, sociological proponent conceive race as a social construction based on an interaction of historical and contemporary events. Nonetheless, a better understanding of the biological and social perspectives of race can aid in reducing the negative impact of racism in the modern society. This has been manifested in the Washington State University (WSU) whereby students held a peaceful protest against racial discrimination issues that prevail in campuses. Unmistakably, the students had a better understanding that race is a social construction rather than biological and that it was needless to look down upon people from different races.Unless everybody seeks a better understanding such as the WSU students who initiated a peaceful protest, the modern day racism is here to stay.
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