Race: The Power of an Illusion
What is Race? Is it all around us? Do you see it everywhere? Is it an illusion and yet profoundly real? Yes, maybe or maybe not. What we perceive as race is one of the first things we notice about each other. Hey! So what do you see in the other person? Personality traits right? Yes. In today’s world though we are living an averagely developed world, we do not look forward to discrimination. But by and large to judge and segregate people with other people, the race becomes an important factor.
It is not just Skin, darker or lighter. Maybe the Eyes: round or almond, blue, black, brown. Hmmm or a beautiful lady’s Hair: curly, straight, blond, or dark. Moreover, attached to these characteristics is a mosaic of values, assumptions and historical meanings. Did you happen to see the art-work of Leonardo da Vinci? If no, watch it! Even those of us who claim we don’t believe the stereotypes can easily recite them, indeed.
Most people still believe that the world’s people come divided into separate, biologically distinct groups called “races,” distinguished by physical characteristics such as skin color, eye shape, and hair texture. The idea of race assumes that variation in these superficial traits correlates with other innate differences, including intelligence and aptitude. Of course people in the world are diversified in terms of their nature and attitude. In other words, those members of one race are fundamentally more similar to each other than to members of another race. Say for example the tropical people are quite similar in their racial ethics as compared to their South Asian counterparts.
Human beings across the world do in fact vary in their physical appearance and genetic composition. And traits like skin color, eye shape and hair texture are influenced by genes we inherit from our parents. Not to forget the kind of climate and the atmosphere they habituate. But do patterns of human genetic variation map onto “races”? That’s a good question. Why do we classify the way we do things, using some traits while ignoring others? Is there a logically consistent way of assigning individuals to a biological “race”? If it is then Race is an important trait of human segregation.
The average person on the street thinks that race consists of differences in physical appearance. You walk on the street and make out the person approaching from the other direction as an Asian or a Negro. How? That’s it now you get a hang of it, what Race is all about. My grandmother though mostly staying at home, used to spend time by collecting news articles from newspapers and magazines that dealt with medicine and health. That was not just it! She used to implement them all on us and made it sure that we were well protected. But far more astonishing thing about this is that this practice got passed on to her descendants too. By this I mean that the personality traits of a person also can be a factor that defines a Race, a race of people.
Sometimes they also think that from looking at a person’s physical appearance, that they can find out or know more subtle things about them. Yes again the personality traits. Race is not a level of biological division that we find in anatomically modern humans. There are no subspecies in the human beings that live today. All are segregated from each other in ethical background but bounded by the same class called humans.
Being classified as Asian, or Black or Latino has never carried the same advantages in our society as being white. Let’s not get into all that. After all the color of our blood is red.
Let’s see what are the real aspects that can define race of people. The markers of race, skin color, hair texture, the things that we identify as the racial markers. But these mean nothing unless they are given social meaning. Maybe unless there is a public policy and private actions that act upon those kinds of characteristics. Maybe you can also check your passport if you want to know what race you or your friend belong to?
So what are the 3 value assumptions about race?
Racial Profiling, Affirmative Action, and the Diversity Visa Lottery
This refers to the practice of conservatives targeting or discriminating a group of people because they believe that such types of people are usually engaged in the malpractices or the activities they are looking for.
For example there is a myth that African Americans are more likely to be engaged in criminal activity. So the people who are not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, yes by this I mean Liberals, often favor affirmative action but they belittle both racial profiling and the diversity visa lottery, while many other people who favor traditional views and values like conservatives, hold the opposite view.
There are some people who take or have the priority of gender, race or ethnicity as the prime factor and take them into account in an attempt to promote equal opportunity. This is what is called as Affirmative Action. Their main aim is to have diversity in all levels of society so that there is an equal distribution of opportunity among all.
Diversity Visa Lottery:
This is a random selection method in which some group is segregated from among all entries of people who strictly meet the eligibility requirements. This is mostly the biasing concept that takes into account the multi ethnicity of the people in addition to keeping their interests alive.
Let’s jump into some of the reality assumptions about race.
1. Distinction on the basis of color:
Even with the same income, white families have on average twice the wealth of Black families. Much of that difference lies in the value of their homes. But what happens when we compare families along the color line who have similar wealth? Isn’t it a reality in today’s world?
2. Distinction on the basis of psychology:
When a neighborhood, a previously white neighborhood starts to integrate, even if individual whites don’t have personal or psychological animosity or racial hatred, they still have an economic incentive to leave.
3. Distinction on the basis of net worth or wealth:
Black family has only one-eighth the net worth or assets of the average white family. That difference has seemingly grown since the 1960’s, since the Civil Rights triumphs. And is not explained by other factors, like education, earnings rates and savings rates.
So where does this all lead to? After all its our world, our earth, our planet. Race could act as a boon but can also act as a devastating factor in today’s world.
Jonathan Marks, “Scientific and Folk Ideas about Heredity”: http://www.uncc.edu/jmarks/interests/Baltimore.html
Jared Diamond, “Races Without Color,” Discover Magazine, 11/94 (www.discover.com/archive)
Stephen Jay Gould, “The Geometer of Race,” Discover Magazine, 11/94 (www.discover.com/archive)