Argument about Race
Anthropologists claim that race does not create a valid biological distinction because people believe only in “the human race”. In this regard, since the human population originated from one being, the biological variations do not make them have significant differences. The genetically inherited characteristics, which make up the human-being, such as the head, hands, body, legs, and other physical attributes, are evidenced among people from different racial backgrounds.
On the other hand, a section of human anthropologists acknowledge that race is significant and real. According to this group of scholars, the variations of skin and eye color, languages, cultural practices, body type, and shape of the nose are significant and observable. Therefore, the attributes classify people into different categories called races, thus making it real.
Anthropological Position about Race
Focusing on race, the anthropological view is neither surprising nor challenging. This is because the human population has notable characteristics, which help in segregation. For example, the color of skin, hair and eye for Africans differ from those of the Whites and the Indians. This is the same to their languages, which depict diversity among the different groups of people, thus supporting the issue of race to be real and significant.
Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Culture
Basically, anthropologists believe race, ethnicity, nationality, and culture are different in their meaning. Race is the broader classification of people according to skin and eye color, languages, cultural practices, body type, and shape of nose. However, ethnicity is the classification of people with common ancestral inheritance and background such as language and beliefs. On the other hand, nationality is the classification of people according to territorial sovereignty such as countries. Finally, culture is the people’s ways of life and the classification of people according to the shared norms. Therefore, race is the broader classification, whereas nationality can embrace various ethnic groups, culture helps in identifying the way of life of smaller groups within the ethnic community.
History of Racial Categories
The history of racial categories could be traced to the 17th century in Europe and perpetuated during the colonial era. During this period, the Europeans classified people according to their distinct geographical locations, putting the whites at the top, but the blacks at the bottom. Since the Europeans placed themselves as the top race, they assumed superiority and decided to manifest this through conquering other states. The Europeans first conquered America before spreading to other parts of the world.
Understanding Human Variation
Using the skin color in understanding the human variation is not useful when it is applied to the identification of races. This is because the people who fall within the same racial background and classification might have different skin color due to environmental exposure and the living standard. Other people also use plastic surgery and cosmetics to modify their skin color. However, this does not change their racial affinity, but mere physical outlook. Therefore, it is difficult to base the racial classification on the person’s skin color.
Importance of Racial Categories
In terms of social and individual identity, racial categories are important because they create a sense of belonging to a particular group with shared attributes such as skin and eye color, languages, cultural practices, body type, and shape of nose, among others.
Anthropological Critique of Race
Indeed, the anthropological point of view about race, as an invalid biological category undermines the sense of social and individual identity. It does not recognize the fact that the notable physical differences of the people exist despite the shares physical attributes such as the head, hands, body, and legs.
Social Significance and Historical and Scientific Information about Racial Categories
In balancing the social importance, historical and scientific information about the categories, it is vital to appreciate and respect diversity among the people regardless of the skin and eye color, languages, cultural practices, body type, shape of nose, and personal attributes.