Is race just a theory?

There have been many arguments about the theory of race and why we even have the label. I remember reading an article in my anthropology class stating that to an anthropologist, there is no race, we are all biologically the same. In Howard Winant’s article he discusses how race became more central when dealing with social problems like crime, poverty, and disease and it would be brought back to race. (171) Later he talks about important movements in history that affect how race is viewed in public and challenged the concept. There are ethnicity, class and nation based theories that suggest different things about race. (179) For example class ethnicity oriented theories suggest suppression of prejudiced attitude could be achieved through contact, integration, and assimilation; and that discrimination can be ended by laws and regulations for equality.

I found a website http://www.aclu.org/ and their goal is to make sure everyone has their individual rights and liberties. They want everyone to be guaranteed these rights and they obviously don’t see race as a factor that should change how you are treated. I was raised in a world where I don’t see race as something that changes how I feel about a person. I think we are such a diverse country and if people are still holding hatred towards a certain group based on race, they are going to have a hard time living anywhere. Many websites I looked at had opinions on if race is actually real or if it is just socially constructed. It is not biologically defined and there is human variation but race is constructed by political processes throughout history and I think I would agree with this theory.

I found an interesting video on YouTube summarizing some major events in history that have separated people and also some attempts to make it equal. I really like a statement in the video saying that just making a law making people equal is going to make it happen. It’s true because even if the government passes laws like the Civil Rights Act (1964) there is not much they can do to make people truly change their behaviors. The picture I have included shows people marching for equal protection under the laws in an effort to change the division by race. Although I know there are still instances of racism nowadays, we have definitely come a long way and still have to work to make people more accepting of others. I am from the Bay Area and we have such a wide variety of races and it is so cool that every place you go you see people of all backgrounds intermingling and that’s something we would not have seen in the past. We are definitely more accepting as a whole, but of course there are still those groups of people who still can’t accept our differences.

Another thing I found that was an article By Jason Eden called “Who Developed Race?” and it was a very interesting article. He talks about how humans have formed the race ideology. He brings up examples of whites fighting and some even dying just to defend the system of racial hierarchy. (171) Eden does says that race has been culturally constructed and is an ongoing progress. His article discussed ways he teaches the idea of race to classes and he makes sure to have them identify specific people and events so there is no blame game among the students. (175) I think it is very important to discuss these issues and this article was very informative. I learned a lot from researching all the race issues in the world. I had heard of the debate “if race really exists” before and there are a lot of conflicting sides. I think race is socially constructed and I think some of the people I have cited and read about would agree.

 Sources:

Eden, Jason. (2011). Answers to the Question: “Who Developed Race?”. History Teacher, 44(2), 169-177. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Winant, Howard. (2000) Race and Race Theory. Annual Reviews Sociology, 26, 169-85.

Wong, Shelley. (2010, March 15)  Critical Race Theory: Understanding the Nature of Race and America. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB27vqknETk&playnext=1&list=PL4E6231005D202852