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Race: Biological or Cultural?

Essay by   •  January 1, 2011  •  Essay  •  772 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,425 Views

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Through research of DNA samples, scientists have been able to declare that race is not biologically constructed due to the similarities between human genes. Nevertheless, in reality, people still emphasized on biological aspects such as skin color, or hair texture to categorize others into different races. This in turn, denied the true identity of race, which it is culturally constructed. Ethnicity, by definition is also culturally constructed, therefore it greatly resemble race. There is no real clear line to distinct the two.

According to Nicholson, encounters between explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Henry Hudson, and Native Americans were always friendly. There was no "expression of hostility based on physical appearance" (Nicholson 15) between the two

groups. When there was any hostility, it was not based on physical appearance, but rather more of culture practices or values. Cannibalism, for example, "seems to take place without any regard to race, creed, or religion." In another case, Nicholson mentions that during the Crusade, about ten thousands Jews were massacred by Crusaders. It "was a religious slaughter without racial implications." (Nicholson 26) Through these examples, we can see that Nicholson suggested that race is not scientifically valid because people did not judge others based on physical appearances, but the notion of race is mainly described by one's skin color or hair texture. Nicholson's arguments coincided with modern scientific views, which conclude that race doesn't exist, due to the fact that DNA inside people with different skin color and hair texture is 99.9 percent similar. Therefore, the notion that race is biologically constructed in invalid.

Social reality of race simply refers to the fact that people still believed that races are based on physical traits such as skin color or hair texture to judge others. However, what they are doing is stereotyping which lead to discrimination and racism. Also, their actions denied the fact race is culturally constructed, meaning people have different customs, religions, and values from culture to culture. The patterns of biological variation among humans are extremely complex and constantly changing. All of us could be classified into a number of different "races", depending on what genetic traits are emphasized. For example, if you divide people up on the basis of stature or blood types, the geographic groupings are clearly different from those defined on the basis of skin color. Focusing on such deceptive distinguishing traits as skin color, body shape, and hair texture causes us to magnify differences and ignore similarities between people. It is also important to remember that these traits are no more accurate in making distinctions between human groups than any other genetically inherited characteristics. All such attempts to scientifically divide humanity into biological races have proven fruitless.

In any culture, members of an ethnic group share certain beliefs, values, habits, and

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