Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Race: An Issue of Classification

A while back I read Race in Cyberspace and found a few quotes that I had to share. Since then, though, they've just been burning a hole in my blog draft bin.
My siblings and mom. Despite the same genes
notice the differences in physical traits.
I believe racism is an issue of classification. I forget who told me this, but it's something to hold on to in your mind.
Race is a way to seperate people, to draw lines between people and ensnare others in groups.

To exclude.

Why are people so obsessed with race? Why do we need to know where a person comes from? We are made up of the same chemicals, the same DNA, the same parts.

We are made to draw these lines as kids. We are told people are different because of the color of their skin, and it is enforced by the characters on TV (the stereotypes they play, the audience they cater to).

Remember when everyone got so mad because Rue in the Hunger Games was cast as a young black girl?
"The social constructionist view of race argues that there is no biological or genetic basis for dividing the world's population into distinct racial groups. While we typically see racial difference residing in physical traits that are genetically determined...attempts to map out those traits across the world's population (a) generate patterns that don't match up with the racial categories we already have, and (b) don't add up to coherent patterns that would support any model of people as racially distinct from one another." Race in Cyberspace, page 2
This is saying that, while differing physical traits do come from genetics, splitting people up into racial categories doesn't work. Physical traits can cross between the races. Patterns blend. People blend. With the exception of tracking down their family tree, we wouldn't be able to tell one race from another.

Fun example: My white country boyfriend has bigger lips than I do.

As people, we draw conclusions and make generalizations about a person by how they look. Sometimes it is things that can be changed like hairstyle and clothes, but we also do judge people by the way someone's eyes are turned or the shape of their nose.
"If race were purely a natural thing, there wouldn't be such a variation across time and space in people's understanding of racial differences." Race in Cyberspace, page 3
Another, bigger issue, is that we assume people are white unless they are explicity told or read otherwise. Think of when you read a book. You believe the character is white unless it says "dark-skinned" or "Japanese-American" and etc. 

But the world is so wholly different and blended. We need to break these habits of thought. We need diverse books.

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