Nobody can dispute that race exists in our minds, and hearts. We consider race as a major part of our identity. Race is part of our lives, and our reality. The question I would like to put forth is “Where did race come from? Also, why does race exist?”
To answer these questions we must ask another question is who am I? Ultimately this question leads us to a path of distinguishing ourselves from billions of people. Humanity has this overwhelming desire to feel special, and superior. Race seems to be an easy solution for the desire of superiority, especially among others that may not accept you. Having something that distinguishes us and makes us feel exceptional is very appealing, and is essential part of why race exists today.
However, something stronger than the human need to feel exceptional is politics. Political leaders have used race as the means of maintaining their power. Race has also been used to maintain control over a particular geography(homeland). Claiming a homeland ensures your people’s right to that land. This excludes any previous and future rights of any other group. The issue of land and resources is very crucial for building racial identity. Political leaders further ensure that the homeland remains in their power by forcing a unifying language. To live on the homeland a person must speak the language. If you refuse to speak the language you will be socially or forcefully expelled from the land. Race was and still is the most powerful political tool.
Many claim that race can be determined by our genes. For the sake of discussion say if an Irish boy was adopted by an English family, and that the boy never knew he was Irish. Does that mean that the boy is no longer Irish? If race can so easily changed the questions should be asked, does race really exist? I am aware this example is far from perfect. Let’s say the boy was from Africa, and was adopted by a Chinese family? The boy’s complexion would make him ineligible to be considered Chinese in the eyes of many. But, this is an issue of appearance not race. For the sake of argument say If we took the populations of Asia and Africa and switched their locations. After a long period of time their appearances would change. The Africans would begin to resemble the Asians, and the Asians would begin to resemble the Africans. Physical appearance is an adaptation to our environment, and if our descendants move to a different environment they will most likely no longer resemble ourselves. Race is a mental determination not a biological determination. The idea of race has molded over time, and what it means to belong to a certain race changes. If race really existed, it should be permanent, and not evolving.
There is no doubt that race is a powerful and an emotional issue for many. Race should never be ignored or trivialized. To ignore this issue would underestimate people’s need to feel exceptional and important which is something we all desire on some level. Nonetheless it should be understood that race lives in our minds, and not in our DNA.
What do you think?