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Race Related Issues Are Not A New Concept.

2878 words - 12 pages

Race related issues are not a new concept. Man certainly didn't need to develop theories or philosophies to know that some people looked different, and those differences were passed on almost unfailingly to children. Most recent discourse on race, though, has been on how we should deal with the idea of race and what role race should play in our society. (Is one race superior? How should be deal with inequalities among races?) There is a strong, but growing faction of theorists, though, who contend that race doesn't actually exist. Previous thoughts on the biological basis of race are quickly eroding under the scrutiny of modern science, and the idea of race as only a cultural or historical distinction has a plethora of objections and counter-examples.In preceding centuries, theories about race centered on the idea that there were fundamental biological differences between members of different races. Some theorized that there was a scale of races with Caucasians being central and other races deviating from them. J.F. Blumenbach recognized five races: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malayan. He supposed the American Race was the stage between Caucasians and Mongolians and the Malayan race fell between Caucasians and Ethiopians. Immanuel Kant hypothesized there were only four races: White, Negro, Hunnish, and Hindu. Both Kant and Blumenbach based their classifications on phenotypic characteristics, mostly skin color and some facial features.It's understandable that scientists without modern technology might infer that different races have significant biological differences. Recent studies have proven otherwise, though, and the idea that there are races at all has fallen out of fashion in some scholarly circles. In 1972 Science magazine published a study showing that the amount of genetic variation between members of different racial groups was only slightly higher than the amount of racial variation between members of the same racial group. Other scholars have expressed their disapproval of what we call race. Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould suggests people not be grouped by race but rather by what he calls "clines," regional divisions that scientists use to account for the variation among some animal species, and anthropologist Ashley Montagu refused to use the term "race" unless it was in quotation marks.Anthony Appiah articulates his arguments against a biological conception of race by outlining the theories of W.E.B. DuBois, founder of the Pan-African movement, and then pointing out the flaws contained therein. DuBois defines a race in the following passage from his paper called "The Conservation of Races."What then is a race? It is a vast family of human beings, generally of common blood and language, always of common history, traditions and impulses, who are both voluntarily and involuntarily striving together for the accomplishment of certain more or less vividly conceived ideals of life.DuBois identifies eight races (Slavs,...

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