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The Issue Of Race As A Concept

1242 words - 5 pages

Theme for English B reflects the inner conflicts of a minority race in a predominantly white society, written by Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who was one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, the African American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture. Hughes later became famous for this writings of Black American life in his poems, stories, autobiographies, histories and his literary works helped shape American literature and politics. In the poem Theme for English B, Hughes tried to put forward the dissatisfaction and frustration of being a colored student in his class, where he feels alienated because of his race.The concept of race is not new. From the earliest accounts of travelers noting differences in physical characteristics of people in different parts of the world, attempts have been made to classify these different groups based on the thinking of the times. Even during the times of Homer, the Iliad and Odyssey acknowledged variability. The texts referred to Aethiopians, the people at the eastern and western edges of the known world, and to cubit-men, presumably referring to African pygmies.A race is a division of mankind, the members of which, though individually varying, are characterized as a group by a certain combination of features which has been principally derives from their common descent. The discussion of race shows little sign of diminishing, despite efforts to destroy the concept. Even the Census Bureau categorizes people according to the race with which they most closely identify, although the Bureau agrees that race is a socio-political construct and should not be interpreted as being scientific or anthropological in nature.Based on the Census Bureau classification, I would be classified as an Asian since my forefathers came from India. However, this is only for convenience, since there in no 'Asian race.' If we use the Bureau's definition, Asians are a very diverse group as they are made up of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Malaysians, Indonesians, Thais, Burmese, Indians, Pakistanis and a host of other races. It is difficult to imagine how the Chinese and Indians who have very different features can be classified as being of the same race; Asian. Even within the Indians, the differences between the Northern Punjabis and the southern Tamils are so different that is difficult to consider them both to be of the Indian races.The Asians are a very diverse group. Not only are there differences in appearance, they also have many languages, cultures, foods, religions, traditions and customs. Just as an example, the language of the Chinese is very different from that of the Indians, yet they share a common border near the Himalayas. Even within India, there is a diversity of languages (including scripts); the Indian constitution recognizes sixteen languages.Perhaps because the Asians are a minority in the United States, there have been many...

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