The Human Race

I was inspired to write this because of my dear friend from college, Arturo Coppola. He described someone as being “racist” because that individual said to an American of Latino descent to “speak English” instead of Spanish. That got me to doing research on “race”.

Wikipedia breaks the human race into three races: African, Oriental and Caucasian and acknowledges that there are multiple ethnicities. A mid 20th century American anthropologist, Carleton S. Coon made the case that there are 5 races:

  • Caucasoid (White) race.
  • Negroid (Black) race.
  • Capoid (Bushmen/Hottentots) race.
  • Mongoloid (Oriental/ Amerindian) race.
  • Australoid (Australian Aborigine and Papuan) race

Yet further research and information reveals that the categorization is rather arbitrary and essentially baseless. They call it a social construct. I had to look that up to see if its what I thought it meant and it does – something made up – social construct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society

From Wikipedia (links to sources of info I used for this blog are at the bottom). A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality.

Humans of the same sex are 99.9% genetically identical. Any ethnic group contains 85% of the human genetic diversity of the world. Genetic data shows that no matter how population groups are defined, two people from the same population group are about as different from each other as two people from any two different population groups.

Since the beginning time when humans appeared on Earth, we tend to feel more comfortable with those with whom we grew up, those similar to us. Long ago that meant your family, your group, your neighbors. Each of those groups felt more comfortable with those with who they had the most experience and interaction. Imagine a group/clan/tribe/community of brown hair, brown-eyed, brown skinned people one thousand years ago and in walks a blond-haired, blue-eyed person. Without any prior interactive experience, there would be suspicion, skepticism, and a certain wariness.

I grew up in Yuma, AZ, a very long way from Northeastern USA. I admit to a wariness about those people who exhibit the generalization about New Jersey people: talk loudly and sound angry. That comes across to me as unpredictable, so I am wary around that type of person, I do not need to take a Xanax (that would make me a Jerseyphobe) to be around them, but I’m somewhat uncomfortable.

When I grew up in Yuma (which by the way, produces 95% of America’s winter lettuce, so when you’re enjoying lettuce in the winter, say thanks to Yuma) the population was around 40% Hispanic at that time. Therefore that is what I am used to – I am certainly more comfortable with people of Hispanic origin than I am with loud people from New Jersey. (Note: Mike Burrows, you are not loud, this isn’t about you, Helmut knows who I am referencing.)

Among humans, race has no taxonomic (i honestly don’t know what this word means and don’t want to look it up – I think it might mean something like “categories?”) significance – all living humans belong to the same speciesHomo sapiens. The amount of melanin in our skin determines our skin and hair color. Where we grew up determines the language that we speak and the accent that we have. That is about it. Therefore, we are truly one race – the Human Race. So I suggest we stop using the word “racist” and use “bigot” or maybe “differentists” – those who through ignorance, lack of education, views passed along from their parents and grandparents fear people different from them, is the right word. Differentist doesn’t appear to mean this in online dictionaries, so perhaps “bigot” (suggested by Art Coppola as a better all-inclusive word) or “ethnicist: A person who believes a particular ethnicity is superior to others are more accurate terms. Xenophobia comes from the Greek word for stranger. So I suppose that is a good overall term for people with an overblown fear of strangers. There is not ethnicity, group, tribe, country’s citizens that are better than any other. All this hyper-exaggeration of our differences when boiled down seems like like being in high school with the various baseless cliques. Isn’t it time to grow up, move past the focus on superficial differences and see that we all belong to the same race?