Anthropology on Race & Racism

Image credit, American Anthropological Association Project Race: Are We So Different, examining Evolution and Race. For more on this project, see the September 2017 reflections by Yolanda T. Moses After 10 years the AAA Race Project is Still Needed Now More Than Ever:

We need to be more intentional and strategic about tackling the issues of “white denial” and “white privilege” as we continue this very important work. We must engage people who “still do not see” or who not want to see, that they are beneficiaries of the historical and contemporary consequences of institutionalized racism and its disproportionate negative impact on the lives, bodies, and life chances of people of color in this country.

Evolution and Race

Introduction to Anthropology 2016 tackled the issue of Evolution and Race with these materials:

Evolution and Race

Anthropology was born during European colonialism. At the time, Europeans were asking some fundamental questions like: How do we explain difference? Are other people equally human? (For more on this history, see section on Human Nature and Anthropology.)

Ideas of racial determinism were used to justify conquest and subordination. The racial classification schemes, mostly developed in the 1500s-1800s, continue with us today.

From the 1860s, ideas of evolution were harnessed to justify existing inequalities. These incorrect ideas about evolution and race are what we call scientific racism.

Anthropology on Evolution and Race

Academic anthropology was part of the nineteenth century, and many anthropologists endorsed these views. However, anthropology began to argue that race does not determine behavior. Race is not determining of language or culture. Race simply does not work to describe cultural difference.

For the most part, the separation of race and culture has become accepted. What many people still cannot understand is how racial classifications are also inadequate to describe biological difference. (I’ve posted about early anthropology and skull shape measurements as Human Skulls: Boas Head Shape Studies Revalidated.)

Evolution & Human Variation

The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis or “neo-Darwinism” combined Darwinian mechanisms with Mendelian heredity. “In anthropology, perhaps the most significant contribution of neo-Darwinism was the way it undermined the nineteenth-century anthropological concept of ‘biological race,’ refocusing attention on a new understanding of biological species” (Lavenda & Schultz 2015:60).

The crucial question then became whether traditional race categories were a useful way to biologically describe human difference.

Species & Subspecies

Species fact: humans can all interbreed, and produce viable interbreeding offspring. We do it whenever we come in contact. “In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species” (American Anthropological Association Statement on Race).

If we can biologically sort humanities into races, it would be a designation at the subspecies level. There is no evidence whatsoever of species designation at the level of human beings. The last possible species designations are for Neandertals and Denisovans. But given the genetically documented interbreeding, some anthropologists feel Neandertals and Denisovans could be considered sub-species or races.

Subspecies Sorting

Is there enough biological difference within the human species to classify human beings into groups?
YES, Human variation is real and important.
Do these classifications represent consistencies, patterns and concordances equivalent to traditional race ideas?
NO, biological variation much more complex than traditional race categories.
Skin color Distribution ~1500AD (see also Lavenda & Schultz:62,75)

Concordance or co-variation VERSUS Clinal or independent variation

Clinal: most features, like skin color change gradually (Lavenda & Schultz:62)
Other features vary independently of each other
Classifications by different criteria produce different groupings

How can we explain biological difference?

Natural Selection
Explains sickle cell patterns (Lavenda & Schultz:63)
Sickle-cell is example of adaptive and maladaptive nondirectionality (Lavenda & Schultz:69-70)
Sexual Selection
Might help to explain certain traits considered “beautiful”
Random: Mutation, gene flow, genetic drift (Lavenda & Schultz:66)

What about skin color?

Demonstrates clinal variation
Natural selection & Vitamin D (Lavenda & Schultz:74-75)
Although sexual selection is an important evolutionary mechanism–and surely implicated in skin color–recent research confirms natural selection:
Chaplin, G., and N. G. Jablonski, 2009. Vitamin D and the evolution of human depigmentation. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 139(4):451-61.
Modern concept of race originates in colonial encounter

Race & Biology

Humans do vary biologically
with potential health effects, and even for abilities like “intelligence”
Race = “culturally constructed label that crudely and imprecisely describes real variation” (John Relethford, “Race and global patterns of phenotypic variation” [2009:20] and see also additional resources at Teaching Race Anthropologically)
But crude labels are socially and historically real, influencing access, opportunities, and outcomes: with even greater health effects than ancestry
and with even greater effects for abilities like “intelligence”

The earth goes around the sun

[This phrasing refers to a time when the science seemed completely locked down on race, prompting Jared Diamond to write Race Without Color.]
“There are no races, there are only clines”
Livingstone, 1964 in Lavenda & Schultz:62
As evolutionary synthesis demonstrates, individually-inherited traits could differently combine
Darwin, “no such thing as a fixed species” (Lavenda & Schultz:78)
Lewontin, “The apportionment of human diversity” (1972)
More diversity within so-called races than between them

From 2000-2016: “Is race still a social construction?”

[I’ve posted about this as a “race revival” that attacked the anthropological paradigm.]
Challenge to Lewontin
“A Family Tree in Every Gene” (Leroi 2005) = Despite within-group variation, clusters [for further consideration of Leroi, see Is Race “Real”?
Genetic testing for ancestry: see Lavenda & Schultz:67-69 on DNA tests and ancestry, “Branches but Few Roots”
“If races don’t exist, why are forensic anthropologists so good at identifying them?” (Sauer 1992)
This is where Goodman 2005 comes in: Remember what Goodman says about his opening quotes: “Leroi and Thomas are both wrong” (18)

Forensic Anthropology

[for a much more detailed argument, see “Race Reconciled Re-Debunks Race“]
Measurements give probable ancestry estimate
Depends on context of remains
Bones found in a creek in Iowa (Konigsberg et al. 2009)

  • In world database, probably Easter Islander
  • In context of Iowa, probably white
  • If had been found in Gary, Indiana, probably black
  • If found in Hawaii, probably Native Pacific Islander

Bones do not tell us skin color or typical ethnic or racial markers

How do we do race in the United States?

Hypodescent = child’s race “lowered”
White + Black = Black
In some states, laws by fraction
1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32
In extreme cases, the “one drop” rule
Some people can change race by getting on a plane
Latin American & Caribbean classifications can be different
May use hyperdescent or recognize mixtures as mestizo or mulatto
Or like Brazil, have many color categories
Some people have changed their race by crossing a state line
See this 2016 article 220 years of census data proves race is a social construct (with thanks to Anthro Everywhere! for the link)

HOWEVER, Race ≠ fiction

Cultural construction of race has real effects
Wealth in 2010, average white wealth at 22x average black wealth
For 2016, see On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart
Housing; Education; Healthcare; Marriage
Those effects are also biological
Infant mortality rates (2004, 2.4 times higher for black Americans)
Life expectancy (2004, death rate 30% higher for black Americans)
Nutrition & health
Put differently, how long will race “be a thing”?
[I’ve posted about some of these issues as “Social Construction of Race = Conservative Goldmine.” See also the 2016 Rethinking Pedagogy of Race in Anthropology, Part 1 and Part 2.]

Biocultural Approaches (Lavenda & Schultz:7)

Our social practices, ideas, and classifications have biological implications
Plasticity, poverty, and political marginalization–especially in early childhood
“Race becomes biology through the embodiment of social inequality” (Clarence Gravlee in Lavenda & Schultz:65)
Race–and racism as political-economy–becomes biological
(but not forever-fixed genetics)
[I’ve tried to provide a longer summary of this great Gravlee article as Race Becomes Biology, Inequality Embodied.]

Updates for Evolution and Race

  • August 2017: Although Lavenda & Schultz argue that modern genetics and neo-Darwinian theories helped undermine traditional ideas of race, there is little doubt that early genetics also helped reinforce existing ideas. See Genetics, Race, and Class for an ongoing research project to examine these early days of genetics:

    My new project will evaluate the early days of genetics and its contribution to legitimizing and maintaining American racial categories and the subsequent maintenance of race-divided-class. Today, scholars continue to argue for the naturalness of class and race and in order to understand contemporary beliefs of the relationship between race and class, it is necessary to explore the effect that the early years of genetics had on American thought, namely, how we engage with race and class in the 21st century.

To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2016. “Evolution and Race: Anthropology on Race and Racism.” Living Anthropologically website, First posted 6 September 2016. Revised 14 September 2017.

Please consider contributing to Living Anthropologically. Contributions fund ads to bring anthropology to public debates. Not tax-deductible. For more information, see Support Living Anthropologically.

For updates, please subscribe to Living Anthropologically. Living Anthropologically is also on Facebook & Twitter.

  • Jut

    After reading “Three Questions about Race, Human Biological Variation, and Racism,” I agree with Leroi that race will always be a thing. Race is often misused in many ways but it cannot be forgot about and changed over night. The next generation and our generation needs to take action if they want to become a race-blind society. When I think of race, I think of just a simple way to distinguish cultures from one another. Although, I do agree with Goodman also. Race is an exceedingly inaccurate description of human biological variation. Also, I agree with his comment that race is useful for tracking and understanding sociopolitical injustices.

  • Caitlin Corbett

    I thought these readings were very interesting. In the text book it talked about how there is no biological basis for race and how all humans are apart of the same species. This part of the chapter related very well to the article. Alan Goodmen talked about how the idea of race comes from the “16th and 18th pre-evolutionary thought, a period in which human and other living organisms were typed and differentially, often hierarchically ranked.” In his article he also quoted Sean Thomas who said we need to “Start teaching people to forget about race and move on.” I think that these things go together well because we have been brainwashed with this idea of race when really we need to be working on a society where race is not even a thing.

  • Timothy Mahony

    After reading the “Three Questions about Race, Human Biological Variation, and Racism” I immediately thought of the problem of racism in the United States. I wholehearted agree with Thomas when he states “…we could start teaching people to forget about race, to move on.” As Goodman explains using race as genetic classification is flawed and leads to racism. He also explains the idea of race is an old idea from the 16th-18th centuries in which all organisms were ranked in a hierarchy. Hopefully with forward minded thinking we can build a race blind society.
    Lastly, I agree with Goodman that race is a good tool to track lived experiences, sociopolitical injustices and racism. He sites great examples in the infant mortality rate and income inequality in white families vs black families in the United States.

  • mike_rood

    Alan Goodman’s article touches on several important issues regarding the topic of race. One of the important points that he made was that agreeing on and using the same definitions/ ideas behind words is essential to having educated conversation. People often have different interpretations of the same concept which leads to misunderstandings and needless disagreements based on their tendency to “talk past each other”. The point Goodman made about there being as much genetic variation between two Africans as there is between an African and a EuroAsian is very interesting and further explained in the textbook. People who, in the past, grouped Africans, Asians, and Caucasians into a single “race” failed to recognize the differentiation in traits and even skin pigmentation within these self-determined groups. Page 62 states that “you would perceive gradual changes in average skin color as you moved from north to south (or vice versa).” This ties into the idea that Goodman touches near the end of his article. Race is not a product of biology, but rather a product of geography.

    • Good connection here between Goodman & the textbook. I would slightly rephrase your last sentence: Much of our biological variation can be explained by, or is a product of geography. The classification of that variation into the idea of “race” is a product of history and society.

  • nina

    After reading the assigned readings, the concept of anagenesis caught my attention. Anagenesis is when one species gradually transforms itself over time into a new species. For Darwin, phyletic gradualism is his origin of anagenesis. I personally agree more with Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge when they supposed evolutionary change to differ at the level of genes, of organisms, and of species. To say that evolutionary change is consistent within each species, organism, and gene is unrealistic, for each species, organism, and gene differs within itself. How could they all change or evolve in the same way or manner?

    • Thank you, we actually did not get a chance to discuss the section on “What is Macroevolution” in Lavenda & Schultz (78-82), and hopefully will do this soon.

  • Spencer Snyder

    The reading “Three questions about race, human biological variation and racism” by Alan Goodman really caught my attention because Goodman raises multiple questions in regards to how race relates to biological variation and if it is useful or not. Goodman believes that it isn’t useful for a few reasons; the first being that it is based off of a “holdover from the 16th and 18th century”, the second reason being that race is inaccurate for variation because variation is constantly changing so its not that great to base it off of race, and the third reason is basing someone off of a race is unreliable because there are many different variables that can go into people based on variation. People are the same all around they just look a little bit different because some of their traits changed because of location not because of biology.

  • Nadja

    In the article, “Three questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism”, Sean Thomas mentions how we should teach people to forget about race. He states,”Instead of obsessing about race, we should try to create a race-blind society”. I agree and disagree with this statement. I agree with it because it could possibly help eliminate racism and discrimination, and force people to look beyond someone’s skin color. But I also disagree with this statement because race can’t be ignored and looked past. For some people race helps to identify who they are, their culture and history, and it brings diversity.

  • Tianna Rivas

    After reading “Three Questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism” I do agree with some of the things it stated in a scientific concept but I also I feel like diving too deep into race divides us, with so many issues reoccurring with race in some ways I feel like we should stop looking for the divide and instead unite. However, I also understand this is necessary for research and I agree that race is necessary for getting to the root of injustices exhibited in politics. Hopefully studying what sets us apart can also shed light on why we must except our biological and social difference .

    • Casidy Korba

      I have always thought that the problem with racism is that we see color at all. “Instead of obsessing about race, we could try to build a race-blind society. Instead of feeding the fires of neuroti-cism, we could start teaching people to forget about race, to move on.” I agreed with this quote at first but as I think about it more I realize that race is always going to be seen, and as long as people are seeing color racism will continue. I agree with Tianna that we shouldn’t try to ignore race but embrace it. Diversity is a beautiful thing and people can see race and not be racist. I think the physical differences among races are incredible. Our race tells a story of our ancestors and how we ended up here today. I took the Forensic Osteology class last fall and fell in love with it. It is incredible what our bones can tell us, about who we are and how we lived our lives. Race is much more than color, it is built into our bones. Race is something that we cannot simply ignore. I think that people should embrace their race and the biodiversity we have instead of becoming a “race-blind society”.

      • I guess I would have to disagree with race being built into our bones. Biological variation is certainly real and important, but the idea that those can usefully be grouped as race is a recent idea which most forensic anthropologists reject. See Race Reconciled Re-Debunks Race for a longer treatment.

  • Sami Benwitz

    “Three questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism” by Alan Goodman is strong piece in the regards to how race in perceived. Goodman tries to explain in this article the many ways that people incorrectly explain what a race is. The main point that i agree with in this article is the idea that race does not necessarily correlate with biological variation, this idea is “from 16th to 18thcentury pre-evolutionary thought” and should not be considered in the modern definition of a race. Goodman even states in his article that “there is as much genetic variation between two Africans as there is between an African and a EuroAsian” i think this is a very important piece to understanding what exactly a race is. Another important piece that was talked about in this article is when Sean Thomas stated ” we could start teaching people to forget about race, to move on” where i do believe that this would be an amazing world to live in, where racism was completely gone, i know that this is virtually unattainable. Race is still a very big part of our worlds culture, science, and much more, if race were completely ignored where we may be happy with no racism, we would lack diversity, culture, and racial research.

    • Carlie Doggette

      I agree with Sami in reference to Goodman’s comment that race is not just biological variation, but needs to be looked at through perhaps a more modern and social lens. Goodman’s article and today’s class also made clear to me what race was, if not in fact a matter of biological variation. What became apparent to me was also the idea of a cline. In Lavenda and Schultz it is stated that “Human skin color exhibits clinal variation, with average pigmentation growing gradually lighter in populations that live closer to the poles.” (74) This idea of gradually changing skin color makes us think about how race is incorrectly perceived in our society to be a yes or no issue instead of gradual variation and connected to social patterns.

      • Sabrina Hartwell

        I also agree with Sami and Carlie, the modern definition of race, “a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group”, does not correctly explain what race is. There is more variation within “ethnic groups” than there is between them. When we talked about the cline of skin color in class yesterday, it made it clear to me how there really is no definite line separating dark skin color from light, therefore the quote that Carlie used, “Human skin color exhibits clinal variation, with average pigmentation growing gradually lighter in populations that live closer to the poles”, is something I also agree with; there is an incorrect perception in todays society about skin color, we need to somehow get the point across that it is not simply black or white, there an is infinite spectrum.

      • The idea of clinal variation is an important concept to keep in mind, especially when it comes to human variation. Thanks!

  • Kelly C. Jones

    After reading the chapter and the article, I found the idea of microevolution and patterns of human variation most interesting. The idea that there are 4 evolutionary processes on variation within a population, and how they correlate with one another is fascinating. For example, as mutations increase, variation between populations increase, however as gene flow increases, the variation decreases. This means shows us that mutations cause variation on a genetic level. However, the increase in gene flow, defined as “the exchange of genes that occurs when a given population experiences a sudden expansion caused by the in-migration of outsiders form another population of the species”(L&S 66) decrease the variation in the population. This is due to the expansion of the gene pool. I think it was also interesting to read and compare this idea with the “Three Questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism” article. The chapter was much more ‘scientific’ about the ideas behind the differences in humans, while as the article was clearly more opinionated. It came across very angry and straightforward. While I respect this still of righting and agree with most of the article, I think when talking about race and human differences people have become very sensitive to personal thoughts and opinions. I do not agree that we should be care not to step on toes as we are being to be forced to do, I do think it is important to be respectful of all ideas and I feel as if this article was aggressive in the way it discussed human variation. I thought it became kinda difficult to read because of this.

    • Taylor Marie

      Kelly, you bring up a very interesting point that I feel was not given enough attention when I first learned about evolution. Microevolution gives us the context to look and study macroevolution. As we discussed in class the human species can be subdivided into distinct biological variations. In today’s society we tend to focus on a basic level of variation, skin color. I believe by taking a methodical approach using the Phylogentic Species Concept we could change societal assumptions when identifying and classifying organisms within a species specifically human beings. Studying the species within its population can lead to explain larger changes to the species as a whole. By studying these biological variations there should no be stepping on toes because we are categorizing based on biological and physical variations. I hope with the use of genetics, as the Alan Goodman refers, will dispute the emotional reaction humans have in regards to “race”. As Goodman states “to describe genetic variation, then try ‘geography'” (pg. 1) thanks for your post!

      • Agree here and we still need to talk more about the microevolution & macroevolution from Lavenda & Schultz.

    • Good work here drawing out part of the textbook and connection to the article. As discussed in class, I think Goodman’s article comes in when there is some exasperation with misinterpretations of the idea that “race is a social construction.”

  • Jeff

    Throughout this article, we are told in various ways how and why we should look past and essentially forget about race. The words Thomas uses in the article is a “race-blind society”. I think I agree and disagree with this idea in some sense. I agree with this because this would force us to look deeper into every person we meet to get to know people on a more personal and interior level. This is also good in terms of essentially eliminating racism, which is still very prevalent today. Eliminating race related issues in society would create a much more peaceful and intertwined world. Rather than creating more and more cultural barriers between ourselves and people of their respected races, we would in turn be able to learn and delve into other cultures that seem foreign to us. The only way in which I would disagree with this idea of a race-blind society is because we obviously have biological differences, but the differences we have based on appearance and race helps to show our heritage and culture, which many people are proud to show. I think that although the idea of racism is horrible, it was vital to the development of the culture we live in today in terms of the evolution of our American culture. Overall, I agree with the idea of this race-blind society. I think that it would be extremely culturally enriching to all of us to be forced to search for aspects of people’s culture through conversation rather than through visual judgement.

    • Grant Harman

      i agree with Jeff’s opinion. Jeff brings up a good point when he referenced the words of Thomas “race-blind society”. This expression is true and false. i think it is true because some people do not care about the color of your skin and will treat you the same as everyone else. this gives people the chance to interact and even lead to reproduction and the change in sexual selection. this could also lead to a change in skin color and the biology in that human.
      i disagree with the expression “race-blind society” because in society today people will unfortunately treat you different because of your skin. People will pretend to be blind by the fact that you are a different color of skin but deep down they will treat them different. this will always lead back to the question “will race always be a thing?” .

    • I would definitely suggest re-reading the Goodman article and comparing with class discussion.

  • TommyToughNuts69

    In the article, “Three questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism”, the author talks about how we should all look past race. I agree with Jeff in the sense that it would allow us to see people on a more personal level, but race can also influence who a person is and shouldn’t be forgotten as part of someone’s culture. I’m not saying that it necessarily needs to define an individual’s personality but I don’t think it should be thrown out and everyone should become “blind” to it. Race isn’t an issue in society today, racism is.

  • Pacal Fernandez

    After reading this article and going over it in class I learned a lot about human biological Variation. As humans we look at each other by the color of our skin and where we come from rather than our actual genetics. This is just proving that scientific racism is actually a thing. We are all different in one way or another based on our looks, how we act, and even our “intelligence”. Race is a label that we use to actually describe human variation. This is why people vary in such a way that anthropologist even say “If races don’t exist, why are forensic anthropologists so good at identifying them.” We also classify bones on race depending where they are found just like the ones were found in a creek in Iowa that were actually Pacific Islander.

    • Careful with the bones in Iowa example–that was actually meant to exhibit how forensic anthropology uses probability to make assumptions about what racial group a person would be assigned to based on probable ancestry. For more, see Race Reconciled Re-Debunks Race.

  • Christopher Vaden

    The article, “Three Questions about Race, Human Biological Variation and Racism” by Alan Goodman made me stop and think. The genetic make up of a person can identify a person as part of a race, but it does not identify where they live, the language they may speak or their socio-economic standing. However the human experience of a person or a group of people definitely influences their place in society. I do believe, that Goodman gives us many reasons why we should probably expel the concept race from society. However, making a ‘blind race society’ would be more than difficult. Many people confuse ‘race’ and ‘racism’. Race is a human’s genetic make-up and racism is a learned behavior. So how in the world could we undo thousands of years of racism? The article stated, “…the union wins the wrong civil war. Their victory reunited the US and ends slavery. However, the Ideology of race has deeply separate differentially talented types of human kind is unscathed. Minds and behaviors are unchanged and as a result, other racist laws and institutions quickly replaced slavery. The war for racial equality was fought and lost.” This illustrates that the idea of race is difficult to eradicate. In my opinion, Goodman is trying to heavily to tie racism to genetics. Racism is based on certain genetic qualities, and false assumptions. It is not singularly about genetics.

    • Austin Wayne Pitt

      I agree with Vaden on this one. Alan Goodman’s article makes you rethink all assumptions you have had about any race or race in general. I think the article could be sort of an “eye-opener” for some people. As @Hailey Pooler:disqus pointed out Goodman questions and answers, how it is not likely to create a “blind race society”. There will always be some type of racism in this world. While also there will always be people expressing who they are through their race. But how do you counter racism with the balance of racial pride? Education; While it also being everyone’s job to make sure people are treated like people regardless of race.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by Goodman tying racism to genetics. I think Goodman is pretty clearly trying to say that 1) race is not a good category to biologically describe human variation, which is much more varied (including genetically) than our standard race categories; and 2) racism is a social phenomenon (and as discussed in class our concepts of race and racism are a product of hundreds of years, not thousands).

  • Hailey Pooler

    I politely disagree with Tom and Jeff. Although Goodman starts the article with a quote by Sean Thomas talking about building a “race blind society,” he later states that “the first problem is that Leroi and Thomas are both wrong.” Therefore, Goodman does not agree with Thomas’ quote, and uses 3 questions and definitive answers to explain his point. The first question is “Do humans vary biologically?,” to which the answer is yes. The second question is “Is the idea of race a useful categorization of human biological variation?,” to which the answer is no. The last question is “is race a useful categorization to track lived experiences, sociopolitical injustices, and racism?, to which the answer is yes. Therefore, because of the answer to the last question, race is an important part of understanding parts of society and politics. In other words, race is “socio-politically relevant.” If we lived in a race blind society, distinctions involving health, wealth, and ways of life would be more blurry, and harder to distinguish. One last important point the article made was “the totality of human experience of being raced and the everyday differential treatments and opportunities provided to individuals through racing- is not only consequential, but useful for tracking and understanding sociopolitical injustices.” In other words, the quality of life and people’s experiences throughout life can be tracked and used as data when individuals are split up in to races. I am in no way saying that racism is not a problem in this country, it definitely is, but races can also be useful in a way that is not degrading or harmful. They can be useful to gather data, and to help people in different races who need it, as well as to show government leaders who they need to focus on helping in our country. Races are not always a bad thing, and the classification is a useful tool in studying human’s lives as a whole.

    • Good work here. The idea of a “colorblind” society is based on a misconception of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Available information points to the fact that we live in a society of structured inequality, and that those socio-political and economic inequalities often occur along racial lines. I hope this point came through in class!

      • Isa Kocher

        since races don’t exist, nothing occurs along racial lines. period. they exist along cultural entities and classifications but promoting the term race as a biological category only gives validation to racists.

        color blindness is not the issue. there is no white or black. there are “whites” and there are whites. there are blacks and there are “blacks” obama is neither white or black culturally “racially” sociologically politically – he shares some “black experience” and doesn’t share others.

        anthropologists especially really need to uderstand boaz and the difference between “race” and culture. there are no human races. e.g. jews are not a race but anti-semitism has always been called a kind of “racism”

        after over a century of anthropology’s rejection of racism in the science of humans, it’s high time to talk about what’s real. clean the politics out.

    • Isa Kocher

      since race does not apply to biological differences in any systematic way, race classification willy nilly obscures and distorts the information necessary to treat any particular individual. race is never the appropriate way to classify and characterize individuals however important it is to particular cultural sociological vectors. race might be significant in epidemiology, but it’s a major cause of distortion in health care – the alternative is not between race and homogeneity- quite the contrary: people “racially” classified have very substantial cultural social economic differences. race is a word which must be left solely to the racists.

      there are far more salient terms which do a far better job describing class, category, and status. .

      • Hi Isa, thank you for this comment and the below. To clarify my comment, inequalities in the U.S. do often occur along socio-politically inscribed racial lines. This is why the Goodman 2005 article as well as Gravlee’s contribution How Race Becomes Biology do discuss the ongoing salience of race. Since this is for a course, I am going to need to close down this comment thread but would welcome your comments on other pages such asTeaching Race Anthropologically. Thanks!

  • Ashley Egerter

    After reading Goodmans article and further talking about it in class It has opened my eyes to how the world views race and uses it to identify people past their genetics. Race itself can be identified by ones genetics but people have the tendency to further assume that with their race comes their culture, background and behavior. Although we may come from different communities and act and speak differently, this is all false information as race itself cannot determine these items. As we learned today racial classification cannot be used to describe biological differences. We have a tendency to use race as an indication of ones origin, but that is not true it comes down to ones biological makeup. As Goodman stated in his article, “Classifications change from time to time and place to place” Everywhere around the world classifies race differently and by simply getting on a plane you can change your race, what you cannot change is your genetics. Society we live in does not have a problem with race, but a problem with racism and how people use it to define one another.

  • Rachel Jones

    After reading the article and looking into a some of my classmates posts, I agree with Jeff when he explained his opinion of the “race blind society”. One of the lines that caught my eye in the article was when it stated “race is like an anchor holing us back”. I agree with this statement. I also agree that race helps us look more into a person and their culture because it could be different from our own. the article addresses how we should look last racism but I never see that completely happening anytime in the near future because everyone has their own opinions and views whether they be negative or positive. But I definitely viewed this article as an eye opener. I do not think different races should be viewed negatively, i think that difference races should be a positive thing because we can learn some much more about humans and different cultures through studying different races.

  • Marky Marb Reds

    I agree with Tianna in that diving too deep into race can divide us. I think that we should move passed race as a way of defining people. But, due to the way that people have been doing things forever has used race as defining us. In Goodman’s article the quote, “Race is like an anchor holding us back”, perfectly exemplifies my point i’m trying to get across. If we can move passed the idea of different races being looked at as “different” or “out of the norm”, i think some political problems can be eliminated. But, people have their own views and opinions and that is their right so this issue may never be addressed.

  • Tess Lichtman

    I liked how the article was discussing a Society without race because race brings up prejudice and segregation and I think it would be better for everyone if we looked past race and treated everyone equally.

  • Kyleigh June Sawyer

    After Thursdays class I found myself thinking a great amount about what we learned. I must say, I have to agree with anthropological arguments about race and evolution. I do not believe that race determines behavior, race does not work to describe cultural difference, and the way people are classified racially does not justify biological variation. Human variation is clearly a “thing”. And human biological differences vary by your genes, environment, and many more factors. As we learned, clinal, describes color change, I believe personally that although that is viewed as a racial bound, it should not be. One can not control the color of their skin, as it is hereditary, and also based off of many things such as environment, and ancestry. I found it interesting in class how we spoke of the importance of sexual selection. Sexual selection allows human variation and biological differences within different races and cultures. It is important for evolution itself. I enjoyed speaking of this topic and learning more about it.

    • Thanks Kyleigh for the extra thought and succinct summary!