As an American from a small midwest town, I grew up thinking of race, literally, as Black and white. Then I grew up and saw a lot more of life, and the world, and discovered that (a) What we consider races is a infinite variety of shapes, sizes, traditions, attitudes, habits, fallacies, languages, accents, and genetic nuances and (b) "race" doesn't even exist as a scientific concept, and (c) "everyone knows" what we mean when we discuss race and (d) racism exists, not just white against nonwhite, but various nonwhite against others "not-themselves", even is "race" does not exist and (e) even if race is not a biological concept, there are genetic markers and genetic propensities and (f) even if race is not a biological concept, there are social and political ramifications.
So how, in this jambalaya of concepts, realities, and fallacies, do we make sense of the concept of race (and ethnicity)? To discount "race" as a "social construct" that has no bearing in reality, would dishonor the people who view themselves as communities and cultures among others, and who have suffered, endured and surmounted racist discrimination. Even if "race" isn't real, the philosophies and effects of racism are real. So are the traditions and communities that exist for racial and ethnic groups.
With that in mind, this thread will link to and comment on readings regarding the concept of race and ethnicity. While I prefer to view these concepts solely as ethnicity, and variations in the spectrum of human expression, cultures around the world continue to reference the term "race" so that term is used here as well.
Wikipedia article, Race (classification of humans) Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by heritable phenotypic characteristics, geographic ancestry, physical appearance, and ethnicity.
from the article...
While race is understood to be a social construct by many, most scholars agree that race has real, material effects in housing discrimination, in the legal process, in policing practices, in education, etc. Omi and Winant’s theories of racial formation describe how “race is a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.”
The article goes on to discuss the historic definition of races.
The word "race" was originally used to refer to any nations or ethnic groups. Marco Polo in his 13th-century travels, for example, describes the Persian race—the current concept of "race" dates back only to the 17th century
The article goes into a great deal of detail describing many ways of looking at race as a classification system. Ultimately, I don't see that any have any meaning. They all fail. Ethnicity, yes, but even that is difficult to define. Even so, racism and ethnocentrism continue. Makes me think the people who use racism as a political or social tool are not only evil and obnoxious, they are also not very bright.
My intent here is to discuss the concept of race as it relates to personal identity, community, religious dogma, and other concepts.