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Race has long been a highly debatable issue in the terms of describing distinct groups of humans. Many individuals may say that in fact there are differences which divide the human race into sub-races; each one having distinct physical qualities and behavioral instincts unique to them. But, should physical qualities and behavioral instinct be held as determinants for race? In the book Taking Sides Mary Courtis analyzes the concept of race in humanity. In her issue summary she describes the problems scientists faced in attempting to identify the origin of the Kennewick Man; was he actually a European fur trader, or a Native American tribe member? Concern over the origin of the Kennewick man arose after scientists found a small spear on his side. (Courtis, 275) By the spear's structure many assumed that it was made by the Native Americans around 9,000 years ago; using carbon dating, they soon realized that the Kennewick man was around 9,000 years old. Because it was evident that Europeans had set foot long after 9,000 years, the Kennewick man became an object of attention as both scientists and Native Americans were trying to claim his remains. Courtis further examines race in both the perspectives of whether or not it is an acceptable concept with C. Loring Brace who is against using "race" as a way of defining different groups of humans, and George W. Gill who is for it.
Brace presents his position with the obvious. He states that among humans there is no such thing as race as defined by extremely distinct biological factors, but it is categorized by the way people look and certain physical aspects they possess. Often people seem incredulous when Brace presents his position because they genuinely believe that biological factors are indeed a factor of their definition of race; they believe it defines the person's culture and the environment in which their ancestry originated. In Brace's argument, he agrees that there is clearly a "race" as a term which distinguishes one separate group of people from another, but it is used in an informal way. What others believe is race, Brace believes it is a process of adaptation; the majority of people from Northern Europe are of white complexion to absorb more vitamin D as there is less sun, while in places like Congo have darker skin with more melanin as there is more sun making it easier for them to receive vitamin D. He believes that race is used in America to describe people in a somewhat degrading way; used to ridicule a group of people that are considered inferior to make others, the majority in most cases, seem superior. Hierarchy among groups then creates oppression, and what upsets Brace is that people choose to continue using the concept of race in an inaccurate way creating even more oppression among different groups of humans.
Gill believes that race should remain an accurate term in grouping individuals in a more simple way. His position is strongly in favor of there being heavily distinct biological differences among separate groups of people enough to make each of these groups a separate race. He states that he fears race will be disregarded and people will be much more judgmental of others distinct from them. (Gill, 283) This article expresses how the author feels about losing a sort of identity along with getting rid of labeling using "races"; the value that our bodies have with being part of a group with interesting biological differences that others may not possess. Gill finds importance in small, but useful traits that an individual may have which may clarify their origin. (Gill, 283)
Internally I believe the in the first position, but I was not entirely moved by statements made by Brace. I feel that he lacked to inform us the actual difference between races as two distinct concepts. I would definitely go along with defining "race" as a cline as it would explain why there actually visible and genetic changes that vary based on adaptation of an ancestral past; whether it is muscular build, color of skin, or even mass of bones, there are obvious differences. Yet I find that he spends too much time describing human variation and not the bulk of his position against using race as a method of human classification. I feel that Brace should have included some other factors that constitute a race that are far more different than the factors that constitute other groups of people in order to make his statement stronger. He should include the ability to reproduce among the said "races" and create fertile offspring. The ability to reproduce or not would constitute whether or not they belong to the same race, despite other characteristics they may have that make them seem different. Brace's counterargument did not create a clear picture on whether or not the use of race is valid enough to use around our human society; he only states that he agrees that there are differences people may mistaken as being exclusive to once "race" but he doesn't tell us why the biological differences among people don't make them a different race. (Brace, 279) I feel that he should clarify whether or not he agrees with the view of some forensic anthropologists; that there are truly biological differences that clearly mark a groups of people as being in a different race.
Although I disagree with Gill, I find that he makes several reasonable statements supporting the usage of race. Eliminating race as a term won't create immediate solutions to getting rid of biased judgment among groups; yet, I believe it will certainly help in clarifying that we are not so different. It is not the nineteenth or twentieth century anymore, so why must we continue to group our own race into subcategories of color, and abilities? I believe that there is more to classifying races than we believe. I fear that the actual categorization of people in to races creates some sort of barrier, especially in our country, that won't allow minorities to have as much as the average "American". For example, we have the Census at least every 10 years and it surveys the American population with questions regarding race, and the number of people living within a household, and other questions which may seem intrusive. There may be a case in which the minority groups will receive fewer funds because the minorities may be regarded as under achieving, therefore deserving less. Given that there is such thing as travel and technology that enables us to know a lot more about different cultures, and live among these different cultures, I believe that the color of skin is no longer an entity of race but more like a globalization of the human race. You now see less segregation among people of different colors of skin; distinct cultures intermingle and reproduce with one another creating a mixture of both gene pools of groups. Sooner than later, there will be less of a need to categorize people into "races" due to the diversification of our nature; we have now initiated a melting pot of genetic variety in our population giving way to less discrimination and more cultural diversity.
I believe that race is not a viable term in describing distinct groups of people. When we use the word "race" we use it erroneously to describe a cultural difference and not an actual race. We are trying to describe differences in ethnicity; something more culturally based and not entirely based on how genetically different we are from each other (which may be hardly anything). Ethnicity would be considered as something that one is born with and can relate to others within that same group. People within these groups tend to look alike because neighbors chose to mate with neighbors. (Brace, 279) If there is a larger gene pool then that would bean that groups were breeding with other groups; therefore, creating more genetic diversity, not necessarily creating a new race. People in different so called races are able to interbreed with one another to create fertile offspring. If the concept of race were true, a Native American would not be able to interbreed with a Spanish person making the concept inaccurate. Anything that is not part of the Homo sapiens group is not considered to be part of our human race. Like John has told us in several of the lectures, there is a lot more diversity within a group of people than among groups of people. (Gust, 2011) With this being said, we can say that there is truly no genetic difference strong enough to distinguish the most common bodily functions we share as a whole human race. We can say that as a human race we all adapt to new fads, develop in at around the same rate, and yearn for the similar or equal things; things like food, power, property, and a legacy. We are all in a battle of survival, yet most of us help each other survive. We must all unite as one body of people to end destruction and war instead of contemplating how different we are from one another.
I feel that there are mostly con's when speaking about race. Society is very judgmental of individuals that are different; therefore, they use concepts like race to separate individual groups in society. Once a person is grouped within the society as a race, several biased factors come into action; people aren't given the same working opportunities, cities are underfunded because their majority is composed of minorities, hate crimes occur. As for the Kennewick man, race was not a determinant of ancestry of the Kennewick man as both Europeans and Native Americans fell under the same race; Homo sapiens. Therefore, why should we thrive in classifying remains as being of a particular race of they are practically identical or share similar features? The reasons are unclear besides pure curiosity of where man may have originated, or how different groups of people are from one another.