Race as a flawed biological concept

The Collins English Dictionary defines race as “A group of people of common ancestry, distinguished from others by physical characteristics, such as hair type, color of eyes and skin, structure. ” Michael L Blakey in his journal: Scientific Racism and Biological Concept of Race says: “Theoretically, a race is a population that differs from others in the frequency of one or more biological traits. ” The writer adds that races are usually characterized as having several distinguishing characteristics. Races are associated with different geographical regions where their populations are found.

Racism is treating someone differently or unfairly simply because they belong to a different race or culture. People can also experience prejudice because of their religion or nationality. The Collins Dictionary defines racism as “the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others. ” It also defines racism as “abusive or aggressive behavior towards members of another race on the basis of such belief. ” Racism takes many different forms.

These can include: Personal attacks of any kind, including violence, Written or verbal threats or insults and also Damage to property, including graffiti. There are no words to describe how racism feels. Everyone deals with it differently. Some people lash out verbally, others withdraw into themselves. Some people can talk openly about how it feels, others hide it deep within. Direct racism can be seen in incidents of racist abuse, harassment and discrimination. Racism is also manifested indirectly, in the form of prejudiced attitudes, lack of recognition of cultural diversity and culturally biased practices.

Researchers contend that there are two common answers as to why mankind still believe in race. The answers depend on side of the fence the person stand on the meaning of race. According to researchers, science does not really tell us that race is a biological fact. For while science does not absolutely close the door on the idea of race, it certainly does not open it either. The debate about race is not a debate about whether differences exist between human populations. A fact is that there are a myriad of differences between different human populations .

But what matters and indeed count is the significance of such differences. In the nineteenth century races were seen as fixed groups, almost akin to distinct species, each with special behavioral and physical characteristics that distinguished one from the other. The races could be ranked on an evolutionary hierarchy, with whites at the top and Negroids at the bottom. Today, with a few exceptions, race realists reject the idea that there are essential differences between human populations, or that differences signify inferiority or superiority.

There is an argument that the difference between races tells us the continent where once ancestors originated. The argument continues that the ancestral origin also tells us of genes responsible for relatively superficial features, such as skin color, body form or certain physiological functions like drug uptake. It has been estimated, for instance, that skin colour, accounts for more than half the measured genetic difference between Continental groups. Virtually no expressed genes have been identified that are shared by all members of one race and are not also present at substantial levels in other races.

There is no evidence that races exist in the old-fashioned sense of clearly delineated groups of people each with a special, essential quality. Not even race realists believe that these days. What race expresses today is a much vaguer belief about the importance of human differences, a sense that what matters are our particular identities, that these are in some sense fixed and inviolable, and that preserving and celebrating such differences and identities is essential to the healthy functioning of human societies.. Race is not a biological fact. People are shaped by external factors, and to less extent by internal ones.

A given group behavior is shaped primarily by the surrounding environment. Different cultures transmit different values and prepare people differently for life. This is the same as racism. A person who was born and brought up in an environment where racism is rife has very high chances of also being a racist especially if he or she belongs to the group perceiving itself as “superior. ” But if the same person is born an brought up in an environment where racism has never been heard, where people of all cultures or races are treated equally, the person will grow treating all races equally.

This is a clear indication that racism is not biological but mainly depends on external factors which shape a person with time. We are not born racist. Our views and beliefs develop as we grow up. If a child or young person grows up within a racist family, or has friends who are racist, they may believe that racism is normal and acceptable. Prejudice of any kind is often based on ignorance and fear of anything unfamiliar. Unfortunately racism can exist in all races and cultures. Racists feel threatened by anyone who is from a different race or culture.

In 2001, World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance was held in Durban, South Africa. During the conference, it was noted that during the last fifty years since the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community has made some important advances in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. National and international laws have been enacted and numerous international human rights instruments, particularly a treaty to ban racial discrimination, have been adopted.

Progress has been made -witness the defeat of apartheid in South Africa. Yet, the dream of a world free of racial hatred and bias remains only half fulfilled. As technology brings the peoples of the world closer together and political barriers tumble, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance continue to ravage our societies. Horrors such as “ethnic cleansing” have emerged in recent years, while ideas of racial superiority have spread to new media like the Internet.

Even globalization carries risks that can lead to exclusion and increased inequality, very often along racial and ethnic lines. Racism is perceived very differently by different cultures. In Asia for example, particularly in Cambodia, there has been a strong anti-Vietnamese sentiment. In Indonesia there has been a lot of violence against the affluent Chinese population who have been blamed for economic problems that have plagued the country in recent years In modern Europe, racism has been in tandem with the European exploration and conquest of much of the rest of the world

In Australia, racism which was rife in late 1990 was fuelled by shortage of employment opportunities where by natives were convinced that immigrants were taking their jobs, as it would serve to be a convenient excuse and avenue to vent frustration. Australia has also had a very racist past in which apartheid has been practiced and where indigenous Aboriginal people have lost almost all their land and suffered many prejudices. For many years, a number of nations in Africa have been at war or civil war, or have gained their independence from former colonial countries in recent years.

While most of the conflicts have resources at their core, and involve a number of non-African nations and corporations, additional fuel is added to the conflict by stirring up ethnic differences and enticing hatred. In Middle East, For a long time there has been resentment by many in the Middle East at the policies of the American and other governments in their region. For many of the more extremist factions, this has turned into a form of racism as well, where many things that are western are hated or despised. These few examples are an indication that cultures view racism in difference ways with the prevailing environmental circumstances.