Race has become a controversial subject throughout the years, ideas and perceptions about race are constantly in motion as society develops. Even today racial minorities continue to face oppression. Race has been created to support racist ideas and create divisions within mankind. We are all fundamentally the same because race is an idea that has been malignified by politics, racism, and society. We should not be defined by our race but by our experiences and what people remember about us after death.
The idea of the race first arrived in 1776 by Johan Friedrich who created 5 distinct groups including “Caucasian, the white race; Mongolian, the yellow race; Malayan, the brown race, Ethiopian, the black race, and American, the red race”. The idea was instantly loved by Americans as it justified their cruel treatment to other groups. Throughout history, studies on race were based on pseudoscience and aimed to prove why different groups were inferior. Barbara J. Fields, a historian for PBS states: ‘Americans of European descent invented race during the era of the American Revolution as a way of resolving the contradiction between a natural right to freedom and the fact of slavery”. Historically race has been made to separate groups and even today there are people who inaccurately argue that race determines knowledge or capabilities. Race should not define us because it is a social construct, something completely made up by society to label different groups and justify racism.
Throughout history, the meaning of race has evolved, and it typically changes to favor the government. According to Vox, “ people of Mexican birth or ancestry were ‘white’ until the 1930 Census snatched that privilege back. Since then, their status — white or Hispanic — has flip-flopped several more times, all depending largely on whatever the current thinking was about their role in labor or immigration”. What it means to check off a box can has changed to favor political movements. The United Staes Government created the racial group Hispanic to create a division within society, limit migration, and increase the labor force. The ideas behind what it means to be in a racial group are completely made to justify political actions. The boxes we check to identify our race attempt to classify, define, and distinguish us to divide us; however, these ideas are constantly changing and there is no definition of what it means to be White or Black, it all depends on how a person identifies. On several occasions, the pseudoscience of race was used to justify the social order because it was made by those at the top of the social ladder.
Race is such a complex topic that simply by looking at a person it would be impossible to determine the race they identify as. A specific occasion in Ohio had a community that identifies as African American despite looking completely white. They were mixed race and had ancestors who were African American. This is one example of where “racial lines have been blurred to invisibility”. It can be very difficult to identify under one category, some families have siblings who identify differently. Race is so ambiguous that it should not be a defining factor in anyone’s life. When you look past race we are all trying to figure out who we are which is not defined by the strange idea of race.
Although a person may feel that the way they have identified racially has defined them, it should not. Counterargument: race is completely made up there is no genetic evidence to prove you are any race, it was made to divide people and to support racist ideologies. Considering that race is a social construct, if it was never created, we would all identify the same way, by checking the human box.
In Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘How it Feels to Be Colored Me’ she explains that the only differenced from a colored person and a white person was that “White people road through town and never lived there” (2). Hurston does not even mention skin color which is usually what defines race, the only difference was that they did not live in the city, and although this difference may be caused by race, skin color did not define the differences between black and white Americans.
The definition of race has been changed by those at the top of the social ladder to benefit their views. The idea of who is not white was primarily influenced by racist beliefs. No other country in the world classifies people this way. There is nothing that genetically proves a person’s race. In this time of racial tension it is crucial to remember the origin of race and its impacts on our lives.