Re: indo-european origins, cont. (was: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?)

J Drinkwater (
29 Oct 1996 22:15:27 GMT

Race and ethnicity are social, not biological constructs. They are
organizational divisions within the Structure component of the Universal
Pattern of sociocultural systems. As such, race and ethnicity
potentially could change in meaning and value.
There are concentrations or higher frequencies of a given trait within
different geographic areas. This does not establish a biological meaning
to race. The epicanthic eye fold that most westerners associate with
Asians can be found on South African Bushmen (Ember). There is a
concentration of that trait in Asia, but it is not a trait that is
intrinsically Asian. The people with the darkest skin color are not
found in Africa, but in India (al-Mondani). Again, there is a high
concentration of dark skinned people in Africa, but it is not a trait
that is exclusively African. There are higher frequencies of particular
blood types among people that by American standards, don€t appear to be
of the same race.
The traits that people assign to race, vary from culture to culture. In
the United States, race generally refers to skin color. There are Whites,
Blacks, Browns and Yellows. A person of African descent is labeled
Black. A person of Northern European decent is labeled white. Should
those two people have a child together, the child is labeled Black. In
fact, a €mixed-race€ child in the U.S. is almost always labeled as the
minority race. Even if this Black child ends up having a child with a
White person, the new child is also labeled Black. This practice is
referred to as hypodecent and is the norm in the U.S.. In Brazil, there
are hundreds of races. A childs race being defined by their parents race,
could be different than either parent. A child of a Northern European
father and an African mother is one race, an African father and European
mother is another. The number of different combinations of heritage that
there are, determines how many races there are. Yet, in Japan there are
only two races: Japanese and Not Japanese. There are obvious cultural
components of race, but does that preclude biological components?
There are three conditions that need to be fulfilled in order for there
to be a biological concept of race: 1) A large population. 2) The large
population must be geographically isolated. 3) The isolated population
must remain so for a very long time. The problem is that under these
conditions, speciation will occur. For about 40,000 years there has been
just one species and therefore, no differentiation of race. Race is a
social construction.
Another cultural construct that divides people is the concept of
Ethnicity. Ethnicity can be defined in any number of ways: Language
(Hispanics), Religion (Jews), Geography (Arabs). Within these groups
there is a lot of variation that one might associate with race. There
are also variations within race that could be deemed ethnicity. These
variations are a combination of trait concentration and cultural bias.
Ethnicity and Race are most definitely social constructions.