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| The colorful pseudoscience
|Hating thy neighbour|
|Divide and conquer|
|Fanning the flames|
Race is the idea that broad groups of people in the world ("races") are truly different from other broad groups, usually defined by skin color.
The belief that race is "real" (or, scientific and based in human biology) is called racialism, and is pseudoscience. The vast majority of scientists believe race to be a socially constructed -- meaning that, for example, people with "black" skin in America are treated differently than those with "white" skin, and so "race" has a very significant impact on their lives. Whether or not people with "mixed" ancestry count as members of the "higher ranked" (in social perception and racist laws) group, the "lower ranked" - such as under the "One-drop rule[wp]" of Jim Crowe America - or to an entirely new group[wp] depends on many factors and has been different in different societies. Even today Barack Obama (whose mother was white) has been referred to as both "black" and "mixed" in US media, never "white".
In modern times, race also has a cultural component -- people with "white", "brown", and "black" skin may all identify as Hispanic -- and a geographic component -- people from South Europe might have darker skin than some Hispanics, yet identify as "Caucasian" or "white". In this sense, race comes closer to "ethnicity".
This article documents what are now commonly considered different "races".
Groups commonly mentioned as races
Others exist, but are rarely mentioned.
Arab (West Asian, Middle Eastern, and North African)
Western Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are home to diverse ethnic groups, including: Arabs, Jews, Kurds, Persians, Egyptians, and numerous others. The term "Arab" is frequently used to describe the ethnicity of all peoples from this region, but ethnically Arab persons are only those who originate from what is today know as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many groups in the area, like the traditionally
Zoroastrian Shi'a Iranians, consider it offensive to be referred to as (traditionally Sunni) Arabs.
That being said, one would be correct in referring to Arabic speakers collectively as Arabs, but it should be recognized that this is referring to a cultural homogony, rather than an ethnic/biological one. As stated above, some groups in the region, like Iranians and Kurds, don't speak Arabic, and it would therefor be incorrect to refer to them as Arabs. Jews on the other hand are usually not considered Arabs even if the speak Arab. Arab Christians meanwhile are usually considered Arabs.
For belief that all Arab speaking people should unite into one nation, see Pan-Arabism.
For the related belief that Arab speaking people are superior, see Arab supremacy.
Black people is a label used to refer to individuals of various ethnicities, whose skin tends to be darker than some other races. Like most such labels, it is completely artificial, frequently inaccurate, not particularly helpful, and horribly divisive. However, it can also provide people who have shared historical experiences of systematic discrimination and marginalization with a common rallying point and a structure around which to build a collective sense of identity and pride. So it's a mixed bag.
A more politically correct term in the United States would be "African Americans." One, however, cannot apply this term outside of the American continents, as it would be inaccurate, unless the individual in question was at least from either side of the Americas.
For the idea that blacks are the superior "race", please see black supremacy.
Hispanic (South American)
Hispanics are also referred to sometimes as "Latins", "Latinos" or "Latinas", although French speaking people of the Americas are excluded from this list.
Mestizo[wp] is the term typically used to refer to the majority ethnic populations of Central and South America, and refers to the people of mixed Native American and European ancestry, who don't fully identify with either background, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating both indigenous and European elements.
While most American Hispanics are fairly recent immigrants to the USA, some, especially people in Texas, are people who were there before the USA came and "incorporated" (stole half of Mexico's territory by waging a terribly unjust war on) them. There's quite a lot of Hispanic influence on the USA. Florida was one of the earliest Spanish speaking acquisitions of the USA, which has had quite a tumultuous relationship with them ever since. Then there's Puerto Rico, probably the USA's biggest unofficial colony. Many state and city names are Spanish in origin (Arizona, Montana, Los Angeles, San Diego, Sierra Nevada, and many more).
Because the definition of Hispanic is so ridiculously broad, it can potentially include:
- Traditionally recognized (and often stereotyped) Hispanics, like Jennifer Lopez.
- Blonde, fair skinned people like Cameron Diaz and Charlie Sheen.
- Native peoples of the Americas, e.g. A modern Mayan from the Yucatan. (Note, the proportion of people in Latin America with native ancestry is far higher than in the USA though the amount of cultural and ethnic influence native cultures have eft ranges from nearly zero (e.g. Uruguay) to very high (e.g. Paraguay, Bolivia).)
- Black Latin Americans of mostly African ancestry.
- People like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro of recent European ancestry.
- Brazilians of all varieties.
But the truth is Latin Americans are much more racially mixed than Anglo-Americans are… so most of them will come from various combinations of the above.
Native American (Americas)
Native Americans are those persons who lived in the Americas before disease and European settlers killed the vast majority of their number.
Caucasian is a classification term for describing a race of humans that are not black, Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander. It is generally used to describe white people—that is, humans of western European descent—however, this is a bit of misclassification as the biological differences that set Caucasians apart from the rest of humankind are shared among Aryan (e.g., European and Southwest Asian peoples such as Indians, Turks and Afghans), Semitic (Israelis and others of Jewish decent), and Hamitic (northeast Africa, southern Arabia) peoples, running a gamut of skin tones/hair shades/melanin levels.
Indeed, the very term "Caucasian" refers to the Caucasus mountain region, a swath of land between the Black and Caspian Seas, and includes countries such as Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran. Modern Caucasians are in fact a minority population in the former Soviet Russian region and face Russian nationalist xenophobia, usually due to their Islamic background. This apparently does not stop certain White supremacist groups from using the term.
For the idea that there exists a white "nation", see white nationalism.
For the idea that whites are the superior "race", please see white supremacy.
The Asian race usually covers all persons of Asia. It is sometimes broken into smaller races: South Asians, Pacific Islanders, Southeast Asians, Northeast Asians. Sometimes, the Asian race is said to extend into the Middle East and include Persians and Semitic peoples, though Jews (in the abstract) are often thought of as "white", even though there are Jews of all "races". Americans tend to understand "East Asian" when they hear Asia, whereas the British perception tends to have more of a focus on South Asia. This is of course related to the immigration from those places.
Though geographically close to China, they are genetically closest to Caucasians and Arabs, as evidenced by the similarities in language and mythology.
Seen by many fundamental Christians, fundamental Muslims, and Anti-Semites of every order to be their own race. While hatred against Jews has been based on religion in the past - particularly when hatred came from people of other Abrahamic faiths, since about the 15th century hatred against Jews has increasingly become "racial". For example while initially Jews could evade persecution in Spain by converting, subsequent rulers would doubt the conversions of (descendants of) Jews and accused them of Crypto-Judaism[wp]. While those "accusations" were not always unjustified, they lay the basis for the perception shifting from "Jews are different because they don't believe in the right god(s)" to "Jews are different by their nature / birth". During the Nazi-era this of course found its logical and tragic conclusion.
As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, not all countries and cultures follow the de facto "one drop rule" that still colors the perception of race in North America where people like Benjamin Jealous[wp] are almost universally considered "black" (if sometimes with the qualifier "passing"), despite their non-exclusively African heritage and not exclusively African looks. In South Africa, whites and blacks have been having children together for centuries and ultimately, those people would go on to have children with each other forming a distinct ethnic group largely speaking Afrikaans. During Apartheid those people were referred to as "Coloureds" and some still chose to self-identify with that term. Note that a person that is the result of a mixed marriage may look like a "Coloured" person but will not necessarily consider himself or be considered by others to be a member of that group unless he speaks Afrikaans and has other characteristics of that group. Brazil is another country where "race-mixing" has centuries of history and some "mixed-race" people have attained high societal status in sports, politics, business and other fields. Famous Europeans with African ancestry include Alexandre Dumas[wp] and Alexander Pushkin[wp]. In Latin America all countries are to a bigger or larger extent Mestizo[wp], even if they are monolingual speakers of Spanish. The previous belief that e.g. the Caribs had been totally exterminated by genocide, European diseases and war had to be corrected upon genetic evidence showing significant Carib ancestry in both "white" and "black" inhabitants of the Caribbean. The Garifuna people[wp] are one of the better known groups of African/Native American descent, but the Black Seminoles[wp] also have cultural and genetic elements of both groups and the Miskitos[wp] - erstwhile allies of the British - have also been rather "embracing" of foreign visitors, no matter their skin tone.
Ethnic groups that have also been considered races
- ↑ cf. Dr. Carolyn Fleur-Lobban, Race and Racism.