Basic Training Series: What is Race And Why Is It A Social Construct?Read Now
By Carole Copeland Thomas
Here’s a simple definition of race.
Race represents each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics or a group of people sharing the same culture, history, or language, such as an ethnic group.
Historically we have looked at three races in mankind:
Caucasoid the White race
Negroid or the Black race and
Mongoloid or the Yellow/Asian race
Now I’m fully aware that the terminology is dated, and there may be other classifications used in our modern times. But typically, these are the three main groups referred to as racial groups. White, Black, and Asian.
Most important to remember is race is NOT biological. It is a social construct.
The political and economic realities of race were largely generated through the explorations of Christopher Columbus, other European voyagers, and the ultimate colonization of the Americas. By the 1700s, when the African slave trade overshadowed indentured servitude, race clearly took on what is now known as a social construct.
To explore it further, Purdue University’s Carol Bainbridge describes it this way: A social construct is something that exists not in objective reality, but as a result of human interaction. It exists because humans agree that it exists.
So the concept of race, with no biological baseline, has driven our thinking and our actions for centuries.
The question we face is how far in the future, will we allow the whole concept of racial groups to direct our path of mutual interactive collaboration?
I’ll leave the question for you to wrestle with until our next blog post!
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.