I also was interested to see how "race" was defined today. Although the definition has varied within cultures and over time, I was interested in how it compared to the original "common descent" definition. Here are the definitions below (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Race): What do you think of these definitions? And can race really be defined?
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Origins of Race and Racism
Race did not always exist as a concept was the first of the "Ten Things to Know about Race" mentioned in class. It went from being non-existent to being the first thing that is recognized when someone of another race enters a room. After researching what the initial definition of race meant, I came to find that the original meaning was interpreted to mean "common descent," but I find Francois Bernier's account of races to be a prime example of what people still do today. By dividing the races into four categories: the Europeans, the Africans, the Asians, and the Lapps based solely on physical characteristics suggests that Bernier formed an aspect of racism. After reading "A New Division of the Earth" over, I noticed that the first species, the Europeans, received no form of critique of physical characteristics. Yet, it seemed as though the Europeans were stated as the model species. All of the other races were being compared to this "first" species. In his African explanation, Bernier says, "Their hair, which is not properly hair, but rather species of wool, which comes near the hairs of some of our dogs," was an interesting because of his word choice. He used the word "our" which indicated that he was comparing all of the other species to this first or supreme species. We came to the conclusion in class that Bernier's argument is not neutral and objective, but extremely normative in judgment. This brings me to my question of what constitutes racism? Although Bernier may have merely been commenting of what he observed, referring to a specific race as "wretched" isn't a valid observation. When does simply observing and noticing differences move toward racist beliefs? And do you think that Bernier's comments could be considered an origin of racism?