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Sunday, May 22, 2011

What is "race" and why do people care?

Is "race" real?
How many "races" are there?
Why does our government want to know what "race" we are?


The answers depend on who you ask.


Lawyers use the legal definitions of race that coincide with hate crime laws.

Biologist refer to phenotype: the appearance of an organism based on a multifactorial combination of genetic traits and environmental factors.

Anthropologist use the word cline (A gradation in a phenotype within a species).

Sociologists and politicians use the social construct definition - the superficial-blurry-one-drop-myth-of-hypodecent; but even this pseudo-science doesn't say how far back to count the drop; nor what the label is for people who have half a drop. All humanity originated in Africa; so in turn, people who accept the one-drop-myth-of-hypodecent would reason that everyone in the world is "Black".

But how many "races" are there?
‎"Write-ins from the race item numbered over 300 separate race responses and approximately 600 different American Indian tribes." -Modernizing the U.S. Census

And why does the government want to know what "race" we are?
For a modern reason, I'm still trying to figure that out. For historical reasons there was the Three-Fifths compromise and old immigration policies based on "race". For further detailed information you can read "Legal History of the Color Line" by Frank W. Sweet

To learn more about what we are click here.