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Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Race", Culture, Ethnicity. What's the difference?

The terms "race"*, culture and ethnicity used alone are confusing. To clarify we should add a modifying word. These modifiers in italics illustrate how we can sharply clarify our meaning.

biological "race"
socio-political "race"

cultural heritage: the culture that our ancestors gave to us
cultural group: the cultural that we are grouped into now, today

ethnic heritage: the combination of biology and culture from our ancestors
ethnic group: the combination of biology and assimilated culture we have now, today

Why the quotation marks around "race"?
I use quotation marks around the word "race" because there has always been
controversy over how many biological "races" exist. Is "race" supposed to be a broad category of people or a narrow category of people? There is so much controversy and confusion with "race" as to invalidate the effective meaning of the word. Furthermore, many anthropologists do not believe in biological "race". See the NOVA article: Does Race Exist? and the PBS article 10 Things You Should Know About Race.

Scientifically Speaking
cline and haplogroup are broad categories
haplotype, genotype and
phenotype are narrow categories

Why should I be concerned about using the term race?
The traditional five "races" do not describe the true variety of human kind. Furthermore, grouping people into "races" is dehumanizing and akin to thinking of people as breeds. Even if we are "breeds", mutts and pedigrees, none of us want to think of ourselves in those terms. The outdated concept of biological "race" has lead to racism and colorism, both of which
still exists. In order to move away from these biases and to keep our humanity and dignity we should label ourselves "human" and avoid the divisive and outdated term "race".

Why would it be okay to use the scientific words for race?
It makes more sense to use the scientific words because it acknowledges the complexity or our differences without oversimplifying our reality. i.e. the way the one drop myth has oversimplified the complexity of our mixedness.

Chart from
J. D. McDonaldTo see what each haplogroup looks like click the "Genetic Markers" button at the bottom of https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/lan/en/atlas.html

See that little gene below? Well, one physical change from that one gene (let's say green eyes) creates a haplotype of a green eyed person. All the green eyed people together are a haplogroup of green eyed people.