Carrie Hatcher Racial Perceptions Cultural Studies Essay

I found that while collecting the data for this assignment that many people use what we could call the standard language to classify race. The language used is like what we would expect to find on a census form or other equivalent form. This was an interesting paper to collect data for and write because I was able to see a sampling of how our society reflects the term race in the language that they use. I received answers on the questionnaire anywhere from non-serious and light hearted to very thought provoking. I even received some answers with religious undertones to them. Our textbook states that "biologically, human races do not exist" and "…race is a folk taxonomy, a cultural classification" (Park, 2011, p.189,201). As we will see in this paper the term race is something that our society has created and is not something that is in our biological makeup.

Do people of different age have different attitudes about race? Of the twenty respondents that I administered the questionnaire to ten fell between the ages of 18-30, four were between the ages of 31-40, three were between the ages of 41-50 and two were between the ages of 51-60. I feel like I had a good age range sample for this questionnaire. I found that although there was quite a difference in the age groups that overall almost all of the respondents had the same attitude about race. I had one unique answer that stuck out to me and caught my attention. The response that caught my attention was from a 44 year old female respondent that classed herself as a Caucasoid female and responded by saying that races are "Mongolid, Caucasiod, Australoid, Negroid and Capoid" (See Appendix). This answer was thought provoking to me and caused me to look further into the response. I have not personally heard of these types of racial classes before and wondered where they came from. What I found was that these terms are actually subspecies. According to an article that I found online it states that "the population …migrated out of Africa and populated the rest of the world, possibly assimilating some of the regional archaic human populations they encountered in varying degrees, and evolving into the Australoid, Mongoloid and Caucasoid subspecies" (McCulloch, 2011). Our textbook addresses subspecies of the human race and comes to the conclusion that there is no way to actually divide the human race into subspecies below the species level (Park, 2011, p. 189). So what I found online and what our textbook states are contradictory to each other. This is a very interesting point that I feel will need to be studied deeper and would take too much space to address within this paper.

Do people of different self-described race have different attitudes about race? I found that people of different self-described races do have different attitudes about race. Some of the respondents say they are part of the human race while others say they are white or Caucasian. While still others say that their race is Caucasoid. Some respondents said that there are only two races Human and Animal while others said that there were infinite number of races or too many to count (See Appendix). What I found interesting about looking at the different attitudes that people have about race between the self-described races is that most of the time if the respondent self-describes as White or Caucasian then they use the same language to state the races with their own self-description being the one listed first. The same was found when I looked at the person that self-described as Black. They listed Black first then listed the other races that they believe exists. So it seems to me that each person feels that their own race should be first or superior to the other races. That, to me, would explain why our society seems to be so self-centered today.

Do people of different sex have different attitudes about race? Of the twenty respondents that I collected data from eleven of them were female and the other nine were male. Looking over the responses I have concluded that the attitudes about race were overall the same between both the female and the male respondents.

Do you find that there are any cultural factors that influence people’s attitudes about race? I found that religion was a cultural factor that appeared in one of my respondents answer about race. Our textbook states that "race is a folk taxonomy-a cultural translation of human diversity, variable across space and over time". (Park, 2011, p.204). I believe that religion is a cultural factor that can influence people’s beliefs and attitudes especially when it comes to racial divisions. My respondent that self-described as a 35 year old human female stated that "In God’s eyes there are 2" (see Appendix) when she answered the question about how many races are there. According to her beliefs she felt that there were only two races, the Human race and the Animal race. I feel like if her religion was not such an influence in her life then her answers might have been different. This goes to show how culture can influence our lives in many aspects that some people do not even realize.

Do any of your informants bring up any of the issues addressed in the textbook? If so what are they? My respondents brought up the issues of skin color, phenotypical traits, genetic makeup and ethnicity. All of which are issues addressed within our textbook. These issues are very interesting to think about. As we saw on the PBS race website it is very difficult to "sort" people based on their skin color. What one person thinks is one skin color another person may not see as the same color. Skin color is a phenotypical trait that a person inherits from their parents but how that trait is perceived is decided by the culture of the society where the person lives. The race website states that "Classification is cultural, not scientific. Racial classification has changed over time and it varies from one place to another." (Adelman, 2003).

Do the words people use fit any of the discussions from the text (chapter 8)? The one idea from the text that stood out in my respondents answers was culture. Our textbook states that "culture, in a sense, is our environment…" (Park, 2011, p.199). I feel like that our culture is our environment because it is what develops us into who we are today and how we perceive different issues such as race. I had one respondent elaborate somewhat on this point. It was from a 25 year old that self-described himself as a Human male that stated "the term race is a misnomer. We think of race more like a phenotypical trait that can be identified just by looking at someone’s skin color or bone structure or genetic makeup. The truth is that "race" is actually ethnicity. It’s in our experiences, in how we identify ourselves and with who" (See Appendix). I agree with this respondent’s statement about race being in our experiences. I feel that what we experience going throughout our life has a big impact on how we see ourselves and the world around us.

References

Adelman, L. (2003). Race- the power of an illusion. Retrieved from

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

McCulloch, R. (2011, november 18). The races of humanity. Retrieved from

http://www.racialcompact.com/racesofhumanity.html

Park, M. A. (2011). Introducing anthropology: an integrated approach (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.