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Anthropology on Race and Racism


The diversity in human culture is a controversial issue today with respect to race and racism that permeate in every part of the world today. Especially in America, they are struggling to answer questions as to why racism still exists in the country today, even when it had existed for many years ago. Researches, surveys, and studies have had it that racism continually increases on a daily basis, and thus, creating a very high discrimination in the America. And the amazing fact is many native citizens don’t see anything special about racism.

According to Sean Last (2015) the popular SWPL YouTuber, John Green uploaded a video recently, which is titled Racism in the United States: by the Numbers. This video showed that the Green cites recent survey shows that many of the white people in America don’t believe that the existence of racism is a significant or special problem in the country today. In Green’s polls, it was apparent that despite the fact that both whites and blacks are fully identical, aside their race which differentiate them significantly, the treatment given by the health care system, the criminal justice system, and the economic system depicted a prevailing level of racism. (Last, 2015)

With all these lingering facts, anthropologists have wondered why this issues continuously remains. This was what led to some questions they pondered on as to why racism, discrimination still prevail on a very high level in the United States, and even many other parts of the world today. Some of the questions anthropologists kept asking include, “Why do racist attitudes continue to exist?” “Do people just naturally denigrate people of other groups” “Is it necessary to still consider historical attitudes that were the basis of the slavery that persisted?” or “Is there anything specific about cultures that encourage racism?” (“Plattsburgh”) Due to these questions asked by the anthropologists, researches have continually been searched for to understand different ways and sectors racism exists in the United States. Therefore, this paper discusses anthropologists’ views, opinion, and ideas on racism, as well as its effect on our society. In addition to this, the paper evaluates how anthropologists have strategically expressed their ideologies in relation the causes of racism, the negative effects it had caused to citizens, and the possible way forward to put an end to it.

Anthropologists’ Belief about Different Groups of Humans

Anthropologists are humans and they comprise of different races, different religious background, with various beliefs, concepts, and from different parts of the world. As a result of this, it is necessary to understand what they thing of the different groups of people in the world. Basically, anthropologists see the different groups of humans as ethnic groups. They believe people are different, and thus would definitely have a source which is their different backgrounds, world views, behaviors, social organizations, values, and more because of their culture, history, socialization, not just because of their biology. (Sankar-Gorton, 2015) In the aspect of race, they believe that:

Every human living in any part of the world today belong to a single species, which tis the Homo Sapiens, and they all have in common a particular descent. Although, different concepts and opinion regarding how and the source where different human groups diverged or consolidated to develop new ones from a shared ancestral group, with all living populations in different earth’s geographic areas have emanated from that particular ancestral group over similar amount of time. (American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA), 1996)

Furthermore, the biological differences in human beings indicate both hereditary factors being influenced by the social and natural environments. The differences that exist in this case, is due to the interaction of both the social and natural environment. This is because, the degree to which any particular trait varies largely is based on heredity or environmental factors. (AAPA, 1996)

Additionally, there exists high genetic diversity within every human population. Anthropologists believe that pure races, based on the concepts of genetically homogenous populations, do not have any existence in human species in this present day, nor does any evidence reflected in their existence in the past. (AAPA, 1996)

Moreover, through many centuries, scholars have constantly sought to understand the patterns in nature by systematically classifying living things. The human family has only ne one living species, which is the Homo sapiens, this has become a really diversified global arrangement of populations. Based on geographic pattern of genetic inconsistency within the array, there is complexity, which, hence presents no main discontinuity. Also, the classification of humanity into discrete geographic categories is not possible with absolute boundaries. And since the complexities of the history of humans make it difficult to ascertain the position of some particular groups in classifications, the multiplying subcategories find it difficult to correct the inadequacies of the classifications.

In fact, the human species cannot do without migration from one territory to another. Consequently, the United States of America is flooded by various people from different race and background. Humans are adapted to various earth’s environments generally, but not to a particular one. For many millennia, the progress of human in any life endeavor is based on culture and not just on the genetic improvement.

Additionally, there no necessary concordance existing between any biological characteristics and different culturally defined groups. In relation to every continent, there are many and different populations that are different in language, culture, and economy. Basically, there is no national, linguistic, religious or cultural group or any level of economic class that make up a race. However, humans who converse in the same language and also share similar culture frequently choose one another as mates, based on the result that there is usually some levels of correspondence between the classification of physical traits on one hand, and that of cultural and linguistic straits on the other hand. But, there appears to be no causal connection between these behavioral or physical traits, and thus, it cannot be justifiable to ascribe cultural characteristics to just genetic inheritance.

Factually, the biological consequences of mating allows is based only on the genetic makeup of the individual couple, and not just on their racial classifications. This therefor implies that there are no biological justification existing to restrict any kind of intermarriage between people or individuals of different racial classifications.

Lastly, the behavioral differences among people in the society is influenced by the physical, social, and cultural society. There are possibilities that heredity stand a chance to influence the behavioral variability of people inside of a given population, however, it does not necessarily affect the ability of such population to perform its function in a certain social setting. The hereditary capacity for any intellectual development is a major biological traits of the human species necessary for their survival. This hereditary capacity is best known to differ among people. Individuals have the tendency to possess similarly equal biological potential for the assimilation of any human culture. Therefore, anthropologists believe that racist political doctrines does not find any foundation in scientific knowledge based on both modern and past human existence and population. (AAPA, 2016)

Race and Racism in Anthropology

The history of anthropology and racism are somewhat inextricable and intertwined. This is in relation to the considerations of the human nature, their evolution, and biological considerations. The term racism is presently used in most cases for the description of individual acts of meanness, and as to whether someone is or is not a racist. Based on these kinds of usages and accusations, some larger issues are less considered, considering how political and economic inequalities are basically structured in the surroundings of racialized hierarchies. (Antrosio, 2013) This is what Anthropologists call “structural racism,” and should be one of the major aspects that has to be addressed in understanding anthropology and racism.

Some of these issues have been worked on by sociologists. For example, the “Black Wealth/White Wealth” by Melvin Oliver and Thomas Shapiro (2006), others include, “Racism without Racists” by Eduardo Binilla-Silva (2009), and also “Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America,” written by Dalton Conley (2009). It is not strange to see the fact that anthropological investigations into the evolution of humans are being paid attention to, especially in the contemporary ideas of politics, race, and economic inequalities.

Most anthropologists recognize that race is more of a social phenomenon, rather than just a biological one. This implies that, it stigmatizes some people as different and reinforces some other people’s privileges. Indeed, there is no evidence to prove that there are large groups of distinct biological human being, (that is, subspecies) that practically correspond to what many people regard as talking about “race.” Further, anthropologists confidently say that basing any kind of biology classification on one physical characteristic, such as just the skin color (which is incredibly varied and based on multiple genes) is absolutely and clearly nonsense. (“Plattsburgh.edu”) Despite this fact, the concept of race continually persists in our different popular culture, and is sometimes offered legitimacy by different scholars from a wide range of fields as varied as political science and psychology. (“American Anthropological Association (AAA)”)

A large number of anthropologists hardly take the idea of race seriously. According to AAA, the populations of human do differ in some respect, especially in their genetic makeup, for example, their blood types, but there is a very little use in attempting to lump groups into ssecific racial groupings in relation to the physically meaningless characteristics. For example, skin pigmentation. As such, the efforts of individuals like Samuel George Morton to prove the level of superiority of one race over another, might be disregarded as historical oddities.

Intuitively, there are still individuals who believe that can still scientifically prove the fact that some groups of people are somewhat genetically superior to other groups. Many of these efforts are derived from eugenics, when trying to distinguish between people with probably good and bad genes, and to promote social legislation that tend to encourage those with the good genes to have a higher number of children than those with bad genes. (“Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement”)

The Arguments of Race in Anthropology

Race and racism remains tenuous in anthropology from the beginning of time up till today. Although, anthropologists have adopted a no-race position in the world today , abandoning the concept as a realistic and effectual biological construct and then accepting its social construction. (Hartigan, n.d) The problem, is that this particular position amounted to a no-race policy has realistically been a policy having no discussion of race by either cultural or physical anthropologists.

To anthropologists, their arguments is based on the fact that race does not exist. Anthropologists were provided to the main public, an easy way in which is out of taking about race as an issue. According to Mukhopadhyay and Moses, they found out that this position had led to a heightened division of mental labor within anthropology that the leaving behind of race as one major biological concept has motivated some physical; anthropologists to inherently reassign discussions of race as one social construct based on their cultural colleagues, knowing too well its meaning is best analyzed and articulated with the context of cultural anthropology. The prevailing problems with this division are at the center of their proposal to make prior a biocultural approach to race. (Hartigan, n.d)

During the twentieth-century, there were anthropological assault on biology-culture relationship. In which an intellectual effort focused on disentangling culture and biology just to be able to disrupt the link between racial typology as well as naturalizing the views of race. Basically, the anthropological critique of the anteceded racial paradigm is that it blend culture and biology, biological variability and cultural variability, and then developed a hierarchical evolutionary classification of groups with a set of linguistic sidekicks. (Mukhopadhyay & Moses; Hartigan, n.d) Conversely, Mukhopadhyay and Moses argued that the easy steps unraveling of the racial paradigm incorporated biology and culture as unrelated phenomena. Based on their opinion, the assertion that race is one social construction rather than just a biological concept accidently reproduces a philosophical fundamental to the operation of race in an entire society. Additionally, it delivers division of labor within anthropology; this cultural anthropology

The Causes of Racism from Anthropology view

Prejudice is an across the board marvel in contemporary society, and is reflected in varying territories in the present state of affairs. It reflects in both government approaches and in broad daylight recognition. It applies impact on societies, dialects, land possession, arrangement rights and to specify however a couple. However while bigotry is clearly pervasive, individuals frequently are uninformed of the supremacist demeanors that they hold. One of the inquiries asked by anthropologists is for what valid reason do supremacist states of mind endure? Are individuals normally slanted to criticize individuals of different gatherings? Does it need to do with recorded states of mind that were utilized to legitimize subjection that have held on? On the other hand is there something about particular societies that empower bigotry?

It is esteemed vital under this sub-going to examine the reasons for bigotry from anthropologist view. The accompanying among others are reasons for prejudice from the anthropologist view:

  1. Poverty rate: The destitution rate among Blacks and Hispanics in the United States is three times that of the whites. African Americans represent 10.7 percent of the workforce, however just 6.9 percent of official and administrative positions. Hispanics represent 9.2 percent of the work power, yet just 4.8 percent of official positions. This element from the human studies view causes bigotry (https://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/Richard.robbins/legacy/editors_choice/scientific_racism.htm).
  2. Physical varieties: Physical varieties in any given characteristic have a tendency to happen step by step as opposed to unexpectedly over geographic regions. Also, on the grounds that physical qualities are acquired autonomously of each other, knowing the scope of one attribute does not foresee the nearness of others. For instance, skin shading shifts to a great extent from light in the calm territories in the north to dull in the tropical regions in the south; its force is not identified with nose shape or hair surface. Dim skin might be connected with bunched up or unusual hair or wavy or wavy or straight hair, all of which are found among various indigenous people groups in tropical districts. These certainties render any endeavor to build up lines of division among organic populaces both self-assertive and subjective. (ameriananthro.org)

iii.        Cultural/behavioral attributes: Culture is the totality of life. From the humanist perspective, society comprises of convictions, practices, objects and different qualities regular to the individuals from a specific gathering or society. It was manufactured by the Europeans-Americans that the social/behavioral qualities connected with every race, connecting from prevalent characteristics with Europeans and adversely and second rate ones to blacks and Indians. Right on time in the nineteenth century the developing fields of science started to mirror people in general cognizance about human contrasts. Contrasts among the “racial” classes were anticipated to their most prominent compelling when the contention was represented that Africans, Indians, and Europeans were partitioned species, with Africans being the minimum human and nearer taxonomically to chimps. Toward the end of the twentieth century, we now comprehend that human social conduct is found out, adapted into newborn children starting during childbirth, and constantly subject to adjustment. No human is conceived with an implicit society or dialect. Our demeanors, airs, and identities, paying little mind to hereditary inclinations, are produced inside arrangements of implications and qualities that we call “society.” Studies of baby and early youth learning and conduct bear witness to the truth of our societies in shaping who we are. (ameriananthro.org). These qualities serve as a noteworthy reason for prejudice.

It is a fundamental principle of anthropological information that all ordinary people have the ability to take in any social conduct.

Most anthropologists perceive that race is a social idea, not a natural one. That is, it trashes a few people as various and fortifies the benefits of others. There is no proof that there are substantial gatherings of organically particular people (i.e. subspecies) that relate to what individuals allude to when they discuss “race.” (ameriananthro.org)

The Effects and Consequences of Racism

The impact of bigotry are communicated in an assortment of ways. Bafflement and doubt with the administration and with the general public everywhere is regular. Absence of social character upholds sentiments of estrangement inside society. Moreover, generalizations have prompted an absence of fearlessness and to sentiments of being belittled. These components, joined with area apportionment and social distance have created disappointment, gloom, and displeasure. “When you detract from Native individuals their way of life, their dialect, and their territory, it makes a vacuum … indignation and dissatisfaction at what has been lost or taken races into that vacuum” (Taylor in Dokis 2011).

These negative emotions have prompted self-dangerous practices inside First Nations groups most particularly, including family brutality, high rates of imprisonment, suicide, medication and liquor misuse. Gauges show that upwards of 80% of First Nations families have encountered family viciousness (Fox and Long in Dokis 2011).

In the first place Nations individuals all in all experience the ill effects of a sort of discouragement called anomic sadness, in which they feel futile and powerless. The manifestations of anomic dejection incorporate “( 1) anomie, the nonattendance of acknowledged standards joined with social personality disarray, and (2) an incessant dysphoric state, with absence of sense of pride, reason or seek after future” (Lester in Dokis 2011).

At long last, while a few parts of medication and liquor misuse are unquestionably made a huge deal about by standard racial generalizations, there is positively no contending that these issues are significantly more common among First Nations individuals than they are among non-First Nations North Americans. Inhalant misuse is especially predominant among First Nations individuals. While numerous chemicals are sniffed, gas is the most widely recognized. These chemicals have genuine long haul wellbeing impacts for the clients. The 1995 British Columbia First Nations Solvent Abuse Study ascribed synthetic misuse to: “Youngsters not having enough to do, street pharmacists in the group, extreme competition in the group, absence of otherworldly/social conventions and topographical disconnection” (Fournier and Crey (in the same place) in Dokis 2011). Fournier and Crey (in the same place.) likewise call attention to liquor and medication misuse, diabetes, abusive behavior at home, suicide, and fetal liquor disorder as further explanations for substance misuse.

These high rates of imprisonment, suicide, and medication and liquor misuse demonstrate that bigotry has had significant negative consequences for First Nations society. While medication and liquor misuse have been utilized as ways of dealing with stress, they are not beneficial choices, nor will they guarantee the long haul survival of First Nations social orders. Notwithstanding this affliction, one of the best qualities and methods for dealing with stress controlled by First Nations individuals is their comical inclination.

Anthropologists’ Approach to Surveys in Racism

The anthropological perspective to “race” can be seen as a social develop of which a gathering of individuals shares comparative and particular physical qualities. (Wikipedia Encyclopedia)

As of late, an understood anthropologist and a writer distributed a book entitled Race: The Reality of Human Differences (Sarich and Miele 2004). The creators contended that races are rea organic elements, assigning them as “populaces, or gatherings of populaces, inside a species, that are isolated geologically from other such populaces or gatherings of populaces, and recognizable from them on the premise of heritable elements” (Sarich and Miele 2004:207).


Most anthropologists no longer take the idea of race seriously. Human populations do differ in some respects in their genetic makeup (e.g. blood types), but there is little use in trying to lump groups into racial groupings based on often, physically meaningless characteristics (e.g. skin pigmentation).  As such, the efforts of people such as Samuel George Morton to “prove” the superiority of one “race” over another, might be dismissed as historical oddities, except for one thing.  There are still people who believe that they can scientifically prove that some groups of people are genetically superior to other groups.  Much of this effort derives from eugenics, the attempt to distinguish between people with “good” and “bad” genes, and to foster social legislation that would encourage those with good genes to have more children than those with bad genes.

Furthermore, to base any kind of biological category on a single physical characteristic, such as skin color (which, in itself is incredibly varied and determined by multiple genes), is clearly nonsense.


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