Social Construction of Race

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When people talk about race, it is generally used to identify people of a particular ethnic or cultural group (e.g. White, Black, Latino, Asian, etc.). The Oxford American Dictionary defines “race” as one of the great divisions of mankind with certain inherited physical characteristics in common. This term has long been used for classifying humans into different groups by factors such as skin color, appearance, culture, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. There are misconceptions about the use of race because all humans fall in the category of homosapiens. The general public most often use race in a naïve or simplistic way to categorize or differentiate people from one another. Many scholars and anthropologists have taken the position that the concept of race is a socially constructed ideologyu . In other words, society and all its people created this term to make practical distinctions among people of different traits, characteristics, and geographic ancestry. This is where racial stereotyping may occur as a result of this practice. For example, if you are short, have small eyes, good at math, and/or musically talented, then you may fall into the category of the Asian race. As people define and build on to different conceptions of race, they create different social views of how people should be categorized. The social construction of race dates back from the 16th century where European expansion was taking place in colonizing America. European colonizers in search of sugar, human labor, and other goods came into contact with native populations who were “people of color.” In order to maintain control of these populations, the natives were distinguished as inferior human beings mainly due to their different cultural practices as well as not being white (Henry, 2007). As Europeans encountered
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