What is Race?

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What is Race?

            Over the years, scholars have evaluated the concept of race across the globe, each identifying distinct aspects of the issue. Race is a variation in phenotype, created through the forces of natural and other evolutionarily selective processes. While some consider it as an adaaptive association between a person and the environment, others consider it as conformity to the practices that have existed throughout history that have evolved into physical differences (Graves 2004). Anthropologists have sought to understand the concept of race from a biological perspective based on the perception that some people have classified race as merely culture or ethnicity. Different nation states have experienced social unity and division based on skin color making it a significant feature of the human body. Race has been used to steer social interaction across the years in superficial and multifaceted ways (Sarich 2018). However, a distinction between the genotype and phenotype assists in understanding the process of evolution, the development of race, as well as the inheritance of various traits. An exploration of the relationship between the genotype and phenotype is likely to reveal the difference between variations within a population, and variations between populations.

            Biology and genetics have enabled people from different disciplines to understand the importance of the phenotype and genotype in relation to human race. Genotype describes the entirety of genetic information that constructs a human being. It also refers to the differences that are visible between a specialized group of human beings or species. References to a specific genotype direct a person to the gene of interest as well as the person’s amalgamation of alleles. A human being’s genotype has been considered as an instrumental factor in the acquisition of phenotypes along with other conditions. Consequently, a phenotype is considered as the composition of a person’s observable traits, features, and characteristics, that are associated with their developmental, morphological, and physiological features. The expression of a human genetic code results in the expression of its phenotype (Hulse 1963). Scholars have established a genotype-phenotype distinction that has revealed the mechanisms of heredity and the products of heredity among human beings. Individuals that possess identical genotypes are likely to vary in phenotypes. Such information has been instrumental in shaping the notion that human genetic dissimilarity exits only between individuals and cannot be assigned based on a specific population or group.

            The human species demonstrates a distinct variation in genes from person to person due to variations in DNA. The genetic differences between people from a similar species have enhanced biological flexibility and adaptation, and the survival of various populations within a changing environment. While this is the case, genetic variations have increased over the years reflecting a difference in phenotypic traits and other superficial traits based on a myriad of factors (Osborne et al. 1978). Most of the issues revolve around social practices such as mating, and the genetic distribution that underpins the ascription of race to a universal biological group. The perception that people come in divergent varieties created room for the construction of race as a subgroup within the human species. Initially, race was considered a taxonomic system for classifying sub-species. However, its application from a universal biological perspective could not be applied to different kinds of people. The lack of any apparent biological principle of what comprised a race of humans was complicated by the individual differences between people’s observable traits, features, and characteristics.

            People within local populations possess the largest level of genetic variation that is contingent on the size and nature of immigration and conquest. Immigration has made it possible for people to meet and associate, increasing the likelihood of expanding the human species. Species defines a group of people or living organisms that possess the ability to exchange genes. Humans are considered species, as they can produce fertile offspring through the process of sexual reproduction (Hunt-Morgan 2011). Initially, classification of race distinguished between classically defined cultures. Such cultures could be identified in the form of skin color, hair texture, and shape of the nose. However, it lacked any objective scientific method for assigning the human population clear-cut racial differences due to the imprecision involved (Williams 2016). Human beings are considered a visual species, which renders them viable of all forms of analysis and distinction. This is reflected in the morphological differences that they possess that determine their reproductive output and continuity.

            Various populations often identify a group of people who are genetically similar to them forming associations that will lead to continuity. While this creates a population with a unified culture, it is likely that any members of a foreign community will find it difficult to deviate from locally-defined conformist behaviors. However, during the process of routine trade, people encountered visibly different humans that led to the establishment of a classification system of superior and inferior races. Kant argued that people with lighter skin and hair pigment were  superior to those with darker skin (Jablonski 2014). Nonetheless, arguments against such a position suggest that association and accommodation through trade led to the establishment of culture that generalized the category of race. For this reason, the inconsistent application of the term race cannot refer to the complex variations between individuals within a population and between populations. Nonetheless, genetic variation between groups is widening owing to a proliferation in the number of genotypes and phenotypes due to inter-group mating.

References Cited

Graves, Joseph L, 2004. The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. New York: Dutton.

Hulse, Frederick S, 1963. The Human Species; An Introduction To Physical Anthropology. New York: Random House.

Hunt- Morgan, Thomas 2011. Evolution and Genetics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Jablonski, Nina G, 2014. Living Color – The Biological and Social Meaning of Skin Color. Berkeley, University of California Press

Osborne, R. Travis, Clyde E. Noble, Nathaniel Weyl, and C. D. Darlington 1978. Human Variation: The Biopsychology of Age, Race, and Sex. New York: Academic Press.

Sarich, Vincent. 2018. Race: The Reality of Human Differences. London: Taylor and Francis.

Williams, Johnny E 2016. Decoding Racial Ideology in Genomics. Lanham: Lexington Books.

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