10 interesting facts about race and skin color

Posted by Ria, 15 Sep 15

1. The concept of human races appears to be deeply rooted in present-day. Looking back, ancient Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims did not have racial categories. Instead they used religion, class, language, etc. to categorize people.

2. There is only one human race, says Biology. Results from the The Human Genome Project proved that our DNA doesn't determine race. Geneticists are not able to give a genetic definition of race. Human races are not ordinary genetic groups but socially constructed groupings. Much as scientist may use physical features like skin color, hair, facial features, among other physical traits to distinguish people from various races (say Africans from Europeans; East Asians from South Asians), all humans belong to the same hominid species: Homo sapiens (Latin for “wise man” ).

3. According to research, kids as young as six months notice race and judge others based on race. Shown pictures of people from various race, 6 month old infants tend to stare significantly longer at pictures of faces that are a different race from their parents. This shows that they find them to be 'out of the ordinary.'

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4. In the U.S., most people who identify as African American have some European ancestors whereas a great number of those who identify as European American have some African or Native American ancestors.

5. The first time the U.S. census categorized people by race was in 1790. Ever since, the racial classifications have change from census to census. The first census only had 3 racial categories and the racial categorizations have changed 24 times since; with the recent decennial census, in 2010, having 63 likely race categories.

6. According to most anthropologists and biologists, race is a political categorization that has its roots in slavery and colonialism. And as the politics and science of race fluctuated so did the way in which the census asked about and classified race changed from census to census. The number of races have increased and so has the categorization in terms of who belongs to which race; based on political goals.

7. Race is so much more than skin color and doesn't cause the diversity in skin color among human beings. Scientists hold the belief that geography and ultraviolet rays do. For instance, we would expect the darker-skinned natives of Alaska and Canada to be light skinned since they live in northern regions with long periods of darkness. But according to Scientists, their dark skin is attributed to the higher levels of ultraviolet rays they receive - which is reflected from the surface of snow and ice during the summer - and the vitamin D they get from eating seal and fish.

8. Different countries in the world assign race in different ways. In Japan and the U.S., race is fixed and determined at birth. However, in Brazil, race is more flexible and is based on many factors such as the race of the parents, physical appearance influenced by genetics and environment, and socioeconomic status. The race of a person isn't fixed and can change as they become wealthier or poorer.

9. The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as a social category recognized by the United States and does not attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. The Census Bureau recognizes five categories of race: White (people with origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa,) Black or African American (Africa), American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The census also includes an Hispanic ethnic category. It is an ethnic category rather than a race category because the Latino community includes many races, such as white, black, Native American, Asian, and mixed.

10. When filling out the 2010 census, U.S. President Barrack Obama could have checked both black and white, or “some other race,” since he is born of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas. Instead he checked only the box for black/African American said a White House spokesperson.

3 responses to "10 interesting facts about race and skin color"

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  1.   Freyir says:
    Posted: 10 Jan

    Allow me to challenge fact nr 2. In a positivistic approach to science, we are biologically no different from animals. So, seen in that light, racial differences is a fact that we have deal with. The social constructivist approach is false, and will not lead to further enlightment of humanity. Race was is simply natures way, of adapting us to different environments, and this can be registered in our DNA. In 2013 the Geneticist David Reich, discovered, that Asians and White Europeans do have 2,5 % dna from neanderthals, something he did not find in Africans. IMO, a true anti racist, is capable of embracing racial differences, instead of denying them.

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    • Nikkikins says:
      Posted: 10 Jan

      I agree with you completely. Geography and science are the elements which are fully responsible for why each of us look the way we do, yet were are all the same species. If only, people could accept that.

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  2.   Cocoabrwn85 says:
    Posted: 25 Sep 15

    So much to say about this topic. From a scientific perspective, I believe that the categorized studies and labels of people's ethnicities is necessary -- for purposes of developmental research and understanding. However, from a sociological perspective, as noted in the article, "race" is perpetuated to maintain the status quo/socioeconomic hierarchies of the world -- smh. I guess we just don't have enough to do, still, lol. Well, in the next 200 years or so, I suppose most people will look more and more "similar," then we'll find some other ways of labeling each other.

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