Race is a Made-Up Label

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I need to say this:

Race has been used to divide and separate people for millennia, but the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.

We are one human race. Our species, Homo sapiens, evolved in Africa.

Although the concept of race science – this idea that humankind is divided into separate and unequal  races – has been debunked, race still determines people’s perceptions, opportunities, and experiences.

Race is a human construct, used to perpetuate the notion that white people (who descended from Africa) are somehow superior.

Since we made up racial categories, maybe we can make up new categories that function better. Or, maybe we can just embrace each other as human beings.


Posted in Associate Blog, News

15 responses to “Race is a Made-Up Label

  1. New categories? I think there are some “old” categories that still work well: Child of God or American for example. Maybe that is too simplistic for some. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned or just naive. I wonder every time that I complete a new physician’s patient form why there is a question about race. I do understand that some ethnic groups are more prone than others to have a particular condition, but couldn’t the doctor discuss any questions with the patient without the patient having to commit on paper, sight unseen? When “Other” is one of the choices, I sometimes wonder if I should select that with a notation that I am a Russian-Irish American. I am certainly not trivializing the injustice that people of color still experience

  2. Colette,
    Wasn’t it Martin Luther King who said he dreamt of a life in a land where we are judged by our character instead of the color of our skin? I think this would be a good place to start.
    Appreciate your definition of race and attempting to educated people about the origins of human life. Makes me wonder why we have white icons of Jesus.

  3. Right on, Colette! We need to get this into our heads: there is only one race: the HUMAN race, the human species, in all its glorious diversity. We celebrate the diversiy of all the other species in nature (roses, dogs, trees, plants, butterflies, etc.). What is it about our species that we had to invent superior and inferior to diminish our appreciation for our diversity?

  4. “Race” is a human, social construct designed by us white folks because of all the ways we have benefited, and continue to benefit, from it. And this is our biggest blind spot.
    Thank you, Colette.

  5. Believe it or not, I was thinking this exact thought today. There is just one race, the human race. Some of us have a little less melanin in our skin. As an American of Italian descent, I have done a bit of research about my ancestors and their trip to this country. When my ancestors and other immigrants from Italy first reached these shores (especially those of us from the south of Italy) we were classified as people of color. I recently read a New York Times story on how, when, and why that changed. It involved a mass lynching and an uproar from Italy, resulting in the first Columbus Day. Personally, I have stopped marking the Caucasian box on forms. I check other and write in American of Italian descent. Maybe next time I will just write in human. In any case, I stand with my sisters and brothers of color in their demand for justice and equality. It is long past time that we toss aside these categorizations.

  6. A proud day for you Collette. You always say things just right. Thank y ou very much. Sister Diane Traffas

  7. Thank you so much Colette for your reflection on race. We are the human race and no other. If we only would let that think in maybe we can attent to do better. Peace, Alicia

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