How do you define "race"??? - Mothering Forums

How do you define "race"???

moonyoungi's Avatar moonyoungi (TS)
06:19 PM Liked: 5
#1 of 18
07-22-2008 | Posts: 283
Joined: Jul 2007
This post is just my rambling thought stemming from reading another thread. So if anyone can give their thoughts, insights, comments on these questions, jump right in. My intention is purely philosophical.

About race, ethinicity and culturazation. If a person of Asian descent grows up in America with "white" parents, What's his/her "race?"

Does "race" purely depend on skin color? What does "race" depend on?

Can negative stereotypes of certain group of people be true at times?? Can we ever generalize?

How does ethnicity differ from race?

Is the term, "race" helpful? Why or why not?

Can we celebrate diversity of cultures around the globe, without being divisive (us vs. other mentality)? How do we achieve this?

Just questions in my mind that I don't have answers to.
TIA
MetasMom's Avatar MetasMom
12:58 AM Liked: 0
#2 of 18
07-23-2008 | Posts: 80
Joined: Feb 2008
Thanks for asking this!

"Race" is void of any biological meaning. The differences within the races are bigger than the differences between the races. "Race" is just an attempt to use a social term in a scientific way. I am highly allergic to this.

Example: "I am biracial" is untrue, no matter who says it. We all have all kinds of genetic information from more than two "races". So everyone is multiracial, making it meaningless.

If you wanna know how someone looks, just ask that and don't beat around the bush with "race".
somerset's Avatar somerset
04:27 AM Liked: 0
#3 of 18
07-23-2008 | Posts: 96
Joined: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonyoungi View Post
About race, ethinicity and culturazation. If a person of Asian descent grows in America with "white" parents, What's his/her "race?"
Well, my husband grew up with white parents in an all white area and he identifies as Korean. He could never assimilate into society because his peers didn't allow him.

Quote:
Does "race" purely depend on skin color? What does "race" depend on?
Race is not just within, but it is also without. It's not just color, people like Lena Horne and Soledad O'Brien shows us that, but its about how you are accepted and where. Lena Horne could probably have "passed" with just a bit of lighter makeup back in the day but she chose to self-identify as black. And because she did whites didn't question her and black agreed, adhering to the one drop rule.

When I first saw Soledad I thought there was someone in her background as black. I believe she self identifies as black but not just as black since her father is caucasian. It's a different time and a different world so the other world doesn't press her on it.

So, to define race it's not just about heritage and background but also what people are willing to accept you as. Some Asians will see a hapa and won't necessarily include them inside their group but think of them as white.

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Can negative stereotypes of certain group of people be true at time?? Can we ever generalize?
I think stereotyping and generalizing are the signs of a lazy mind. Stereotypes and generalizations are usually true for a small percentage of people in any particular group but people like to expand them out to the group so they won't have to get to know anyone as an individual or take the time out to learn something new.

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Can we celebrate diverty of culture of the globe, without being divisie (us vs. other mentality)? How do we achieve this?
I think it's something work striving for. I've only been raised in American culture and I know that what makes up the fabric of this country is what we've been able to appropriate from other cultures. Our words, our music, our clothing is an amalgamation of shrunk down british culture patched up with things from Asia, Africa, and native Americans. I think we are as culturally diverse as the hottest trend. Right now, a lot of kids come into my job looking for Manga and Anime. They know the Japanese or Korean lyrics to the songs and some have self taught themselves the languages just by watching the videos. They want to eat the food, they want to learn more about the cultures. It will be theirs until a few of those things become ours through assimilation.

But I still don't believe in world unity. Humans need to group up; we have an us vs. them mentality and until aliens come down to give us all a common enemy we will quarter ourselves off.

That's just my take. Sorry for being so verbose.
moonyoungi's Avatar moonyoungi (TS)
06:16 AM Liked: 5
#4 of 18
07-23-2008 | Posts: 283
Joined: Jul 2007
[/quote]
But I still don't believe in world unity. Humans need to group up; we have an us vs. them mentality and until aliens come down to give us all a common enemy we will quarter ourselves off.

[/QUOTE]

aliens...and they probably will too...haha
eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy
11:30 PM Liked: 16
#5 of 18
07-23-2008 | Posts: 15,067
Joined: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonyoungi View Post
About race, ethinicity and culturazation. If a person of Asian descent grows up in America with "white" parents, What's his/her "race?"
I've never met a person of Asian descent who grew up with causasian parents and *didn't* self-identify as Asian. I'm not even sure how that would happen, unless the child was mixed and appeared very "white," *and* the parents either avoided the issue entirely or acknowledged the child as "white." Even then, I'm not sure that it could happen.

Quote:
Does "race" purely depend on skin color? What does "race" depend on?
If race depends purely on skin color... Yeah, that'd explain why I'm so confused. Of course it doesn't. I've known "white" people who were darker skinned than I (and who had less caucasian features than I do), and "black" people who were lighter skinned than I (and who had less negroid features than I do). Skin color has remarkably little bearing on it. Race, then, being a social construct, depends largely on self-identification. (I, being a freak who is especially enamored of crossing lines and confusing people, do my best to look as mixed as possible most of the time.

Quote:
Can negative stereotypes of certain group of people be true at times?? Can we ever generalize?
Yes, No. Any stereotype of any group of people is going to be true at times; That in no way, shape, or form justifies generalizations. Furthermore, despite the fact that you prefaced this post by saying that your intention was purely philosophical, you should be aware that questions which can in any way be misinterpreted as "offensive" will be by someone, and that it could get you into a whole host of trouble. Not that I'm offended, mind; I recognize a question when I see it.

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How does ethnicity differ from race?
Race is typically used to describe a set of physical characteristics, while ethicity refers to social structure/grouping.

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Is the term, "race" helpful? Why or why not?
The word is a word; I think that in most cases, it is helpful but lately the lines are so blurry that it's becoming meaningless. It doesn't help that it's been so often misused.

Quote:
Can we celebrate diversity of cultures around the globe, without being divisive (us vs. other mentality)? How do we achieve this?
Good question! Are we capable of it? Is it even desireable, if the end result is homogenization? I'd like to think that we are capable of it... but if it would necessitate a homogenized, "melting pot" mentality I'm not sure that it's something we should be pursuing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetasMom View Post
"Race" is void of any biological meaning. The differences within the races are bigger than the differences between the races. "Race" is just an attempt to use a social term in a scientific way. I am highly allergic to this.

Example: "I am biracial" is untrue, no matter who says it. We all have all kinds of genetic information from more than two "races". So everyone is multiracial, making it meaningless.

If you wanna know how someone looks, just ask that and don't beat around the bush with "race".
I disagree that the term is meaningless. It definately means something, regardless of the lack of acknowledgement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somerset View Post
So, to define race it's not just about heritage and background but also what people are willing to accept you as. Some Asians will see a hapa and won't necessarily include them inside their group but think of them as white.
Yes and no; I think, though, that this is part of the reason that you find so many more people today who identify as "mixed" or "multiracial" than you did 20 years ago. Being excluded is part of it, but being included is just as important. To use your example: If a hapa is rejected by both whites and Asians, how will they self-identify? If they're accepted by one and not the other, does that somehow negate their "other-ness?" Or does it just mean that they're in denial?

Quote:
I think it's something work striving for. I've only been raised in American culture and I know that what makes up the fabric of this country is what we've been able to appropriate from other cultures. Our words, our music, our clothing is an amalgamation of shrunk down british culture patched up with things from Asia, Africa, and native Americans. I think we are as culturally diverse as the hottest trend. Right now, a lot of kids come into my job looking for Manga and Anime. They know the Japanese or Korean lyrics to the songs and some have self taught themselves the languages just by watching the videos. They want to eat the food, they want to learn more about the cultures. It will be theirs until a few of those things become ours through assimilation.
To be clear-- are you saying that you believe that cultural appropriation is a good and/or necessary result of living in a culturally diverse society? Or one which has access to other cultures?

Quote:
But I still don't believe in world unity. Humans need to group up; we have an us vs. them mentality and until aliens come down to give us all a common enemy we will quarter ourselves off.
When you say, "I don't believe in world unity" are you saying that you don't believe it can happen, or you don't believe it should?
moonyoungi's Avatar moonyoungi (TS)
04:29 PM Liked: 5
#6 of 18
07-24-2008 | Posts: 283
Joined: Jul 2007
so race is some mixture of self-identification and and what others will accept you as...........

What's the importance of identifying "race" for yourself? Racial term, such as white, black, Asian, middle eastern don't really tell me much about somebody, because there are so much variation within those terms.
If someone likes to indentify themselves in one of the above terms, what is the benefit to that?
I really want to know. I've been reading threads of people getting offended by color blindness and I did not really understand that. I mean I'm all for celebrating somebody's traditon, family culture, regional culture, language, because they are so interesting and fun to learn.

But color blindness, to me, is not having bias and ignorant stereotype according to what one thinks other *is*. Color blindness, to me, is being open to learn about others without having assumptions and realizing that not everyone is same in a group of people under name of race and ethnicity. Seeing them for who they are, but not trying to fit others into your mental mold according to their physical features or even someone's own self identification with racial terms such as white, black, Asian. Not to ignore or disrespect self-identification, but because those terms are vague and so broad.

Is there some opinion that see cons with color blindness as defined above?
If you see the cons, what is it? I really like to understand other people's point of view and try to understand where they are coming from.
thank you for all who posted.
You widen my understanding of people.
somerset's Avatar somerset
01:16 AM Liked: 0
#7 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 96
Joined: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
To be clear-- are you saying that you believe that cultural appropriation is a good and/or necessary result of living in a culturally diverse society? Or one which has access to other cultures?
I'm not sure whether it is good or necessary, it's just something that happens when people live side by side. People have always stolen from one another; the Roman gods are just revamped Greek gods and we eat spaghetti instead of Asian noodles. It's in our nature to roam, to learn, to teach and share and improve. It's just what we do.

Quote:
When you say, "I don't believe in world unity" are you saying that you don't believe it can happen, or you don't believe it should?
I don't think it can happen. I don't think we are capable of it although I still hope for it.

Quote:
If a hapa is rejected by both whites and Asians, how will they self-identify? If they're accepted by one and not the other, does that somehow negate their "other-ness?" Or does it just mean that they're in denial?
I think that people should just embrace otherness instead of trying to fit square pegs in round holes. I think that people should self-identify and align themselves with groups they feel best defines them but that doesn't mean that others will go along with them.

Coming from a black perspective, when I was growing up those who didn't fully embrace blackness and declaim their other half were seen as being in denial or wannabes. Our argument was whites wouldn't accept them. I'm still not sure if white people see biracials as being fully white the same way blacks think of biracials as being fully black. Look at Barack Obama, many people talk about his blackness although for a minute black people wondered if he was black enough but there I don't think there has ever been anyone who floated an idea if Obama was white enough because to them he is just black although it could easily be argued he was more white being raised by a white woman and he had more contact with his white family. Obama embraces otherness but people want to pigeonhole him into being "just black".
somerset's Avatar somerset
01:39 AM Liked: 0
#8 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 96
Joined: Jun 2006
Being African American I don't know if I have ever really had the chance to define my race for myself. I don't have the luxury of latching on to an ethnicity, tribe or nationality. I was born in this country and because of my racial heritage my race has been defined for me.

Now, I do get a chance to tweak it and modify it. One of the main reasons to adhere to the designated community is that it gives me structure. I have a past, a heritage, a people.

I don't know if I worry so much about individuals being colorblind because one can work with indivduals and discover if they are colorblind because they are trying to get deeper into who you are or if they are trying to erase you as a person. I wonder more about institutions that claim to be colorblind.
velochic's Avatar velochic
04:10 PM Liked: 200
#9 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 8,198
Joined: May 2002
It's nature vs. nurture.

Race is nature.

Culture is nurture.
AngelBee's Avatar AngelBee
04:51 PM Liked: 15
#10 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 19,261
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Great question! :
moonyoungi's Avatar moonyoungi (TS)
09:15 PM Liked: 5
#11 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 283
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Race is nature? Can you expand on this?
What about social component of racial categorization?
oetien's Avatar oetien
11:05 PM Liked: 0
#12 of 18
08-02-2008 | Posts: 1,355
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Race is not nature, it's a social concept.
If race really is nature, then mexican and philipino are the same race (but mexican is hispanic and philipino is asian, so...)
A_Random_Phrase's Avatar A_Random_Phrase
01:48 AM Liked: 273
#13 of 18
08-03-2008 | Posts: 842
Joined: Mar 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by moonyoungi View Post
This post is just my rambling thought stemming from reading another thread. So if anyone can give their thoughts, insights, comments on these questions, jump right in. My intention is purely philosophical.

About race, ethinicity and culturazation. If a person of Asian descent grows up in America with "white" parents, What's his/her "race?"

Does "race" purely depend on skin color? What does "race" depend on?

Can negative stereotypes of certain group of people be true at times?? Can we ever generalize?

How does ethnicity differ from race?

Is the term, "race" helpful? Why or why not?

Can we celebrate diversity of cultures around the globe, without being divisive (us vs. other mentality)? How do we achieve this?

Just questions in my mind that I don't have answers to.
TIA
Race. Interesting questions. The first thing that came to my mind was, "the human race." I think if we are not raised around other colors and traditions we tend to view them as strange or different. Familiarity and openness can take care of that.

I agree with a pp that other people sometimes put us into race or cultural boxes. Why can't we all just be people? After all, that's who we really are. I own a Cinderella movie (musical). At first, it startled me. The king was white. The queen was black. The son looked Asian but I think the actor's father was Mexican. After I got used to the fact that the show ignored genetics, I enjoyed it. Each actor was perfectly cast for the part s/he played.

I don't think negative stereotypes are true. For example, I've heard that Mexicans are lazy but I have known quite a few that would outwork a white person any day. I've picked up that black men desert their families/won't support them but I have known plenty of responsible black men and dead beat white men. I won't go into all of the negative stereotypes I've heard. I think all of the judgment is just plain stupid. Keeping one's culture, traditions, etc. is just fine but other than that we should look at each other and see children of God. We are all in this life together. There is too much hatred, anger, and misunderstanding.

I can't think of anything else to say. I'm sure that there are others who have posted (I haven't read the whole thread) who can say what I'm trying to say in a much more eloquent manner.
velochic's Avatar velochic
08:42 AM Liked: 200
#14 of 18
08-03-2008 | Posts: 8,198
Joined: May 2002
Well, let's take my dh for example. He is from the Middle East. In fact, he is more Caucasian than anyone because his family is from the the Caucus mountains. So his race is Caucasian. Culturally, he could not be more different than American Caucasians and he very obviously looks different as well.


My SIL still lives in the Middle East. We live in the US. Culturally, my dd is very different from her cousins in spite of the fact that racially they are the same. Likewise, dd has two friends (sisters) who were adopted from China and have been reared by 2 American parents. Racially they are Asian, but culturally they are 100% American... more like my dd culturally than dd's own blood relatives. In spite of of your racial background, you can adopt the culture of any group of people, including a religious change that results in a change of cultural influence (however your race doesn't change).

Ethnicity is a cultural distinction. I would say that X ethnic group has the culture of doing Y. The ethnicity is the group of people, the culture is the social/political/religious/etc. traits of the ethnicity. You can have several different ethnicities within a given race.

(Obviously I'm not a sociologist, so I don't know how accurate my thought are with the text book definitions.)
velochic's Avatar velochic
05:37 PM Liked: 200
#15 of 18
08-03-2008 | Posts: 8,198
Joined: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by oetien View Post
Race is not nature, it's a social concept.
If race really is nature, then mexican and philipino are the same race (but mexican is hispanic and philipino is asian, so...)
I don't understand what you are saying here at all.
oetien's Avatar oetien
06:35 PM Liked: 0
#16 of 18
08-03-2008 | Posts: 1,355
Joined: Mar 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
I don't understand what you are saying here at all.
I was talking about how race is divided. It is biological that people are born with certain looks/characteristics, but the label that people give to certain characteristic is not natural.
(sorry, my dd is talking to me, so I can't really hear myself think, I'll be back)
velochic's Avatar velochic
11:30 PM Liked: 200
#17 of 18
08-03-2008 | Posts: 8,198
Joined: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by oetien View Post
I was talking about how race is divided. It is biological that people are born with certain looks/characteristics, but the label that people give to certain characteristic is not natural.
(sorry, my dd is talking to me, so I can't really hear myself think, I'll be back)
Well, the way it is divided is a subjective decision among those who determine the demographics. It's certainly not a genetic division. When I speak of race, I'm using the social specification for it. Cultural and Ethnic distinctions are even more subjective at a much more local level.
eilonwy's Avatar eilonwy
12:30 PM Liked: 16
#18 of 18
08-04-2008 | Posts: 15,067
Joined: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Random_Phrase View Post
Race. Interesting questions. The first thing that came to my mind was, "the human race." I think if we are not raised around other colors and traditions we tend to view them as strange or different. Familiarity and openness can take care of that.
It's fine for things to be strange and/or different. In fact, I'd argue that it's important.

Quote:
I agree with a pp that other people sometimes put us into race or cultural boxes. Why can't we all just be people? After all, that's who we really are.
I can't "just be a person" when I have to be constantly aware of the ways in which I differ from the surrounding community. The freedom to "just be a person" is not afforded to those of us who are not part of the majority.

Quote:
I don't think negative stereotypes are true. For example, I've heard that Mexicans are lazy but I have known quite a few that would outwork a white person any day. I've picked up that black men desert their families/won't support them but I have known plenty of responsible black men and dead beat white men. I won't go into all of the negative stereotypes I've heard. I think all of the judgment is just plain stupid.
As I said before, all stereotypes are true sometimes; It's the generalization that's the problem.
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