Taylon W. Crume
ANTH 310/PAS 368
Dr. Y Jones
In the beginning of his text Race Peter Wade immediately grabs the audience’s attention by presenting an exercise where you are given the opportunity to explain and think about your own perception of race and what it means to be “racist.” Later in the text Wade describes how he yearns for the non-agreeable consensus of what people actually come up with. Since we are all different and come from different places it is expected and a given that our own definition and social perception of race, racism, and identity is different. There is no solid way to produce a coherent, conceptual definition of what race is, so the easiest way to combat this is to think of something that doesn’t challenge the analytical theories of social science while also keeping the definition vague.
When I tried Wade’s exercise with a few of my peers (some of who were White, Asian, and Native American) I got a plethora of positive and negative connotations towards a concrete definition of what race/racism is. I had a few connoted “heritage, unity, hearth” kind of words from a few of my peers. On the other side, I heard negatively connoted words like separation and division which really flipped the ball game as to what the exercise even is. I think that this was a great learning opportunity for my peers as well as myself on the fact that we all have our own definitions and perceptions of race and racism because we are all different and face different stigmatisms and prejudices from society.
After looking up race and ethnicity in the Google search bar I found that the results of that search reflected most all of the values and main points Wade discussed in the first chapter. In said chapter, Wade talked about how there was no real definition of race and that it was basically socially constructed throughout history. What I took notice of while I was looking through the search was the fact that there were multiple pictures of different ethnic groups of people all in the same picture like a big happy family. I also took note of the tremendous number of bar, pie, and distribution charts which basically described the amount of different race groups in America, the distribution of said races and more socio-economic related issues around the country. I think that what really struck me about the search was the fact that everything was so similar, yet so different in terms to what race and ethnicity was. Instead of getting pictures of individuals and getting an explanation of what that exact race and ethnicity that person is, I was presented with multiple definitions of what prejudice is and how it affects society.
I think that the results are just a capitalization to the fact that no one knows what race is. The initial idea that was presented was that a true definition between race and ethnicity cannot be found. There were multiple diagrams and charts that seemed to struggle finding a solid definition of what each are. In the first chapter, Wade introduced the theory that most of the reason why there are so many definitions and origins of what “race” is the main result of there being multiple philosophers with different viewpoints on what race is. There was one philosopher that thought that race was strictly biological and had to deal with the physical traits of what someone looked like. There was another philosopher that made the claim that race was socially constructed for the sole fact that it was a market system. Since race is viewed as a market system it explains how racism and the construction of race limits the opportunities socially and economically.