Race As A Social Construct

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The concept of race is an ancient construction through which a single society models all of mankind around the ideal man. This idealism evolved from prejudice and ignorance of another culture and the inability to view another human as equal. The establishment of race and racism can be seen from as early as the Middle Ages through the present. The social construction of racism and the feeling of superiority to people of other ethnicities, have been distinguishably present in European societies as well as America throughout the last several centuries. The beginnings of racial difference can be traced back to the Age of Exploration, during which England was expanding its trading routes and was highly involved with trade in Africa. The English traders noticed distinguishing differences between themselves and the African people, both in physical appearance and cultural primitiveness. It was not until the 18th century when the word race began to enter languages and vocabularies, and this idea of a difference between peoples was prodded further into existence through the work of Carolus Linnaeus. Linnaeus composed a list of subspecies of human beings based on racial differences. There were several other scientists, such Georges Cuvier and Charles Darwin, as who created subspecies of man. Social Darwinism, alluded to the concept that eventually one greater subspecies of man would prevail and be the most elite of all of human kind. These lists often categorized the order of species with the white, European man at the top of the list and the darker skinned, African man at the bottom. An example of a concept of categorization was the Great Chain of Being, through which all things, including man and the subspecies of man, are given ... ... middle of paper ... ...ground or where they are located in the world, it is ignorant to put these differences up as a way to distinguish one people from another, or to say that one race has greater hierarchal significance than another. These constructions provide insight into how people have come to see one another and can also help to see ways through which avoiding racism in modern society may one day be possible. Works Cited Marks, Jonathan. “Great Chain of Being.” In Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, ed. John H. Moore, Detroit: Macmillan Reference and Thompson Gale, 2008. Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. Boston: Little, Brown & Company Ltd., 1989. Shaheen, Jack G. “Real Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.” Annals of Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 588, July 2003. “A Savage Legacy”, Racism: A History, 2007.

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