Topics: African American, Race, Human skin color Pages: 4 (1281 words) Published: December 2, 2013

James Baldwin once said, “I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am also so much more than that. So are we all.” When the subject of race comes up, I feel like that quote is very meaningful. According to class lecture, race is an arbitrary social classification of clearly bounded categories based on skin color which corresponds to no biological reality. To be able to understand race today, a person should have a background on the history of race. According to the American Anthropological Association, by the 1600s, English colonists had established a system of indentured servitude that included both Europeans and Africans. But by the time of Bacon’s Rebellion the status of Africans began to change. Servants who once had an opportunity for freedom following servitude were relegated to a life of permanent slavery in the colonies. Thomas Jefferson was influential in the idea of race with a biological and social hierarchy. He stated that, “blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind." Not only did people begin to base their opinions on Thomas Jefferson’s statement, but when Carolus Linnaeus developed a biological classification system and the German scientist Johann Blumenbach introduced a race-based classification of humans, the concept of race expanded and whites saw themselves as superior.

I feel that even though race is so deeply embedded into our lives, and it also appears to be the natural order of things, it is not a useful way to talk about human variation. Skin color alone does not provide any reliable information about at person’s race, culture, or susceptibility to disease. Ryan A. Brown and George J. Armelagos in the review, Apportionment of Racial Diversity, makes a good point by saying, “A single trait such as skin color will result in a classification system that is easily...
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