Race, Culture, History
Raceand culture are two terms in sociology that are given much focus innumerous studies. The main reason to this is that these two conceptsaffect everybody. It affects our individual actions as well asinternationally. In other words, race and culture help shape humanhistory, they help shape each of us and we also modify them. Hence,it is only important to gain a good understanding of these two terms.In view of this need, this essay will discuss the changes in theconcept of what race is through time from the ancient up to thepresent. It will also discuss the distinction between the two termsand how power and privilege affect them.
Humanity’sconcept of race continuously changes through time. Accordingly,during the ancient times in Egypt, Egyptian with white skinconsidered the darker once to be the descendants of Ish, while thelatter considered the former as the degraded descendants of Arvad( Gossett, 1997). What is clear therefore from the ancient timesis that the concept of race relied of religious beliefs as to theinterpretation of the difference in skin tone and differences inbehavior. This perception resulted in struggle for power betweendifferent races – one race thinking that is more superior or moreprivileged than the other hence the many wars. Before the 19thcentury most of the different cultures in the world especially theEuropean cultures thought of race constitute distinct and immutabletype of species. The categorization of these species is more on thephysical features such as the skin tone, body constitution, mentalcapacities, and temperament. Hence race has been a reason for manyrules and laws existent during those times which resulted to thepersecution of other “species,” particularly the black and thebrown colored species. Accordingly, the black species are consideredto have low mental capacities and are good as slaves, they are in noway in equal footing with the white species. This un-equal perceptionbetween the species resulted to what we call now as slavery –something that the majority of us, now, considers inappropriate.Nevertheless, after the 19thcentury as rapid change in the perception of race occurred evenresulting to great wars and the abolition of slavery. Accordingly,the categorization of different species was removed, people ofdifferent colors and physical features where slowly acknowledge bythe whites to be of the same kind – they are also humans – andthe blacks and brown people have also slowly revived from theirperception of themselves – that they are humans too ad thereforedeserve every right and privilege as any other human of differentcolors do (Ballard, 2002). Nevertheless, racism is still taking placetoday. Since the invention of modern science our view of race changedcompletely. Through science we have realized that the entre humanfamily is an entirely the same species and that we have descendedfrom lower form of species. The discovery and understanding of theDNA however, also resulted into the taxonomic or phenotypiccategorization of groups of individuals within the human family.Nevertheless, the previous factors for determining the race of acertain group of people from the ancient up to the present are stillused collectively (London Home Office, 2001).
Itshould be pointed out however, that culture does not equate to race.To give an example of this, the United States of America is composedof different cultures – the Hispanics, the African, and the Asians.All these races have their own ethnic cultures that are distinct foreach of their race, nevertheless, when they have migrated to theUnited States and have borne their children there they have adaptedthe American culture, particularly he American culture about theAmerican Dream – it is basically why they went here in the firstplace, except for the Africans who were brought in the US via theslave trade (von Vacano, 2011). Hence, the terms African American,Sino-American, etc. were created to emphasize that they are fromdifferent race but they adapted to the American culture. Culture isbasically the ways in which a person behaves with respect or herbeliefs and traditions – it is the way we think and act. The majordifference between race and culture is that the former is passed downgenetically, while the latter socially (Ballard, 2002).
Thehistory of power and privilege can influence contemporary culturesand races. Accordingly, a race in power can have the opportunity tosuppress a culture or eliminate an entire race. Such is the case withthe rice in power of the Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Inother words, since birth rate (and there genetics in the context ofthe Darwinian concept of evolution) can be controlled then the numberof the population for a particular race can be increased ordecreased. The social interaction, such as the prohibition oftraditional events could hinder the passing of cultures of theparents to their offspring putting an end to the parents’ culture(Winfield,2007).
Understandingwhat are and the roles of race and culture in the shaping of humanhistory can help us – the entire human family – to collaboratewith each other. Such understanding can help us better avoid theerrors of the past and create a more united human civilization. Whilethe concepts of race and culture are different from each other, theycan become instrument for persecution as well as for establishinggoodwill.
Ballard,R. (2002). Race, Ethnicity and Culture. Retrieved from:<http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/savifadok/283/1/racecult.pdf>.
Gossett,T. F. (1997).  Race: The History of an Idea inAmerica. Retrieved from:<http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/467710?uid=3738824&uid=2453991295&uid=2&uid=3&uid=60&sid=21103779648617>.
LondonHome Office (2001). Building Cohesive Communities: a report of theministerial group on public order and community cohesion. Retrievedfrom:<http://resources.cohesioninstitute.org.uk/Publications/Documents/Document/DownloadDocumentsFile.aspx?recordId=94&file=PDFversion>.
vonVacano, D. (2011). The Color of Citizenship: Race, Modernity andLatin American/Hispanic Political Thought. Retrieved from:<http://books.google.com.ph/books/about/The_Color_of_Citizenship.html?id=hjsjyJhSepoC&redir_esc=y>.
Winfield,A.G. (2007). Eugenicsand education in America: Institutionalized racism and theimplications of history, ideology, and memory.Retrieved from:<http://repository.lib.ncsu.edu/ir/bitstream/1840.16/4234/1/etd.pdf>.