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Race as a Social Construct

Autor:   •  October 7, 2018  •  Essay  •  704 Words (3 Pages)  •  151 Views

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Samantha Sztym

Sociology 265

Kristen Lavelle

15 March, 2018                        Race as a Social Construct

The main question of this predicament is, “What is race?”, is extremely flawed due to the fact that no fixed definition of race actually exists. According to the article that we read for class, What Scientists Mean When They Say ‘Race’ Is Not Genetic; by Jaqueline Howard, states that “The concept of race in such research is “problematic at best and harmful at worst” (Howard). When you first see a person, you already assume their race because of their skin color, hair type, or facial characteristics. This puts these people into groups instead of classifying them as individuals, taking away the uniqueness of a person.

The meaning of social construct changes all the time. The first census was in 1790, with only 3 options to choose from. The census changed it options almost every 10 years, giving more and more choices to choose from. It wasn’t until 2000, the census allowed a person to choose more than on category.

Race is not in essence to social biology because of what one looks like. Each person has their own definition of race and they base it off of how they identify themselves personally. Race has no biological grounding, “because there is 8.6 times more genetic variation between any given individual on the planet and another individual, than there is between the populations they belong to” (D&E 19). This means that race doesn’t exist on a genetic level.

Some of the most intensely held ideas about race and racial disparities comes from our athletic ability and ones’ belief about sports.  But, does race prove how fast you can run or how high you can jump? Going off of the topic we talked about in class, involving the discussion that when thinking of a specific sport, you automatically pair a certain type of person with it. For example, when you think basketball, you pair an African American with it. The movie “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992) is a perfect example of this.  Billy, a former Tulane basketball player, who makes his living by hustling others who play street basketball. They assume he cannot play good because he is white. Billy never degrades his race when joining in on pickup games; he just allows his opponents, most of whom are black, to wrongly believe they have a expected gain over him due to his race and style.  Although this is a movie, it is a perfect example of society today. People judge one another, which leads to more stereotypes and causes problems in today’s society. While, “in the 1920s and 1930s, basketball was thought of as a “Jews Game.” (D&E 21). The changing of this racial composition of basketball has to do with the change of inner cities. This is due to the fact that basketball in known as an inner-city game and can be played nearly anywhere. As African Americans migrated north, kicking the Jews out, they took over the game as well.


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