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Race and Ethnicity Essay

Until now talk of “race” and “ethnicity” still remains a sensitive issue and despite many attempts, discrimination still exists in our modern society. But, on the throes of a multiracial decade, we might be on track to finally understand that race is really a social creation. The website Race: Are We So Different? (http://www. understandingrace. org/home. html) helps shed light into this issue by providing interactive programs, like the Human Variation Quiz, that make it easier for people to understand the “race issue” in layman’s terms.

After taking the quiz, it became clear to me that, yes, race is just embedded in our society and cannot be traced to our genetics or lineage. It gives out facts that correct our idea of what defines race. They tell us that, say, physical qualities that can be attributed to genetics cannot be categorized into the three or four races that people today recognize. Rather, study of our DNA even shows that there might be more genetic differences between two Latin Americans than between a Latin American and a Caucasian American.

The documentary Race: The Power of Illusion also shows this when during a DNA workshop, led by forensic expert Scott Bronson, a group of teenagers from different lineages found out that they have more in common with other people from other “races” than their own. As Peter Wade mentions in his book Race and Ethnicity in Latin America (1997), biologically speaking, race does not exist (Wade 13). It is, therefore, a socially-constructed idea that actually changes with time.

Most importantly, the quiz shows that if we track down our DNA to one source it can be traced to a human community that settled in Africa 100,000 years ago, showing that everyone of Earth comes from one community, one people. The problem that we should look into now is how as a society we can change this idea of different races into an understanding of one race. Scholars say that it involves a huge “paradigm shift”, like how humans began to see the world as round than flat. What I say is, no matter how big it is I believe we are definitely ready.


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