Race: Anthropological and Biological Definitions
The concept of dividing people into races started as an attempt to study the biological differences of people residing in different territories and leading various lifestyles. However, further studies transferred these ideas to the level of social and cultural differences, and that has brought many contradictions to the initial idea of races. There is no denying the fact that humans living in different areas of the planet have been developing certain biological characteristics for their survival and better adaptation. Apart from variations in physical appearances, they have created their cultures and worldviews, but this is the result of different living conditions and isolation of remote territories.
In my assessment, a race is a large group of people formed in the course of the history of humankind that incorporates nations pertaining to a certain territory and sharing the same physical features. There is no single unified classification for races as there are too many contradicting and overlapping details, but still, the four most general and widely accepted racial groups are Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid, and Australoid. In biological studies, race is defined as a group or population of humans classified by various sets of heritable characteristics (such as the color of skin, eyes, and hair). It focuses on the biological variations among human beings that are predictable in large groups of people.
Anthropologists do not deny existing biological differences, but they argue the possibilities of inheriting cultural and behavioral characteristics in such large groups of people. Anthropological studies tend to separate physical and cultural traits of nations, as the connection of the latter to the shape of the skull and eyes, properties of hair and skin of a nation, and its geographical location is impossible to determine with certainty.
According to the latest research, cultural experience influences the intelligence and personality of an individual within a new group and circumstances much more than their descent. For example, children and grandchildren of immigrants already have different measurements in head shape and height from those ascribed to the race of their ancestors. The acquire characteristics more typical for the people in the new location, thus proving that racial traits are subject to change depending on the environmental conditions.
I accept the notion of racial categories as a stage in the evolution of humankind and as an approach to studying the history of human development and its classification. However, this idea proves to be oversimplified and not effective as it leaves more questions than answers and abounds with inconsistencies. Moreover, it gives rise to differentiation of people on the basis of the place of their birth and inherited characteristics, and, as a result, causes the existence of stigmas rooted in different societies towards other groups of people.
Today this concept is mostly irrelevant as borders gradually become less rigid and globalization diminishes characteristic features of nations from all the continents both in their appearances and cultures. There is no place for this outdated concept in the contemporary global society striving for inclusion and equality of all people regardless of their places of origin and physical characteristics. It should also be eliminated in the justice system as an individual’s historical background should not be considered as evidence for or against their conduct and choices.