A pseudoscientific social and political construction invented to justify colonial superiority. Race is the categorization of people based on physical features such as skin color, height, nose shape, etc. Genetically we know that there is no scientific foundation for the concept of distinct races. And yet race is real – it’s real because there are laws and cultural systems that reinforce it. It’s helpful to compare other features which may have genetic determinants but are not thought of as racial indicators – blue or brown eyes (at least, here in the US); wide hips or narrow hips, blond or brown hair. Even though these physical characteristics are noticeable and people are treated differently, we don’t think of blondes as a different “race” of humans. In fact, most of us would recoil at the notion.
The idea of race was invented by German anthropologists to justify their perceptions of people that looked different from them, and would be considered bigoted today. From the 1700s to the 1900s, many racial typologies were proposed, but Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid were three commonly recurring racial types.« Back to Glossary Index