What defines race? Is it skin color, bloodline, maybe it’s where you are born?
“To write about race is to exclude virtually nothing” Matthew Frye Jacobson says in his book Whiteness of a Different Color.
Race is a word with many meanings and a substantial amount of history behind it. Over time the meaning of race has evolved to a certain extent in the sense of the aspects being used to help define it. There is no right or wrong definition. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has three different meanings for race each one using different categories to help you categorize it. This proves to us that even today race is and can be interpreted in many different ways. When I think of race I consider bloodlines and physical traits. As a member of a family where everyone looks different but has physical similarities that connect us I feel physical traits are an aspect of race. But I’ve always questioned what about the many people that are not just one race? People may descend from one classified race on a checklist but are made up of a few different races. I myself have Native American, Irish and Black make-up in my bloodline. What does that make me or should I just be considered Black? This black studies course has opened my eyes to the reality that when race was first thought up there were no interracial relationships. People of one bloodline would mate with the people that were the same as them. It was not until eras like slavery when women were being raped and impregnated by men of white races; birthing bi-racial babies
Throughout history race has been used as social profiling, using skin-tone as a way to classify people. When Many people can be similar skin-tones and not share the same bloodline. According to Race from Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellecutal History how and when skin color and physical characteristics became choices for racial outlining is a major question in history that has never been settled.
Leslie Harris teacher of US and African American history at Emory University speaks on African Americans in New York City from 1626-1863. She states that by the seventeen century New York City had the largest black population then any North American city in the United States. Slavery in New York City had a huge impact on race in the sense of the changes from race being seen using science, kinship or bloodlines to physical characteristics and social class. The concept of skin-tone being a way to define whether people were superior or inferior in race steams from the Europeans. They believed civilized people with European ancestry and lighter skin were superior to those of non-European ancestry who were normally of a darker skin complexion. Since African slaves were being brought over to New York City by the Dutch and Europeans the same rules were being followed and transitioned in the US. By the time of civil war many blacks migrated outside of New York City to have better opportunities and survival. The New York City draft riot of 1863 was the last event before the ending of slavery, this was when president Abraham Lincoln announced the Declaration of Emancipation which would take effect January 1 1863 freeing all slaves in states or regions rebelling against the union.
Race still has an effect on society today because some people are very close minded to change. Whites did benefit from slavery and racism in the past but now I feel blacks have just taken on a burden most of us honestly did not live through. We create divides within our own people in the end. If we as a people thought highly of ourselves and stop blaming any group for our circumstances today and take ownership that maybe we are a bit prejudice against our own people we would go further.
Race. (2005). In Iberia and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Retrieved from http://ccny-proxy1.libr.ccny.cuny.edu/login?url=http://www.credoreference.com/entry/abcibamrle/race
Race. (2007) In Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Retrieved from
Race. (2001) In Encyclopedia of American Cultural And Intellectual History. Retrieved from
The New York City Draft Riots of 1863 .Harris Leslie, M.In the Shadows of Slavery: 1926-1863. Retrieved from
African-Americans in New York City, 1626-1863. Harris Leslie, M. In the Shadows of Slavery: 1926-1863. Retrieved from http://history.emory.edu/newsletter01/newsl01/african.htm