What is race?
Race is an ideology that says that all human populations are divided into exclusive and distinct groups; that all human populations are ranked, they are not equal. Inequality is absolutely essential to the idea of race. The other part is that the behavior of people is very much part of their biology.
And then the idea that all of this is inherited. People don’t only inherit their biological features, but they also inherit their moral and temperamental and intellectual features. And it stays with us right into the 21st century. Not only are all of these features inherited, but they are not transcendable. You can’t change. Racial populations, individual races, and individual people cannot change their race. So there’s no way in which you can transcend this identity. Once you are identified as a socially low-status race, you remain so forever.
Race wasn’t invented because it is a set of beliefs and attitudes about human variation. It has nothing to do with the biological variation itself. You can have many societies with great diversity in physical features without the idea of race. Race represents attitudes and beliefs about human differences, not the differences themselves.
Audrey Smedley is a professor of anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is author of Race in North America: Origins of a Worldview. (via howtobeterrell)
VCU though? Need to visit her.