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What is "race"? Show more Show less
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Race is one way humans classify one another. Yet, views of how humans are classified differ between person-to-person and even country-to-country. The debate of "what race is" has important - and dangerous - implications across society and between individuals.

Race is a social construct Show more Show less

Just by the fact that "race" is defined differently by so many people shows that race is a social definition not based on fixed, biological causes.
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Race is self-identified, self-determined, and subject to change

Race is a part of one's identity that only the individual has the full potential to discover, expand, and determine. As people transition through different phases of life, understand aspects of their culture, and develop new meanings of race, they can also identify their race differently.
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The Argument

The only way countries or institutions can gather statistics on race is for people to identify themselves racially. Census data and racial statistics are always based on self-identification.[1] Sometimes, people do not know how to identify themselves on the census because the census categories do not contain a person's self-identification.[2] People are free to identify with any racial group.[3] A person can identify as different races throughout their lifetime.[4] A person's self-identified race may change due to several reasons, such as learning more about their heritage or understanding race differently. Furthermore, other people cannot always identify another person's race. Many experience being identified by outsiders as a race that they themselves do not identify, such as acclaimed golfer Tiger Woods [5] or Hispanic people of lighter complexions. [6] Other racial minorities say people's perceptions of their race change as they move to different places.[7] People's personal experiences with understanding their own race over time demonstrate that race is self-identified, self-determined, and subject to change.

Counter arguments

Premises

[P1] Racial identification is determined individually. [P2] An individual's self-determination is more valid than society's identification.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] An individual's self-determination is not always valued or viable in all societies.

References

  1. https://www.census.gov/topics/population/race/about.html
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/14/u-s-census-looking-at-big-changes-in-how-it-asks-about-race-and-ethnicity/
  3. https://www.parlia.com/a/PHSMwpwzdJxfJjDQwzcfFBDjJ/people-are-allowed-to-identify-with-racial-groups-other-than-the-ones-assigned-to-them
  4. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/06/06/189305074/a-latina-teen-comes-out-as-black
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2010/may/29/tiger-woods-racial-politics
  6. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/on-being-racially-ambiguous-in-the-south_b_59d546bee4b085c51090ad2a
  7. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/06/08/462395722/racial-impostor-syndrome-here-are-your-stories

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This page was last edited on Friday, 28 Aug 2020 at 07:34 UTC

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