Anonymous asked in Social ScienceAnthropology · 1 decade ago

What do we mean when we indicate a human's race?


Thanks for all the response! I love anthropology and issues about race. I got into it back in high school when I came across a book by a Mr Anthony Smith...the title escapes me now. But in his book he showed That there are three basic human races, Caucasoid, Aisiatic and *******. There are plenty of in betweens. For instance people from Malaysia have both Asiatic and ******* features.

The study of human characteristics is a very interesting study. None the less, I learned that despite our differences, we are mostly similar. The phenomena of racism is a purely cultural one.

Update 2:

Correction. the three racial types are Mongoloid, Caucasoid and *******.

10 Answers

  • Jp83
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Most people are referring to the person's physical features and what ancestor's they're related to based on appearance. In these modern times however, race is becoming less relevant. People are crossing over traditional race lines and having children together. I think in due time the word race won't mean anything because most people will be part of a lot of races.

  • 1 decade ago

    When we talk about a person's race, we are describing that person in terms of a varying number of criteria, things like ancestry, geographical origin, phenotypical characteristics, and social items.

    Traditionally, geographical origin, skin color, and language have been the primary determinants. People who have dark skin, and hold ancestry from Africa, are blacks. People who have brown skin, who speak mostly Spanish (or come from Spanish speaking homes), and hail from MesoAmerica are Hispanics. People who have brown skin, speak mostly Spanish, and come from the Iberian Peninsula are Whites.

    This classification system was not only heavily in use, but was a primary social determinant for a long span of human history, right up until the early 20th Century. It's stil used today, it's just not primary in the mainstream scientific community. There are many reasons why this system is not in use today. Most of these reasons include

    1) Phenotypical traits do not co-vary with a variety of geographical and social factors that they should co-vary with, if the race conept is valid. Many white people have "black" ears, for instance. Sticking to this classification system and trying to connect the dots of physical morphology becomes a serious juggling act.

    2) Different races are categorized with different criteria. Hispanic is a linguistic category. Black is a color. Pacific Islander is a geographic designation. Race designations seem to have been applied after certain social contructs were already in place. A historical viewpoint, taking into consideration the European colonialism, seems to support this. The fact that a single criterion cannot be applied consistently cross-race is a good clue that there is a better system for classifying people.

    3) Genetically, we find that some traits indeed co-vary among certain groups of people that have already been divided into races. About 5-15% of genetic variation in humans occurs between groups on different continents, our races. However, the remaining 95-85% occurs within these groups. Genetic evidence gives strong support that the current classification system of race is way off.

    Now, this is not to say that large groups of people cannot be classified by certain criteria (and this is not to say that they can, either). This is not to say that those criteria might co-vary along a wide spectrum, including many social and physical factors. It's just that the race-based system is fundamentally flawed. The evidence doesn't support it. And that's not surprising. This system was created hundreds of years ago, born out of a mixture of prejudice, a need to justify European global expansion, and very, very little actual science, if any. Race-based studies today are, incomprehensibly, working within that framework, using those designations. Frankly, it's embarrasing to watch. Ultimately, it's an unscientific way of approaching the question of human variation; that is, it's a method of attempting to make evidence fit a preconceived notion. It's bass-ackwards.

    Many scientists today who study human variation do so under the simple heading of populations. A population can be defined many ways, but they are defined by pre-existing similarities (or those similarities are tested before that group is considered a population), NOT the other way around.

    EDIT: It should be noted that the designations caucasoid, *******, and mongoloid are, in fact, not racial categories. They are morphological categories, but were just one attempt at using physical traits to classify race. It didn't work, because, as mentioned above, not enough other features correlated with these designations. Anthropologists today do not use these designations, not if they want to be taken seriously.

    Race is clearly a categorization strategy that incorporates both social and physical characteristics. It is also clearly flawed.

  • 1 decade ago


  • 1 decade ago

    Race has nothing to do with skin appearance, ethnic preference or check marks on a form, you can examine bones and determine race. There are four basic race groups. Caucasian, *******, Oriental and Indian/Eskimo if you will. These designations had nothing whatsoever to do with prejudice, they had to do with anthropology and attempting to categorize lineage.

    You can examine a skeleton and regardless of intra/inter breeding determine to which race that individual belong.

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  • 1 decade ago

    good question i personally put n/a on forms i fill out that arent

    nessicarily important i dont know why it shouldnt matter what my race your race or anyone elses is. there are discrimination laws to protect all beings and besides

    color of skin is sexy in every shade .

  • 1 decade ago (noun)

    People, all human beings considered as a whole

    Thesaurus: English (U.S.)


    Source(s): Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)
  • 1 decade ago

    basically we are categorizing people and most likely running certain stereo-types through our heads so that we can "understand" the person that we see before us.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Go to I can't believe your too lazy to check a dictionary.

  • ricky
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    i often tell my husband he must slow down when driving to play golf with the major.

  • 1 decade ago


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