ERIC Number: ED247326
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982
Reference Count: 0
Racial Definition Handbook.
Nelson, William J.
Our culture draws lines between "races" in a variety of ways. Professional scholars and society in general each have their own set of aims and methods for dividing by race. The professional classifiers have been at times inconsistent and fallacious in their methods. The scientific classifiers (physical anthropologists, for example) assume an atmosphere of scientific objectivity and are unconcerned with how people classify themselves. They recognize a difference between a "pure race" and a racial hybrid. Social scientists, in contrast, have been almost totally concerned with what people think is their racial membership--and therefore the social scientists believe that racial taxonomies can change on the social level. But many social scientists are particularly concerned with those in power and what the empowered think is the racial membership of a particular person. In society at large, race has as much meaning as its members want it to. For cultural, economic, and political reasons, "white" and "black" historically have been radically polarized in the United States. Membership is ascribed at birth, is lifelong, and places one in conflict with the other group. Not surprisingly, the American racial definition system correlates highly with the oppression of blacks. In conclusion, the self-definition of race, and whether one feels positively about the race one is born into, can be very much influenced by what society says is right. (KH)
Descriptors: Anthropology, Blacks, Classification, Definitions, Ethnology, Physical Characteristics, Race, Racial Attitudes, Racial Differences, Racial Identification, Social Influences, Social Sciences, United States History, Whites
The Hugh Cale Memorial Scholarship Fund, 4509 East Cornwallis Road, Durham, NC 27713 ($10.00 each).
Publication Type: Guides - General
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Published by Alpha Editions, a division of Burgess Publishing Company, Minneapolis, MN.