Why do we care about race? Where has this monstrous notion come from? In this opening chapter, Audrey, and Brian Smedley tackle, and pole holes in theories, historically used to explain race. The writers assert that race is a completely cultural construct, rearing its ugly head during colonial expansion. They argue that several individual elements collided to create a new world view. This new maze-way used race as a concept to categorize human differences, and differentiate power. This sense of conditioning perpetuates racism, as even science has historically made excuses through biased lenses.
As European nations expanded, they encountered new cultures. Their nature of domination and competition influenced the way they saw those they encountered. The authors make clear that those who quickly became subordinate, were not active in the invention of race. It was those who benefited from a racial hierarchy who established it. As social processes adapted to this new worldview, race became a mind set. Once society accepts this new mindset, it is no longer questioned, analyzed or critiqued, despite the lack of empiracle validity. The notion that race is completely made up does little to convince people to change their views, as long as they are profiting.
The writers acknowledge that biophysical variations do not carry much weight, yet our social use of race is an issue that creates serious consequences of division. They express that cultures define race in different forms, including: phenotypic differences, class and ethnicity. In order to claim wealth and power, the social application of race changes during social climates shifts. Audrey and Brian discuss the unclear differentiation between “race”, and “ethnicity.” An assumption is made that If race is determined by skin color, a person’s status is fixed in society. You “wear” your rank in this case. Whereas, “ethnicity” is a socially conditional marker of status. They explain that in America, looks determine who you are. If we were a culture who focused on ethnicity, people with different complexions would be part of the same ethnic category. I really appreciate the idea that while we see our neighbor as black, or white, an outsider would see us as American.