By Any Other Name (Final)

By Any Other Name (Final) - Mike McLennon Professor Orin...

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Mike McLennon Professor Orin Starn CA 94 April 17, 2009 By Any Other Name The great civil-rights activist and sociologist W.E.B. DuBois was once quoted as saying, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea.” It is without question that one of the greatest social paradoxes in the earth’s history is that of social classification on the basis of the most trivial and superficial human attributes— skin color. In early anthropology a certain few made valiant attempts to attribute ideals of “white supremacy” to biology, specifically cranial dimensions, as well as push forward degradation of non-whites by way of world’s fairs keen on elevating the “white race” to a role of supremacy. While at other times, Anthropological pioneers and civil rights advocates such as Franz Boaz, W.E.B. DuBois, and Pauli Murray attempted to illustrate the arbitrary nature of racial constructs. Civil rights activist Pauli Murray used her book Proud Shoes to raise the inconvenient facts of racism, even while depicting her lasting desiring for multiracialism, that is desiring to unite both oppressors (whites) and the oppressed (blacks, browns, Asians, ect.). And while Boaz believed the social construction of race would become entirely insignificant in later years, it was DuBois who presaged reality when he said that the color-line would always be defined. Similarly I conclude with DuBois that while the American striving for racial equality, impartiality, and tolerance is not to be discounted, reality dictates that race/color distinctions will never be eradicated. In observing the categories of demographical classification one will notice that the only characteristic that cannot be measured with unerring confidence is the designation of race. While race is often distinguished by evaluation of phenotypic traits, there exists a great level of
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McLennon 2 imprecision and arbitrary definitions. Similarly because races are genetically open, meaning they do not posses any single gene, racial classification by use of genotyping is not only arbitrary but nearly useless (Glander) . Consequently attempts to base racial designations in biological classification are not only trivial, but inane in nature. Notwithstanding these realities, some Early Anthropologist such as Samuel Morton made efforts to prove “white supremacy” on the basis of racially motivated biological study. In what was then called Craniometry, early anthropologist would endeavor to use the collected data of cranial sizes of different races to an attempt to prove that of all of the races it was the white race that had the largest brains. We now know that cranial
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By Any Other Name (Final) - Mike McLennon Professor Orin...

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