Dimensions of Race in the North American Mainstream

Article 1:
1 – Name of Reading / Citation:
Blumer, H., & Allport, G. 2012. The Social and Biological Dimensions of Race in the North
American Mainstream. (4th ed., pp. 108-125). New York, NY: Nobhill Publishing.
2- What was the article about?:
The reading discusses race as a complex and ambiguous term that has political, social, and
cultural connotations. Race was used as means to categorize peoples in order to ascertain the
natural superiority of white Europeans. However, science has proven that human races, as
mistakenly understood, are not static and distinct. Phenotypic differences result from an unclear
association and combination of environmental factors and inherited genes.
The assumption that race is a biological concept led scientists to classify certain diseases
as black or white. Because Europeans and White Americans had economic control over
resources, they believed that biological differences accounted for their apparent success. In fact,
economic and health disparities are results of discrimination and political decisions rather than
biological differences.
3- Interesting Elements:
Culture plays a crucial role in confining, or enlarging, the genetic pool of a population.
The concept of whiteness was a cultural construct contoured by restrictions on social behavior
and interactions, such interracial marriages. Therefore, racial classification was institutionalized
in concordance to what culture identifies as natural. Culture works because in addition to
interpreting differences, it is a dynamic way to establish social order and homogeneity. Racial
classification was the result of cultural norms within a political and socioeconomic context.
4 – Thoughts, Feelings and Persuasion:
This reading was very interesting as I have been exposed to race all of my life. I live in a MiddleEastern home in the United States, and I have been exposed to the profiling of people towards
my faith. Although I am an American citizen, there have been times when I was about to board a
plane and airport security did “extra” screening at the gate and “randomly”. My uncle whose
name is Mohammad is almost always questioned when entering the United States even though he
is a citizen as well. This shows how racial profiling actually works on the personal level at
airports. The controversial utilization of race as a measure of difference between individuals and
groups is dependent of the political, historic, social, and economic contexts. Race is a powerful
notion because it is associated with visible physical traits, I cannot hide who I am because of the
color of my skin by simply changing my clothes or hair to fit in. The field of genetics rejects the
idea that race has a biological foundation, but it is still present in our society. The explanation of
race as a social construct has shifted my thinking and view of the world, allowing me to see why
many of our institutions are marked by systemic and individual racism, and was persuading in
the fact that I could relate to what was being stated throughout the whole chapter. The reading
also included prejudice as a continuum between the two extremities of individual experiences
and collective learning and definition of prejudice. Consequently, the sole view of prejudice,
such as racism, from a single perspective is insufficient to reduce prejudice and its adverse
impacts in the society.

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