What Is 'Race' and What Is 'Racism'? Dr Charles Quist-Adade Sheds Light on the Destructive Power of Race and Racism and Contends That the Twin Notions, While Illogical and Irrational, Have Real, Abiding Influence on Our Collective Psyche and Continue to Wreak Havoc Globally. Ironically, He Writes, "There Is No Pure 'Race' and All Groups Are 'Racially' Mixed"

By Quist-Adade, Charles | New African, December 2005 | Go to article overview

What Is 'Race' and What Is 'Racism'? Dr Charles Quist-Adade Sheds Light on the Destructive Power of Race and Racism and Contends That the Twin Notions, While Illogical and Irrational, Have Real, Abiding Influence on Our Collective Psyche and Continue to Wreak Havoc Globally. Ironically, He Writes, "There Is No Pure 'Race' and All Groups Are 'Racially' Mixed"


Quist-Adade, Charles, New African


"Race" and "racism" paradoxically are different things. One does not exist, at least in the scientific sense. It is a chimera, a phantom. The other is a powerful reality, an invention that is absurd, illogical, irrational, and nonsensical. One is a figment of the collective imagination. The other manifests itself in a destructively powerful way. Yet together the two are interdependent, feeding upon each other.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Yes, the twin notions of race and racism combine to make a powerful concoction, poisoning human relations, maiming, killing, and destroying people everywhere in both hidden and open ways. Sometimes people appear to understand both the absurdity and the power of the twin notions as expressed in the following trite phrases: "Our differences are only skin deep" and "we all belong to the human race".

These two phrases are often invoked across the "colour bar", either to promote racial harmony or to expose the fallacy of racial exclusiveness. The truth in these two observations is beyond contest. Yet the history of the human race suggests that people use these terms without really meaning the idea behind them. So, then, what is "race" and what is "racism"?

"Race" is defined as a grouping of human population characterised by socially selected physical traits. What this definition points to is that "race" is a social construct. In other words, race is neither natural nor biological. Instead the concept was artificially and arbitrarily created by human beings. It also means that "race" is not genetically predetermined or divinely created. In other words, what constitutes race is like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

How can that be, you wonder. Your eyes do not deceive you. There are indeed physical differences among the human populations we call racial groups--"black", "white", "yellow", etc. A Chinese man is obviously as different from a Portuguese man as an Englishman is from a Nigerian Ibo man. However, what our eyes see as physical differences are only superficial traits, differences brought about by geographic and climatic adaptations.

An Ibo man is darker than an English man simply because he lives in the tropics and is closer to the equator, with plenty of sunshine. His darker pigmentation is the result of the presence of high levels of melanin, a molecule that protects his skin against the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Without melanin acting as a shield from the sun, the Ibo man would burn or contract skin cancer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Englishman's lighter complexion, in contrast, signifies the presence of vitamin D, an organic chemical that helps him absorb the little sunshine available to him in the colder environment. This also helps him to absorb calcium, a chemical element needed for strong bones and to prevent rickets or softening of the bones.

Such adaptation to geographic and climatic conditions is a survival mechanism for everyone. Long periods of adaptation to geographic and climatic conditions ensure the interaction between genes and the environment.

In other words, mutation took place in the "original" Englishman and "original" Ibo man in their efforts to survive in the polar and tropical regions respectively. In time, they passed on these survival genes to their offspring. Thus, the Englishman and his offspring became paler in their complexions, while the Ibo man and his descendants became darker. This explains why the farther people are from the equator toward the North Pole, the lighter their skin complexions. Skin colour, from say Sudan to Iceland, is thus a continuum from dark to pale, with no clinical way to pinpoint where the "black" race ends and where the "white" race begins.

But that does not explain why the Ibo man became a member of the so-called Negroid or "black" race and the English man became a member of the so-called Caucasoid or "white" race. The Ibo man did not call himself a "black" man until somebody defined him so. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Is 'Race' and What Is 'Racism'? Dr Charles Quist-Adade Sheds Light on the Destructive Power of Race and Racism and Contends That the Twin Notions, While Illogical and Irrational, Have Real, Abiding Influence on Our Collective Psyche and Continue to Wreak Havoc Globally. Ironically, He Writes, "There Is No Pure 'Race' and All Groups Are 'Racially' Mixed"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.