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Race Perception and the History of Racial Institutions
AdvisorOstergard, Robert L.
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This study examines the two distinct camps within critical race theory, the first of which views race as a social construct without any scientific relevance, and the other which uses science to validate race as a determination of human differences. The purpose of this research is to assess the claims made by both camps in order to remove the ambiguity of the discussion on race in order to facilitate solutions to social problems. Examples that attempt to demonstrate the construction of races do not illustrate the creation of race, but rather what it means to be a member of each race in social terms. Scientific confirmations of race have a history of going too far in explaining human differences and exceeding the bounds in which the science is based. Over 40 books, articles, journals, and documentaries were used to examine the way that race has been defined historically, both scientifically and socially, and its implications. The results indicate that races are local geographic or global human populations distinguished as a distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics such as skin color. Therefore, there is no justification for the assertion that races are merely social constructs and such positions are harmful to productive social dialogues on social problems, racial or otherwise. Confinement to the proper definition and implementation of race will enable the detachment of the acceptance of racial stereotypes that are unwarranted and illegitimate. Observable differences amongst people should not allow for an entire group of people to be characterized under present social terms. In addition, defining race under proper terms has serious implications for Black identity and race relations. Application of an accurate definition of race, in combination with a realization of their shared history and experiences, will allow African Americans to unite and mobilize in order to combat inequality, racism, and disenfranchisement.