Friday, April 19, 2013

Sort by race

Like most everybody today, I'm busy following the news about the brothers who are responsible for the Boston marathon bombing.

But yesterday - as the fuzzy pictures of them were released - there was rampant speculation about their race/ethnicity. Some people really made fools of themselves in the process.

The truth is that "race" as a construct was created by white western europeans in an attempt to distinguish between "us" and "them."  It has no basis whatsoever in biological science.

As an educational tool to demonstrate what a ridiculous construct "race" is, the PBS special Race: The Power of Illusion created an online tool I highly recommend that you check out. Follow that link and click on the button that says "begin sorting." It will show you pictures that you are asked to sort into the 5 "races" recognized in the U.S. (the same site provides you with the information that other countries recognize different racial groups). After you've finished sorting, you can check your results.

What's happening as we watch the media cover this story is that people are reacting in the moment and they're demonstrating how totally ignorant so many of us are when it comes to truth about race.


  1. Thank you. Adding to the craziness are the attempts to define people from the Caucasus as, um, non-caucasian. So we have a social construct that is generally justified by a misapprehension of biology and further confused by linguistic and frequently geographical ignorance. It's been a hard week on many grounds, but let's try to demolish the prejudices one by one ... good luck with that!

  2. That was an interesting test, I only got 5 right out of 20