Race Based On Physical Appearance

1180 WordsOct 1, 20165 Pages
The concept of race as it is known today began innocently, as a useful point of comparison between peoples based on physical appearance. Over time, the idea of color was corrupted by various ruling classes, who discovered that this brand of disenfranchisement was useful to create and maintain an exploitable lower class. What was once a descriptor was twisted into a tool of oppression, insidiously folded into society through language, mythology, and the normalization of race-based enslavement. As society moved from interactions between local groups to travel and trade between countries and continents, meaningful distinctions between peoples became less specific. While it was once useful to refer to one’s neighbors by their language or ethnic group, a broader world meant far too many languages and ethnic groups for that categorization to be used. Categories grew, grouping people by their religion, culture, broad geographical location and physical characteristics. One such categorization was color. In some cases, color was entirely comparative, used not to define a group on their own but rather with reference to another. Arabs in antiquity would describe themselves as black when differentiating themselves from the brown Bedouins and the red Persians and Europeans, but also describe themselves as being white or red in comparison to black Africans (lecture September 27). However, the concept of “black” as an intrinsic qualification emerged and gained traction in
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