The Delusion of Race and Ethnicity: Get Over Yourself

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AlphaLogica157's picture
The Delusion of Race and Ethnicity: Get Over Yourself

I often am perplexed by this trend of infusing one's race or ethnicity into one's identity, from people who are clearly intelligent and well informed enough that they ought to know better. After the advent of Biology, or more specifically Genetics, any such notion of racial diversity among humans was found to be nothing more than a delusion passed down from a time when Biology and Genetics did not exist. The ideology of Race, or that humans can be divided into five distinct groups, is product of the belief in the great chain of being, that God created every animal and human each according to their own kind. This idea was spread throughout the world via colonialism, where they sought to justify passing laws to discriminate against indigenous groups. They created a scale where 'Whites' are the most human all the way down to 'blacks' who are the least human.
Now in 2016 we KNOW that this is total bullshit, yet to this day I still hear of groups of people who strongly identify with their non-existent race. I always thought that, while racial diversity was bullshit, at least the concept of ethnicity had some validity, but upon examining the definition of ethnicity it was quickly revealed to me that it is really on par with race itself as collective delusion.

Ethnicity is defined as:
the fact or state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition.

Now according to this definition it stands to reason that ALL human beings are of same ethnic group. Because no matter where or when you live, your culture is a product of culture of the past, which is itself a product of culture of the past and so on and so on. It is only when one draws an arbitrary line of division in a historical time line do we have a 'fixed' ethnic group. Using myself as an example, my 'ethnicity' is Italian, because my ancestors immigrated(or is it migrated?) to America from there, but before Italy they immigrated from Spain, so then I am Spanish, but before that they immigrated from Asia Minor, so I'm Asain, but before that they immigrated from Africa, so I'm African. While this is not an exact timeline my point stands. But why do this at all, on what grounds can one justify drawing a line of division, 100 years back, or 500 years back, 10,00 years back? And remember, it's not one specific group or nationality that holds this delusion, but EVERYONE, all over the world.

The only answer I can come up with, as to why the collective delusion of both racial diversity and ethnic diversity persists, is simply for the fact that we as humans seek to be unique among a mass population while at the same time want to belong to some tribe for some sense of a shared experience. In my opinion, nationalism is simply tribalism wrote large, because nationalism teaches a man to be proud of things he never achived, and to hate a person he has never met.

I believe that until we as a species, break off our chains of the past, and drop any such notion of racial diversity, or ethnic diversity, bad ideas like racism, tribalism, jingoism, nationalism, all of which are different expressions of prejudice, will never go away. People will continue to practice segregation, either of the self or on others, and true unity will never be achieved.

I want to write a book on this line of reasoning but first would like some feed back if it even holds enough weight to stand in its own. So you agree/ disagree please let me know.

Thank you for your time.

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Deforres's picture
"True Unity"

"True Unity"

Sounds like an overly utopian delusion in and of itself to me. Grouping is a part of the human instinct. Therefore, no matter what, people will always carry around things to separate them from some, and unite them with others.

Governments are nessesary. Nationalism is a byproduct of governments. Therefore, nationalism is inevitable.

"After the advent of Biology, or more specifically Genetics, any such notion of racial diversity among humans was found to be nothing more than a delusion passed down from a time when Biology and Genetics did not exist."

Odd of you to say that, since genetic factors can cause ones skin cells to create more pigment, producing the colorations that bring about race.

Though, ethnicity, race, and the like mean about as much to me as the squishy human form itself. That is to say, nothing.

AlphaLogica157's picture
"Odd of you to say that,

"Odd of you to say that, since genetic factors can cause ones skin cells to create more pigment, producing the colorations that bring about race"

That is incorrect, it is superficial variations in our appearance that was used as a justification for the ideology of racial diversity. But this is literally skin deep, which is merely a factor of climate and elevation. That alone is not proof for racial diversity among humans, there is only one race, homo sapien. Here is a letter from the American Association of Anthropologists going into greater detail explaining why racial diversity among humans does not exist:

Deforres's picture
"there is only one race, homo

"there is only one race, homo sapien."

Race definition:

1. A group of people identified as distinct from other groups because of supposed physical or genetic traits shared by the group. Most biologists and anthropologists do not recognize race as a biologically valid classification, in part because there is more genetic variation within groups than between them.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the Celtic race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.
5. Biology
a. A usually geographically isolated population of organisms that differs from other populations of the same species in certain heritable traits: an island race of birds.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals."


"Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man") is the binomial nomenclature (also known as the scientific name) for the only extant human species. Homo is the human genus, which also includes Neanderthals and many other extinct species of hominid; H. sapiens is the only surviving species of the genus Homo."

I'm afraid you put race where you should have put species

AlphaLogica157's picture
Ah, I see my mistake. Thank

Ah, I see my mistake. Thank you for the correction. But I have to ask, did you read the link i have posted? Because that is more to the point of our disagreement on race in itself.

Deforres's picture
I'm currently trying to brute

I'm currently trying to brute force root my phone at the moment, but as soon as I'm done with that(whatever the result) I'll read it.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I look foward to your

I look foward to your response.

Deforres's picture
After reading the letter, I

After reading the letter, I concede to you on the matter of racial diversity. However, the other matters still stand to be fully addressed.

AlphaLogica157's picture
What matters are there

What matters are there specifically that still need to be addressed? I will happily address them, but i am unsure what those are and I do not want to respond to something you did not say.

Deforres's picture
For one, what exactly do you

For one, what exactly do you mean by "True Unity"?

AlphaLogica157's picture
Ok. I agree when you said

Ok. I agree when you said that "true unity" is a rather utopian delusion in itself and I should have gone into greater detail than something so vague. What i meant by that is we can get to a place where people don't fixate on trivial and irrelavant factors when dealing with people who are different from them. Like culture, it's value is entirely subjective, since culture is ever evolving, what is seen as the culture of today would be unrecognizable to those who lived in that same area 100 years in the past. A person is only shaped by their own culture until the age of reason, then they are capable of seeing the differences between their own culture and the culture of others, and in some cases indentify more with a different culture than they do their own. So to say that culture matters is only as true as the individual believes it to be. Look at America culture, it is actually an amalgamation of many sub cultures, which are themselves an amalgamation of many sub sub cultures. Down to the micro scale of individual families the culture of one persons home is similiar to their neighbors to an extent, but differences are there. So it stands to reason that the ultimate value of culture is non existent.

Deforres's picture
Culture is still a very

Culture is still a very important part of the human sphere, value or none. It is also a means of identification, which is also importaint. Without the affect of culture, everyone would be TOO similar. And I value my Russian heritage and the Russian culture greatly, as a means of identifying myself amongst others.

Note: If this reply seems garrulous, alert me to such if you would please

AlphaLogica157's picture
So after googling the

So after googling the definition of garrulous i would say your reply is not that. To address your response i must first point out that my reply is merely a matter of opinion on my part so take it as such.

The importance of culture cannot be denied, and I would not attempt to do so, i was only arguing that since the value of culture is ultimately subjective, even among those OF that culture, that it is unreasonable to prop it up as more than it really is. You are of course, free to hold personal attachment to your Russian heritage but to me it seems (here is my opinion) unreasonable. You may be asking yourself how i can say that culture is important while also saying it has no value, this at first glance must seem like a contradiction but allow me to explain. Culture is important because of its initial impact on a persons world view and character during their early years growing up, a culture that celebrates (for example) the killing of dogs as some traditional practice would produce children who are ok with killing dogs, as it is all they know at that stage of their life, but after the age of reason that child would start to see things from the perspective of the dog and question whether or not this tradition is really worth doing, maybe he saw another culture that glorifies dogs, maybe he came to it on his own. Either way if this child then grew up and started challenging this tradition and convienced enough people against it, it would only be a matter of time before the tradition would end. So before the child people were ok with this tradition, after they are not. What does this say about the ultimate value of this tradition? That it has no value at all and it only took a consensus to remove the tradition altogether. Is that child any less apart of his own culture? No. And this is my point.

Now My OP was only concerning the issues of race and ethnicity and how people use these as a means of constructing their identity, when in fact there is no reason why they should.

And I see that you mirrored my answer I put forth in my OP as to why people do this when you said:

And I value my Russian heritage and the Russian culture greatly, as a means of identifying myself amongst others.

I would say that you are far more than your Russian heritage and using this as means of identifying yourself amongst others is cutting yourself short.

Deforres's picture
You would be correct. I never

You would be correct. I never said my Russian heritage was the only that I used to identify myself amough others. It would be odd form me to identify myself using only my heritage, and I doubt there are many that do.

For instance, I am a former Russian Air Force pilot. I served for ten years before an accident crippled me from the waist down(using this as part of the example, not to gain pity). After the Russian government manhandled my case, I moved to America. I have gone through the legal quagmire, and am a legal american citizen. I am not a "patriot", per se(for Russia or America) but I do support America. The point is, my heritage and nationality, though conflictive to a degree, are both identifiers for me. There are several other things as well.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I hear where you are coming

I hear where you are coming from, and can see the logic in your response. For the most part, at least in my experience, not many people put much of their nationality into their identity. But they put A LOT of their race/ethnicity into their identity which is what I am advocating against. To be fair, throughout our discussion I have seen that ethnicity into identity holds a little more credibility than race, and am considering maybe limiting my argument to race alone, so progress!
I was born in America and still live here although many things about American culture baffle me. But I am a constitutional literalist and I hold it in very high esteem. Which is one reason why I hold freedom of religion over my disdain for religion itself. And as far as your experience is concerned I can see how that would shape who you are today. But I would argure that it is a product of your experience alone and not your heritage.

Deforres's picture
But, if looked at from the

But, if looked at from the right perspective, it could be argued that experience and heritage hold equal sway in what I(and others) have and/or will become. But, again, that's my viewpoint, and not solid fact.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I disagree but only insofar

I disagree but only insofar as the amount of influence heritage has on shaping your perspective towards your experience. To put it simply heritage or culture, is simply where you start on the road of life, but it does not dictate who YOU will ultimately become. The people you meet, the ideas and beliefs you accept/hold play a the largest role in shaping who you are. Your experiences in life validate/invalidate the legitimacy of your ideas and beliefs. But I must ask, if I were to limit my argument only to race, that is to say that I argue against people who put build their race into their identity, would you be more or less inclined to accept it?

Deforres's picture
As a matter of fact, yes.

As a matter of fact, yes. Race has always seemed trivial to me. That's why I didn't bother giving a very strong argument for it(that, and there is no strong argument for it). I don't think skin pigment is a part of identity. That honestly seems silly to me.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Agreed. I will have to look

Agreed. I will have to look up and see if there is different definitions of ethnicity or ethnic groups, I could not find any off the bat so I stuck with the one provided in the dictionary. But at least according to the one I have found it seems too vague. Which is why I argued that we can be said to all share the same ethic group because there is no fixed point of division established.

Deforres's picture
I don't know about you, but

I don't know about you, but to me this discussion has been quite enjoyable. Can't say the same for myk's accusatory stance.

mykcob4's picture
I disagree based on the fact

I disagree based on the fact that culture matters. technically you are correct, but realistically you are incorrect. Yes, we can all trace our DNA back to the people that first emerged out of the Rip Valley in Africa.
However, after that point, we all became different peoples. Not better or worse just different. People identify with certain cultures and nationalities. They have become tribal for various reasons, good and bad. The goal, of course, is to be color and culture blind, but that isn't achievable. So the best thing is to accept people for who they are and for how the identify themselves. I identify myself as Cherokee/Irish-American. Why? Because that is my most recent cultural background. It defines my best-known ancestry. The languages that I speak, the foods I eat, the tribe that I belong to. Have I assimilated into a wider culture? Of course! We all do.
I understand your reasoning as an atheist, but also, I sense a more political bent to your story. I see where you are going, at trying to refute political correctness. A clear case of conservative bias that leads to racism and prejudice against cultures. Not in the classic sense but prejudice all the same. Political correctness is just respect and nothing more. Respecting an individual for who they are and how they identify themselves. You want to take away how people identify themselves. I say you want to do this based on your political views. I may be wrong, but I sincerely doubt it. Jared Diamond wrote a very good book concerning cultures. 'Guns, Germs, and Steel', you should read it. It explains a great deal. I don't think you will find it on the FOX best seller list.

AlphaLogica157's picture
This repeated habbit you have

This repeated habbit you have of assuming, on no evidencs at all, that my view is a product of some political bias is bullshit. You assume that I am conservative, which in fact i am not. I am classical liberal, like that if John Stewart Mill. My post has NOTHING to do with politics so maybe, turn your judgement and assumption towards yourself and see that maybe, just maybe, it is YOU who holds some political bias that is limiting your perspective. I have read the book Guns germs and steel, but you would not know Because you did not ask, I never once mentioned political correctness, YOU did, I never ONCE mentioned politics at all, YOU did. I appreaciate your response but if you are only going to jump to conclusions about my character then maybe you are not able to have a reasonable discussion.

mykcob4's picture
The original post is a

The original post is a classic conservative justification for ending political correctness. That is exactly why I "assumed" you had a political motive. You do have a political motive for sure, but it may not be what I thought it was or think it is. The fact of the matter is that there is no way to separate people from their chosen identities.
As a classic liberal, I would love people to identify as just people and nothing else, although I like the diversity of culture as a matter of interest.
BTW John Stewart does not identify as a Liberal or any political slant. He is by his own words A-political.
If you can succeed in your endeavour to get people to understand that there is no ethnic diversity, which is incorrect in its own right, you will undercut people's identity.
People are ethnically diverse by evolution and culturally diverse by choice. For example, the Lappland people have cat shaped eyes to combat snow blindness. Negroes have darker pigment to combat radiation. Eskimos are short and thick to conserve heat. There are a number of evolutionary variants that came about for humans to adapt to their environments. Thus there is ethnic diversity. Ethnicity is not a difference in species. Just because we all originated from the same humanoid does mean we haven't evolved into different ethnic groups.
You are right for pointing out that religions have used ethnic diversity to be prejudice and deem certain people superior to others. They are wrong for doing so.
Yes, we are all the same species, but we are also different cultures, races, and ethnic groups. I for one am glad for it. I like the differences. I enjoy the exchange of culture. It enriches our lives.

AlphaLogica157's picture
"The original post is a

"The original post is a classic conservative justification for ending political correctness."

Oh really? Then show me where some conservative talking head has said EXACTLY what I have said. It is easy for you to blindly assert something, much harder to prove it. So either put up or shut up.

" You do have a political motive for sure"

You cannot say that as you have no basis for such a claim, Is assuming and jumping to conclusions all you can do in a debate? i mean would it kill you to practice even a shred of intellectual honesty? Show me where my political motive is to be found, using my own words, without filing in the gaps on your own using your opinion and asserting it as fact.

"BTW John Stewart does not identify as a Liberal or any political slant." do know there is a difference between a Liberal (political world view) and a liberal (philosophical world view)? They are not one and the same. Maybe to some research before jumping to conclusions.

"If you can succeed in your endeavour to get people to understand that there is no ethnic diversity, which is incorrect in its own right, you will undercut people's identity."

How is it incorrect? You have offered nothing more than your own opinion and once again asserted it as if it was a fact. Seriously do the work like i did, provide a definition and a logical argument as to why i am wrong, because you have done nothing of the sort. Your opinion is not a fact.

" People are ethnically diverse by evolution and culturally diverse by choice."

You are misusing the word ethnicity, it has nothing to do with genetics, see the definition I provided above.

Now are you going to do the right thing and recognise that you have not actually provided anything substantial to support your argument, or to refute mine? Other than claim that I hold some secret political motivation that you are not sure what it is, but you are sure that it is there. (seriously?) Because I am happy to have this discussion with you, but you have to actually practice intellectual honesty and back up your claims and provide support for your argument. All you have given me is tantamount to an angst filled opinion piece, where you do not like my argument Because feelings.

mykcob4's picture
Claiming we are all one race

Claiming we are all one race is a dog whistle in politics. The reason conservatives want to claim that we are the same race is so they can justify prejudice hiring practices. If you deny someone a job because they are black but officially if there is no black, you can carry out racism with impunity.
About Jon Stewart
I am always intellectually honest. Can't say the same for you.
Of course, you have a political motive. You want to properly define "race." That is a political endeavor because it goes against what is widely accept and offers change by default. I don't disagree with the motive. It would slap the face of religion, but it would also allow real prejudice to act with impunity. If you cannot show that a group of people are being discriminated against simply because they are different, because the difference isn't recognized, then you cannot stop or prevent the practice.
That is why I took you opening OP as a conservative stab at political correctness. Can you not see that?

Deforres's picture
"Claiming we are all one race

"Claiming we are all one race is a dog whistle in politics."

Myk, he already stated that to be an error.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I appreciate your assistance

I appreciate your assistance but my mistake was conflating Species with Race. As in Homo Saipean is the only race.

There is only one race and that is a biological fact. Because there is no racial diversity among humans so for lack of the appropriate term I will say that Human is the only Race.

Deforres's picture

of, relating to, or characteristic of people or human beings.
"the human body"
synonyms: anthropomorphic, anthropoid, humanoid, hominid
"in human form"
a human being, especially a person as distinguished from an animal or (in science fiction) an alien.
synonyms: person, human being, personage, mortal, member of the human race; More

Neither of those seem like a race to me. Yes, I am a by-the-definition person.

AlphaLogica157's picture
I appreciate your posting of

I appreciate your posting of definitions, so I guess it is more accurate to only say species and not use the word race at all.

Deforres's picture
Or, if your going to make an

Or, if your going to make an argument about race specifically, human is the word that should be avoided.

AlphaLogica157's picture
Which in your opinion is more

Which in your opinion is more accurate, human, species or race, or is it specific to context? And I am sorry to respond to two different posts because it is confusing and hard to follow so I will just stick to your next reply and go from there Myk is derailing the conversation so i will just ignore him. Although it feels kind of dickish on my part to do that, I just don't know what else to do, i have tried to find common ground but he wants to make it all political.


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