Biological Differences In America

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The dictionary definition of race is “each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.” However, the definition fails to explain that race is simply an idea. An idea that has driven America’s complex history. “It’s development over the past few hundred years has left a legacy of misconceptions and confusion about race among many Americans” (“The Story of Race”, RACE). It has successfully justified slavery, segregation, and the near-elimination of Native Americans, while still claiming a foundation of liberty and justice for all. In addition, race has also been used by scientists to classify humans and use science to prove presumed biological differences: “Linking race to biology led to a ‘race science’ that …show more content…

Yet, to understand racial segregation, one must understand the history of race. The age of enlightenment is what sparked human studies and theories for human differences. Traveling to different continents, and allowed Europeans to discover peoples with different appearances, as explained in “Early Classification of Nature” (RACE). “A prime example of the Enlightenment’s influence in science is Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus’ system of biological classifications in Systemae Naturae, published in 1735..He formalized the distinction among the continental populations of the world and his work helped characterize the concept of race” (“Early Classification of Nature, RACE). The four subcategories he proposed were Americanus, Asiaticus, Africanus, and Europeanus. After the settlers came to North America, slave codes were first established in Virginia. To avoid the undermining of their plantations, wealthy planters preferred African slaves instead of imported English ones. Because of this and the belief that African were an inferior race, social and cultural separation of blacks and whites were created, as explained by RACE. All through the 1600’s and 1700’s laws were created and passed to restrict slaves from going where they want, from doing the activities they want, and to justify punishments for them, when they break these laws, such as lashes and whippings. The United States’ first Census was in 1790, and included the first racial categories of European, Native Indian, and African. Within this first Census, stated that slaves were counted only as 3/5 of a person in each state’s count. By the 19th century, the topic at debate was whether human biological difference was racial variation or was representing a completely different

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