Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Racial divisions

Just had the most fascinating conversation. It all started when Lin was commenting irritatedly on how she had to keep explaining about how she was a Singaporean and a Chinese at the same time. Then I commented that well, to be fair, the English don't really have this problem - no one really refers to themselves as an American English, or an Australian English, do they? Then someone replied that the English are not a race, they're actually all Caucasian. But I thought that, well, in that case won't the Japanese, Koreans and Chinese all be labelled the same thing as well? Thus followed a discussion trying to figure out what exactly race is.

So, how do you really define race? I still don't really know - I suppose, all in all, skin colour is probably the #1 classifier. Aside from that, there are just so many things, I guess the problem is that we are trying to label what is ultimately probably just artificial divisions in the one same human species.

The wiki page on the issue is really long and comprehensive, and I haven't read the whole thing yet because my brain broke halfway (incidentally, my brain has broken a lot today, particularly regarding the precise identity of the Malay people), but it brought up some really interesting points.

If the concept of races can be paralleled to the various subspecies of dogs, which have several distinct types which can all interbreed freely and are ultimately the same species, it is apparent that races are generally different groups of people who look relatively similar. And yet, therein lies the tricky implication - since different dog varieties actually have corresponding temperaments, indicating that personality characteristics can be inherited, what does that say about human personalities?

So many various lines of thought. My brain's truly broken, now.


─Éirestraits said...

hmm.. personality characteristics can be inherited, true, but as with most manifestations of heritable traits its multifactorial.. dogs are generally inbred severely, otherwise there wouldn't be such substantial distinctions. in humans, thankfully, consanguinity is still relatively rare. and post the pic of your mullet, man.

delaerrus said...

i think there is only 1 human species remaining, so i don't think its a right sorta analogy with the dog. Not sure though, cos my bio knowledge is slipping. haha.