Race as a Social Construct

Racism by definition is:

“the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”

In the past I’ve heard individuals comment on the one-sided nature of racism, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it is impossible for it to be one sided since there are many different races, and how the majority of people have genetic makeup from multiple ones. It is wrong regardless of where it is coming from and who it is directed to.

The list of terms deemed politically correct to refer to different races is ever shortening, with many taking offense and even complaining at descriptive words that were coined with no derogatory meaning. According to Freeland, of The Guardian newspaper, “the ‘PC gone mad’ defence is itself a form of racism” (2014, n.p), meaning political correctness may not be as politically correct as it is cracked up to be. The overdose of it beggars the belief that it is out of control and that individuals need to stop being mollycoddled and become desensitised to the language, so long as there is no intention for it to be hurtful.

Personally, with myself being the product of several different cultures (British, Italian, Ukrainian, Austrian), I would not be offended if anyone commented on my heritage. If anything, I’m more offended to be categorised as white British, rather than what I feel I should be labelled and for people to turn around and ask where I was born, rather than my multicultural ancestors. However, this is seemingly the opposite for mixed race cultures as they tend to get categorised based on the country the generations before resided, despite the fact they were born in Britain. However, why is there even a need for these categories of race?

Since there isn’t a race chromosome in our DNA, it becomes obvious that it is just a social construct created by those in power so they can stay in control, especially since individuals can change the race they are referred as. The racial category we are assigned to in the census gives us an important perspective to where racism came in the first place. As of this, racial identity is merely a concept and therefore, if the concept of race fades because of the knowledge that racial categories were made up, as will racism.

In conclusion, just like how in queer theory gender is a social construct that does not actually exist, there is no such thing as race. We are all merely human no matter what gender or skin colour, and that is the example we should set to filter out racism.

Rae Coppola


Works cited:

Freedland, J. (2014). Rotherham inquiry: the ‘PC gone mad’ defence is itself a form of racism | Jonathan Freedland. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/29/rotherham-pc-gone-mad-defence-racism-contempt-pakistani-heritage [Accessed 15 Jul. 2015].


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