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Race in My Community

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Race in my Community

Firstly to understand how race is socially and spatially constructed we must first understand what race actually is. Alex Watson an opinion columnist for the Western Herald stated that race does not and never has existed, “It is an almost entirely social construct with extremely minor differences in external appearance at its root. The entire concept of race is a misbegotten stepchild of 19th century pseudoscience…….” (Western Herald Online:

Today race is described is a popular marker of human difference based upon; physical criteria of a person i.e. skin color, national heritage, cultural affiliation and history, ethnic classification, and the needs of a population socially, politically and economically (R.J Johnston. etal 2000, Dictionary of Human Geography).

However, throughout time the perception of race has varied from person to person, community to community and the understanding of race in society has also changed considerably.

The History of �Race’ as a Social Construction

The indigenous people of their colonies were seen as pagan, animalistic, uncivilized and almost un-evolved human beings. Europeans classified peoples in their colonies into a hierarchy of categories, which placed Europeans at the top of a pseudo-evolutionary scale. The stereotypes created are still evident in today’s society (Rebecca Riehm Homepage: 11/03/04.

Early definitions of race around the 17th and 18th Centuries were based upon biological differences of people. The influence of Darwinism (evolution of humans) began to influence people to believe that the human species were divided into sub-species and that people of a different �race’ were biologically different i.e. different levels of intelligence.

In 1758, botanist Carolus Linnaeus, famous for his system of classifying plants and animals, declared that the human species was made of four sub-categories, which he called, red, yellow, black and white. ( 11/03/04.

By about the mid 19th Century a distinct system of defining race began to unfold. European racism, which was based on the experiences in their foreign colonies, described different races as being biologically distinct. Most of this idea was based upon the idea of genetic makeup, which influenced physical appearance, intellectual skills and moral qualities.

Some early racism can be seen as a natural development of religious bigotry. Brutal conduct towards the indigenous people was justified by religion; an example of this was the Crusades and Massacres of Jews in Medieval Europe which was sanctioned by Martin Luther (1500’s) (Allen and Unwin, Australia Independent Book Publisher: 12/03/04.

In my community we have a mixture of white people and black people. Racism of any kind does not exist and no racial discrimination takes place. In my community exist a mayor, group leader and vicar. From a personal standpoint they have been very polite to me and have never made a comments to me with regards to the color of my skin.

There are certain people in my community who aren’t essentially too Keene on colored people but they byenlargae keep their feelings to themselves. I have though heard of rumors though where an obscenity has been said which was racially motivated. In my community I have never seen black people and white people mix. We have colored neighbors living next to each other and they generally get on quite well.

The media in my community namely the press has latched onto issues linked to race. The need to gather with similar people is most strongly felt in an unfamiliar environment this leads to the development of distinct social areas of a landscape and also influences land uses of a particular area. The press does often have people walking around pretending to be part of the community when infact their intention is to gather information.

Although it is evidently clear that minorities are segregated from the charter or majority group, minorities tend most times to be segregated from each other so as a result there tends to be a lot of competition for territory. Therefore clusters of ethnic groups can be seen as defensive and conservative in function (Paul Knox; 1995, Urban Social Geography an Introduction, 3rd Edition).

Clustering has been identified to have four principal functions: defense, support, preservation and attack. The media has also mentioned them elements.


Clustering for defense is evident whenever discrimination by the charter group is intense and over wide areas. The area provides a withdrawal

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