Changing Categories

Racial categories have always mirrored and reinforced social divisions and hierarchies. More recently, they have been shaped by groups wanting to see themselves represented in institutional policies.

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article
Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race
by Larry Adelman
Some quick facts about race that help dispel common myths and misconceptions.
interview
Evelynn Hammonds
A look at 19th century race science, race and medicine, and how scientists are influenced by their social context.

Evelynn Hammonds is currently (2019) Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States.

article
Scientific and Folk Ideas About Heredity
by Jonathan Marks
Jonathan Marks provides an anthropological and historical perspective into why we classify people the way we do, and why those classifications, while culturally important, don't hold up from a biological standpoint.
article
Slavery, and the Idea of Race
by California Newsreel
A look at how racial classifications developed to discourage class solidarity between African slaves and white indentured servants in the colonies, and changed over time due to specific historical circumstances.
article
What Does the Census Tell Us About Race?
by Jean Cheng
Historically, the census was used to target or exclude certain groups. But since the Civil Rights era, it has been used to measure which groups are being excluded.
article
Origin of the Idea of Race
by Audrey Smedley
Anthropologist Audrey Smedley explains how race was institutionalized in the 19th century as a worldview to justify slavery, inequality, and establish who should have access to privilege, power, status, and wealth, and who should not.
article
The Historical Origins and Development of Racism
by George M. Fredrickson
Historian George M. Fredrickson provides a brief overview of how ideas of race and racism evolved throughout the centuries, tied to interpretations of the bible, science, and culture.
episode 1
film clip
Differences in Skin Color
If we were to walk from the tropics to Norway, what we would see is a continuous change in skin tone. And at no point along that trip would we be able to say, "Oh, this is the place in which we go from the dark race to the light race."
episode 1
film clip
Naturalizing Social Differences
The biology becomes an excuse for social differences.
episode 3
film clip
Race Invaders
By 1910, 58% of American mining and factory workers were immigrants. Like Mexicans and African Americans, Italians, Slavs and Jews were often desired as laborers ­but also feared, seen as promiscuous, lazy, or stupid.
article
Why Humans haven't Evolved into Subspecies
by California Newsreel
While humans appear diverse in terms of physical traits, variations in our genetic makeup are in fact very limited since humans have not had the time and isolation to evolve into separate subspecies.
expert connection
film clip
Social Inequalities: Interview with Joanna Reed
Joanna Reed, Continuing Lecturer of Sociology at UC Berkeley, discusses how she relies on the film as a historical foundation for her students, tying it to scholarly articles and current events, and using it to introduce key sociological theories, such as Racial Formation.
expert connection
film clip
The Evolution of Human Biology & Genomics: Interview with Leslea Hlusko
Leslea Hlusko, Professor of Integrative Biology, discusses new research in genomics in regards to human variation, and relates it to the science presented in the film, and outlines the important role human biologists can play in engaging with social issues and misperceptions about human variation.
episode 2
film clip
Emergence of the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
As African slavery increased, lower class Europeans won new rights and opportunities, as well as payoffs and status-enhancements, leading to their identifying as "white."
episode 2
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2020 panel discussion on Race—The Power of an Illusion, Part II
On Friday, September 25 we hosted a screening of Part II of Race—The Power of an Illusion: The Story We Tell, followed by a one-hour panel discussion with experts.
Q&A
Why are there different levels of advancement in varying countries by race?
episode 2
Q&A
Why were black people written about so negatively in biblical-era writings?
episode 2
Q&A
Is the caste system in India racialized?
episode 2
Q&A
What is the origin of the word "race?"
episode 2
Q&A
How does the U.S. history of race and slavery compare to slavery in the rest of world history?
episode 2
episode 3
film clip
Melting Pot
<p>The melting pot never included people of color. Blacks, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, etcetera, could not melt into the pot. They could be used as wood to produce the fire for the pot, but they could not be used as material to be melted into the pot.</p>