The Making of the Great White Race –

Historically, when different groups of people came into contact with one another, they offered different explanations for the phenotypic variations they saw. Because skin color was so noticeable, it was the most frequently explained trait and most systems of racial classification came to be based on these explanations. Race would later become both a classifier and ranking of human beings according to inferior and superior types. Although race is a concept developed in the west during the Enlightenment period, it eventually spread to many parts of the non-Western world through international commerce, including the slave trade and, later colonial conquest.

The predominant colonial theory of race was “the great chain of being…” the idea that human races could be lined up from most superior to most inferior. The chain starts from God and progresses downward to angels, demons, stars, moon, kings (the top of humanity’s social order is the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings), princes, nobles, men, wild animals, domesticated animals, trees, other plants, precious stones, precious metals, minerals, and then an arrangement of non-white people, with blacks at the bottom. There is no mention of Indians as they were considered proto-human and did not descend from the original pair (Adam and Eve).

Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus, “The Father of Taxonomy,” who in 1735 published Systemae Naturae, which formalized the distinctions among human populations based on race. Within Homo sapiens, Linnaeus proposed five taxa or categories. At first the five categories were based on place of origin. Later these categories were based on skin color. Linnaeus believed each race had certain endemic characteristics. His work is the first to mention Native Americans as choleric, or red, straightforward, eager and combative as opposed to Europeans who were sanguine and pale, muscular, swift, clever and inventive.

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), a German anatomist, also classified humans into five categories or races: European/white race, Mongolian/yellow race, America/red race, and Ethiopian/black race, he added Malaysian/brown race. Blumenbach realized that divisions based on skin color were arbitrary and that many traits, including skin color, were not discrete phenomena. Blumenbach pointed out that to attempt to classify all humans using such a system would omit completely all those who did not fit neatly into a specific category.

In 1795 Blumenbach dropped the word “European” and coined the term “Caucasian,” based on a discovery he thought important enough to warrant the change. A single skull excavated from the Caucasus region had measurements that closely matched those of German skulls in his collection. “He concluded on the basis of this single skull that all European people must have originated in the Caucasus, thereby substituting it for the name European. His hypothesis, however, would later be proven wrong. From Blumenbach’s error we derive a racial category for whiteness that is widely misunderstood as ‘scientific’ for its genetic purity.”

FULL ARTICLE: The Making of the Great White Race –

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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