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'Race' is a Social Construct, Even in Media

Opportunity Editorial by Loris Taylor

“Race” is a social construct. According to the web, a social construct exists not in objective reality but because of human interaction. “Race” exists because we all agree, in complicity or explicitly, it exists. Race is the segregation of human beings based upon skin color. According to science, melanin is a molecule. Melanin determines the pigment of our skin, and the type of melanin in our cells determines the science of skin color, resulting in dark melanin to light melanin people.

To be clear, “race” is distinctly different from ethnicity, which encompasses language, traditions, religion, tribal affiliation, and other cultural elements and factors.

People that argue for “race” do so for a purpose. Some argue race or skin pigment determines inherent racial inferiority, the existence of a master or supreme race, or level of intelligence. Others think race or skin color determines a level of morality. Some use race to justify control and power, while others make race central to “greatness.”

Although “race” is “made-up” -- laws, policies, profiling, daily behavior, attitudes, and media perpetuate race into reality. Often the result is racial discrimination, injustice, hate crimes, marginalization, invisibility, domination, extermination, assimilation, trauma, wars, suppression, and displacement. And yes, denying the history of others.

Academic studies of race as a social construct both in principle and application is complex, sensitive, and necessary. For Indigenous peoples, CRT should include the study of Manifest Destiny, Conquest and Colonization, The Doctrine of Discovery, Boarding School trauma, U.S. Federal Policies, Federal Rulemaking, and all other spiritual, political, and legal foundations for colonization, seizure of land, and dominion over natural resources and indigenous peoples.

Indigenous contributions to humankind, our resilience, and our history must be central to CRT academic studies. CRT will never erase history nor the making of history. However, the course of history can be changed by understanding how social construction works and why weaponizing skin color will never result in unity or the kind of nation-building we desire or an inclusive world community.

Shining a light on truth for all melanin people must remain our contribution to history.


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