Why is race considered a social construct?


I know that humans made the race classification system purely out of racist intent, which would make it a social construct, right?

But that made me think of how in some instances, different races (or ethnicities I’m not sure) smell different from other races. Wouldn’t this point make race a bit of a biological/genetic concept too?

I apologize in advance if I sound ignorant, but I really want to be educated on this topic.

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Basically, the idea that different groups of people whose descendants come from different parts of the world have slightly different genetics is one thing. But the idea that we can easily divide people into groups is another.

The idea that there are specific races, that we can sort people into is something that humans invented. It’s arbitrary to decide who counts as white, or black, or Asian. And if I ask 10 different people who counts as white, I’ll get 10 different answers. Are Irish people white? Are Greek people white? Are Arabic people white? Historically, there’s been different answers to that question. Because it’s purely arbitrary, our ideas of what race is are more or less based on how we are raised.

As such, while we can say that people whose origins are primarily from Western Europe are more likely to have paler skin, or people who have ancestry from certain parts of Africa might be more susceptible to sickle cell anemia, it’s when you start trying to break things down into race that it kind of falls apart.

Likewise, the point you made about people from different ethnicity smelling different is actually primarily about their diet. We tend to smell like the foods we eat. So if for example you eat a lot of spicy foods, you will have a different smell to your sweat than someone who drinks lots of milk. That’s more culture than biology.

I do not accept your premise. There are physical indications of race. This is not a social but a physical difference.

People from different ethnical backgrounds have common traits with a genetic causes, there’s no arguing about that (color of skin, form of the face etc.).

The point is that the difference by consensus aren’t really big enough, and not clearly distinguished enough to divide humans into different races.

Ethnicity isn’t a social construct, race is. Racism is when you lump different ethnicities together based on skin colour and make generalisations about the people you’ve put into that ‘racial’ group (usually negative ones).

The amount of the human genome which varies between ethnicities is actually quite tiny, there’s no speciation happening, we’re all one race. It’s a social construct which allows cliques, gangs and tribes etc to choose who’s in and who’s out.

The fact that we’re a monoculture, to use a farming term, is evidenced by how quickly the pandemic spread.