The idea that humans can be classified into sub-groups based on their physical characteristics, and often simply on physical appearance. Now no longer considered to be useful for scientific purposes, it was all the rage not too long ago. To give you an idea of how bad it was, here's a list of races picked out (and simplified, believe it of not) form an encyclopedia from the 1960s.

Races of Man:
Basic types.
Northern Chinese
American Indian
African Negro


  • Europe

  • Near and East India
    Indo-Dravidic Round-headed
    Indo-Dravidic Long-headed

  • Asia and Malaysia
    Eastern Mongoloid

  • The Americas

  • Africa
    African Negro

  • Australia, New Zealand, Borneo, and Pacific Islands
    Oceanic Negro

  • And...

    The Three Great Stocks of Man

    The World Book Encyclopedia, 1966

    The idea of "race" is a human construct. Humans have been mixing up their gene pools since time immemorial, which makes all of us a bunch of mongrels - we haven't been subjected to selective breeding in the way that livestock and food plants have. For example, there is no geographic dividing line between Europeans and Asians, just a gradual shift. What we look like is not who we are; the genes for intelligence are not connected to skin color.

    My university is currently hosting several panel discussions on the subject of race relations. As a result, I've suddenly become terribly race conscious; as someone who never even noticed before, suddenly words like "diversity" and "ethnicity" are getting awfully old. It seems to me that if people really want to make a world free of differences then we should stop having these dialogues and just get on with our lives without identifying ourselves by a certain pigment in our skin... but that's just me (and I got called a racist yesterday for having that opinion, somehow). Anyway, here are my thoughts on race:

    Racial segregation is the final step before complete globalization. I am currently reading Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, about why Eurasia has achieved such cultural dominance in the world. The questions that much of the book is based upon is "Why did Pizarro come to South America and conquer the Inca? Why didn't Atahuallpa (the Incan emperor) come to Spain and conquer Europe?" This book addresses the historical events that continue to shape the world. Over time, humans have spread out across the world, evolving into separate "races" if that is what we must call them. Over time there arose different tribes, and those tribes became civilizations, and they developed differently. Now, we are reuniting those tribes, bringing them back to the common origins from whence they started, but they are all different, they are all separately evolved. So each tribe has its own things, and the tribe that has the most is the tribe that dominates. Environmental factors influence who gets what; so do amazing individuals working within societies. I think that globalization as we know it today, the intermingling of all world cultures, began with Marco Polo. I am probably wrong, but this is my theory. There were always cultures clashing, coming together, evolving, but never before the 13th century did someone so dramatically begin to bring these separate tribes together. The subsequent centuries saw the size of the world shrink; distances between separate tribes became shorter with new traveling technologies and new trading networks. At times this was beneficial, and at times it was devastating. The Black Death, killing anywhere from 33% to 50% of the people from China to Egypt to Iceland, flowed along trade routes. Gunpowder, paper, Christianity, Islam, silk... all these things also flowed along those trade routes. From China all the way to Northern Africa and Northern Europe, one world culture began to emerge. Natural boundaries-- vast oceans and deserts-- were soon crossed, but the cultures that lived beyond had not felt the effects of globalization. Thus they were devastated by diseases and new technologies. None of the natives of the New World had immunity to smallpox. They had never seen a horse. They didn't know the Inquisition. The natives of southern and central Africa couldn't imagine that the invaders would defeat them and make them slaves en masse. Thus, peoples were conquered, and moved around the world by these powerful trade winds. Eventually, we come to what we have today: there is no more slavery. There is supposed to be freedom for all. Yet still we live with segregation. People still stick to their own tribe, still suffer from the effects of globalization. People in Jerusalem can't forget that their neighbor thinks about God a little differently than they do, so they kill the neighbors. People in Cincinnati see the police pulling over more blacks than whites, so they riot. People can't escape.

    Globalization has happened amazingly fast when one considers how much time the tribes were separate. The evolution of history does not follow the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Human thought does not change quickly, but the fact that tribes could become so separate proves that it does indeed change. Therefore, there is hope for desegregation, and things like busing are helpful, but it will not happen naturally except very slowly. If we wanted to speed it up, we would have to step in, Big Brother-style, and plan out communities according to race, forcing people to intermingle and not allowing them to move. My guess is that it would take at least three generations to complete desegregation in this manner.

    Race (rAs), v. t.

    To raze. [Obs.] Spenser.


    © Webster 1913

    Race (rAs), n. [OF. raïz, L. radix, -icis. See Radix.]

    A root. "A race or two of ginger." Shak.

    Race ginger, ginger in the root, or not pulverized.


    © Webster 1913

    Race, n. [F. race; cf. Pr. & Sp. raza, It. razza; all from OHG. reiza line, akin to E. write. See Write.]


    The descendants of a common ancestor; a family, tribe, people, or nation, believed or presumed to belong to the same stock; a lineage; a breed.

    The whole race of mankind.

    Whence the long race of Alban fathers come.

    ⇒ Naturalists and ethnographers divide mankind into several distinct varieties, or races. Cuvier refers them all to three, Pritchard enumerates seven, Agassiz eight, Pickering describes eleven. One of the common classifications is that of Blumenbach, who makes five races: the Caucasian, or white race, to which belong the greater part of the European nations and those of Western Asia; the Mongolian, or yellow race, occupying Tartary, China, Japan, etc.; the Ethiopian, or negro race, occupying most of Africa (except the north), Australia, Papua, and other Pacific Islands; the American, or red race, comprising the Indians of North and South America; and the Malayan, or brown race, which occupies the islands of the Indian Archipelago, etc. Many recent writers classify the Malay and American races as branches of the Mongolian. See Illustration in Appendix.


    Company; herd; breed.

    For do but note a wild and wanton herd,
    Or race of youthful and unhandled colts,
    Fetching mad bounds.

    3. (Bot.)

    A variety of such fixed character that it may be propagated by seed.


    Peculiar flavor, taste, or strength, as of wine; that quality, or assemblage of qualities, which indicates origin or kind, as in wine; hence, characteristic flavor; smack. "A race of heaven." Shak.

    Is it [the wine] of the right race ?


    Hence, characteristic quality or disposition. [Obs.]

    And now I give my sensual race the rein.

    Some . . . great race of fancy or judgment.
    Sir W. Temple.

    Syn. -- Lineage; line; family; house; breed; offspring; progeny; issue.


    © Webster 1913

    Race, n. [OE. ras, res, rees, AS. rÆs a rush, running; akin to Icel. rAs course, race. √118.]


    A progress; a course; a movement or progression.


    Esp., swift progress; rapid course; a running.

    The flight of many birds is swifter than the race of any beasts.


    Hence: The act or process of running in competition; a contest of speed in any way, as in running, riding, driving, skating, rowing, sailing; in the plural, usually, a meeting for contests in the running of horses; as, he attended the races.

    The race is not to the swift.
    Eccl. ix. 11.

    I wield the gauntlet, and I run the race.


    Competitive action of any kind, especially when prolonged; hence, career; course of life.

    My race of glory run, and race of shame.


    A strong or rapid current of water, or the channel or passage for such a current; a powerful current or heavy sea, sometimes produced by the meeting of two tides; as, the Portland Race; the Race of Alderney.


    The current of water that turns a water wheel, or the channel in which it flows; a mill race.

    ⇒ The part of the channel above the wheel is sometimes called the headrace, the part below, the tailrace.

    7. (Mach.)

    A channel or guide along which a shuttle is driven back and forth, as in a loom, sewing machine, etc.

    Race cloth, a cloth worn by horses in racing, having pockets to hold the weights prescribed. --
    Race course.
    (a) The path, generally circular or elliptical, over which a race is run.
    (b) Same as Race way, below. --
    Race cup, a cup given as a prize to the victor in a race. --
    Race glass, a kind of field glass. --
    Race horse.

    (a) A horse that runs in competition; specifically, a horse bred or kept for running races.
    (b) A breed of horses remarkable for swiftness in running.
    (c) (Zoöl.) The steamer duck.
    (d) (Zoöl.) A mantis. --
    Race knife, a cutting tool with a blade that is hooked at the point, for marking outlines, on boards or metals, as by a pattern, -- used in shipbuilding. --
    Race saddle, a light saddle used in racing. --
    Race track. Same as Race course

    (a), above. --
    Race way, the canal for the current that drives a water wheel.


    © Webster 1913

    Race, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Raced (rAst); p. pr. & vb. n. Racing (rA"sing).]


    To run swiftly; to contend in a race; as, the animals raced over the ground; the ships raced from port to port.

    2. (Steam Mach.)

    To run too fast at times, as a marine engine or screw, when the screw is lifted out of water by the action of a heavy sea.


    © Webster 1913

    Race, v. t.


    To cause to contend in a race; to drive at high speed; as, to race horses.


    To run a race with.


    © Webster 1913

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