"Race" and the Construction of Human Identity



Race as a mechanism of social stratification and as a form of human identity is a recent concept in human history. Historical records show that neither the idea nor ideologies associated with race existed before the seventeenth century. In the United States, race became the main form of human identity, and it has had a tragic effect on low-status "racial" minorities and on those people who perceive themselves as of "mixed race." We need to research and understand the consequences of race as the premier source of human identity. This paper briefly explores how race became a part of our culture and consciousness and argues that we must disconnect cultural features of identity from biological traits and study how "race" eroded and superseded older forms of human identity. It suggests that "race" ideology is already beginning to disintegrate as a result of twentieth-century changes.