Race, How it Functions, and its Effects

Race, How it Functions, and its Effects


Race has been a major issue in the history of human kind. The concept of race, regardless of whether it has a biological or scientific support, is a profound and influential concept (Hall, 2017). Throughout history, human civilizations have used race to build and legitimize power structures, privilege, marginalization, and repression against minorities and women. The definition, in the dictionary, of the word of race is insufficient because it fails to represent the intricacies of race’s effect on people’s daily lives in its most basic forms. Important to remember is that race is a social construct that was created to categorize humans according to arbitrary criteria such as skin color and other physical characteristics such as height (Hage, 2009). In order to comprehend anything, it is important to first acknowledge the effects of race on the identities and experiences of people in order to craft a definition that is comprehensive and real. In this paper, the main purpose is to define race and to expound on how it functions. The paper also addresses its effects in society.

Race and Racism

Race is a notion that does not have a universally accepted definition in the scientific community. The term “race” may be described as a group of individuals who share certain physical characteristics with one another on the one hand, and as a group of people who share certain physical characteristics with one another on the other (Pithouse, 2016). It might also refer to individuals from a certain location or heritage who have common qualities, such as geography, according to another interpretation. In most cases, race is related with biology and physical features such as skin color and hair texture, among other things. Racism is a vague notion that is used to categorize persons based on a variety of factors, including their genetic origin and social identity, among others.

The concept of race leads to other social constructs such as racism. According to Banton (2009), racism refers to the classification of people as belonging to the same race based on their physical qualities such as their skin color and facial characteristics. Contrary to popular belief, despite the fact that genes have an impact on these apparent qualities, the great majority of genetic diversity occurs within ethnic groups rather than between them. Race, as per the assertions of Gordon (2000), should be viewed as a social construct rather than as a biological construct, because race is an idea. Since ancient times, race has been employed to build social hierarchies and to exert dominion over the remaining human population. However, despite the fact that there are no clearly defined borders between racial groups (Wright, 2004), there is an indistinct and unresolved link between racial groupings and human genetic diversity (Goldberg, 2002), as well as demographic groups, throughout the world (Yudell, 2014). In general, race may be described as a culturally organized, systematic manner of perceiving, understanding, and looking at reality that is divided into groups based on their cultural background.

Functioning of Race

Racial discrimination is well-known in most cultures, with race frequently being used to construct and legitimize power structures, as well as to oppress, marginalize, and suppress minorities and other minorities. If racial and ethnic disparities have survived for as long as they have, they must have played a significant role in society, according to the functionalism theory of race and ethnicity (Moreton-Robinson, 2015). Racial discrimination has always been and will continue to be the most important obligation of racism, and this has been and will continue to be the case. For example, slaveholders in the American South justified slavery by claiming that black people were essentially inferior to white people and that, in the long run, enslavement was better to liberty. When we take a functionalist perspective to racism, we can also analyze the ways in which racism may benefit the operation of society in a good way by building relationships between in-group members and ostracizing members of other groups (Hickey, 2016). The unwillingness to accept strangers into a community, for example, may contribute to the strengthening of the bonds that exist amongst members of the community.

Racism and ethnicity serve as important symbols of identification and sources of belonging for individuals of all races and ethnicities, according to the standpoint of symbolic interactionists (Paradies, 2016). The majority of people inside the dominant group would not even hold racist sentiments if they did not come into contact with these individuals on a regular basis. As such, the building of an idealized picture of the minority assists the dominant group in defending their own interpretation of the inferior group, so aiding in the preservation of the status quo as it is now defined (Yudell, 2014). For example, a person whose ideas of a given group are based on pictures communicated through popular culture and who maintains those beliefs despite the fact that the individual has never met someone from that group in person may exemplify this.

Effects of Race in a Society

Racism refers to a social construction that is used to categorize and assign social rank to individuals. In socioeconomic, social, legal, political, economic, and sociocultural context, racism may be defined as a network of institutions and ideas that organize and sustain an uneven distribution of advantages, wealth, and influence in benefit of the dominant racial group(s) at the expense of other racial groups. Racism is defined as an uneven distribution of advantage, wealth, and control that advantages the dominant racial groups at the expense of other racial groups (Banton, 2009). Three separate but connected features of prejudice toward social groups are encompassed by the term racism: predisposition (emotional bias), stereotyping (cognitive bias), and discriminating (legal discrimination) (Hall, 2017). According to the dictionary, prejudice is defined as an emotional response to another person or group based on one’s previously held beliefs about that person or group. When someone projects their own thoughts, beliefs, and expectations onto another person without first acquiring knowledge about that person, this is referred to as projectionism. Discrimination is the denial of equal rights on the basis of preconceived assumptions and prejudices about a person or group of people.

Race and the related concepts of racism develop into other concepts that redefine how a society relates. For example, structural or institutional racism, personal mediated discrimination, and internalized racism emerge in societies where race plays an important role. It is referred to as structural racism when there is an unequal distribution of commodities, services, and opportunities based on race (also known as institutional racism). The development of hereditary disadvantage occurs as a result of organizations embracing discriminatory practices. When it comes to racism, it can be either structural or institutional. Racism refers to the processes, attitudes, and actions that lead to discrimination against minority ethnic groups as a consequence of unconscious prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racial stereotyping (Molina and James, 2016). Racism can also be referred to as institutional or systemic racism, depending on who you ask. Historically, racism has been indissolubly related to both institutionalized and structural racism. Institutional racism has a negative impact on educational institutions, the criminal justice system, and the health-care system, among other things. Racism among institutions such as the police or the criminal justice system in a certain country is exemplified by the actions (or inaction) of individuals within those institutions. Economically wealthy nations with high rates of COVID-19 mortality among Black persons are considered to be suffering from structural racism. It is referred to as structural racism when a society’s more major political and economic disadvantages, such as higher poverty rates among Black people and people of Asian descent, are manifested. For lack of a better term, institutional racism has a daily impact on the lives, well-being, and future possibilities of minority groups in a majority of countries in the world. White supremacy is normalized when historical, cultural, and institutional actions that favor white people at the cost of minorities are accepted as standard behavior, especially in institutions and structures of society.

Personally mediated racism is the case of prejudice leading to discrimination. Racist acts can be premeditated, unintentional, committed by commission or omission, and they can be intentional or accidental. In the context of personally mediated racism, prejudice and discrimination are two aspects that must be distinguished. Prejudice refers to differing assessments of others’ abilities and motivations that are based on their race, while discrimination refers to differing acts against others that are based on their race (Graham et al., 2016). People’s actions of racism can be intentional or unintentional, and they can take the form of either commissions or omissions of acts of racism. Poor or non-existent service, failure to clearly explain choices, and distrust are all manifestations of a lack of respect.

Internalized racism is a term used to describe the process through which members of a stigmatized group internalize negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic value. No one, not even people who look like them, could persuade them to see from a different perspective. A component of this process is accepting limitations on one’s complete humanity, which includes one’s range of ambitions, right to personal determination, and range of allowed self-expression (Sosoo, Bernard, and Neblett, 2020). Racial insults as identifiers, rejection of ancestral culture, and severe violence are all indications of social minority’ feelings of self-devaluation, despair, impotence, and hopelessness, as well as their feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.


The definition of race today is insufficient because it fails to represent the intricacies of race’s effect on people’s daily lives in its most basic forms. In this discussion, the main purpose was to define race and to expound on how it functions while also addressing its effects in society. It has been defined as a group of individuals who share certain physical characteristics with one another on the one hand, and as a group of people who share certain physical characteristics with one another on the other. On the other hand, racism is the classification of people as belonging to the same race based on their physical qualities such as their skin color and facial characteristics. The most important effect is that racism leads to structural or institutional racism, personal mediated discrimination, and internalized racism emerge in societies.

Reference List

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Ghassan Hage (2009) “Is Australia Racist?”

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Sosoo, E.E., Bernard, D.L. and Neblett Jr, E.W., (2020). The influence of internalized racism on the relationship between discrimination and anxiety. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 26(4), p.570.