The Oxford Dictionary, no doubt reflecting usage in a now-historical period, defines race as reflecting common descent. Today, in any modern nation in the world, in any large metropolis, what are the chances of finding closely-bonded communities of common descent? Are we not all happily jumbled up?
In East Asia, apart possibly for the people of Japan, would there not be a substantial conglomeration of Korean, Manchurian, Mongolian, and other ethnic peoples all genetically blended with the Chinese over the millennia?
If shared origins are relevant (for whom?), why not use the nation of birth as a defining characteristic? Indeed, what is the difficulty in defining peoples by their specific ethnicity, by their tribal roots, if these have not been modified by inter-marriage? In truth, who amongst us can claim to be of pure genetic origin?
The Oxford Dictionary also refers to a race of nobles, Orientals, poets, and such-like – such imprecision! Does common usage, that is, loose language, warrant inclusion in a book of reference? Imagine sanctifying the innovative phraseology of real estate agents and sports commentators!
My recent post Race – genetic or cultural was triggered by an article sent to me by a friend, which speculated about the genetic or social bases of the concept of race. Has anyone found a genetic basis of defining race?
In the immediate post-Second World War Two period, when the U.N. and its agencies began to gird their loins, there was a valiant effort to classify humanity thus: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. What was the basis of this? Geography, associated with skin colour? How scientific was this? I am not aware of any societal basis for ‘race.’
As a descendant of the ‘Caucasians,’ I know that, when our colouration is washed out, many of us would fit into some part of Europe. Indeed, when people sharing my ethno-cultural heritage marry white people, the offspring tend to lose their colour. What a terrible loss! (Heh, heh!). Fancy adding to the population of ‘palefaces.’
The description ‘race’ is a misnomer. There is no place for it in our lexicon.