Racial classification of human beings involves the categorization of human beings by heritable characteristics, physical appearance, social status and ethnicity. This classification has many problems. Definition of race is difficult, and there exist no objective rules for making a decision concerning what constitutes a race or the race an individual belongs. Some individuals can belong to more than one race. Race is cultural construct and not biological, and the notion that race is biological construct derived from a false assumption, and this reduces the understanding and appreciation of the variation (Malik).
‘New races’ have not been slotted in to the present classification. A social change leads to a new form of identity and these leads to importation of new racial categories used in everyday life (Malik). For example, in the 1977 census the United States government came up with four racial categories but 20 years later a revision was made by the addition of one more race ‘Native Hawaiian’.
What explains skin color in humans?
Melanin is a special pigment which determines the skin color of human beings. This pigment also helps in the defense of the body from the ultraviolet rays. Melanocytes are the special cells which produces melanin (Hawks). The amount of melanin will bring about variation in the skin color ranging from white to dark brown. The amount of melanin pigment in the skin depends on hereditary factors and the level of light exposure.
Melanin pigment in lighter skinned people is broken down more quickly compared to the dark skinned people. Eumelanin and pheomelanin are the two types of melanin pigment. Melanin production is stimulated by sun’s light exposure (Hawks). The amount of melanin in a human skin varies according to the body part, it is less concentrated in the soles and the palms, but it is more concentrated on the mole and freckles.
Hawks. Why do People Differ in Skin Color?. John Hawks Weblog, 16 Nov. 2011.Web.
22 Sep. 2012.
Malik. The Trouble with Race: Science and the Problem of Racial Categories. 14
March. 2011. Web. 22 Sep. 2012.