Essay on Race and Western Culture

Submitted By Y1ng
Words: 2336
Pages: 10

Race has always been a significant sociological theme, from the founding of the field and the formulation of the "classical" theoretical statements to the present. “Race” is a word like many words; it has a variety of meanings. Some of these occur frequently in everyday life, as we talk about “the human race” or about American “race relations”. Since the 19th century, sociological perspectives on race have developed and changed, always reflecting shifts in large-scale political processes. In the "classical" period colonialism and dialogistic racism held sway.

In the aftermath of WWII, with the destruction of European colonialism, the rise of the civil rights movement, and the surge in migration on a world scale, the sociology of race became a central topic. The field moved towards a more critical, more egalitarian awareness of race, focused particularly on the overcoming of prejudice and discrimination. Although recognition of these problems increased and political reforms made some headway in combating them, racial injustice and inequality were not overcome.

Western Culture Transcends Geography and Race
Since Western culture is based on objective reality and universal human nature, it is open to everyone, transcending both geography and race (George Reisman, 1990). In other words, Western culture is humanity’s culture. Contrary to conventional belief, one does not need to be Caucasian or of European descent to admire Western culture or, indeed, even help to build it. Any individual or society on earth can adopt it and thereby become westernized.

Indeed, millions of people each year with no ancestral ties to Europe recognize the universal appeal of Western culture. They do so by immigrating to and immersing themselves in nations where Western culture has meaningful presence. Or they personally embrace and promote Western culture in the nations where they live. These adopters of Western culture understand that truth is truth, ideals are ideals and values are values and it does not matter from where such things come or who originally discovered or identified them. In other words, adopters of Western culture know, on some level, that culture is an intellectual matter, not an issue of geography or race, for that matter, an issue of ethnicity, language, class, national origin or gender.

Race and Culture
Further, significant elements of Western culture came from other parts of the world, including the first civilizations and Asia. Also, individuals of all races, ethnicities and many national origins have contributed to the development of Western culture over the centuries and continue to do so today. And if current trends continue, Western culture may be taken to new heights in Asia in this century or the coming centuries rather than in areas dominated by Caucasians or people of European ancestry. It is also worth noting that the Aztec and Inca cultures of Central and South America, respectively, were in some ways nearly as advanced as European culture at the time, despite the fact that they were relatively young. Had the Aztec and Inca civilizations not been conquered and had more time to develop, it is conceivable that their cultures may have come to rival, even surpass, European culture (Jackson J Spielvogel, 2002).

All of this is to show that race has nothing or at most virtually nothing to do with a culture’s level of development. A certain race may appear to be more advanced at a given time, but, over the broad view of history, it is clear that no race is superior or innately more capable than others. Individuals of any race could have conceivably created the first civilized cultures and individuals of any race could have conceivably first developed Western or advanced culture. In other words, Western culture is in no way inherently Caucasian or European. The level of a culture’s development is ultimately explained, not by race, but by the fundamental ideas of the culture particularly by the degree to which…