Looking in the Cultural Mirror

How understanding race and culture helps us answer the question: "Who am I?"

The Myth of Race

A new book topples myths about race

As a young white psychologist, I married an African American anthropologist who studies Brazilian Indians and went off with her and our daughter to live in Brazil. There I became fascinated by the very different way Brazilians think about race, and began my decades-long involvement with studying race cross-culturally and from different disciplinary perspectives—leading ultimately to my Psychology Today blog Looking in the Cultural Mirror, and to publication of The Myth of Race

The book draws on scientific knowledge to topple a series of myths that pass as facts, correct false assumptions, and clarify cultural misunderstandings about the highly charged topic of race.

Here are some of those myths:

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• The myth that humans are divided into Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid races

• The myth that people cannot change their race

• The myth of the tragic mulatto

• The myth of biologically based differences in intelligence among the races

In overturning widespread mistaken beliefs, The Myth of Race deals concisely with a wide range of topics, including ways the concept of race differs in different cultures and race relations in the United States.

The book demonstrates that the apparently straightforward concept of race is actually a confused mixture of two different concepts; and the confusion often leads to miscommunication. The first concept, biological race, simply doesn’t exist in the human species. Instead, what exists is gradual variation in what people look like (e.g., skin color and facial features) and in their genes, as you travel around the planet--with more distant populations appearing more different than closer ones. If you travel in different directions, the populations look different in different ways. The second concept, social race, is a set of cultural categories for labeling people based on how their ancestors were classified, selected aspects of what they look like, or various combinations of both. These sets of categories vary widely from one culture to another.

Interested in learning more? The Myth of Race is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Advance praise for the book has come from former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and from anthropologist Audrey Smedley, author of Race in North America. Secretary Cohen wrote, “Writing with stunning clarity, Dr. Fish poses profound and perturbing questions about race...For anyone interested in the subject of race and the impact it has on a nation's attitudes and social order, The Myth of Race is must reading.” Professor Smedley wrote, “Scientists and scholars around the world have concurred that the idea of race has no basis in science. The Myth of Race, is an admirable attempt to explain and explore this new perspective on human variation.”

 

Image Sources:

Hermandad-Friendship by Rufino Uribe, Grupo Babel (Wikimedia Commons):

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hermandad_-_friendship.jpg

The Myth of Race cover

  

Check out The Myth of Race as well as my other books at http://amazon.com/Jefferson-M.-Fish/e/B001H6NFUI

The Myth of Race is available on Amazon http://amzn.to/10ykaRU and Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/XPbB6E

Friend/Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JeffersonFishAuthor

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Visit my website: www.jeffersonfish.com

Jefferson M. Fish, Ph.D., has authored and edited 12 books, including The Myth of Race and other publications on race, culture, therapy, and drug policy.

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