Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

The Los Angeles Times
2019-09-11

Joel Dinerstien, Professor of English
Tulane University, New Orleans Louisiana

Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins β€” some of them inaccurate.
Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins β€” some of them inaccurate. (Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

How did a female skull lead to β€œCaucasians”?

In the vocabulary of ethnicity, some designations are obvious. African Americans are of African descent; Latinos have Latin American roots. But what about Caucasians? If a Native American told a Caucasian to β€œgo back where you came from,” where would that person go?

Geographically, Caucasia is a region of Russia, a place from which few white Americans come. Yet the term Caucasian remains in wide use as a synonym for a white person.

The classification dates back to 1795, when Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a respected German physician and anthropologist, conducted research in which he measured skulls, a then-common practice for comparing disparate human groups…

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