Difference between Africans and Europeans ‘whites’
Carl Linnaeus is known for his classification of species. In this classification, Carl grouped different species into different groups. Carl classified human beings into four distinctive races based on their physical characteristic. These classes are white Europeans, dark Asiatic, and red American. Using an adaptation of an ancient model of the great chain of being, a hierarchical structure of all living things, Linaeus ranked these groups in a hierarchical manner. Although physical features provided a the primary basis for the racial grouping, Linnaeus also distinguished each racial group by behavior and other psychological factors that confirmed preconceived ideas about race. The rankings favored white Europeans over all non-European groups and placed people of African descents at the bottom of the hierarchical structure. Thus rather than challenge the validity of the folk notion about race, Linnaeus and subsequently other men engaged in efforts to find support to confirm the European racial worldview (Boone 10). In this paper I will discuss how the differences and similarities between Africans and Europeans tell us about race.
Blacks differ significantly in terms of color and body structure. According to the American journal of clinical nutrition, there are biological differences in body composition of whites and blacks. The most outstanding difference is the skin color (Boone 22). Blacks have darker skin as a result of melanin concentration while whites have light skin. The hair of blacks is kinky while that of whites is soft and lustrous. Blacks also have greater Body Mineral Content (BMC) and Body Mineral Density (BMD). This could be the reason black athletes are preferred. However, though BMC and BMD affect body fat, race does not affect the relationship between body fat and BMI. Both races have the same Total Body Water index. It is safe to say that apart from skin color and hair, Africans are similar to Europeans as far as body types are concerned. The difference in body weight and body type is influenced by genetics and lifestyle but not race.
At the time of Carl Linnaeus classification of races, Africans were lagging behind in terms of development. The only African presence in Europe was that of slaves. No wonder he perceived black people as inferior race. One of the similarities between whites and blacks is that they are both human. Africans, especially those in Africa believe in spiritual forces and though they became religious after colonization, they still practice some of their religious beliefs. Traditional medicine is also common in African communities different from European communities that believe in laboratory tested medicine (Boone 17). This is one of the reasons Europeans refer to Africans as primitive. Europeans do not believe in spirits or other supernatural beings but in God. Africans have continued to hold on to their indigenous beliefs even in the face of modernization. In African communities, polygamy is allowed through traditional weddings. Dowry is a common practice among African communities during marriages. Europeans on the other hand do not allow polygamy and there is no practice of dowry. Values of children respecting their elders are common between both races. Both races believe in punishing criminals. In traditional African context, wrongdoers were banned from their communities or called for an intervention. In modern society, both European and African communities have prisons for wrong doers.
As regards intellect, Africans have an equal intellect as Europeans. Granted Africans did not contribute to earlier inventions but this is because they belonged to a different culture. Recently, Africans have caught up with civilization and they are making the same contribution in the world’s development as the Europeans-especially Africans in developed countries where there are more opportunities. Their intellect is evident in their survival before civilization. Africans relied on their intelligence to light fire using stones and communicate with smoke signals. Europeans on the other hand had resources with which they used to invent telephones and other sophisticated inventions. Today, there are African engineers, doctors, pilots, and teachers just like there are Europeans. The representation of both races is not equal but this is not because Africans have a lower intellect, it is because Africans lack the same opportunities Europeans have.
Races differ in physical attributes such as hair and skin color. However, intellect, body weight and intelligence is not affected by race. Therefore past comments by Carl Linnaeus that Africans are inferior to whites because of their low intellect does not hold water. The distinctive difference between the two communities is their cultures. Africans have a different culture from the Europeans. Culture, skin color and hair texture aside, Africans and Europeans are equal. Stereotypes about Africans being primitive and inferior are not correct. In my town for example, there is a different neighborhood for blacks and whites. The neighborhoods of the blacks are inferior than those of the white. This is probably because the whites did not have-and still do not have the same opportunities as the whites.
Boone, S. L. (2012). Meanings beneath the skin: The evolution of African-Americans. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers: Lanham, Maryland.