Being Garifuna: How do we measure race?

2 Mar

This short case study of the Garifuna community (who are part African, part Caribbean, and part Central American) in New York City examines racial identity and classification. It notes that when completing their census forms, the Garifunas “say they don’t fit into any box. Increasingly, there is a disconnect between how different ethnic and racial groups identify and how the Census wants to count them. In the 2010 Census, more than 18 million Latinos rejected the standard race categories, instead picking the catch-all known as ‘some other race.'” Viewers may reflect on what are the common conceptions of how race is defined, and how do the Garifunas differ from that conception? Like sociologists, everyday Garifunas are thinking of race more as a social construct, determined by cultural factors rather than skin color. For a more in-depth exploration of this issue, see also this excellent documentary on race as a social construction. This clip might also be useful in a discussion about methodology, and how researchers can objectify their research subjects by forcing them to fit into the researcher’s pre-defined classifications and reifying socially constructed categories.


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