Race: The Power of an Illusion, the Difference Between Us, Episodes 1&2

Race: The Power of an Illusion, went into a very detailed description of how race became a social descriptor and way to separate populations by appearance. I thought that this documentary was incredibly thought-provoking. This documentary started by explaining how there is no genetic marker or biological component to race. It also explained how racial groups have more genetic differences between each other than they do between different racial groups. I thought this fact was significant because before watching this documentary I believed that I would have many similar genetic markers to people that share the same race as me. I think that this opened my eyes to how mixed the human race is genetically and how race is only a social concept.

I also found it interesting how the concepts of inferior races started with Thomas Jefferson and a book he wrote. I had no idea that he began the idea that blacks were inferior to whites and could never assimilate into white America. It also blew my mind that he called on science to find the difference between whites and blacks starting the idea that there is a biological difference between races. I had never heard about this before this documentary. I only knew that Thomas Jefferson had written the declaration of independence and he was a slave owner. I found it interesting how one phrase in a book started a whole social movement and scientific movement to discover a difference between races. I think that we are sometimes only taught the good stuff about the founding fathers and other famous people in American history to preserve the idea that America is a great country founded on principles that give freedoms to all. But, in reality, it’s a lot more complicated, and some facts are brushed under the rug. I also found it interesting that the justification for slavery was that blacks weren’t human and could be kept in bondage because they could assimilate into white culture and white America. If slave owners had just admitted that they need free labor to keep the American economy going, we might not have created the idea that race is biological.

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