Difference between Race and Color

August 2, 2016 by Editorial Team

Often, when there is talk about race, people think about color. For some reason, it’s fairly common for individuals to classify others as belonging to a particular race based on their skin color. In this case, race and color become somewhat synonymous. The question is, are they really the same?

Definition

race vs color

Race, in this context, is a classification of people sharing like and distinct physical characteristics, mutual cultural traditions, as well as geographic ancestry. This particular term was used mainly to identify people biologically back in the early 20th century. In other words, human populations were categorized based on genetic divergences and a set of observable characteristics stemming from their interaction with their environment.

Three to four main races are known today by anthropologists. One classification as found in the Meyers Konversations Lexicon 1885-90 breaks the human population into three races: Caucasian, Mongolian, and Negroid. Another classification by Carleton S. Coon in 1962 breaks them into four races: White/Caucasian, Mongoloid/Asian, Black/Negroid, and Australoid.

In 1950, the United Nations decided to stop using the term “race” in a statement and chose to use the term “ethnicity” instead. According to the ethnicity group classification in a study back in 1998, 5,000 diverse ethnic groups exist all over the world.

color
Colors may represent different nationalities

Skin color is varied among individuals belonging to separate races as well as those belonging to the same one. Let’s take India for an example. People residing in their Northern states such as Jammu, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab have fair skin which is similar to that of Caucasians, yet they are Indians. On the other hand, those residing in their Southern states such as Tamil Nadu or Karnataka have dark skin which is similar to African-Americans, but they, too, are Indians.

Race vs Color

What is the difference between race and color? Race refers to the classification of human populations based on their physical and genetic characteristics, cultural traditions, and geographic ancestry. The United Nations’ preferred term for race is “ethnicity”. Skin color is a physical attribute that is varied among individuals belonging to different races or ethnicities, as well as those belonging to the same one. Therefore, it cannot be a quality sufficient to be used to distinguish one race or ethnicity from another.

Comparison Chart

RaceColor
Classification of human populations based on physical and genetic characteristics, cultural traditions, and geographic ancestryPhysical attribute or feature that is varied among individuals of different races, as well as those of the same race