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The Origin of Race in the USA

Guide

The Origin of Race in the USA

Author
Written by
Danielle Bainbridge
Reading time
Reading time
2 minutes
Suited for
Topic suited for
11-14 years

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Most people in the United States affiliate race with physical characteristics such as skin tone, hair texture, and bone structure. However, race is a specious classification of humankind constructed by white people. It uses ‘whiteness’ as the model of human worth for the purpose of establishing and maintaining social, economic, and political power.

Before you watch this video, ask yourself:

The Origin of Race in the USA

Do you believe that your race correlates to your skin tone? Because that wasn’t always the case. So how did Americans come to believe that race equals certain visible physical characteristics such as skin color and hair? And why is it that certain ethnic groups that were once considered “non-white” became reclassified as “white”? Watch the episode to find out.

After watching the video, reflect on the following questions to start conversation:

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Author

Danielle Bainbridge

Danielle Bainbridge

Danielle Bainbridge is a fun loving, history nerd who will never shy away from a good debate or bad joke. She has a PhD in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University, graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English and Theatre Arts, and is a new faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies. Which basically means her interests run the gamut from big Broadway musicals to the social and political movements of the last 200 years. She loves sharing her niche interests and enthusiasm with all of the Origin fans out there! And she takes any chance she gets to let people know she’s a Ravenclaw who can’t snap with her left hand.

Origin of Everything is a show about under-told history and culture hosted by Danielle Bainbridge that challenges our everyday assumptions. Produced by Complexly for PBS Digital Studios that can be seen here.