During the era of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, there was a prevalent concept that all white, blonde, blue-eyed males, which Hitler designated as the Aryan race, were intellectually superior over the darker-skinned Germans. Do we still make this racial distinction today? If so, how broad spread is it?
Throughout our school years in History or Social Studies classes, we learned about Hitler’s idea that a perfect race existed. Unfortunately, if you were not part of that race, you had to attempt to flee the country, or were sent to a concentration camp because Hitler believed there was a superior collection of humans that he referred to as the Aryan race. Hitler wanted Germany filled with individuals who were "white-skinned, blue-eyed, fair-haired, or pure Nordic people."
Even though we might have figured that Hitler was one of the founding fathers in trying to create the perfect race, researchers and historians conclude that the term "Aryan," dates back to ancient Indo-Iranians, and Indo-European peoples, who roamed the land in what we know as present day Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Primary writings found in Sanskrit language refer to Aryan as "ahr," which translates to "the land of Iranians," or "of noble or good family."
German born Friedrich Schlegel, and other 18th Century academic professionals, proposed the idea of an Aryan race based upon the characteristic features of a predominant German class of people. Beside the features described above, these people also had a fit, muscular body structure. Another researcher, French born Joseph Arthur, supported Schlegel’s theory, which then stoked the curiosity that an Aryan race existed during Hitler’s reign.
Is this idea of a singular race still prevalent today, and if so, how broad spread is it?
Many researchers remain divided on whether or not this idea exists in today’s society. Some believe the issue of race arises when an individual is born, and experiences the things happening around them. Other researchers believe the theory of race runs deeper than how we interact with the individual who sits next to us on the bus, or the cashier at the local supermarket.
Professor George Gill, weighed in on this debate in his article "Does Race Exist?," when he stated that "Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real. Furthermore, they tend to see nothing wrong in defining and naming the different populations of Homo sapiens. The other half of the biological anthropology community believes either that the traditional racial categories for humankind are arbitrary and meaningless, or that at minimum there are better ways to look at human variation than through the "racial lens."