Difference Between Race and Color

Key Difference – Race vs Color

We all know about the concept of race that is used to classify human beings into different groupings. Though the color of skin is one way to classify humans into different races, race and color of skin remain two different concepts. There are many who feel that the color of skin is enough to differentiate between human populations and these are the people who equate race with color of skin. However, there are differences between color of skin and race that will be talked about in this article.

What is Race?

The idea that race of humans could be decided on the basis of the color of their skin was once very popular, and there were scientists and anthropologists who talked about a color of skin when talking about a particular human race. These people labeled races according to the color of the skin though they also had a name for the race that did not make use of the color of skin. It was Charles Darwin who rejected the notion that skin color had anything to do with the race of the individual. He said that the number of colors attributed to races was arbitrary, and some conceived three while others said that there were 4 colors of skin and thus 4 human races.

Difference Between Race and Color

Charles Darwin

What is Color?

It was a Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus who for the first time in the 18th century created a scientific model for human races based on the color of skin though the concept of color of skin as a metaphor for race was introduced at the end of 17th century by a French doctor Francois Bernier. Linnaeus categorized human races in to four main categories based on the color of skin; white race (Europeans), yellow race (Asians), red race (Americans), and black race (Africans). To these, brown race (Polynesians, Melanesians, and aborigines of Australia) was added later. It was anthropology founder Johann Friedrich Blumenbach who made popular the classification system of human race based on 5 colors that included whites or Caucasians, Blacks or the Ethiopians, Yellow people or the Mongolians, red people or the Americans, and brown people or the Malayans.

However, after World War II and criticism of the classification of human beings on the basis of the color of their skin, any system of classification that talked in terms of skin color was rejected as baseless and without any scientific reasoning.

The notion that white people were superior to the blacks and that the blacks of the world were white man’s burden led to a situation where anthropologists and scientists started talking about human races in terms of color of the skin. While there were earlier 4 human races based upon 4 skin colors, a fifth race was added by German scientist Blumenbach. The tendency to divide humans into different races on the basis of skin color was finally rejected after World War II, and it was declared that the concept of human races itself was ridiculous and that all human beings belonged to the same species of homo sapiens.

Race vs Color

What is the Difference Between Race and Color?

Definitions of Race and Color:

Race: The concept of race that is used to classify human beings into different groupings.

Color: The color of skin is one way to classify humans into different races.

Characteristics of Race and Color:


Race: Races are labeled according to the color of skin.

Color: Color is used as a variant in labeling.


Image Courtesy:

1. “Darwin restored2” by Elliott & Fry – Library of Congress[1]. [Public Domain] via Commons

2. “Coloured-family” by Henry M. Trotter at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. [Public Domain] via Commons

  • domnique albakurkey

    Obviously race is monkeys and color is black