I took the sorting exercise in PBS web page. The mechanism was to simply sort out an array of pictures of different individuals by placing every photo under the correct race (European, American Indian, Asian, African American and Latino/ Hispanic). The purpose of this exercise is to determine if one can guess the race of a person through his/her appearance. I thought I was doing it right as I was confident of my familiarity with the faces of people belonging to any of these races. It took me barely a minute to complete the task. When I checked the result however, I was surprised to find out that I only got 8 correct guesses out of 20.
The exercise has just proven that it is difficult to racially classify people just by looking at their appearance. Looks can be deceiving. The person who looks like an Asian proves to be a European; the one who appears to be an Asian is actually an American Indian; a person with the Indian appearance can be a European and so on.
In deeper perspective, classifying people according to race is not only difficult but also wrong. It is like separating them from the society, treating them as inferior people. To some extent, classification causes the loss of identity of an individual. He/she will be known and regarded according to his race, not according to who he/she is. Racial grouping, a basic constituent of racism, is degrading even if the victim is not harmed or harassed; the classification itself already destroys his morale causing him to lose his confidence.