Race is a difficult topic and claims that we now live in a “color-blind” society often ring hollow and untrue. But while we talk about race and racism constantly, how much do we actually know about the science and history of race? Read on for 10 things you should know about race.
Sources: TheRoot.com, RandomHistory.com, DoSomething.org
Humans obviously differ in a variety of physical ways – skin pigmentation, hair and eye color, height and so on. Scientists have shown, however, that humans have not evolved into separate subspecies, or “races,” and that the concept of race is purely of political origins. There are no racial distinctions when it comes to biology.
For instance, those who live in rural West Africa have some of the lowest rates of high blood pressure in the world. Americans of African descent, however, have recorded some of the highest. Scientists point to factors such as environment, diet, and daily activities, as having a much bigger impact on something like blood pressure than an individual’s race.
It has been shown that darker skin developed in those living in Africa due to the hot climate and sun exposure, leaving many to wonder about darker-skinned natives in Alaska and Northern Canada. Scientists have shown that those living in northern regions with longer periods of darkness still receive higher levels of UVR reflected off of ice and snow, and their vitamin D-rich diets — fish and seal — help compensate for the reduced sunshine during the winter.
Blood banks often try to recruit minorities to donate, claiming that matches are more likely within races. Science has proven otherwise. There is as much variation in blood type between races as within them, and blood types are purely an outcome of the genetic make-up of your parents.
Race as been associated with the idea that there are innate biological differences, which has been debunked by scientists. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is associated with a shared culture, religion or language, and remains an important distinction.
Scientists have found that the allele (DNA codings that determine distinct traits that can be passed on from parents to offspring) associated with lighter skin color in Europeans originated fairly recently — approximately 6,000-10,000 years ago — while the allele in East Asians is altogether different. This indicates that the two groups evolved light skin separately.
The Human Genome Project, a massive undertaking in the U.S. that successfully mapped out the complete human genetic code, showed that there are no genetic distinctions with regard to race.
Eugenists, or those that attempt to “improve” the genetic quality of the human population, tried to use IQ tests during the early 1900s to show that blacks and southern and eastern Europeans were intellectually inferior to Americans of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian descent. They were unsuccessful, and by the 1940s were largely dismissed as searching for an excuse for racial hatred.
After the most common essential websites such as email or social media, ancestry websites are extremely popular online – although it’s important to note that pornography sites remain more widely visited. A molecular biologist from Johns Hopkins University once estimated that each individual has about 6.7 billion relatives across the globe, basically meaning we’re all related in some way.
As children are incredibly impressionable, it is thought that infants internalize the different ways that those around them respond to people of different races, making the social-construct argument of racism that much more powerful. The argument goes that the entire social structure we inhabit is affected by at least one social construction — race, according to anthropology.net.