Race

This is a map of “races”. The specific grouping here are: Ethiopian, Caucasian, Mongolian, Malaysian, and American. These classifications are nonsense. If you look at the groupings on the map you’ll notice areas where groups with recent common ancestry are grouped separately while others seem to have arbitrarily determined boundaries that ignore the long standing intermingling of the people on both sides of that boundary.

These groupings are not scientific.

It is true that some early anthropologists tried to determine biological realities that could create distinct biological categories. Those attempts did and have ultimately failed.

Instead, influencial figures like Kant & Hume came to define and popularize the biological notion of race. These were NOT scientists. They were European philosophers formulating justifications for European superiority. They did no research. They provided no evidence.

And the 4-5 categories that emerged are still assumed today to be real. Whether it’s European/Caucasian/White or Ethiopian/African or any other variation, the notions survive and continue to define popular ideas of biology.

To begin dismantling the various forms of racism we need to dismantle these systems of thought. You don’t just find these falsehoods showing up in explicit and overt racism.

You’ll literally find terms like “Caucasian” in medical records.

You’ll find populations with known genetic mutations, like the HEXA gene in people Ashkenazi Jewish descent, being the focus of study, while other groups categorized as a different “race” are ignored. This has resulted in these populations suffering from lack of genetic counseling because the issue hasn’t been identified, such as the prevalence of mutations of the HEXA gene in people of Irish descent, which was only recently recognized because of the lack of research resulting from prejudiced attitudes arising from inaccurate concepts of race. Same has shown to be true of the malaria hypothesis.

You’ll find cases like the industrial redlining in the US. Where postbellum policies led to the creation of toxic industrial zones intentional concentrated in the communities of disenfranchised former African slaves and their descendants, a practice that literally continues to this day. So while many medical conditions were tied to “race” in these communities, we have now clearly demonstrated that the environmental impact of the industrial zones is the catalyst, not ancestry. This is even more obvious in areas where different ancestral groups slowing integrated in these industrial zones and the rates of specific medical conditions rose in all ancestral groups. Similar issues apply to notions of “racial” health risks that ignore the environment impact of sun exposure and folate, which applies to any ancestral population with similar skin tones regardless of geographic origin but relative to the location of that population to the equator.

You’ll even find the incredibly disturbing influence that pseudoscientific beliefs about race had on people of African descent in the US throughout the covid pandemic after several groups & individuals made claims (largely online) that people of African ancestry could not catch the SARS-CoV-2 virus

As Nina Jablonski states:

“Race has a hold on history but no longer has a place in science. The sheer instability and potential for misinterpretation render race useless as a scientific concept. Inventing new vocabularies to deal with human diversity and inequity won’t be easy, but it must be done”

This is by far the most difficult task in confronting racism on all levels because we have become so heavily invested in our erroneous conceptions of race and integrated them so deeply into our identities that we’ll end up kicking and screaming to hold onto them.

I would say that the start is to understand that these categories were created and expounded by non-scientists specifically to justify their own sense of inherent superiority; that all attempts to justify distinct biological race categories have failed because the evidence has shown and continues to show that there aren’t any.

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