Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2020-06-26 01:10Z by Steven

Shilling for U.S. Empire: The Legacies of Scientific Racism in Puerto Rico

The Abusable Past
Radical History Review
2020-06-22

R. Sánchez-Rivera
Department of Sociology
University of Cambridge


Pablo Delano, A Group of newly made Americans at Ponce, Porto Rico, (detail from the conceptual art installation The Museum of the Old Colony, 2016-ongoing). Source: Stereocard published by M. H. Zahner, Niagara Falls, New York, 1898. Photographer not identified.

Recently, a published, peer-reviewed article caused a great deal of controversy when it circulated among many academic Facebook pages such as Latinx Scholars, Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA)-Puerto Rico Section. This article, “Economic Development in Puerto Rico after US Annexation: Anthropometric Evidence,” written by Brian Marein, a PhD student in economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, brings together data to show that the average height of men in Puerto Rico increased by 4.2cm after the U.S. “annexation” (a euphemism for colonization). The author uses anthropometrics to argue that U.S. colonialism was actually beneficial to Puerto Ricans “in contrast to the prevailing view in the literature.” His main conclusion is that because U.S. officials brought in resources, food, and education, the life of Puerto Ricans improved (inferred by the increased height of men) as a result of colonization.

Anthropometrics refers to the measuring of people’s bodies and skeletons to correlate their difference to “racial” and psychological traits that privileged Eurocentric ideas of beauty, intelligence, ableness, morality, among others. This stems from a long history of “race science” that surged from the polygenetic assumption that (1) “race” was a biological type and (2) “races” had distinct origins. Two major theories of human origins and heredity dominated during the nineteenth century: monogenism and polygenism. Thinkers who advocated for monogenism argued that all humans came from the same origin but were in different developmental stages (usually with Whites at the top and Black people at the bottom). However, during the second half of the nineteenth century polygenism, or the notion that the “races” had separate origins and should be considered as distinct and immutable species, became more widely accepted…

Read the entire article here.

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How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2020-06-23 17:55Z by Steven

How Should I Think About Race When Considering a Sperm Donor?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2020-06-16

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University


Illustration by Tomi Um

I am an American woman, of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and I strive to live my life as an active agent against racism and white supremacy. I am beginning to consider having children and am open to bearing a child as a single mother. It is possible to sort through sperm donors by race, eye color, education level and so on. If I choose a donor of color, am I condemning my child to be born into a system designed not to serve them? Or can I use my white privilege to help them fight that system? Would my future child of color feel separated from their heritage with me as their mother? If I choose a white donor, am I succumbing to racist ideas of what traits are “desirable,” or taking the “easy road” in knowing my child will look more like me? What do you think? Name Withheld

Women have been making choices about their children’s possible appearance and identity from the beginning of human history. Long before genetics, people knew that parental characteristics show up in their offspring. With modern technologies, the prospects for trying to fix your child’s heritable characteristics are expanding, raising plenty of ethical issues. Race, however, is not a biological fact but a social fact — a social fact that, for example, Americans who are known to have African ancestry are regarded as African-American. What’s more, having an African-American donor doesn’t tell you what your child’s skin or hair will look like. You can be socially black without looking black, like Walter White, the longtime head of the N.A.A.C.P.

I’m spelling all this out because your question about having a child with a sperm donor of color presupposes that it will produce a child who won’t look “white,” and that’s not necessarily the case. Suppose you have a white-looking son with an African-American sperm donor. Then you and your child will have a choice to make about whether he or she should identify as African-American. Some people think that failing to do so — “passing for white” — is somehow dishonest. Yet to hold that you must identify as black in those circumstances would be to accede to a longstanding American notion (“the one-drop rule”) that one black ancestor makes you black. You could reasonably reject that notion, which is rooted in the history of slavery and the nonsensical racial theories that grew up with it…

Read the entire article here.

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HALF MEASURES: California’s Journey Toward Counting Multiracial People By 2022

Posted in Campus Life, Census/Demographics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Reports, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2020-04-29 00:02Z by Steven

HALF MEASURES: California’s Journey Toward Counting Multiracial People By 2022

Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC)
2020
30 pages

Thomas Lopez, Editor
Sarah Gowing, Lead Researcher

Reviewers:

G. Reginal Daniel, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Sociology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Kelly F. Jackson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work
Arizona State University

Racial and ethnic data is collected by the government to enable the enforcement of civil rights laws, ensure equitable distribution of resources, and measure inequality. In 2016, the State of California released new policy standards for the collection and public reporting of racial/ethnic demographic data. All State agencies, boards, and commissions that collect this data must comply by January 1, 2022, allowing respondents to select multiple racial/ethnic categories. They must also disseminate this information in such a way as to not obscure mixed-race individuals. Potentially the most significant change to the standards would be the counting of people with mixed Latina/o and non-Latina/o identity. California will be the first state in the nation to do this.

This study’s aim is to determine whether these agencies are in compliance or whether there are still changes to be made. After reviewing organizations and aims from four sectors (education, business, health, and criminal justice), it was found that only one system is in compliance with the data collection, and none have followed the standards for race/ethnic data presentation. The counting of mixed Latina/o identified people is the most conspicuous gap in both the data collection and reporting methods. With less than two years to make the required changes, agencies must ensure that they are beginning the process now due to the time and resources required.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • About MASC
  • Terminology
  • Introduction
  • Current vs. Future Standards
    • Future Data Collection Compliance
    • Future Data Presentation Compliance
  • Methodology
  • Results
    • Data Collection
    • Data Presentation
  • Discussion & Recommendations
  • About the Authors
  • Works Cited
  • Appendix A: Assembly Bill 532
  • Appendix B: Supporting Data

Read the entire report here.

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Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2020-02-20 22:46Z by Steven

Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel

Bloomsbury
2020-02-20
224 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781350099838
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781350099852
PDF eBook ISBN: 9781350099845

Josie Gill, Lecturer in Black British Writing
University of Bristol, United Kingdom

In this important interdisciplinary study, Josie Gill explores how the contemporary novel has drawn upon, and intervened in, debates about race in late 20th and 21st century genetic science. Reading works by leading contemporary writers including Zadie Smith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Octavia Butler and Colson Whitehead, Biofictions demonstrates how ideas of race are produced at the intersection of science and fiction, which together create the stories about identity, racism, ancestry and kinship which characterize our understanding of race today. By highlighting the role of narrative in the formation of racial ideas in science, this book calls into question the apparent anti-racism of contemporary genetics, which functions narratively, rather than factually or objectively, within the racialized contexts in which it is embedded. In so doing, Biofictions compels us to rethink the long-asked question of whether race is a biological fact or a fiction, calling instead for a new understanding of the relationship between race, science and fiction.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Roots of African Eve: Science Writing on Human Origins and Alex Haley’s Roots
  • 2. Race, Genetic Ancestry Tracing and Facial Expression: “Focusing on the Faces” in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go
  • 3. “One Part Truth and Three Parts Fiction”: Race, Science and Narrative in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth
  • 4. “The Sick Swollen Heart of This Land”: Pharmacogenomics, Racial Medicine and Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt
  • 5. Mutilation and Mutation: Epigenetics and Racist Environments in Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery (PMAS) presents: Christianity, Race, and Haunting of the Biomedical Sciences

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Live Events, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2020-02-18 19:13Z by Steven

Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery (PMAS) presents: Christianity, Race, and Haunting of the Biomedical Sciences

University of Pennsylvania
Max Kade Center
3401 Walnut Street
Suite 329-A
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wednesday, 2020-02-19, 16:00-17:30 EST (Local Time)

Terence Keel, Associate, Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies and the UCLA Institute for Society & Genetics
University of California, Los Angeles

The idea that so-called races reflect inherent biological differences between social groups has been a prominent aspect of Western thought since at least the Enlightenment. While there have been moments of refuting this way of thinking—most notably, the social constructionist thesis emerging as a dominant framework in the aftermath of WWII—fixed biological conceptions of race haunt new genetic technologies, where race is thought to be measurable at the molecular level. Keel argues that the resilience of this naturalized understanding of race may stem less from overtly political motives on the part of scientists and more from our inherited theological traditions that predate the Enlightenment and continue to shape and limit the intellectual horizon of scientific reasoning.

For more information, click here.

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The pseudoscience of hate

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2020-02-06 18:35Z by Steven

The pseudoscience of hate

The New Statesman
2020-02-05

Anjana Ajuha, Contributing Science Writer
The Financial Times

Genetics does not recognise race as a biologically meaningful concept, but that doesn’t stop racists invoking its findings.

How To Argue With a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality. Adam Rutherford Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 224pp, £12.99

Accidental encounters with racists lead me to believe that they are open to neither reason nor self-improvement. I must conclude, then, that a book entitled How to Argue With a Racist will remain untouched by those who would most benefit from reading it. This is a pity, as there is a growing army who have succumbed to a phenomenon known as “race realism”. This is racism reinterpreted for the internet age: a heady brew of misunderstood science, ugly conspiracy and plain old prejudice that forms the basis of (usually) far-right and white supremacist thinking.

Race realism promotes the spurious idea that science has uncovered distinct and meaningful differences between races but that this “truth” is somehow suppressed by snowflake scientists in hock to political correctness. Those supposed truths are then contorted by their abusers into parodies of racial destiny: black men are born to sprint but not to swim; Jews are born into moneylending; and, of course, whites are born above all others. Black people are several rungs below white peers on the social ladder not because of systemic oppression and discrimination but because they are naturally more stupid.

It is a perverse system of thought that seeks to justify racial separateness and conveniently reinforce assertions of white superiority. This is an ideology treading water amid the flood of data pouring out of genetics studies and a mistaken concept of ancestry propagated by the consumer DNA testing market – which happily nurtures fantasies of Viking descent…

Read the entire review here.

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How to Argue With a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2020-02-06 18:26Z by Steven

How to Argue With a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality

Weidenfeld & Nicolson an (imprint of The Orion Publishing Group)
2020-02-06
224 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781474611244
eBook ISBN-13: 9781474611268

Adam Rutherford

How to Argue With a Racist

Race is real because we perceive it. Racism is real because we enact it. But the appeal to science to strengthen racist ideologies is on the rise – and increasingly part of the public discourse on politics, migration, education, sport and intelligence. Stereotypes and myths about race are expressed not just by overt racists, but also by well-intentioned people whose experience and cultural baggage steers them towards views that are not supported by the modern study of human genetics. Even some scientists are uncomfortable expressing opinions deriving from their research where it relates to race. Yet, if understood correctly, science and history can be powerful allies against racism, granting the clearest view of how people actually are, rather than how we judge them to be.

How to Argue With a Racist is a vital manifesto for a twenty-first century understanding of human evolution and variation, and a timely weapon against the misuse of science to justify bigotry.

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Episode 4: Race, Identity, Reparations, and the Role of Ancestral DNA Testing ft. Alondra Nelson

Posted in Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2020-01-28 16:17Z by Steven

Episode 4: Race, Identity, Reparations, and the Role of Ancestral DNA Testing ft. Alondra Nelson

The Received Wisdom Podcast
2020-01-27

Dr. Shobita Parthasarathy (co-host), Professor of Public Policy
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Dr. Jack Stilgoe (co-host) – Senior Lecturer
Department of Science and Technology Studies, University College London

In this episode, Shobita and Jack answer listener questions, discuss Jack’s trip to the weird world of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and talk to Professor Alondra Nelson about the social life of ancestral DNA testing. Professor Nelson is the Harold F. Linder Chair in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and President of the Social Science Research Council.

Listen to the episode (00:59:21) here. Read the transcript here.

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Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2020-01-27 18:11Z by Steven

Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science

Stanford University Press
January 2018
200 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9780804795401
Paper ISBN: 9781503610095
Digital ISBN: 9781503604377

Terence Keel, Associate, Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies and the UCLA Institute for Society & Genetics
University of California, Los Angeles

Winner of the 2018 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, sponsored by the American Library Association.

Divine Variations offers a new account of the development of scientific ideas about race. Focusing on the production of scientific knowledge over the last three centuries, Terence Keel uncovers the persistent links between pre-modern Christian thought and contemporary scientific perceptions of human difference. He argues that, instead of a rupture between religion and modern biology on the question of human origins, modern scientific theories of race are, in fact, an extension of Christian intellectual history.

Keel’s study draws on ancient and early modern theological texts and biblical commentaries, works in Christian natural philosophy, seminal studies in ethnology and early social science, debates within twentieth-century public health research, and recent genetic analysis of population differences and ancient human DNA. From these sources, Keel demonstrates that Christian ideas about creation, ancestry, and universalism helped form the basis of modern scientific accounts of human diversity—despite the ostensible shift in modern biology towards scientific naturalism, objectivity, and value neutrality. By showing the connections between Christian thought and scientific racial thinking, this book calls into question the notion that science and religion are mutually exclusive intellectual domains and proposes that the advance of modern science did not follow a linear process of secularization.

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UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Virginia on 2020-01-16 03:45Z by Steven

UVA and the History of Race: Eugenics, the Racial Integrity Act, Health Disparities

UVA Today
2020-01-09

P. Preston Reynolds, Professor of Medicine and Nursing
University of Virginia


Thomas Jefferson’s writings included observations about race that aligned with later eugenicists. Under the medical school deanship of Paul Brandon Barringer, right, UVA built its first hospital in 1901, but also continued to advance eugenic science.

Editor’s note: Even an institution as historic as the University of Virginia – now entering its third century – has stories yet to be told. Some are inspiring, while the truths of others are painful, but necessary for a fuller accounting of the past. The President’s Commissions on Slavery and on the University in the Age of Segregation were established to find and tell those stories. Here are some of them, written by those who did the research. One in an occasional series:

By the start of the 20th century, the University of Virginia had become a center of an emerging new strain of racism – eugenics – that would create and perpetuate myths created under the guise of scientific research, but ultimately was intended to demonstrate white racial superiority.

The goal of eugenic science was knowledge of how various traits – emotional, physical, intellectual – were inherited, so that such information could be applied in order to advance the human race and preserve imagined racial superiority. Eugenic scientists used the census, genealogy, measurement of physiological functions and human anatomy, as well as intelligence testing, as methods of investigation.

They believed application of eugenic knowledge, through legislation and community practices, would eliminate mental illness, physical disabilities, moral delinquency, crime and even physical illnesses. They assumed the benefit to society would be a dramatic reduction in the cost of caring for the sick, poor, mentally ill and incarcerated…

Read the entire article here.

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