Driving FORCE MĂ©tis community significant economic resource

Posted in Articles, Canada, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-03-24 23:44Z by Steven

Driving FORCE MĂ©tis community significant economic resource

Winnipeg Free Press
2012-03-17

Barbara Bowes

Although time has passed quickly, I’m sure you’ll recall that Manitoba recently celebrated Louis Riel Day. For most people, Louis Riel Day is simply another statutory holiday while for others, it is recognition that the MĂ©tis people were the driving force behind Manitoba becoming Canada’s fifth province.

Many people and especially new immigrants are not familiar with the term MĂ©tis, nor its historical significance. To help bring about a better understanding, we define the MĂ©tis people as one of the aboriginal groups that can trace their ancestral heritage to marriages of mixed First Nations and European heritage. And today, 144 years later, our MĂ©tis citizens are once again being seen as a driving force in Manitoba’s economy.

Yet, if the MĂ©tis people are indeed a driving force in the economy, where are they located? How can they be accessed as potential employees?

Believe it or not, if you checked recent demographic data, you’ll find there are over 100,000 MĂ©tis people in Manitoba living in various communities. Over half of this population is under the age of 30 and lives in an urban setting. However, in spite of having the highest rate of post-secondary education completion of all aboriginal groups in the province, the MĂ©tis median income is 24 per cent lower than for non-aboriginal people.

As you can imagine, a population of 100,000 represents a significant and relatively untapped resource in terms of employment and business partnerships. The challenge now is how to create a co-ordinated effort to link potential job candidates with employers so they can work together as partners in Manitoba’s economic growth…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Racial Aura: Walter Benjamin and the Work of Art in a Biotechnological Age

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2012-03-24 20:04Z by Steven

Racial Aura: Walter Benjamin and the Work of Art in a Biotechnological Age

Literature and Medicine
Volume 26, Number 1 (Spring 2007) Special Issue: Genomics in Literature, Visual Arts, and Culture
pages 207-239
DOI: 10.1353/lm.2008.0011

Alys Eve Weinbaum, Associate Professor of English
University of Washington

[T]he meaning of racial difference is itself being changed, as the relationship between human beings and nature is reconstructed by the impact of the DNA revolution and of the technological developments that have energized it. . . . [W]e must try to take possession of that profound transformation  and somehow set it to work against the tainted logic that produced it.
—Paul Gilroy, Against Race: Imaging Political Culture Beyond the Color Line

In recent years, humanists, scientists, social scientists, and the popular press have argued that race is no longer a biologically meaningful category or concept. In view of recent genetic evidence about inherited traits, scholars and pundits argue, it is clear that the collection of purported essences and phenotypic traits that we have thought about until now and referred to as racial in character cease to index significant genetic differences and thus cease to exist as meaningful biological differences. Such assertions about what may most aptly be dubbed our “post-racial” moment represent the culmination of a larger cross-disciplinary consensus produced in the wake of the eugenics movement in the early years of the twentieth-century and the subsequent genocide of World War II. As the argument goes, nothing less than a move beyond race will enable a race-obsessed society to transcend the reportedly invidious idea of race, which advocates of post-racialism regard as responsible for racism. As critical race theorists such as Michael Omi and Howard Winant explain, the contemporary racial formation is undergirded by a liberal mantra that has proven instrumental in recent decades in dismantling affirmative action and a variety of other race-based social justice programs, the mantra of so-called colorblindness.

In its current incarnation as scientific “fact,” the colorblind position gathers renewed force: a colorblind, nay post-racial society, it is now argued, is achievable by subjecting the idea of race to the blinding light of genetic reason, or perhaps more accurately to gel electrophoresis, the laboratory protocol used to process DNA fragments so that they may be sequenced and analyzed. Indeed, ever since the announcement of the completion of the map of the human genome in June 2000, the case against race more often than not is presented in genetic terms and as definitively closed. As a headline in the New York Times rhetorically queried as early as August 2000, “Do Races Differ? Not Really Genes Show.” By 2003, Scientific American saw fit to announce on its cover that “Science Has the Answer” to the age-old conundrum of racial difference: race has no genetic basis. What concerns me in this article is that even as the hegemony of a colorblind racial project currently being expressed as a post-racial euphoria holds sway, the dominant understanding of race, newly energized by genomics, exists side by side with a culture that continues to renew its commitment to the idea of race through its practice of biotechnology…

…Currently, far from having transcended ideas about the reproducibility of race as a biological essence, we are witnessing consolidation of such ideas through their deepened geneticization and commodification. In infrequent cases in which white women have elected to use sperm from men of different races, their pursuit and purchase of exotic commodities can (though does not always) auger the infinite variety of forms that racism can and does take. Such wayward racial selections are expressly intended to produce interracial children, a (re)productive practice that is ultimately no more or less race conscious than that which aims to create a perfect “racial match.” In fact, even in those cases in which lesbian or queer interracial couples elect to produce mixed race children “reflective” of the racial composition of their relationships, we witness yet one more of the infinite forms that contemporary racial fetishism may take. In the case of surrogacy, when surrogates gestate embryos comprised of their own ova, their services and bodily materials become indistinguishable, and surrogates are thus selected by consumers based on the projected racial and phenotypic outcomes that the surrogates’ employment will enable. Conversely, as anthropologist, HelĂ©na RagonĂ© demonstrates, in instances in which surrogates gestate unrelated genetic material, the racial differences between the surrogate and social parents are deemed less relevant. Far from contravening the dominant social belief in the genetics of race, this practice only further suggests its power: the race of the surrogate becomes inconsequential when she is reduced to a laboring body, a womb for sale. Once again, the racial connections that count are those that produce the veneer of racial continuity across generations. Apparently, in the context of a supposedly post-racial free market in genetic materials and reproductive services, even multicultural forms of reproductive reciprocity are fraught with eugenic undertones…

…II. Racial Aura

The idea that the same technologies that might potentially be used for liberatory, even anti-racist ends can and are all too often used to maintain oppressive social hierarchies is one whose examination has historical precedent in the 1930s. Amidst the rise of the Third Reich and just prior to the imposition of genocidal Nazi eugenic policies implemented in the name of “racial hygiene” and “race improvement,” Marxist theorist Walter Benjamin sought to understand how the new technologies of reproduction by which he was surrounded were altering both human sense perception and political consciousness. Although Benjamin’s now famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” examined film and photography and could not possibly have accounted for ARTs [assisted reproductive technologies] as they exist today, in this section I explore how and why Benjamin’s analysis of the cultural and ideological effects of the reproductive technologies by which he was surrounded is relevant to the analysis of the biotechnologies by which we are surrounded in our supposedly post-racial age. Although we can limn the paradox that confronts us—the simultaneous insistence on the obsolescence of race and the accelerated practice of racial distinction through the use of biotechnology—in order to theorize this paradox and, as importantly, to understand how it produces an array of cultural and ideological effects that alter our perception of race, reproduction, and kinship, a return to Benjamin is both timely and politically useful….

…In these and all his other portraits of the court, Lee’s racialized and animalized images put racial aura on display in the form of nineteenth century “scientific” ideas about hybridization and destruction of “purity” of form. In this way Lee’s images indicate the extent to which all modern discussions of hybridity are intrinsically racialized, whether or not race is explicitly foregrounded, for, by the middle of the nineteenth century, ideas about mixed progeny as “degenerate” and about “degeneration” as a consequence of “devolution” to a more animalized and, thus, less “civilized” and less “human” state were commonplace. Indeed, Lee’s work reminds us that in the largely uncontested “racial science” of the nineteenth century (that which preceded Davenport’s eugenic theories and from which he borrowed), ideas about racial mixing were sifted through ideas about the hybridization of species—human and non-human animals—such that interspecism and interracialism were virtually interchangeable. This was an especially powerful conflation in contexts such as American racial slavery, in which black people were regarded as less than fully human, as animal chattel. As the etymology of the term “Mulatto” indicates, rooted as it is in the word mule, the progeny of wayward reproductions across racial lines have a long history of portrayal as sterile beings, inferior blends of incompatible parts, be they donkey and horse or white and black.

In Lee’s images the monstrosity of mixture realizes its most robust expression in cross-species human/non-human animal mixture. However, lest the contemporary genomic resonance of Lee’s human/non-human animal hybrids be overlooked by viewers, in the gallery space in which Lee’s Judgment series was on display, his work was juxtaposed by curators with Catherine Chalmer’s photographic series Transgenic Mice [See Figure 4]. Chalmer’s portraits of creatures such as “Obese Mouse” and “Rhino Mouse,” blown-up so they appear the size of toddlers, depict actual scientific specimens produced by combining human DNA with mouse DNA. Such mice are used in research on a variety of human diseases, with the most well known one, “Onco-Mouse,” developed to study cancer. Although race is nowhere apparent in the manifest content of Chalmer’s images, the juxtaposition of Lee’s and Chalmer’s hybrids produces a synergy that racializes the mice and simultaneously geneticizes the hybrids that comprise Lee’s court. In other words, when brought together, Lee’s court and Chalmer’s mice manifest racial aura in the form of overlapping conceptions of mixture as monstrosity. By grabbing our attention and fascinating our gaze, these very different portraits collude to reveal the origin of the freakishness they depict in a combination of old, supposedly outmoded ideas about racial mixture and very contemporary ideas of transgenics—and this is the case, even as the post-racial consensus is consolidated by the genetic science that tells us that race does not exist…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

S.66, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement bill in the 112th Congress — Reauthorizing an ineffective but socially dangerous pork-barrel waste of taxpayer dollars

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-03-24 19:25Z by Steven

S.66, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement bill in the 112th Congress — Reauthorizing an ineffective but socially dangerous pork-barrel waste of taxpayer dollars

Hawaii Reporter
2011-03-07

Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.

S.66 is a bill in the 112th Congress entitled “The Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act,” introduced by Senator Dan Inouye on January 15, 2011. At the end of February the bill had no cosponsors—not even the figurehead champion of ethnic Hawaiians, Senator Dan Akaka.
 
The bill’s stated purpose is to re-authorize and expand previous legislation going back to 1988 which established Papa Ola Lokahi, the federally-funded ethnic Hawaiian healthcare system—one of the largest racially exclusionary programs for the benefit of ethnic Hawaiians. (There are more than a thousand Hawaiians-only programs; see “references”).
 
A hidden purpose of S.66 is to restate and enshrine language from the apology resolution of 1993 and the failed Akaka bill of 2000 to 2010. S.66 would thereby bolster the claim that the federal government already recognizes ethnic Hawaiians as an Indian tribe, thus strengthening legal defenses against 14th Amendment challenges to Hawaii’s plethora of racial entitlement programs…

…Some defenders of race-based medicine assert that ethnic Hawaiians are a unique people with unique social customs requiring a culture-based medical delivery system. But nearly all ethnic Hawaiians are of mixed race. They live, work, play, and pray right next to people of other races in Hawaii’s fully integrated multicultural society. Assimilated people don’t have unique social needs as a group, and should not be racially profiled or stereotyped that way. Hawaii has many first, second, or third generation U.S. citizens from countries which do indeed have very different cultures; but there are no demands for federally funded race-based or culture-based healthcare systems to serve them…

Read the entire opinion piece here.

Tags: , , ,

Are medical and nonmedical uses of large-scale genomic markers conflating genetics and ‘race’?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2012-03-24 03:04Z by Steven

Are medical and nonmedical uses of large-scale genomic markers conflating genetics and ‘race’?

Nature Genetics
Volume 36, Number 11s (2004)
pages S43-S47
DOI: 10.1038/ng1439

Charles N. Rotimi, Director
Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health

“…with each birth and each death we alter the genetic attributes of human populations and drawing a line around an ephemeral entity like a human race is an exercise in futility and idiocy.” —Pat Shipman, The Evolution of Racism

We now have the tools to describe the pattern of genetic variation across the whole genome and its relationship to the history of human origins and the differential distribution of diseases across populations and geography. We can begin to dissect common complex diseases and devise new therapeutic strategies to reduce adverse drug reactions, a key public health problem ranking between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death in the US. At the social level, the new genomic tools can help us to better appreciate the fluidity of social identity, including ‘race’, ‘ethnicity’ and the more complex notion of ancestry. Challenges surrounding the design of large-scale genotyping projects such as the international HapMap initiative and their future applications illustrate the complexities and ambiguities associated with the use of group labels in genomic research. Depending on how we use this information, the potential exists to describe simultaneously our similarities and differences without reaffirming old prejudices…

…Genetic variation and social identity

To reap the full benefits of the Human Genome Project and spin-offs like the HapMap project, we must be willing to move beyond old and simplistic interpretations of differential frequencies of disease variants by poorly defined social proxies of genetic relatedness like ‘race’. We should allow the genome to teach us the extent of our evolutionary history without abbreviating it with preconceived notions of population boundaries and social identities. We must recognize that social identities are formed in various ways—ancestry, ethnic and tribal background, geopolitical boundaries, language, and other social and behavioral activities. Identities change over time and from one context to another. Their use as markers of ‘relatedness’ in genetic research without appreciation for how they were formed is likely to produce misleading information concerning the distribution of genetic variation.

We all have a common birthplace somewhere in Africa and this common origin is the reason why we share most of our genetic information. Our common history also explains why contemporary African populations have more genetic variation than younger human populations that migrated out of Africa 100,000 years ago to populate other parts of the world, carrying with them a subset of the existing genetic information.

Given this shared history, why do we interpret human genetic variation data as though our differences rise to the level of subspecies? Two facts are relevant: (i) as a result of different evolutionary forces, including natural selection, there are geographical patterns of genetic variations that correspond, for the most part, to continental origin; and (ii) observed patterns of geographical differences in genetic information do not correspond to our notion of social identities, including ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’. In this regard, no matter what categorical framework is applied, we cannot consistently use genetics to define racial groups without classifying some human populations as exceptions. Our evolutionary history is a continuous process of combining the new with the old, and the end result is a mosaic that is modified with each birth and death. This is why the process of using genetics to define ‘race’ is like slicing soup: “You can cut wherever you want, but the soup stays mixed”.

How can we grasp the population structure of our species? I believe this requires universal awareness that genomic information cannot be used either to confirm or to refine old social, political and economic classifications such as ‘race’. In particular, we should understand the following points: (i) individuals in genetics studies may have membership in more than one biogeographical clusters; (ii) the borders of these clusters are not distinct; and (iii) population clusters are influenced by sampling strategies. For example, the inference drawn from a study with one or two African populations will probably be very different from that drawn from a study with 100 African populations sampled from north, east, west, central and south Africa. As Steve Olson observed, “Not only do all people have the same set of genes, but all groups of people also share the major variants of those genes. Geneticists have never found a genetic marker that is of one type in all the members of one large group and of a different type in all the members of another large group”50. Furthermore, because most alleles are widespread, genetic differences among human populations are the result of gradations in allele frequencies rather than distinctive diagnostic genotypes…

Read the entire perspective here.

Tags: , , ,

Changing the paradigm from ‘race’ to human genome variation

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2012-03-24 02:33Z by Steven

Changing the paradigm from ‘race’ to human genome variation

Nature Genetics
Volume 36, Number 11s (2004)
pages S5-S7
DOI: 10.1038/ng1454

Charmaine D. M. Royal, Associate Research Professor
Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy; Department of African and African American Studies
Duke University

Georgia M. Dunston, Founding Director, National Human Genome Center
Howard University

Knowledge from the Human Genome Project and research on human genome variation increasingly challenges the applicability of the term ‘race’ to human population groups, raising questions about the validity of inferences made about ‘race’ in the biomedical and scientific literature. Despite the acknowledged contradictions in contemporary science, population-based genetic variation is continually used to explain differences in health between ‘racial’ and ‘ethnic’ groups. In this commentary we posit that resolution of apparent paradoxes in relating biology to ‘race’ and genetics requires thinking ‘outside of the box’.

Introduction to the state of the science

Knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project and research on human genome variation is forcing a paradigm shift in thinking about the construct of ‘race’, much like the process described by Thomas Kuhn in his renowned book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn describes the paradigm shift in science as occurring when anomalous, scientific results cannot be explained by inadequate methods. With an accumulation of such anomalies, scientists must begin to consider that the paradigm or model of reality under which the hypotheses are tested has shifted and is no longer valid. Today, scientists are faced with this situation in genomics, where existing biological models or paradigms of ‘racial’ and ‘ethnic’ categorizations cannot accommodate the uniqueness of the individual and universality of humankind that is evident in new knowledge emerging from human genome sequence variation research and molecular anthropological research. The paradigms of human identity based on ‘races’ as biological constructs are being questioned in light of the preponderance of data on human genome sequence variation and reflect the need for a new explanatory framework and vision of humankind with different fundamental assumptions about biological groups that can accommodate new knowledge from a new generation of research.

Discourse on the validity of ‘racial’ categorization in humans is certainly not new and will perhaps continue for generations to come, taking on various forms as new scientific and nonscientific knowledge emerges. Shifts have occurred over time from a purely anthropological or biological debate to conversations about numerous psychosocial, societal, ethical and legal ramifications indicative of the undeniable applicability of the topic of ‘race’ to virtually every aspect of human existence.

This commentary describes the intellectual climate under which new information from human genome research is introduced into twenty-first-century biomedical science and society, new information that forces a more integrative construct of human biology and disease. The discordance between ‘race’ and human genome variation sets the stage for an analysis of the state of the science on human genome variation and ‘race’ and the relationship between genome variation and population differences in health and disease. The paper also provides a brief background for, and overview of, this Supplement to Nature Genetics

…As previously indicated, much of the current literature on genetics and health disparities emphasizes the potential dangers of connecting genetics with disparities, and relatively little research has been directed towards the potential of genomics to further understand health disparities in ways that can accomplish the US public health objectives of Healthy People 2010: a long and healthy life for all and the elimination of health disparities. Conditions are prime for the application of knowledge gained from research on the structure of DNA sequence variation in African and African Diaspora populations to probe the influence of gene-environment interactions in race- and ethnicity-based health disparities. With plans underway for the Translational Genomics Research in the African Diaspora initiative, the NHGC is positioned to lead the US and the global community with a large-scale, interdisciplinary project for human genome research in the African Diaspora. Translational Genomics Research in the African Diaspora will be a population-based resource for translational genomics in clinical research, which capitalizes on the evolutionary and migration history of Africans and the African Diaspora, and a resource for dissecting the contributions of gene-environment interactions (environment broadly defined to include psychosocial, cultural and other subjective factors) to disease susceptibility and response to medicines…

Read the entire commentary here.

Tags: , , , ,

Grassroots Marketing in a Global Era: More Lessons from BiDil

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-03-24 02:07Z by Steven

Grassroots Marketing in a Global Era: More Lessons from BiDil

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Volume 39, Issue 1, Spring 2011
pages 79–90
DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2011.00552.x

Britt M. Rusert, External Humanities Fellow
Center for the Humanities
Temple University

Charmaine D. M. Royal, Associate Research Professor
Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy; Department of African and African American Studies
Duke University

BiDil, a heart failure drug for African Americans, emerged five years ago as the first FDA approved drug targeted at a specific racial group. While critical scholarship and the popular media have meticulously detailed the history of BiDil from its inauspicious beginnings as a generic combination drug for the general population to its dramatic resuscitation as a racial medicine, the enthusiastic support shown by some African American interest groups has been too little understood, as has their argument that BiDil was an important response to race-based health disparities. In this essay, we show how the drugmaker, NitroMed, used the support it had solicited from black advocacy groups and community members to market BiDil as a unique “grassroots” pharmaceutical to the African American community. We go on to situate BiDil, which relied on a domestic, U.S.-centered conception of race, within the context of the global nature of both race and health disparities. Ironically, the grassroots angle of the BiDil case ultimately obscured the global crisis in health disparities. Furthermore, we argue that the grassroots model initiated by NitroMed should be taken note of, as it marks a potential avenue for the marketing of other drugs in the future.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Is Race-Based Medicine Good for Us?: African American Approaches to Race, Biomedicine, and Equality

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2012-03-24 01:39Z by Steven

Is Race-Based Medicine Good for Us?: African American Approaches to Race, Biomedicine, and Equality

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
Volume 36, Issue 3, September 2008
pages 537–545
DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2008.302.x

Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology; Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

This article presents a preliminary framework for exploring the intersection of science and racial politics in the public debate about race-based pharmaceuticals, especially among African Americans. It examines the influence of three political approaches to race consciousness on evaluations of racial medicine and offers an alternative critique.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,

In other words, in these contexts, the term “Obama” itself has become a new tool for racial harassment and discrimination as well as a new tool for denying the reality of racism…

Posted in Barack Obama, Excerpts/Quotes, Law on 2012-03-24 01:13Z by Steven

Based in part on our review of discrimination cases in which President Obama’s name has been invoked—in most cases, either to demean minority workers or with an otherwise discriminatory purpose—we conclude that having a biracial, black-white (or self-identified black) president has had a surprising effect on the enforcement of anti-discrimination law. Indeed, we contend that Obama’s campaign and election have, to an extent, had an unusual effect in the work environment. Rather than revealing that racism is over or that racial discrimination is diminishing in the workplace, Obama’s presence and prominence have developed a specialized meaning that ironically has resulted in an increase in or at the very least a continuation of regular discrimination and harassment within the workplace. In fact, our review of a number of anti-discrimination law cases filed during the political ascendance and election of Obama suggests that, within certain contexts, individuals have made references to Obama in ways that demonstrate racial animus against Blacks and those associated with Blacks or as a means for explaining why offending conduct toward racial minorities does not involve discrimination. In other words, in these contexts, the term “Obama” itself has become a new tool for racial harassment and discrimination as well as a new tool for denying the reality of racism.

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Mario L. Barnes, “The Obama Effect: Understanding Emerging Meanings of “Obama” in Anti-Discrimination Law,” Indiana Law Journal, Volume 87: Issue1 (Spring 2012): 328.

Tags: , , ,