How Slavery Changed the DNA of African Americans

Posted in Articles, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2019-08-26 01:08Z by Steven

How Slavery Changed the DNA of African Americans

Pacific Standard
2016-07-19

Michael White, Assistant Professor of Genetics
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri


(Photo: John-christopher-bowers/Flickr)

Widespread sexual exploitation before the Civil War strongly influenced the genetic make-up of essentially all African Americans alive today.

Our genetic make-up is the result of history. Historical events that influenced the patterns of migration and mating among our ancestors are reflected in our DNA — in our genetic relationships with each other and in our genetic risks for disease. This means that, to understand how genes affect our biology, geneticists often find it important to tease out how historical drivers of demographic change shaped present-day genetics.

Understanding the connection between history and DNA is especially important for African Americans, because slavery and discrimination caused profound and relatively rapid demographic change. A new study now offers a very broad look at African-American genetic history and shows how the DNA of present-day African Americans reflects their troubled history…

Read the entire article here.

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The truth is that African Americans are essentially ALL mixed race.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-12-30 15:10Z by Steven

The truth is that African Americans are essentially all mixed race. From the beginning, enslaved and other Africans had close relationships with poor and indentured servant whites, that’s one reason why so many black people have Irish last names. During slavery, sexual relationships between enslavers and the enslaved, occurring on a range of coercive levels, were routine. Children born to enslaved women from these encounters were identified as “black.” The one-drop rule—you are black if you have one drop of black blood—was an economic tool used to protect the institution of racialized slavery (by preserving the distinction between two increasingly indistinct racial groups) and enrich the individual enslaver (by producing another human being he could own). Those enslaved children grew up and had children with other enslaved people as well as other whites.

Lisa Wade, “Why It Was Easy for Rachel Dolezal to Pass as Black,” Pacific Standard, June 15. 2015. http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/why-it-was-easy-for-rachel-dolezal-to-pass-as-black.

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Why It Was Easy for Rachel Dolezal to Pass as Black

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2015-12-29 03:34Z by Steven

Why It Was Easy for Rachel Dolezal to Pass as Black

Pacific Standard
2015-06-15

Lisa Wade, Associate Professor of Sociology
Occidental College, Los Angeles, California

Race is more social than biological.


Source: (1)ne Drop Project

Earlier this year a CBS commentator in a panel with Jay Smooth embarrassingly revealed that she thought he was white (Smooth’s father is black) and last week the Internet learned that Rachel Dolezal was white all along (both parents identify as white). The CBS commentator’s mistake and Dolezal’s ability to pass both speak to the strange way we’ve socially constructed blackness in this country.

The truth is that African Americans are essentially all mixed race. From the beginning, enslaved and other Africans had close relationships with poor and indentured servant whites, that’s one reason why so many black people have Irish last names. During slavery, sexual relationships between enslavers and the enslaved, occurring on a range of coercive levels, were routine. Children born to enslaved women from these encounters were identified as “black.” The one-drop rule—you are black if you have one drop of black blood—was an economic tool used to protect the institution of racialized slavery (by preserving the distinction between two increasingly indistinct racial groups) and enrich the individual enslaver (by producing another human being he could own). Those enslaved children grew up and had children with other enslaved people as well as other whites…

Read the entire article here.

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Without natural genetic boundaries to guide us, human racial categories remain a product of our choices.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-12-23 19:38Z by Steven

Without natural genetic boundaries to guide us, human racial categories remain a product of our choices. Those choices are not totally arbitrary, biologically meaningless, or without utility. But because they are choices, we have some leeway in how we define and apply racial categories. We shouldn’t deceive ourselves; how we define race does not just reflect biology, it reflects culture, history, and politics as well.

Michael White, “Why Your Race Isn’t Genetic,” Pacific Standard, May 30, 2014. http://www.psmag.com/nature-and-technology/why-your-race-isnt-genetic-82475.

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Why Your Race Isn’t Genetic

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-12-23 01:46Z by Steven

Why Your Race Isn’t Genetic

Pacific Standard
2014-05-30

Michael White, Assistant Professor of Genetics
Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

DNA doesn’t determine race. Society does.

If you glanced around the room at a conference of geneticists, it would be easy to guess where in the world all the attendees’ ancestors came from. Using skin color, hair, facial features, and other physical traits, you could distinguish the East Asians from the South Asians and the Africans from the Europeans. Our broad racial categories appear to be founded on genuine biological differences between people from different geographical regions. And these differences seem to define a set of natural human groups, the product of the last 70,000 years or so when modern humans emerged from Africa to colonize the other continents, acquiring distinct physical traits as they adapted to new environments.

The concept of human races appears to be solidly grounded in present-day biology and our evolutionary history. But if you asked that conference of geneticists to give you a genetic definition of race, they wouldn’t be able to do it. Human races are not natural genetic groups; they are socially constructed categories…

Read the entire article here.

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White or Black? Conservatives, Liberals See Faces Differently

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2013-06-06 17:37Z by Steven

White or Black? Conservatives, Liberals See Faces Differently

Pacific Standard
Santa Barbara, California
2013-06-05

Tom Jacobs, Staff Writer

New research finds people on the political right are quicker to classify a racially ambiguous face as black.

Did you notice that mixed-race gentleman who passed you on the sidewalk yesterday? During the split second as he walked by, did he register in your mind as black or white?

Disturbing new research suggests the answer to that question may depend on your political ideology.

In three experiments, “we found that conservatives were more likely than liberals to categorize a racially ambiguous person as black than white,” a research team led by New York University psychologist Amy Krosch writes in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Intriguingly, this dynamic disappeared when the study participants—white Americans—were told they were judging Canadian faces. The tendency for those on the right to more quickly categorize someone as “black” only occurred when they were evaluating their fellow countrymen…

Read the entire article here.

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Skeptic’s CafĂ©: Understanding Popular Uses of Percentages

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-09-27 17:05Z by Steven

Skeptic’s CafĂ©: Understanding Popular Uses of Percentages

Pacific Standard
2011-04-30

Peter M. Nardi, Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Pitzer College, Claremont, California

Four New Jersey women in March accused the Campbell Soup Company of misleading customers with claims of lower sodium levels in its “25% Less Sodium Tomato Soup.” Whether the soup has more or less sodium than regular versions is not for me to investigate. I want to focus on the “25% less” phrase — a type of claim we see regularly in ads and new product labels — and in the process provide some numerical literacy skills to our arsenal of skeptical thinking tools.

In an age when quantitative thinking is at a premium and “innumeracy,” as cognitive scientist Douglas R. Hofstadter termed it, is a problem, many people easily misinterpret numbers and become wary about statistics. Sometimes this skepticism is for good reason – remember that oft-cited phrase “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

But turning our backs on numbers is a mistake. We require critical thinking skills to make sense of data that appear in commercials, politician-mediated public opinion polls, official documents and research studies…

Consider this paragraph from a New York Times article about the increase in multiracial people in the latest 2010 U.S. Census: “In North Carolina, the mixed-race population doubled. In Georgia, it expanded by more than 80 percent, and by nearly as much in Kentucky and Tennessee. In Indiana, Iowa and South Dakota, the multiracial population increased by about 70 percent.” A few paragraphs later the article reports a possible national multiracial growth rate of 35 percent, maybe even a 50 percent increase from the last census in 2000 when 2.4 percent of Americans selected more than one race.

With these numbers coming at you fast and furious, it takes a moment to reflect on what is actually being said and what information is missing…

…Going back to the Census figures quoted in The New York Times, it’s one thing to claim that the multiracial population may increase 50 percent, but when the original figure is only 2.4 percent of Americans, a 50 percent increase simply means that the 2010 multiracial population could end up around 3.6 percent of the population. The number 50 surely sounds more impressive than the smaller 3.6 figure. Manipulating these numbers can create misleading impressions, sometimes done with intention…

Read the entire article here.

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it’s one thing to claim that the multiracial population may increase 50 percent, but when the original figure is only 2.4 percent…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2011-12-10 22:31Z by Steven

Going back to the Census figures quoted in The New York Times, it’s one thing to claim that the multiracial population may increase 50 percent, but when the original figure is only 2.4 percent of Americans, a 50 percent increase simply means that the 2010 multiracial population could end up around 3.6 percent of the population. The number 50 surely sounds more impressive than the smaller 3.6 figure. Manipulating these numbers can create misleading impressions, sometimes done with intention.

Peter M. Nardi, “Skeptic’s Café: Understanding Popular Uses of Percentages,” Pacific Standard, April 30, 2011. https://psmag.com/understanding-popular-uses-of-percentages-2cba925821e8.

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