It’s Impossible to Lie About Your Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science on 2015-07-26 15:13Z by Steven

It’s Impossible to Lie About Your Race

The Huffington Post
2015-07-01

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

There’s an important question being left out of the furor over charges that Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter, has been “lying” about her race: How can you lie about something that doesn’t have any objective truth to it in the first place?

The frenzy over Dolezal has erupted because her claim to black identity defies a longstanding American belief that human beings come in three or four or five flavors called “races,” which are linked to the geographical areas from which our ancestors came, and which are characterized by physical characteristics that are passed down from one generation to the next. According to this dominant view, Dolezal is objectively white because her parents are white Americans whose recent ancestors were from Europe.

But instead of being a matter of natural, objective facts, race is more like astrology. It’s a way of dividing human beings up into different categories, and we are the ones who invent those categories, not Mother Nature. The idea that there are “black” people and “white” people is no different than the belief that there are Geminis and Scorpios. Indeed, astrology and racial classification both claim to be grounded in nature. Race ostensibly reflects our biological constitution, while sun signs are meant to capture planetary forces that imprinted us at birth. But it’s not too hard to see that a whole lot of human cultural thinking has gone into both. The reality is that scientists are far from any agreement on what race has to do with genes. And the racial classifications so familiar to Americans today are actually products of the 1700s, when they were forged by Europeans who were trying to explain the physical, social and moral qualities of peoples they had come to colonize across the world.

So when Rachel Dolezal says she is black when we consider her white, it’s akin to her claiming to be a Virgo when by our lights she’s a Leo. Would it really be a lie to say you’re a Virgo instead of a Leo when both of those categories are made up in the first place?…

Read the entire article here.

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SCIENTIFIC RACISM REDUX? The Many Lives of a Troublesome Idea

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-07-23 01:40Z by Steven

SCIENTIFIC RACISM REDUX? The Many Lives of a Troublesome Idea

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
Volume 12, Issue 1, Spring 2015
pages 187-199
DOI: 10.1017/S1742058X1500003X

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. New York: Penguin Press, 2014, 278 pages, ISBN 978-1-5942-0446-3. $27.95.

What, if anything, does Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes. Race and Human History have to offer sociologists?

For most of us, the answer is “nothing.” Because simply put, this is not scholarly work. A Troublesome Inheritance is not an empirically-grounded monograph that offers substantiated arguments, but rather a trade book targeting general readers who are probably not interested in the literature reviews and citations that academics expect. All kinds of claims are made without reference to any supporting evidence or analysis. As a result, the book cannot serve as a source of data or credible theory regarding race, culture, social structure, or the relationship of genes to human behaviors.

But for sociologists of knowledge and of science, A Troublesome Inheritance is a gold mine. These scholars will no doubt delight in discovering the echoes of eighteenth-century race science, nineteenth-century polygenetic and Romantic thought, twentieth-century eugenics and development theory, as well as enduring sexism and the occasional tirade against “Marxists.” This book may also well become a classic for students of racial ideology, right up there with Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (1994). Both books are poignant cultural artifacts that testify to the ways in which biological science is invoked in the United States to shore up belief in races and to justify inequality between groups…

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Race Policy and Multiracial Americans

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Campus Life, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-01 15:09Z by Steven

Race Policy and Multiracial Americans

Policy Press (Available in North America from University of Chicago Press)
2016-01-13
226 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781447316459
Paperback ISBN: 9781447316503

Edited by:

Kathleen Odell Korgen, Professor of Sociology
William Paterson University, Wayne, New Jersey

Race Policy and Multiracial Americans is the first book to look at the impact of multiracial people on race policies—where they lag behind the growing numbers of multiracial people in the U.S. and how they can be used to promote racial justice for multiracial Americans. Using a critical mixed race perspective, it covers such questions as: Which policies aimed at combating racial discrimination should cover multiracial Americans? Should all (or some) multiracial Americans benefit from affirmative action programmes? How can we better understand the education and health needs of multiracial Americans? This much-needed book is essential reading for sociology, political science and public policy students, policy makers, and anyone interested in race relations and social justice.

Contents

  • Introduction ~ Kathleen Odell Korgen
  • Multiracial Americans throughout the History of the U.S. ~ Tyrone Nagai
  • National and Local Structures of Inequality: Multiracial Groups’ Profiles Across the United States ~ Mary E. Campbell and Jessica M. Barron
  • Latinos and Multiracial America ~ Raúl Quiñones Rosado
  • The Connections among Racial Identity, Social Class, and Public Policy? ~ Nikki Khanna
  • Multiracial Americans and Racial Discrimination ~ Tina Fernandes Botts
  • “Should All (or Some) Multiracial Americans Benefit from Affirmative Action Programs?”~ Daniel N. Lipson
  • Multiracial Students and Educational Policy ~ Rhina Fernandes Williams and E. Namisi Chilungu
  • Multiracial Americans in College ~ Marc P. Johnston and Kristen A. Renn
  • Multiracial Americans, Health Patterns, and Health Policy: Assessment and Recommendations for Ways Forward ~ Jenifer L. Bratter and Chirsta Mason
  • Racial Identity Among Multiracial Prisoners in the Color-Blind Era ~ Gennifer Furst and Kathleen Odell Korgen
  • “Multiraciality and the Racial Order: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”~ Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl and David L. Brunsma
  • Multiracial Identity and Monoracial Conflict: Toward a New Social Justice framework ~ Andrew Jolivette
  • Conclusion: Policies for a Racially Just Society ~ Kathleen Odell Korgen
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Why racism is not backed by science

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-06-29 22:37Z by Steven

Why racism is not backed by science

Raw Story
2015-06-29

Adam Rutherford
The Guardian

As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not exist

Barely a week goes by without some dispiriting tale of racism seeping into the public consciousness: the endless stream of Ukip supporters expressing some ill-conceived and unimaginative hate; football hooligans pushing a black man from a train. I am partly of Indian descent, a bit swarthy, and my first experience of racism was more baffling than upsetting. In 1982, my dad, sister and I were at the Co-op in a small village in Suffolk where we lived, when some boys shouted “Coco and Leroy ” at us. Fame was the big hit on telly at the time, and they were the lead characters. My sister and I thought this was excellent: both amazing dancers and supremely attractive: we did bad splits all the way home.

As someone who writes about evolution and genetics – both of which involve the study of inheritance, and both of which rely on making quantitative comparisons between living things – I often receive letters from people associating Darwin with racism, usually citing the use of the words “favoured races” in the lengthy subtitle to his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species. Of course, Darwin doesn’t discuss humans in that great book, and “races” was used to describe groups within non-human species. Contemporary use of language must be taken into account…

…We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone. This is not a hippy ideal, it’s a fact. There are genetic characteristics that associate with certain populations, but none of these is exclusive, nor correspond uniquely with any one group that might fit a racial epithet. Regional adaptations are real, but these tend to express difference within so-called races, not between them. Sickle-cell anaemia affects people of all skin colours because it has evolved where malaria is common. Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude, rendering Chinese residents of Beijing more similar to Europeans than their superficially similar neighbours. Tay-Sachs disease, once thought to be a “Jewish disease”, is as common in French Canadians and Cajuns. And so it goes on…

Read the entire article here.

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Cracking The Code

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2015-06-01 20:12Z by Steven

Cracking The Code

The New Yorker
2015-05-14

Jesmyn Ward, Associate Professor of English
Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana


Illustration by Rebekka Dunlap

I had always understood my ancestry to be a tangle of African slaves, free men of color, French and Spanish immigrants, British colonists, Native Americans—but in what proportion?

When my father moved to Oakland, California, after Hurricane Camille wrecked the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in 1969, strangers he encountered from El Salvador and Mexico and Puerto Rico would spit rapid-fire Spanish at him, expecting a reply in kind. “Are you Samoan?” a Samoan asked him once. But my father, with his black, silky hair that curled into Coke-bottle waves at the ends, skin the color of milky tea, and cheekbones like dorsal fins breaking the water of his face, was none of these things. He attended an all-black high school in Oakland; in his class pictures, his is one of the few light faces. His hair is parted in the middle and falls away in a blowsy Afro, coarsened to the right texture by multiple applications of relaxer.

My father was born in 1956 in Pass Christian, a small Mississippi town on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, fifty miles from New Orleans. He grew up in a dilapidated single-story house: four rooms, with a kitchen tacked onto the back. It was built along the railroad tracks and shook when trains sped by; the wood of the sloped floor rotted at the corners. The house was nothing like the great columned mansions strung along the man-made beach just half a mile or so down the road, houses graced with front-facing balconies so that the wealthy white families who lived in them could gaze out at the flat pan of the water and the searing, pale sand, where mangrove trees had grown before they’d bulldozed the land.

Put simply, my father grew up as a black boy in a black family in the deep South, where being black, in the sixties, was complicated. The same was true in the eighties, when I was growing up in DeLisle, a town a few miles north of Pass Christian. Once, when I was a teen, we stood together in a drugstore checkout line behind an older, blondish white woman. My father, an inveterate joker, kept shoving me between my shoulder blades, trying to make me stumble into her. “Daddy, stop,” I mouthed, as I tried to avoid a collision. I was horrified: Daddy’s going to make me knock this white woman over. Then she turned around, and I realized that it was my grandaunt Eunice, my grandmother’s sister—that she was blood. “I thought you were white,” I said, and she and my father laughed.

Coastal Mississippi is a place where Eunice—a woman pale as milk, with blond hair and African heritage—is considered, and considers herself, black. The one-drop rule is real here. Eunice wasn’t allowed on the beaches of the Gulf Coast or Lake Pontchartrain until the early seventies. The state so fiercely neglected her education that her grandfather established a community school for black children. Once Eunice graduated, after the eighth grade, her schooling was done. She worked in her father’s fields, and then as a cleaning woman for the white families in their mansions on the coast. On the local TV station, she watched commentators discuss what it meant to be a proper Creole, women who were darker than her asserting that true Creoles have only Spanish and French ancestry. Theirs was part of an ongoing attempt to write anyone with African or Native American heritage out of the region’s history; to erase us from the story of the plantations, the swamps, the bayou; to deny that plaçage, those unofficial unions, during the time of anti-miscegenation laws, between European men and women of African heritage had ever taken place…

Read the entire article here.

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Proving My Blackness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-19 18:24Z by Steven

Proving My Blackness

The New York Times Magazine
2015-05-24

Mat Johnson

I grew up a black boy who looked like a white one. My parents divorced when I was 4, and I was raised mostly by my black mom, in a black neighborhood of Philadelphia, during the Black Power movement. I put my dashiki on one arm at a time like every other black boy, but I was haunted by the moments I’d be out with my mother and other black people would look at me as if I were a cuckoo egg accidentally dropped in their nest. The contrast between “blackness” and how I looked was so stark that I often found myself sifting through archaic, pre-20th-century African-American racial definitions to find a word that fit me. Mulatto, 50 percent African. Quadroon, 25 percent African. Octoroon, 12.5 percent African. The next stop down, at 6.25 percent African, was mustefino. I’d never heard anyone call himself mustefino, and I didn’t want to personally relaunch that brand.

Some people wondered why, in a society that represses black people, I would even want to be black. But I never wanted to be black. I was black. What I wanted was to retain my connection to my heritage, my community, my family. To my mom. And I wanted proof. So last summer, after exhausting my attempt at amateur genealogy, I spit into a test tube for a DNA test. Only then did I realize, in a panic, that my life of racial ambiguity would soon be over…

Read the entire article here.

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The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea by Robert Wald Sussman (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-05-18 16:52Z by Steven

The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea by Robert Wald Sussman (review)

Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Volume 46, Number 1, Summer 2015
pages 109-111

Ruth Clifford Engs, Professor Emeritus of Applied Health Science
Indiana University, Bloomington

Sussman, Robert Wald, The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014).

Sussman’s stated purpose in the introduction to this book is to “describe the history of our myth of race and racism” (3). However, a few pages later, he admits that he has not done archival research himself but instead has “depended upon the published works of many historians, biographers, and philosophers” (9). In other words, he is basing his premises upon secondary sources that may have their own biases. He does not present a hypothesis or even a research question but boldly states what he is trying to find and backs up his thesis with interpretations that support it. This methodology could be considered historiographical research. However, rarely does he compare the interpretation of one historian with that of another in an objective manner or compare interpretations from one time period to those from another, as other historiographical researchers usually do. Researchers in the past, or present, who do not agree with his conclusions are considered “racists” or part of “the eugenic bigot brigade.” The research methods in Sussman’s work cannot be deemed historical precisely because it uses few primary sources.

Sussman suggests that for a number of years, most researchers in the fields of biology, anthropology, and genetics have agreed that biological “races” do not exist among modern humans and that race is a cultural construct, albeit with phenotypical differences among population groups. In this work, you “can’t tell a book by its cover” or, in this case, its title, since the book’s main emphasis is the evolution of the nineteenth-century hereditarian and early twentieth-century eugenics movements and its leaders and detractors into contemporary times. The book focuses on what Sussman perceives to be “racist” researchers and organizations—those who suggest the possibility of biological differences between human population groups. It glorifies the anthropological school of Franz Boas and discusses the hidden agenda of obscure philanthropic groups to re-institute immigration-restriction reform or rescind voting rights from minorities in contemporary American society.

Chapter I introduces two early concepts of race since the Middle Ages that recur throughout the book—the pre-Adamite (polygenism) and degenerate (monogenism) theories. The pre-Adamites believed that races, other than whites, were created before Adam and Eve and that they were biologically fixed. Degenerate theory suggested that environment influenced “racial” characteristics, and that all humans were created by God, though non-whites were inferiors who needed guidance from whites. The chapter discusses the many early eighteenth-and nineteenth-century scientists and thinkers who embraced these various theories, including John Locke, Carl Linnaeus, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Arthur de Gobineau, Charles Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, Herbert Spencer, and Francis Galton, among others.

Chapter 2 and 3 detail the early twentieth-century, American eugenics movement with a focus on various leaders, including Madison Grant, Charles Davenport, Henry Osborn, Harry Laughlin, and Henry Goddard, discussing their influence on the immigration-restriction movement, iq tests, and negative eugenics, characterized by sterilization. Sussman also covers such organizations as the Eugenics Records Office and the Galton Society, as well as international eugenic conferences and related issues. In his opinion, the entire eugenics movement amounts to “blatant racism” (85). He is silent about the fact that many aspects of the eugenics movement were intertwined with early twentieth-century public-health measures that sought to improve the health of the American people—regardless of ethnicity—by raising public awareness of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and alcohol/drug abuse and by promoting exercise, clean water, good nutrition, personal hygiene, healthy children, immunization, etc.

Chapter 4, in which Sussman shows the interlinking of American with German eugenics, portrays the various leaders of the German eugenics movement, including Ernst Rüdin, Eugen Fischer, Fritz Lenz, Alfred Ploetz, and Otmar von Verschurer, through the end of Nazi Germany and World War II. Chapter 5 treats Boas’ development of the concept of culture and its effect on human populations. Chapter 6 goes into greater detail about cultural anthropology and covers the conflict between various schools of thought, each side accusing the other of not doing true science.

The remainder of the book examines the downfall of the eugenics movement in the United States and the acceptance of culture…

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The Case for Black Doctors

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-18 02:19Z by Steven

The Case for Black Doctors

The New York Times
2015-05-15

Damon Tweedy, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. — IN virtually every field of medicine, black patients as a group fare the worst. This was one of my first and most painful lessons as a medical student nearly 20 years ago.

The statistics that made my stomach cramp back then are largely the same today: The infant mortality rate in the black population is twice that of whites. Black men are seven times more likely than white men to receive a diagnosis of H.I.V. and more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer. Black women have nearly double the obesity rate of white women and are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. Black people experience much higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and stroke. The list goes on and on.

The usual explanations for these health disparities — poverty, poor access to medical care and unhealthy lifestyle choices, to name a few — are certainly valid, but the longer I’ve practiced medicine, the more I’ve come to appreciate a factor that is less obvious: the dearth of black doctors. Only around 5 percent of practicing physicians are black, compared with more than 13 percent of Americans overall.

As a general rule, black patients are more likely to feel comfortable with black doctors. Studies have shown that they are more likely to seek them out for treatment, and to report higher satisfaction with their care. In addition, more black doctors practice in high-poverty communities of color, where physicians are relatively scarce…

…Another time, I worked with a young woman who struggled with her biracial identity. Her black father had been abusive to her white mother when she was a child, and she found herself both afraid of and hostile toward black men. Because she physically resembled her father in many ways, she had also turned these negative feelings inward. Not surprisingly, her initial impression of me was unfavorable, but a friend encouraged her to come back to see me…

Read the entire review here.

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DNA survey finds all humans are 99.9pc the same

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-05-11 15:36Z by Steven

DNA survey finds all humans are 99.9pc the same

The Telegraph
2002-12-20

Roger Highfield, Science Editor

Whether you hail from Surbiton, Ulan Bator or Nairobi, your genetic make-up is strikingly similar to that of every other person on Earth, an analysis concludes today.

Although scientists have long recognised that, despite physical differences, all human populations are genetically similar, the new work concludes that populations from different parts of the world share even more genetic similarities than previously assumed.

All humans are 99.9 per cent identical and, of that tiny 0.1 per cent difference, 94 per cent of the variation is among individuals from the same populations and only six per cent between individuals from different populations….

Read the entire article here.

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Racial Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-05-10 17:09Z by Steven

Racial Prescriptions: Pharmaceuticals, Difference, and the Politics of Life

Ashgate
September 2014
148 pages
234 x 156 mm
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-4094-4498-5
eBook PDF ISBN: 978-1-4094-4499-2
eBook ePUB ISBN: 978-1-4724-0107-6

Jonathan Xavier Inda, Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

In the contemporary United States, matters of life and health have become key political concerns. Important to this politics of life is the desire to overcome racial inequalities in health; from heart disease to diabetes, the populations most afflicted by a range of illnesses are racialized minorities. The solutions generally proposed to the problem of racial health disparities have been social and environmental in nature, but in the wake of the mapping of the human genome, genetic thinking has come to have considerable influence on how such inequalities are problematized. Racial Prescriptions explores the politics of dealing with health inequities through targeting pharmaceuticals at specific racial groups based on the idea that they are genetically different. Drawing on the introduction of BiDil to treat heart failure among African Americans, this book contends that while racialized pharmaceuticals are ostensibly about fostering life, they also raise thorny questions concerning the biologization of race, the reproduction of inequality, and the economic exploitation of the racial body.

Engaging the concept of biopower in an examination of race, genetics and pharmaceuticals, Racial Prescriptions will appeal to sociologists, anthropologists and scholars of science and technology studies with interests in medicine, health, bioscience, inequality and racial politics.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Racial politics of life
  • 2. The making of BiDil
  • 3. Biosocial citizenship
  • 4. Enlightened geneticization of race
  • 5. Racial vital value
  • 6. Neoliberalization of life
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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