Beauty and the Bleach: This Issue is More than Skin Deep

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-06-20 21:30Z by Steven

Beauty and the Bleach: This Issue is More than Skin Deep

Ebony
2016-06-20

Yaba Blay, Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science
North Carolina Central University

Skin bleaching is a billion-dollar industry. Considering its global reach, Dr. Yaba Blay says we have to stop treating bleaching as just a matter of self-hate.

Over the past few years, social media has been abuzz with discussions of skin bleaching. In recent weeks, we’ve lamented Lil Kim’s ghostly shadow of her former self, ridiculed Ghanaian boxer Bukom Banku for denouncing his black skin, and dragged Azaelia Banks for becoming a virtual spokesmodel for Whitenicious by Dencia. While we talk amongst ourselves, a segment of a 2012 video investigating “unusual beauty trends” in Jamaica has resurfaced on Facebook. Viewed over two million times in less than one week, in that segment we see a soft-spoken blonde-haired European reporter “in the trenches” as she talks to a number of Jamaicans about their bleaching and offers requisite warnings about the dangers of the practice.

Whether from the perspectives of Black folks or from those of Whites, our communal voyeurism into skin bleaching tends to focus almost solely on the individuals who bleach their skin, and not the global institutions that make skin bleaching a viable option. And it’s a problem…

Read the entire article here.

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Another Health Funder That’s Focused on Race in a Big Way

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-06-17 20:10Z by Steven

Another Health Funder That’s Focused on Race in a Big Way

Inside Philanthropy
2016-06-16

Rob McCarthy

The racial dimension of health equity has long preoccupied top funders in the healthcare space and it’s not hard to see why. Spend five minutes looking at health data for the United States and you’ll be blown away by the scope of racial disparities in all aspects of health, including how long people live, the chronic conditions they face and whether they have health insurance.

In turn, it’s not hard to trace these inequities back to larger social and economic disparities by race, not to mention gross inequities in who has power in American society. As we report often, national health funders like RWJF and Kresge operate very much with this larger context in mind, and aren’t afraid of getting into some edgy advocacy work.

Lately, more state-level health care funders have been getting with the same program—and, in some cases, taking things even further. Just the other day, we wrote about how the Missouri Foundation for Health is making a $6 million push to address racial equity issues raised in the wake of the police shooting in Ferguson. We’ve also written about the huge investments by California funders to improve the health, and broader well-being, of that state’s Latino population.

Then there’s the Connecticut Health Foundation, which made a shift in 2013 to focus its grantmaking laser-like on the non-white residents of this New England state…

Read the entire article here.

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

Posted in Anthropology, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-06-14 20:00Z by Steven

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

Journal of Social History
Volume 49, Number 3, Spring 2016
pages 740-741

Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and Professor of History and Sociology
George Washington University

The Myth of Race: The Troubling and Persistence of an Unscientific Idea. By Robert Wald Sussman (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014. 374 pp. $35.00).

With The Myth of Race, Robert Sussman gives us a comprehensive history of the idea of race and particularly the rise and not total fall of scientific racism Drawing on the intellectual history of his own discipline, physical anthropology, Sussman takes the reader on a journey from the role of race in the religious persecutions of the fifteenth century Spanish inquisition to an examination of the development of the eugenics movement, that movement’s link to Nazi ideology and practice, and the role of Franz Boaz and his disciples in combating scientific racism and establishing the dominance of culturally based explanations for racial and ethnic differences. The Myth of Race takes us to our uneasy present. The scientific racists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been vanquished in the minds of the scientific communities and educated public more generally, but there are still holdouts, in some places influential holdouts, asserting the validity of earlier views positing that racial differences are real, inherited and largely immutable.

The introduction provides something of a primer on race from the point of view of physical anthropology for the uninitiated. From the biological perspective, Sussman informs us, even using the term race to discuss the variations in the human species is suspect. But Sussman’s purpose is not to provide a thumbnail sketch of the biology of race, but to explore race as an intellectual construct along with a history of its uses and misuses. Race’s development as a concept was prompted by large scale European contact with new and different peoples in Africa and the Americas, a by-product of European expansion. The Church, however imperfectly, stressed the unity of humanity, the product of a single act of creation. But others, repelled by difference, or attracted by the possibility that those who were different and more vulnerable could be readily exploited, fashioned explanations to both account for differences and to insure the dominance of Europeans. Some theories accounted for difference by attributing human variation to separate creations with Africans and the indigenous populations of the Western Hemisphere being something other and something less than children of the Biblical Adam and Eve. Others were willing to stipulate to the unity of human origins, but nonetheless asserted that those strange people who were not white, not European and not Christian were the products of a degeneration that also highlighted their inferiority and the need for them to be brought under the control of their betters. Sussman is particularly strong in presenting this history and in reminding readers that moral and political philosophers like Locke and Kant more generally thought of as advocates of political liberty and just governance played a significant role in implanting notions of racial hierarchy in European thought.

But it is in his discussion of the origins and career of eugenics as a concept where Sussman makes his strongest contribution. Sussman links the origins of eugenics to concepts of scarcity and need first articulated by Malthus. These concepts when coupled with the extension of Darwinian thought beyond basic biology would provide a basis for a school of human science that reached its logical conclusions with Nazi racial science. The Myth of Race provides a chilling look at the popularity and power of the American eugenics movement. Sussman’s discussion of the influence that American eugenicist Madison Grant’s Passing of the Great Race had on Nazi racial policies is particularly instructive.

We all, to some extent, know how the story comes out, at least to date. In the inter-war years, anthropologist Franz Boaz through his meticulous research and the influence of his disciples helped defeat the scientific racists who dominated the debate before the First World War. Boaz’s research played a pivotal role in persuading educated people that culture and not biology accounted for group differences. The horrors of the Nazi holocaust played a significant role in discrediting scientific and not so scientific racism among the public at large after the Second World War

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The Racism-Race Reification Process: A Mesolevel Political Economic Framework for Understanding Racial Health Disparities

Posted in Articles, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-06-14 00:12Z by Steven

The Racism-Race Reification Process: A Mesolevel Political Economic Framework for Understanding Racial Health Disparities

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Published online before print 2016-02-08
DOI: 10.1177/2332649215626936

Abigail A. Sewell, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

The author makes the argument that many racial disparities in health are rooted in political economic processes that undergird racial residential segregation at the mesolevel—specifically, the neighborhood. The dual mortgage market is considered a key political economic context whereby racially marginalized people are isolated into degenerative ecological environments. A multilevel root-cause conceptual framework, the racism-race reification process (R3p), is proposed and preliminarily tested to delineate how institutional conditions shape the health of racially marginalized individuals through the reification of race. After reviewing and critiquing the conceptual and theoretical roots of R3p, the key components of the synergistic framework are detailed and applied to clarify extant understandings of the upstream (i.e., macrolevel) factors informing racial health disparities. Using aggregated data from the 1994 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and Neighborhood Change Database merged at the mesolevel (i.e., the neighborhood cluster) with microlevel data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, exploratory analysis is presented that links dual mortgage market political economies to ethnoracial residential segregation at the mesolevel and to childhood health inequalities at the microlevel. The author concludes by considering how racial inequality is an artifact of the political economic reality of race and racism manifested from the neighborhood-level down.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2016-06-11 22:25Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Praeger
October 2016
645 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-4992-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-4993-0

Edited by:

Patricia Reid-Merritt, Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies
Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey

Is race simply an antiquated, pseudo-scientific abstraction developed to justify the dehumanization of various categories of the human population?

Focusing on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has affected human interactions, this work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions within U.S. society and elsewhere, and where our notions of race will likely lead.

More than a decade and a half into the 21st century, the term “race” remains one of the most emotionally charged words in the human language. While race can be defined as “a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics,” the concept of race can better be understood as a socially defined construct—a system of human classification that carries tremendous weight, yet is complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise.

This collection of essays focuses on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has shaped human interactions across civilization. The contributed work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, and the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions (primarily) in the United States—a nation where the concept of race is further convoluted by the nation’s extensive history of miscegenation as well as the continuous flow of immigrant groups from countries whose definitions of race, ethnicity, and culture remain fluid. Readers will gain insights into subjects such as how we as individuals define ourselves through concepts of race, how race affects social privilege, “color blindness” as an obstacle to social change, legal perspectives on race, racialization of the religious experience, and how the media perpetuates racial stereotypes.

Features

  • Addresses a poignant topic that is always controversial, relevant, and addressed in mainstream and social media
  • Examines the various socio-historical factors that contribute to our understanding of race as a concept, enabling readers to appreciate how “definitions” of race are complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise
  • Inspects contemporary manifestations of race in the United States with regard to specific contexts, such as the quest for U.S. citizenship, welfare services, the legislative process, capitalism, and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes in the media
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Decoding Racial Ideology in Genomics

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Novels, Social Science on 2016-06-10 17:08Z by Steven

Decoding Racial Ideology in Genomics

Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield)
May 2016
190 pages
Size: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7391-4895-2
eBook ISBN: 978-0-7391-4897-6

Johnny E. Williams, Associate Professor of Sociology
Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut

Foreword by Joseph L. Graves Jr.

Although the human genome exists apart from society, knowledge about it is produced through socially-created language and interactions. As such, genomicists’ thinking is informed by their inability to escape the wake of the ‘race’ concept. This book investigates how racism makes genomics and how genomics makes racism and ‘race,’ and the consequences of these constructions. Specifically, Williams explores how racial ideology works in genomics. The simple assumption that frames the book is that ‘race’ as an ideology justifying a system of oppression is persistently recreated as a practical and familiar way to understand biological reality. This book reveals that genomicists’ preoccupation with ‘race’—regardless of good or ill intent—contributes to its perception as a category of differences that is scientifically rigorous.

  • Foreword, Joseph L. Graves, Jr.
  • Chapter 1: Genomics’ ‘Race’ Legacy
  • Chapter 2: Socialized Interpreters
  • Chapter 3: Racialized Culture—Genomic Nexus
  • Chapter 4: Racialization via Assertions of Objectivity and Heuristic Practice
  • Chapter 5: ‘Bad Science’ Discourse as Covering for Racial Thinking
  • Chapter 6: Reorienting Genomics
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Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

Posted in Books, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-06-03 02:16Z by Steven

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community

University of Washington Press
June 2016
176 pages
1 bandw illus, 2 tables
6 x 9 in
Paperback ISBN: 9780295998503
Hardcover ISBN: 9780295998077

Andrew J. Jolivette, Professor and chair of American Indian studies
San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California

The first book to examine the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, Indian Blood provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQtwo-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact – and religious conversion – attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

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Race Delusion: Lies That Divide Us

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science on 2016-06-01 19:15Z by Steven

Race Delusion: Lies That Divide Us

The Huffington Post
2016-06-01

Robert J. Benz, Founder & Executive VP
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives

David Livingstone Smith is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of London, Kings College, where he worked on Freud’s philosophy of mind and psychology. His current research is focused on dehumanization, race, propaganda, and related topics. David is the author of seven books and numerous academic papers. His most recent book Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) was awarded the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for nonfiction. He is also editor of How Biology Shapes Philosophy, which will be published by Cambridge University Press later this year, and he is working on a book entitled Making Monsters: The Uncanny Power of Dehumanization, which will be published by Harvard University Press.

David speaks widely in both academic and nonacademic settings, and his work has been featured extensively in national and international media. In 2012 he spoke at the G20 summit on dehumanization and mass violence. David strongly believes that the practice of philosophy has an important role to play helping us meet the challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century and beyond, and that philosophers should work towards making the world a better place.

Robert: David, your great book, Less Than Human, has stayed with me since I first read it a few years ago. What, if any, connections should I make between race, racism and dehumanization?

David: Racism and dehumanization are very intimately connected. To explain the connection, I need to say a little bit about what race and dehumanization are.

Let’s start with race. Races are supposed to be real, objective divisions of the human family—analogous, perhaps, to breeds of dog. To be a member of a certain race is to be a certain kind of human being. Racial identity is supposed to be innate and unalterable (you don’t have any choice about what race you belong to) and transmitted from one generation to the next…

…Most people think that it’s obvious that races are real biological categories. However, most of the scholars who study race think that races are invented categories. When one group of people sets out to oppress another, they “racialize” them—that is, they think of them as fundamentally different from and, importantly, inferior to themselves. Prior to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, sub-Saharan Africans did not consider themselves members of a single, homogeneous “black” race. Instead, they identified themselves as members of any one of a number of distinct groups—as Akan, Wolof, Mbundu, etc. The idea of “blackness” was a European invention, designed to legitimize the oppression of Africans…

Read the entire interview here.

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Race, Genetics, Medicine and the Museum

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Teaching Resources on 2016-05-30 19:14Z by Steven

Race, Genetics, Medicine and the Museum

Museums & Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse
Volume 11, Issue 1, 2016
Special Issue: Special Issue: Museum, Health & Medicine
pages 53-62
DOI: 10.1080/15596893.2015.1131095

Monique Scott, Director of Museum Studies
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Research Associate, Anthropology Department
American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York

The natural history museum has long been invested in educating the public about what it means to be human, including human identity, human ancestry and human diversity. With the recent scientific advances in human genomic research and the public fervor for individual genetic ancestry testing, the museum is now challenged both to keep pace with current scientific research and wrestle with popular scientific thinking that circulates outside the museum. This article considers several strategies that the American Museum of Natural History Museum has used to intervene in public perceptions of “race”, genetics and human health through critical interactive dialogue—the museum as a space for audiences of various ages to investigate and interrogate the science and politics of human identity that accompany this new genetic frontier.

Read or purchase the article here.

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‘A Change of Heart’: Racial Politics, Scientific Metaphor and Coverage of 1968 Interracial Heart Transplants in the African American Press

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-30 16:40Z by Steven

‘A Change of Heart’: Racial Politics, Scientific Metaphor and Coverage of 1968 Interracial Heart Transplants in the African American Press

Social History of Medicine
Published online: 2016-05-26
DOI: 10.1093/shm/hkw052

Maya Overby Koretzky
Johns Hopkins Institute for the History of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

This paper explores the African American response to an interracial heart transplant in 1968 through a close reading of the black newspaper press. This methodological approach provides a window into African American perceptions of physiological difference between the races, or lack thereof, as it pertained to both personal identity and race politics. Coverage of the first interracial heart transplant, which occurred in apartheid South Africa, was multifaceted. Newspapers lauded the transplant as evidence of physiological race equality while simultaneously mobilising the language of differing ‘black’ and ‘white’ hearts to critique racist politics through the metaphor of a ‘change of heart’. While interracial transplant created the opportunity for such political commentary, its material reality—potential exploitation of black bodies for white gain—was increasingly a cause for concern, especially after a contentious heart transplant from a black to a white man in May 1968 in the American South.

Read or purchase the article here.

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