Review of Jonathan Kahn, Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in the Post-Genomic Age

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-10-28 19:21Z by Steven

Review of Jonathan Kahn, Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in the Post-Genomic Age

The American Journal of Bioethics
Volume 15, 2015 – Issue 10
pages W4-W5
DOI: 10.1080/15265161.2015.1067339

Nathan Nobis, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia

In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug BiDil, a combination of two generic vasodilators (hence bi-dil), with specific indication to treat heart failure in black patients. The drug was approved largely on the basis of results from a small clinical trial of only self-identified black patients.

Obviously, however, if a drug works with a particular population, that gives no indication that drug will work only with that population or have unique benefits solely for that population: The drug might work for anyone, of any population, and so works well for a subpopulation. So there is some mystery why BiDil was approved, with this specific indication, on this basis. In Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in the Post-Genomic Age, law professor and historian Jonathan Kahn investigates this mystery.

BiDil’s developers argued that there must be some latent genetic explanation for the drug’s success with black patients—this argument underlies their claim that BiDil uniquely benefits black people. They suggest that race serves as useful surrogate or proxy until further genetic information is revealed.

A major goal of the book is to rebut this explanation. Kahn argues that, according to the best science (and philosophical theorizing about the nature of races), there is no genetic basis for race: There are no unique genes that classify (those who many see as) white people as white and (those who many see as) black people as black, and so on. Race-specific efficacy in drugs is therefore unlikely and dubious, given the lack of race-specific biological mechanisms needed for these drugs to perform as promised.

What role should race play in medicine and public health, then? While Kahn provides positive proposals here, another of his major goals is to argue that race-specific drugs have the (typically unintended) negative consequence of undermining potentially effective projects to address racial health disparities. If we believe that health inequalities are, at root, an unfortunate consequence of genetics and biology—and not a consequence of unfair social, political, and educational opportunities, environmental quality, inequalities in health care access, racism in health care, and other social causes—then there is little reason to focus on these very challenging and demanding issues of justice and the distribution of health-related social, educational, and vocational goods: Just take a pill! But if the pills don’t work, and they lead us to ignore or downplay strategies that will work, then the drugs wrongfully distract—to the detriment of those the drugs were developed to benefit.

In what follows, I briefly summarize the book’s introduction, eight chapters, and very helpful “Conclusions and Recommendations,” and comment on some of the main issues of each chapter…

Read the entire review in HTML or PDF format.

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

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2016-10-22 20:04Z by Steven

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

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.


  • 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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DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-10-20 01:04Z by Steven

DNA tests show fallacy of Jim Crow

The Albuquerque Journal

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
Harvard University

I am filming guest interviews for Season 2 of the genealogy series “Finding Your Roots,” airing on PBS this September. One of the most intriguing pieces of information shared with our guests is the “admixture” results contained in their DNA – their percentages of European, Native American and sub-Saharan African ancestors over the past 200 years or so.

The record of your ancestral past, in all of its complexity, is hidden in your autosomal DNA.

African-Americans almost always guess that they have much higher percentages of Native American ancestry and much lower percentages of European ancestry than they have. That is not surprising since African-Americans have long embraced the myth that their great-grandmother with “high cheeks and straight black hair” looked that way because of a relationship between an ancestor who was black and another one who was Native American.

But scientific results show that very few African-Americans have a significant amount of Native American ancestry: In fact, according to a study just published by 23andMe researcher Katarzyna “Kasia” Bryc, only about 5 percent of African-Americans have at least 2 percent of Native American ancestry, while the average African-American has only 0.7 percent Native American ancestry…

At the same time, Bryc’s research shows that the average African-American has a whopping 24 percent of European ancestry, which explains why great-grandma had those high cheekbones and that straight black hair.

But what about the presence of recent African ancestors in a “white” person’s family tree?…

Read the entire article here.

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White Nonsense

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-10-19 00:38Z by Steven

White Nonsense

Vice News

Elspeth Reeve

Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness

Andrew remembers feeling a “tinge of apprehension” when he logged on to 23andMe. Several weeks earlier, he’d spit into a tube and mailed it to the genetic testing company, which analyzes customers’ DNA to estimate where their ancestors came from. But when he clicked on his color-coded ancestry chart, he felt relief: 99.7 percent European. He went to the Reddit page /r/WhiteRights, where he’s a moderator, and posted a screenshot: “Finally got around to checking my privilege,” he wrote. At the bottom of the chart, he’d photoshopped in an extra line: “100% Goy.”

“There’s kind of a running joke that everyone works for the JIDF [Jewish Internet Defense Force] or is secretly nonwhite,” explained Andrew, who says he’s a 31-year-old lawyer from Washington, D.C. “So when I posted my 23andMe results, I was playing off that.” (Andrew posts on Reddit as slippery_people, but, like quite a few of the white nationalists I’ve spoken to, he doesn’t want his real identity associated with these views.)…

…23andMe does not test for race. Its main business now is ancestry testing, after some early trouble with the FDA over claims the service could mine your genes to determine risk factors for disease. The company, based in Mountain View, California, received an investment from Google in 2007, a year after its founding. It got another boost in 2012 when PBS began running “Finding Your Roots,” a show where celebrities traced their ancestry with genotyping from 23andMe. By June 2015, the company had analyzed the DNA of 1 million customers, though it has faced some criticism for not having a large enough sample of DNA from people who do not have European heritage…

Read the entire article here.

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Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science on 2016-10-19 00:05Z by Steven

Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Reith lecturer

The Guardian

Hannah Ellis-Petersen, Culture Reporter

Kwame Anthony Appiah says ‘race does nothing for us’. Photograph: BBC

Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions

Two weeks ago Theresa May made a statement that, for many, trampled on 200 years of enlightenment and cosmopolitan thinking: “If you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”.

It was a proclamation blasted by figures from all sides, but for Kwame Anthony Appiah, the philosopher who on Tuesday gave the first of this year’s prestigious BBC Reith lectures, the sentiment stung. His life – he is the son a British aristocratic mother and Ghanian anti-colonial activist father, raised as a strict Christian in Kumasi, then sent to British boarding school, followed by a move to the US in the 1970s; he is gay, married to a Jewish man and explores identity for a living – meant May’s comments were both “insulting and nonsense in every conceivable way”.

“It’s just an error of history to say, if you’re a nationalist, you can’t be a citizen of the world,” says Appiah bluntly.

Yet, the prime minister’s words were timely. They were an example of what Appiah considers to be grave misunderstandings around identity; in particular how we see race, nationality and religion as being central to who we are.

Regarded as one of the world’s greatest thinkers on African and African American cultural studies, Appiah has taught at Yale, Harvard, Princeton and now NYU. He follows in the notable footsteps of previous Reith lecturers Stephen Hawking, Aung San Su Kyi, Richard Rodgers, Grayson Perry and Robert Oppenheimer

Read the entire article here.

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Being “Dual Heritage” In Modern Britain

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-10-12 20:04Z by Steven

Being “Dual Heritage” In Modern Britain

HC At Exeter Cornwall

Stacey Harris, 2nd year Environmental Science Student
Solihull, West Midlands

As many of you may be aware, October is Black History Month, which acts as a platform for education, reflection and a celebration of the trials and triumphs of African and Caribbean communities throughout history. It provides a vital means to raise the voices of minorities whose history is often sorely overlooked.  Every year a different thought-provoking theme is selected for the month, with this year’s being “tackling conscious and unconscious bias”. As a person of dual heritage, this got me thinking about my own intentional and unintentional bias towards my own ethnic background.

After spending 19 years of my life with a very vague understanding of my own family history – merely using the provided census classification of “white black Caribbean” – I suddenly had a bit of an identity crisis, and decided I needed to know more about my heritage in order to solve this. This, in tandem with my impulsive spending habits, led to me undertaking a 23andMe DNA test. The process involved sending away a saliva sample, and then an agonising two month wait until my results were sent back and revealed. I found the whole thing strangely more emotive than I was expecting when I first saw the detailed breakdown of my ancestry, as so much of my history was presented before me in just a few words and numbers…

Read the enitre article here.

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Inequality and African-American Health: How Racial Disparities Create Sickness

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2016-10-08 01:11Z by Steven

Inequality and African-American Health: How Racial Disparities Create Sickness

Policy Press
224 pages
6¾ x 9½
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-1-4473-2281-8
Paper ISBN-13: 978-1-4473-2282-5

Shirley A. Hill, Professor of Sociology
Univeristy of Kansas

This book shows how living in a highly racialized society affects health through multiple social contexts, including neighborhoods, personal and family relationships, and the medical system.

Black-white disparities in health, illness, and mortality have been widely documented, but most research has focused on single factors that produce and perpetuate those disparities, such as individual health behaviors and access to medical care.

This is the first book to offer a comprehensive perspective on health and sickness among African Americans, starting with an examination of how race has been historically constructed in the US and in the medical system and the resilience of racial ideologies and practices. Racial disparities in health reflect racial inequalities in living conditions, incarceration rates, family systems, and opportunities. These racial disparities often cut across social class boundaries and have gender-specific consequences.

Bringing together data from existing quantitative and qualitative research with new archival and interview data, this book advances research in the fields of families, race-ethnicity, and medical sociology.


  • Introduction
  • Part One: Theorizing Social Inequalities in Health
    • Race, Racism, and Sickness
    • Slavery and Freedom
  • Part Two: Health and Medicine
    • Health Behaviors in Social Context
    • Medical Care and Health Policy
  • Part Three: Health and Families
    • Economic Decline and Incarceration
    • Love, Sexuality and (Non)Marriage
    • Children’s Health
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Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change (First Edition)

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Economics, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2016-10-02 01:38Z by Steven

Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change (First Edition)

Cognella Academic Publishing
372 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63487-489-2

Edited by:

Milton Vickerman, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Virginia

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York

Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change uses both classic readings and new research on contemporary racial inequality to create a logical progression through the primary issues of race and ethnicity.

The nine sections discuss the history of race and racism, define major concepts, and analyze how and why inequality persists. In addition to the readings, the anthology features introductions that frame each section’s readings, key terms with which students should be familiar, learning objectives for each section, and Reflect and Consider inquiries designed for each reading. Each section ends with a Highlight that showcases a contemporary racial trend in the news. The sections are also supplemented by Read, Listen, Watch, Interact! features, which supply easily accessible links to complementary readings, audio stories, videos, and interactive websites. The book concludes with Investigate Further, a list of readings for those who wish to delve deeper into a particular topic.

Race and Ethnicity enables students to grasp the fundamentals of race and racism and encourages them to engage in conversations about them. Ideal for sociology programs, the anthology is well-suited to courses on race and ethnicity.

Table of Contents

    • HIGHLIGHT: Eugenics are Alive and Well in the United States BY PAUL CAMPOS, TIME
    • READING 2.1 Immigrants and the Changing Categories of Race BY KENNETH PREWITT
    • READING 2.2 The Theory of Racial Formation BY MICHAEL OMI AND HOWARD WINANT
    • HIGHLIGHT: Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood: The History of a Myth BY GREGORY D. SMITHERS, SLATE
    • READING 3.1 The United States: A Nation of Immigrants BY PETER KIVISTO
    • READING 3.2 The Three Phases of US Bound Immigration BY ALEJANDRO PORTES AND RUBEN RUMBAUT
    • READING 3.3 The Ideological Roots of the “Illegal” as Threat and the Boundary as Protector BY JOSEPH NEVINS
    • READING 3.4 Segmented Assimilation Revisited: Types of Acculturation and Socioeconomic Mobility in Young Adulthood BY MARY C. WATERS, VAN C. TRAN, PHILIP KASINITZ, AND JOHN H. MOLLENKOPF
    • READING 3.5 Immigration Patterns, Characteristics, and Identities BY ANNY BAKALIAN & MEHDI BOZORGMEHR
    • READING 3.6 The Reality of Asian American Oppression BY ROSALIND CHOU AND JOE FEAGIN
    • HIGHLIGHT: Future Immigration Will Change the Face of America by 2065 BY D’VERY COHN, PEW RESEARCH CENTER
    • READING 4.1 The Nature of Prejudice BY PETER ROSE
    • READING 4.2 Racism without Racists: “Killing Me Softly” with Color Blindness BY EDUARDO BONILLA-SILVA AND DAVID G. EMBRICK
    • READING 4.3 Colorstruck BY MARGARET HUNTER
    • READING 4.4 The White Supremacy Flower: A Model for Understanding Racism BY HEPHZIBAH V. STRMIC-PAWL
    • READING 4.5 Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory, and the Problem of Racial Hierarchy BY TWILA L. PERRY
    • HIGHLIGHT: Yes, All White People Are Racists— Now Let’s Do Something About It BY TIM DONOVAN, ALTERNET
    • READING 5.1 The American Dream of Meritocracy BY HEATHER BETH JOHNSON
    • READING 5.2 Racial Orders in American Political Development BY DESMOND S. KING AND ROGERS M. SMITH
    • READING 5.3 Migration and Residential Segregation BY JOHN ICELAND
    • READING 5.4 “White, Young, Middle Class”: Aesthetic Labor, Race and Class in the Youth Labor Force BY YASEMIN BESEN-CASSINO
    • READING 5.5 Why Both Social Structure and Culture Matter in a Holistic Analysis of Inner-City Poverty BY WILLIAM JULIUS WILSON
    • HIGHLIGHT: Nine Charts About Wealth Inequality in America BY THE URBAN INSTITUTE
    • READING 6.1 The Revolution Will Not Be Available on iTunes: Racial Perspectives BY DUSTIN KIDD
    • READING 6.2 Racial Exclusion in the Online World BY REBECCA J. WEST AND BHOOMI THAKORE
    • READING 6.3 Fear Of A Black Athlete: Masculinity, Politics and The Body BY BEN CARRINGTON
    • READING 6.4 The Native American Experience: Racism and Mascots in Professional Sports BY KRYSTAL BEAMON
    • HIGHLIGHT: Pop Culture’s Black Lives Matter Moment Couldn’t Come at a Better Time BY STEVEN W. THRASHER, THE GUARDIAN
    • READING 7.1 The State of Our Education BY TERENCE FITZGERALD
    • READING 7.2 The Immigration Industrial Complex BY TANYA GOLASH-BOZA
    • READING 7.3 Evading Responsibility for Green Harm: State Corporate Exploitation of Race, Class, and Gender Inequality BY EMILY GAARDER
    • HIGHLIGHT: 5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry BY HANNAH K. GOLD, ROLLING STONE
    • READING 8.1 Liminality in the Multiracial Experience: Towards a Concept of Identity Matrix BY DAVID L. BRUNSMA, DANIEL J. DELGADO, AND KERRY ANN ROCKQUEMORE
    • READING 8.2 Race and the New Bio-Citizen BY DOROTHY ROBERTS
    • READING 8.3 A Post-Racial Society? BY KATHLEEN FITZGERALD
    • READING 9.1 The Problem of The Twentieth Century is The Problem of The Color Line BY W.E.B. DU BOIS
    • READING 9.2 The Optimism of Uncertainty BY HOWARD ZINN
    • READING 9.3 Why We Still Need Affirmative Action BY ORLANDO PATTERSON
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Mixed Match documentary explores difficult search for multi-ethnic donors

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-10-02 00:23Z by Steven

Mixed Match documentary explores difficult search for multi-ethnic donors

CBC Radio-Canada

Emotional documentary about mixed-race patients seeking bone marrow, stem cell donors, a call to action

It means a lot to film maker Jeff Chiba Stearns to have his new documentary Mixed Match showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival, a multi-cultural city he calls home.

Stearns ancestry includes people from a variety of European countries as well as Japan and while that ethnic diversity makes for a rich history, there is a medical downside — people of mixed ancestry have a much more difficult time finding matches if they need bone marrow or stem cells…

Read the entire article here.

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Brown Bodies, White Babies: The Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2016-09-29 01:41Z by Steven

Brown Bodies, White Babies: The Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

New York University Press
September 2016
320 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479808175
Paper ISBN: 9781479894864

Laura Harrison, Assistant Professor
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Brown Bodies, White Babies focuses on the practice of cross-racial gestational surrogacy, in which a woman—through in-vitro fertilization using the sperm and egg of intended parents or donors – carries a pregnancy for intended parents of a different race. Focusing on the racial differences between parents and surrogates, this book is interested in how reproductive technologies intersect with race, particularly when brown bodies produce white babies. While the potential of reproductive technologies is far from pre-determined, the ways in which these technologies are currently deployed often serve the interests of dominant groups, through the creation of white, middle-class, heteronormative families.

Laura Harrison, providing an important understanding of the work of women of color as surrogates, connects this labor to the history of racialized reproduction in the United States.  Cross-racial surrogacy is one end of a continuum in which dominant groups rely on the reproductive potential of nonwhite women, whose own reproductive desires have been historically thwarted and even demonized.  Brown Bodies, White Babies provides am interdisciplinary analysis that includes legal cases of contested surrogacy, historical examples of surrogacy as a form of racialized reproductive labor, the role of genetics in the assisted reproduction industry, and the recent turn toward reproductive tourism.  Joining the ongoing feminist debates surrounding reproduction, motherhood, race, and the body, Brown Bodies, White Babies ultimately critiques the new potentials for parenthood that put the very contours of kinship into question.

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