Who Cares for Health Care?

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-08-27 01:03Z by Steven

Who Cares for Health Care?

Breaking Through: TEDMED 2015
Palm Springs, California
2015-11-18 through 2015-11-20

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

Physician, heal thyself … and while you’re at it, how about healing your field? Every cure starts with accurate diagnosis, so this series of cautionary tales reveals surprising perspectives and under-appreciated challenges facing our health care system. Stories include a renowned patient advocate’s struggle to balance patient empowerment with patient safety; a quality care pioneer’s determination to define empathy as a business asset; a civil rights sociologist’s mission to combat subtle racism within medicine; and a senior economist’s ranking of health as an existential value.

Global scholar, University of Pennsylvania civil rights sociologist, and law professor Dorothy Roberts will expose the myths of race-based medicine.

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Photographer Explores The Beautiful Diversity Of Redheads Of Color

Posted in Articles, Arts, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-08-25 17:45Z by Steven

Photographer Explores The Beautiful Diversity Of Redheads Of Color

The Huffington Post
2015-08-25

Priscilla Frank, Arts Writer


Michelle Marshall

Red hair is usually the result of a mutation in a gene called MC1R, also known as a melanocortin 1 receptor. Normally, when activated by a certain hormone, MC1R sparks a series of signals that leads to the production of brown or black pigment. Yet, in cases when both parents are carriers of the recessive MC1R gene and said receptor is mutated or antagonized, it fails to turn hair darker, resulting instead in a beautifully fiery buildup of red pigment.

As previously estimated by BBC News, between one and two percent of the world’s population — or 70 to 140 million people — are redheads. In Scotland and Ireland, around 35 percent of the population carry the recessive gene that yields crimson locks, and the redhead count is around 10 percent. As such, the word ginger often calls to mind visions of Celtic-Germanic attributes — namely, pale, white skin…

White skin and red hair may constitute the stereotypical image of a redhead, but it’s by no means a comprehensive one. French-born, London-based photographer Michelle Marshall is documenting the stunningly diverse manifestations of the MC1R gene, particularly in people of color…

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed-race heritage complicates stem cell search

Posted in Articles, Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2015-08-25 01:23Z by Steven

Mixed-race heritage complicates stem cell search

Radio Canada International
2015-08-24

Lynn Desjardins

A 19-year-old woman with cancer is having trouble finding a stem cell donor because of her mixed aboriginal and Irish roots. Rosalie Lirette Gilbert was diagnosed on June 29 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia—a cancer of the blood and bone marrow….

Read the entire article here.

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How beliefs in biological differences can undergird racial and policy attitudes

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-08-25 01:10Z by Steven

How beliefs in biological differences can undergird racial and policy attitudes

The London School of Economics and Political Science
2015-08-24

W. Carson Byrd, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Beliefs in biological differences between racial groups linger in both scientific and public discourse. Recent advances in genetics and genomics influence public understandings of racial inequality. In a recent study examining whites’ views of race, genetics, and public policies in the U.S., Carson Byrd finds that beliefs in biological differences between racial groups can influence people’s support for policies aimed at reducing racial inequalities, and uncovers the complexities of how people conceptualize and utilize race to understand everyday life.

It has been 15 years since then President Bill Clinton and leading scientists of the Human Genome Project made their highly-acclaimed proclamations that race at the genetic level does not exist. At the time this supported the long-held narrative of scholars that the once prominent beliefs in biological determinism (race as a genetic reality) and racial essentialism (human behavior is anchored in group-based biological differences) had been all but completely laid to rest in the archives of history, particularly after the fall of the Nazi regime and the end of the Holocaust after World War II. However, these beliefs in race and genetics may be making a comeback as genetic and genomic research gains in popularity and media visibility. As sociologist Lawrence Bobo and colleagues recently note in their analysis of survey data, there is a recent uptick the last decade in the belief that there are innate (i.e., biological or genetic) racial differences that drive racial inequality…

Read the entire article here.

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Biological Determinism and Racial Essentialism

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-08-24 02:14Z by Steven

Biological Determinism and Racial Essentialism

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Number 1, September 2015
pages 8-22
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215591476

W. Carson Byrd, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies
University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Matthew W. Hughey, Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

In August 2012, nine months after being artificially inseminated using a sperm donation from the Midwest Sperm Bank of Downers Grove, Illinois, a white Ohio woman named Jennifer Cramblett gave birth to a racially “mixed” and healthy baby girl named Payton. Despite the triumph, the woman soon filed a “wrongful birth” suit in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that the sperm bank gave her sperm vials from an African American donor instead of a white donor, which in turn caused “personal injuries . . . pain, suffering, emotional distress and other economic and non-economic losses” (Circuit Court 2014, 8). The lawsuit states “that they now live each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future” (Circuit Court 2014, 6).

The supposed racial mismatch between parent and child in Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Bank reveals the presence of two powerful belief systems that haunt both the popular imagination and stalk the scientific landscape: the notions of “biological determinism” (that race is genetically inherited) and “racial essentialism” (that group-based biology maps to basic social behaviors). Together, biological determinism and racial essentialism form the “ideological double helix” that intertwines to shape beliefs about race and inequality and influence the theoretical approaches, analytic strategies, and interpretations taken by scholars conducting biomedical and social scientific research. The suit turns on the assumption that varied racial groups have bounded and characteristically unique arrangements of genetic material: as the complaint contends, “Their desire was to find a donor with genetic traits similar to both of them” (Circuit Court 2014, 2–3). Such devotion to racial essentialism motivates a belief that the two white parents in this case are more similar to each other (because of their shared “whiteness”) than they are to their child (because of an unknown “black” father), even though the…

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The Risks of Turning Races Into Genes

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2015-08-24 01:25Z by Steven

The Risks of Turning Races Into Genes

The Huffington Post
2015-08-20

Matthew W. Hughey, Professor of Sociology
University of Connecticut

From 22-25 August, sociologists from around the nation and world will descend upon the Windy City of Chicago to discuss sundry issues as they participate in the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. One issue, however, is quite controversial: do genes or the social environment determine our behavior and health? Precisely, does nature or nurture determine the outcome of racial differences and racial inequality found throughout society?

Many readily acknowledge scientific advances are a necessary part of an improving society. From making cars more efficient on the road and beaming pictures from Pluto across the solar system to Earth, to developing new medical procedures to help us live better and making a longer lasting light bulb. Despite the many improvements science affords, cultural bias and normative assumptions can undergird the scientific methods and lead us down a dangerous path that has plagued American society for centuries. This path relies on a logic about race and difference that was and continues to be shared by many: from Thomas Jefferson to Dylan Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine African American churchgoers in Charleston this summer. What may be even more surprising is that a variation of this same logic can infiltrate science and influences how we understand who achieves better jobs and even who succeeds at professional sports.

In the just released issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science we edited, I have gathered (with Professor W. Carson Byrd) an array of experts on race, science, technology, and society to explain how the fiction of “race” can have very real consequences. By exploring both biological determinism and racial essentialism together–what I and Professor Byrd call the “ideological double helix”–we explain how misunderstandings of race, genes, and inequality frequently creep into supposedly an objective science…

Read the entire article here.

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DNA Shows Warren Harding Wasn’t America’s First Black President

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-08-20 01:47Z by Steven

DNA Shows Warren Harding Wasn’t America’s First Black President

The New York Times
2015-08-18

Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — Bill Clinton was called the first black president because he crossed racial lines so easily, a distinction he lost when Barack Obama became the first actual black president. But for decades, some Americans claimed that the nation’s first black president was really Warren G. Harding.

It turns out that he wasn’t, really. At least that is the result of new DNA testing that according to scientists showed for the first time that Harding almost certainly had no recent ancestors with African blood, despite assertions that were spread far and wide a century ago in efforts to sabotage everything from his marriage to his political career.

The finding was overshadowed last week by the determination through the same testing that Harding did father a child with a mistress, Nan Britton. But the conclusion about Harding’s racial ancestry likewise addresses a mystery that had puzzled historians for many years and provides a seemingly definitive resolution of a subplot that played out during his lifetime…

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DNA Is Said to Solve a Mystery of Warren Harding’s Love Life

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-08-13 15:32Z by Steven

DNA Is Said to Solve a Mystery of Warren Harding’s Love Life

The New York Times
2015-08-12

Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — She was denounced as a “degenerate” and a “pervert,” accused of lying for money and shamed for waging a “diabolical” campaign of falsehoods against the president’s family that tore away at his legacy.

Long before Lucy Mercer, Kay Summersby or Monica Lewinsky, there was Nan Britton, who scandalized a nation with stories of carnal adventures in a White House coat closet and endured a ferocious backlash for publicly claiming that she bore the love child of President Warren G. Harding.

Now nearly a century later, according to genealogists, new genetic tests confirm for the first time that Ms. Britton’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, was indeed Harding’s biological child. The tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer new insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president. At the least, they demonstrate how the march of technology is increasingly rewriting the nation’s history books.

The revelation has also roiled two families that have circled each other warily for 90 years, struggling with issues of rumor, truth and fidelity. Even now, members of the president’s family remain divided over the matter, with some still skeptical after a lifetime of denial and unhappy about cousins who chose to pursue the question. Some descendants of Ms. Britton remain resentful that it has taken this long for evidence to come out and for her credibility to be validated…

…The testing also found that President Harding had no ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa, answering another question that has intrigued historians. When Harding ran for president in 1920, segregationist opponents claimed he had “black blood.”…

Read the entire article here.

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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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