How Racism Creeps Into Medicine

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-29 20:28Z by Steven

How Racism Creeps Into Medicine

The Atlantic
2014-08-29

Hamza Shaban
Washington, D.C.

The history of a medical instrument reveals the dubious science of racial difference.

In 1864, the year before the Civil War ended, a massive study was launched to quantify the bodies of Union soldiers. One key finding in what would become a 613-page report was that soldiers classified as “White” had a higher lung capacity than those labeled “Full Blacks” or “Mulattoes.” The study relied on the spirometer—a medical instrument that measures lung capacity. This device was previously used by plantation physicians to show that black slaves had weaker lungs than white citizens. The Civil War study seemed to validate this view. As early as Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, in which he remarked on the dysfunction of the “pulmonary apparatus” of blacks, lungs were used as a marker of difference, a sign that black bodies were fit for the field and little else. (Forced labor was seen as a way to “vitalize the blood” of flawed black physiology. By this logic, slavery is what kept black bodies alive.)

The notion that people of color have a racially defined deficiency isn’t new. The 19th century practice of measuring skulls, and equating them with morality and intelligence, is perhaps the most infamous example. But race-based measurements still persist. Today, doctors examine our lungs using spirometers that are “race corrected.” Normal values for lung health are reduced for patients that doctors identify as black. Not only might this practice mask economic or environmental explanations for lower lung capacity, but the logic of innate, racial difference is built into things like disability estimates, pre-employment physicals, and clinical diagnoses that rely on the spirometer. Race has become a biologically distinct, scientifically valid category despite the unnatural and social process of its creation.

In her recent book Breathing Race into the Machine, Lundy Braun, a professor of Africana studies and medical science at Brown University, reveals the political and social influences that constantly shape science and technology. She traces the history of the spirometer and explains its role in establishing a hierarchy of human health, and the belief that race is a kind of genetic essence. I spoke with her about the science of racial difference, its history, and its resurgence.

Hamza Shaban: How did the idea of race corrections and differing lung capacity come about?

Lundy Braun: My research suggests that Samuel Cartwright, a Southern physician and plantation owner, was the first person to use the spirometer to compare lung capacity in blacks and whites. The first major study making racial comparisons of lung capacity with a large sample size was the anthropometric study of Union soldiers directed by Benjamin Apthorp Gould, published in 1869.

The idea about the pathology of black lungs circulated in medical groups in the late 19th century but the next scientifically modern racial comparison was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1922. This paper was followed by a flurry of studies in the 1920s, some of which continue to be cited in the 2000s. Gould’s book also continues to be cited…

Read the entire interview here.

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Direct-to-Consumer Racial Admixture Tests and Beliefs About Essential Racial Differences

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-29 18:46Z by Steven

Direct-to-Consumer Racial Admixture Tests and Beliefs About Essential Racial Differences

Social Psychology Quarterly
Volume 77, Number 3 (September 2014)
pages 296-318
DOI: 10.1177/0190272514529439

Jo C. Phelan, Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University, New York, New York

Bruce G. Link, Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University, New York, New York; New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York

Sarah Zelner
Department of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Lawrence H. Yang, Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Columbia University, New York, New York

Although at first relatively disinterested in race, modern genomic research has increasingly turned attention to racial variations. We examine a prominent example of this focus—direct-to-consumer racial admixture tests—and ask how information about the methods and results of these tests in news media may affect beliefs in racial differences. The reification hypothesis proposes that by emphasizing a genetic basis for race, thereby reifying race as a biological reality, the tests increase beliefs that whites and blacks are essentially different. The challenge hypothesis suggests that by describing differences between racial groups as continua rather than sharp demarcations, the results produced by admixture tests break down racial categories and reduce beliefs in racial differences. A nationally representative survey experiment (N = 526) provided clear support for the reification hypothesis. The results suggest that an unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth and Culture [Hauskeller Review]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-08-28 20:26Z by Steven

Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth and Culture [Hauskeller Review]

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1946-1948
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2013.870348

Christine Hauskeller, Senior Lecturer of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology
University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Race and the genetic revolution: science, myth and culture, edited by Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan, New York, Columbia University Press, 2011, xiv + 296 pp., £22.66 (paperback), ISBN 978-0-231-15697-4

The similarities and differences among humankind have been a central theme in knowledge production, and modern biological and medical science has contributed much to the formation of race. Race and the Genetic Revolution takes its starting point from two current empirical facts: that ‘race is a scientific myth and a social reality. (2)’ DNA knowledge and genetic tests are promoted as indicating racial differences as biological differences, even though race has been unmasked in the twentieth century as a powerful social reality without a biological basis. Population genetics has shown that races are ideological constructs, yet today we find genetics widely used to re-inscribe nineteenth-century racial categories and prejudices into current social practices. To discuss these developments, Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan have brought together contributions by distinguished scholars with multidisciplinary expertise. The resulting anthology unfolds, with sharpness and clarity, the genealogy of the myth of race and how genetics is being misappropriated to revive it.

Following Krimsky’s programmatic foreword, the book is divided into six parts relating to the social realms in which genetic race is fabricated. The chapters deconstruct the amalgamation of ideology and pseudo-science and discuss in detail the flawed methods used to establish biological races. This folk genetics of race is problematic, however, not least because it is increasingly applied in institutions with social power and authority, such as health services and the police. In Part I, Michael Yuddell and Robert Pollack present a history of the ideology of race and an evolutionary perspective on why strict biological human races cannot exist. Part II analyses the politics and uses of the large forensic DNA databases in the USA and the UK. In both countries, ethnic minorities are over-represented in these databases and thus become prime suspects in police proceedings. Profiles of suspects are kept in the databases even when the individuals are never charged with any crime. Michael Risher argues that these DNA banking practices could be seen as unconstitutional and Helen Wallace points out the human rights aspects. Both observe no decided political will to counteract this re-racialization. In Part III on the logic of genetic ancestry testing, Troy Duster deconstructs the underlying idea of ‘pure’ races, the construction of reference data sets and the statistics used to produce percentages of racial origin. Testing products promising to identify the racial ancestry of an individual, he concludes, are flawed and buyers should beware that they buy nothing of any actual meaning or use. Duana Fullwiley looks at the uptake of ancestral informative DNA markers in the creation of search profiles in policing. Despite falling short of the scientific credibility that would be required for courtroom evidence, DNA-derived racial profiles inform investigative searches…

Read the entire review here.

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And you thought we had moved beyond all that: biological race returns to the social sciences

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-27 15:45Z by Steven

And you thought we had moved beyond all that: biological race returns to the social sciences

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 10, 2014
Special Issue: Ethnic and Racial Studies Review
pages 1676-1685
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2014.931992

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Recently, sociologists have argued in high-profile journals that racial categories are linked to genetically distinct clusters within the human population. They propose theorizing race as a socially constructed categorization system that is related to biological groupings within our species. This work overlooks, however, the extent to which statistically inferred genetic clusters are themselves socially constructed, making it impossible to juxtapose ‘subjective’ social categories with ‘objective’ biological ones. This editorial urges social scientists to take a critical look at claims about the genetic underpinnings of race, and to contribute their insights to ongoing debates about the nature of race.

Read the entire article here.

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“Everyone Knows It’s a Social Construct”: Contemporary Science and the Nature of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-08-27 15:32Z by Steven

“Everyone Knows It’s a Social Construct”: Contemporary Science and the Nature of Race

Sociological Focus
Volume 40, Issue 4, 2007
pages 436-454
DOI: 10.1080/00380237.2007.10571319

Ann Morning, Associate Professor of Sociology
New York University

Sociological literature frequently claims that scientists across the disciplinary spectrum have arrived at the common conclusion that race is socially constructed, not biologically anchored. I investigate contemporary scientific thinking about race by interviewing more than 40 biologists and anthropologists at four northeastern universities. Contrary to sociologists’ expectations, racial constructionism is revealed to be a minority viewpoint. Moreover, this research shows that the usual “constructionist” versus “essentialist” dichotomy a blunt tool for characterizing the debate about race; a third platform—“antiessentialism”—must be taken into account. Recognizing antiessentialist discourse calls for a reevaluation of prior research that emphasizes socioeconomic status and professional affiliation as influences on interviewees’ concepts of race; this project demonstrates that such tectors do little to distinguish essentialist from antiessentialist veiwpoints.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Posted in Africa, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Economics, Europe, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, Social Science, South Africa, United States, Women on 2014-08-22 20:45Z by Steven

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach

Oxford University Press
2014-08-01
528 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 9780199920013

Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Merced

Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach engages students in critical questions related to racial dynamics in the U.S. and around the world. Written in accessible, straightforward language, the book discusses and critically analyzes cutting-edge scholarship in the field. Organized into topics and concepts rather than discrete racial groups, the text addresses:

  • How and when the idea of race was created and developed
  • How structural racism has worked historically to reproduce inequality
  • How we have a society rampant with racial inequality, even though most people do not consider themselves to be racist
  • How race, class, and gender work together to create inequality and identities
  • How immigration policy in the United States has been racialized
  • How racial justice could be imagined and realized

Centrally focused on racial dynamics, Race and Racisms also incorporates an intersectional perspective, discussing the intersections of racism, patriarchy, and capitalism.

Table of Contents

  • List of Excerpts
  • Letter from the Author
  • About the Author
  • Preface
  • Part I: The History of the Idea of Race
    • 1. The Origin of the Idea of Race
      • Defining Race and Racism
      • Race: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Historical Precedents to the Idea of Race
      • Slavery Before the Idea of Race
      • European Encounters with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas
      • Voices: The Spanish Treatment of Indigenous Peoples
      • The Enslavement of Africans
      • The Need for Labor in the Thirteen Colonies
      • The Legal Codification of Racial Differences
      • Voices: From Bullwhip Days
      • The Rise of Science and the Question of Human Difference
      • European Taxonomies
      • Scientific Racism in the Nineteenth Century
      • The Indian Removal Act: The Continuation of Manifest Destiny
      • Freedom and Slavery in the United States
      • Global View: The Idea of Race in Latin America
    • 2. Race and Citizenship from the 1840s to the 1920s
      • The Continuation of Scientific Racism
      • Measuring Race: From Taxonomy to Measurement
      • Intelligence Testing
      • Eugenics
      • Voices: Carrie Buck
      • Exclusionary Immigration Policies
      • The Chinese Exclusion Act
      • The Johnson-Reed Act of 1924
      • Birthright Citizenship for Whites Only
      • Naturalization for “Free White People”
      • How the Irish, Italians, and Jews Became White
      • The Irish: From Celts to Whites
      • The Italians: From Mediterraneans to Caucasians
      • The Jews: From Hebrews to White
      • African Americans and Native Americans: The Long, Troubled Road to Citizenship
      • African Americans and the Long Road to Freedom
      • Native Americans: Appropriating Lands, Assimilating Tribes
  • Part II: Racial Ideologies
    • 3. Racial Ideologies from the 1920s to the Present
      • Voices: Trayvon Martin
      • The 1920s to 1965: Egregious Acts in the Era of Overt Racism
      • Mass Deportation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans
      • Internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans
      • Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
      • Voices: Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu
      • The Civil Rights Movement and the Commitment to Change
      • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
      • Sit-Ins
      • Freedom Rides
      • Old Versus New Racism: The Evolution of an Ideology
      • Biological Racism
      • Cultural Racism
      • Color-Blind Universalism
      • Global View: Cultural Racism in Peru
      • The Maintenance of Racial Hierarchy: Color-Blind Racism
      • Four Frames of Color-Blind Racism
      • Rhetorical Strategies of Color-Blind Racism
      • The New Politics of Race: Racism in the Age of Obama
    • 4. The Spread of Ideology: “Controlling Images” and Racism in the Media
      • Portrayals of People of Color on Television and in Other Media
      • Portrayals of Blacks
      • Portrayals of Latino/as
      • Research Focus: The Hot Latina Stereotype in Desperate Housewives
      • Portrayals of Arabs and Arab Americans
      • Portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans
      • Portrayals of Native Americans
      • Racial Stereotypes in Films
      • Global View: Racial Stereotypes in Peruvian Television
      • New Media Representations
      • Video Games
      • Social Media
      • Voices: I Am Not Trayvon Martin
      • Media Images and Racial Inequality
      • Raced, Classed, and Gendered Media Images
    • 5. Colorism and Skin-Color Stratification
      • The History of Colorism
      • Research Focus: Latino Immigrants and the U.S. Racial Order
      • The Origins of Colorism in the Americas
      • Does Colorism Predate Colonialism? The Origins of Colorism in Asia and Africa
      • The Global Color Hierarchy
      • Asia and Asian Americans
      • Latin America and Latinos/as
      • Voices: The Fair-Skin Battle
      • Africa and the African Diaspora
      • Voices: Colorism and Creole Identity
      • Skin Color, Gender, and Beauty
    • 6. White Privilege and the Changing U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • White Privilege
      • Research Focus: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
      • Whiteness, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
      • Whiteness and Racial Categories in Twenty-First-Century America
      • Latino/as and the Multiracial Hierarchy
      • The Other Whites: Arab Americans, North Africans, Middle Easterners, and Their Place in the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Multiracial Identification and the U.S. Racial Hierarchy
      • Voices: Brandon Stanford: “My Complexion Is Not Black but I Am Black”
      • Will the United States Continue to Be a White-Majority Society?
      • Global View: Social, Cultural, and Intergenerational Whitening in Latin America
      • Changes in Racial and Ethnic Classifications
      • Revisiting the Definitions of Race and Ethnicity
  • Part III: Policy & Institutions
    • 7. Understanding Racial Inequality Today: Socio logical Theories of Racism
      • Racial Discrimination, Prejudice, and Institutional Racism
      • Individual Racism
      • Voices: Microaggressions
      • Institutional Racism
      • Global View: Microaggressions in Peru
      • Systemic and Structural Racism
      • Systemic Racism
      • Structural Racism
      • Research Focus: Systemic Racism and Hurricane Katrina
      • Racial Formation: Its Contributions and Its Critics
      • White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism
      • Research Focus: Applying Settler Colonialism Theory
      • Intersectional Theories of Race and Racism
    • 8. Educational Inequality
      • The History of Educational Inequality
      • Indian Schools
      • Segregation and Landmark Court Cases
      • The Persistence of Racial Segregation in the Educational System
      • Affirmative Action in Higher Education
      • Educational Inequality Today
      • Research Focus: American Indian/Alaska Native College Student Retention
      • The Achievement Gap: Sociological Explanations for Persistent Inequality
      • Global View: Affirmative Action in Brazil
      • Parental Socioeconomic Status
      • Cultural Explanations: “Acting White” and Other Theories
      • Tracking
      • Social and Cultural Capital and Schooling
      • Hidden Curricula
      • Voices: Moesha
      • Research Focus: Rosa Parks Elementary and the Hidden Curriculum
    • 9. Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Income Inequality by Race, Ethnicity, and Gender
      • Dimensions of Racial Disparities in the Labor Market
      • Disparities Among Women
      • Disparities Among Latinos and Asian Americans
      • Underemployment, Unemployment, and Joblessness
      • Voices: Jarred
      • Sociological Explanations for Income and Labor Market Inequality
      • Voices: Francisco Pinto’s Experiences in 3-D Jobs
      • Individual-Level Explanations
      • Structural Explanations
      • Research Focus: Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market
      • Affirmative Action
      • Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment 260
      • Global View: Racial Discrimination in Australia
    • 10. Inequality in Housing and Wealth
      • Land Ownership After Slavery
      • Residential Segregation
      • The Creation of Residential Segregation
      • Discriminatory and Predatory Lending Practices
      • Research Focus: The Role of Real Estate in Creating Segregated Cities
      • Neighborhood Segregation Today
      • Voices: A Tale of Two Families
      • Wealth Inequality
      • Inequality in Homeownership and Home Values
      • Wealth Inequality Beyond Homeownership
      • Explaining the Wealth Gap in the Twenty-First Century
    • 11. Racism and the Criminal Justice System
      • Mass Incarceration in the United States
      • The Rise of Mass Incarceration
      • Mass Incarceration in a Global Context
      • Race and Mass Incarceration
      • Global View: Prisons in Germany and the Netherlands
      • The Inefficacy of Mass Incarceration
      • Voices: Kemba Smith
      • Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs
      • Race, Class, Gender, and Mass Incarceration
      • Institutional Racism in the Criminal Justice System
      • Racial Profiling
      • Sentencing Disparities
      • The Ultimate Sentence: Racial Disparities in the Death Penalty
      • Voices: Troy Davis
      • The Economics of Mass Incarceration
      • Private Prisons
      • The Prison-Industrial Complex
      • Beyond Incarceration: Collateral Consequences
      • The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Families and Children
      • The Lifelong Stigma of a Felony: “The New Jim Crow”
      • Research Focus: Can Felons Get Jobs?
    • 12. Health Inequalities, Environmental Racism, and Environmental Justice
      • The History of Health Disparities in the United States
      • Involuntary Experimentation on African Americans
      • Free Blacks as Mentally and Physically Unfit
      • Explaining Health Disparities by Race and Ethnicity Today
      • Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities by Race/Ethnicity
      • Segregation and Health
      • Research Focus: Health and Social Inequity in Alameda County, California
      • The Effects of Individual Racism on the Health of African Americans
      • Life-Course Perspectives on African American Health
      • Culture and Health
      • Global View: Health and Structural Violence in Guatemala
      • Genetics, Race, and Health
      • Voices: Race, Poverty, and Postpartum Depression
      • Environmental Racism
      • Movements for Environmental Justice
      • Voices: The Holt Family of Dickson, Tennessee
    • 13. Racism, Nativism, and Immigration Policy
      • Voices: Robert Bautista-Denied Due Process
      • The Racialized History of U.S. Immigration Policy
      • Race and the Making of U.S. Immigration Policies: 1790 to 1924
      • Global View: Whitening and Immigration Policy in Brazil
      • Nativism Between 1924 and 1964: Mass Deportation of Mexicans and the McCarran Internal Security Act
      • The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act and the Changing Face of Immigration
      • Illegal Immigration and Policy Response
      • The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA ) and Nativism
      • Proposition 187 and the Lead-Up to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (II RIRA)
      • The 1996 Laws and the Detention and Deportation of Black and Latino Immigrants
      • Voices: Hector, a Guatemalan Deportee
      • Nativism in the Twenty-First Century
  • Part IV: Contesting & Comparing Racial Injustices
    • 14. Racial Justice in the United States Today
      • Perspectives on Racial Justice
      • Recognition, Responsibility, Reconstruction, and Reparations
      • Civil Rights
      • Human Rights
      • Moving Beyond Race
      • Intersectional Analyses: Race, Class, Gender
      • Racism and Capitalism
      • Struggles for Racial Justice
      • Racial Justice and the Foreclosure Crisis
      • DREAMers and the Fight for Justice
      • Voices: Fighting Against Foreclosures: A Racial Justice Story
      • Racial Justice and Empathy
    • 15. Thinking Globally: Race and Racisms in France, South Africa, and Brazil
      • How Do Other Countries Differ from the United States in Racial Dynamics?
      • Race and Racism in France
      • French Colonies in Africa
      • The French Antilles
      • African Immigration to France
      • Discrimination and Racial and Ethnic Inequality in France Today
      • Voices: The Fall 2005 Uprisings in the French Banlieues
      • Race and Racism in South Africa
      • Colonialism in South Africa: The British and the Dutch
      • The Apartheid Era (1948-1994)
      • The Persistence of Inequality in the Post-Apartheid Era
      • Research Focus: The Politics of White Youth Identity in South Africa
      • Race and Racism in Brazil
      • Portuguese Colonization and the Slave Trade in Brazil
      • Whitening Through Immigration and Intermarriage
      • The Racial Democracy Myth in Brazil and Affirmative Action
      • Racial Categories in Brazil Today
      • Research Focus: Racial Ideology and Black-White Interracial Marriages in Rio de Janeiro
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Credits
  • Index
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Whose Sperm Counts?

Posted in Articles, Canada, Family/Parenting, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-08-20 16:54Z by Steven

Whose Sperm Counts?

Nursing Clio: Because the Personal is Historical
2014-08-19

Lara Freidenfelds, Historian of Sex, Reproduction, and Women’s Health in America

Recently, a Canadian fertility clinic made the news because it refused to allow a white client to be impregnated with sperm from a donor of color. The clinic director told the media, “I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants.”

When I first read this, I felt offended. Personally. My husband and I are different races, and our kids are bi-racial. I guess I had never proclaimed us a “rainbow family,” but ok. The clinic’s decision to avoid creating bi-racial children seemed like a judgment on my family. Like, my family’s not terrible or anything, but as a society we wouldn’t want to go making extra families like mine if we can stick to normal, uni-racial families. Am I a bad mother because I ignored race when I chose my spouse? Would it have been more responsible of me to have my kids with a white father?

The media and Canadian officials agreed with my gut feeling. Journalists have written highly critical stories. Through a spokesperson, Health Minister Rona Ambrose declared, “Our government believes that discrimination in any form is unacceptable.” Through my twitter feed came declarations of “old time racism” in Calgary.

So, case closed? If we chastise the backward clinic director and remove the race stipulation, everyone is happy, no one is second-class, and the infertility client can have a “rainbow family” just like mine?…

Read the entire article here.

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Is Race Plastic? My Trip Into the ‘Ethnic Plastic Surgery’ Minefield

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-13 01:13Z by Steven

Is Race Plastic? My Trip Into the ‘Ethnic Plastic Surgery’ Minefield

New York Magazine
2014-07-27

Maureen O’Connor

“You’ve got some nice Caucasian features,” Dr. Edmund Kwan says, inspecting my face at his Upper East Side plastic-surgery practice, where the waiting room includes an ottoman larger than my kitchen table. “You’re half-Asian mixed with what?” Chinese mom and white dad, I reply. “You inherited a Caucasian nose. Your nose is nice. Your eyes have a little bit of Asian mixed in.” He proposes Asian blepharo­plasty, a surgical procedure to create or enlarge the palpebral fold, the eyelid crease a few millimeters above the lashline that many Asians lack. “You’ve got nice big eyes,” he admits, but eyelids more like my father’s would make them look bigger.

To some, Kwan’s assessment may seem offensive—an attempt to remove my mother’s race from my face as though it were a pimple. But to others, it will seem as banal as a dietitian advising them to eat more leafy greens—advice having nothing to do with hiding one’s race or mimicking another. Asian blepharo­plasty belongs to a range of niche cosmetic procedures known colloquially as ethnic plastic surgery, the popularity of which has spiked in recent years—and is prone to heated arguments, major misunderstandings, alternating whiplashes of sympathy and disgust, and some intensely uncomfortable reckonings. (Including, perhaps, the ones in this article.) The issues at stake are loaded: ethnic identity, standards of beauty, the politics of diversity, what constitutes race, and whether exercises of vanity can reshape it.

From 2005 to 2013, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that the number of cosmetic procedures performed on Asian-Americans increased by 125 percent, Hispanics by 85 percent, and African-Americans by 56 percent. (Procedures on Caucasians increased just 35 percent.) This is, in part, simply a mark of rising purchasing power: Plastic surgery is nothing if not a sign that one has money to burn and status anxiety to spare.

And doctors comfortable advertising their expertise in ethnic plastic surgery are growing wealthy creasing Asian eyelids, pushing sloped foreheads forward, and pulling prominent mouths back. These are procedures outsiders generally view as deracinating processes, sharpening the stereotypically flat noses of Asians, blacks, and Latinos while flattening the stereotypically sharp noses of Arabs and Jews. Some are refinements of formerly rare procedures like the ones that deformed a generation of Jackson-family noses, while others arrived Stateside from the bone-breaking, muscle-shrinking, multi-procedure extremes of Korean and Japanese plastic surgery. And, in fact, many procedures under the “ethnic” umbrella have no Caucasian model at all, as the Asian women asking surgeons to reduce their cheekbones can attest.

And yet this new wave of such plastic surgeries has produced something of a principled outcry from people of all races and ethnicities. “Did I give in to the Man?” The Talk host and broadcast-news veteran Julie Chen asked last year, displaying photos from before and after the double-eyelid surgery she got after weathering workplace racism in the ’90s. So many people replied “yes” that Chen took time to defend her choice the following week. Reports about Asians overseas getting surgery to resemble “pretty Western celebrities” have a tendency to go viral in Western outlets ranging from The Daily Mail to BuzzFeed to “This American Life.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The problem with sub-Saharan Africa and DNA analysis tools

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-08-09 16:06Z by Steven

The problem with sub-Saharan Africa and DNA analysis tools

Genealogy Adventures
2014-07-08

Brian Sheffey

This is the first post in a series that covers issues I’ve experienced with reporting of sub-Saharan African results in DNA analysis. This series of posts will have a particular emphasis on DNA testing for African Americans. Over the next series of posts, I’ll be looking at the strengths and weaknesses of DNA admixture analysis tools – with tips for things to look out for.

I recently had the opportunity to upload my Ancestry.com DNA results to Gedmatch.com. And what a revelatory experience Gedmatch.com has been. To be honest, this DNA analysis service is proving fascinaing. There is just so much to explore and comprehend. I have been doing a LOT of research in order to get my head around all of the information Gedmatch has provided.

My experience with Gedmatch has better enabled me to finely tune a quibble I’ve had with my Ancestry.com results. Don’t get me wrong, Ancestry’s DNA test has done exactly what I wanted it to – put me in touch with distant (and not so distant) relations from my various family lines. It’s allowed me to find my 4x great Sheffey grandfather. And it put me on the right track towards identifying my 4 x Roane great-grandfather.

My niggle with Ancestry’s results has to do with my admixtures and the countries it genetically tied me to. These results were always going to be general in nature. Ancestry.com states as much. The quibble I had has to do with Africa. And my recent experience with Gedmatch has allowed me to better understand the nature of my quibble.

DNA test results are based on data sets. These data sets are compiled by DNA test result databases. A database can only be as precise as the data that’s put into it. In this case, precision DNA results rely on large numbers of a population 1) having a DNA test and 2) those results being added to a data set which is imported into a database. For instance, a data set with 200,000 DNA results from the Baltic region of Eastern Europe will provide more precise insights than a data set of 50,000 individuals from the same region. It also depends on how each individual is classified and sub-classified (i.e. Bulgarian, Caucasian Bulgarian, Central Asian Bulgarian, Altaic Bulgarian, etc).

This brings me to my quibble about Africa. The way African DNA test results are classified, you would thing Africa was one large country populated by a homogenous people. This simply is not the case. The continental African population is arguably one of the most heterogenous populations. The admixture analysis tools and reports I’ve used on Ancestry.com and Gedmatch simply don’t reflect this diversity of African peoples…

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Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Barack Obama, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Social Science on 2014-08-07 00:55Z by Steven

Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives

Cambridge University Press
January 2015
Paperback ISBN: 9780521154260

Edited by:

Karim Murji, Senior Lecturer in Sociology
The Open University, United Kingdom

John Solomos, Professor of Sociology
University of Warwick, United Kingdom

How have research agendas on race and ethnic relations changed over the past two decades and what new developments have emerged? Theories of Race and Ethnicity provides a comprehensive and cutting-edge collection of theoretically grounded and empirically informed essays. It covers a range of key issues in race and ethnicity studies, such as genetics and race, post-race debates, racial eliminativism and the legacy of Barack Obama, and mixed race identities. The contributions are by leading writers on a range of perspectives employed in studying ethnicity and race, including critical race feminism, critical rationalism, psychoanalysis, performativity, whiteness studies and sexuality. Written in an authoritative yet accessible style, this volume is suitable for researchers and advanced students, offering scholars a survey of the state of the art in the literature, and students an overview of the field.

  • A unique set of views on race and ethnicity by writers committed to advancing scholarship
  • Covers some of the latest issues and debates in the field, including genetics, post-race eliminativism and mixed race identities from a range of perspectives
  • Opening and closing editorial chapters provide a route map of shifts in the field of race and ethnicity studies, and return to some recurring debates to demonstrate how the field changes and has continuing and persisting questions in theorising race and ethnicity

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction: situating the present Karim Murji and John Solomos
  • Part I. Debates: Introduction to Part I
    • 2. Race and the science of difference in the age of genomics Sandra Soo-Jin Lee
    • 3. Colour-blind egalitarianism as the new racial norm Charles A. Gallagher
    • 4. Getting over the Obama hope hangover: the new racism in ‘post-racial’ America Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (with Victor E. Ray)
    • 5. Does a recognition of mixed race move us toward post-race? Miri Song
    • 6. Acting ‘as’ and acting ‘as if’: two approaches to the politics of race and migration Leah Bassel
    • 7. Can race be eradicated? The post-racial problematic Brett St Louis
  • Part II. Perspectives: Introduction to Part II
    • 8. Superseding race in sociology: the perspective of critical rationalism Michael Banton
    • 9. Critical race feminism Adrien K. Wing
    • 10. Performativity and ‘raced’ bodies Shirley Tate
    • 11. Racism: psychoanalytic and psycho-social approaches Simon Clarke
    • 12. The sociology of whiteness: beyond good and evil white people Matthew W. Hughey
    • 13. (Sexual) whiteness and national identity: race, class and sexuality in colour-blind France Éric Fassin
    • 14. Racial comparisons, relational racisms: some thoughts on method David Theo Goldberg
  • 15. Conclusion: back to the future Karim Murji and John Solomos
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