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

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-04-15 01:39Z 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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String of Pearls: Exploring the Melungeon mystery

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2016-04-13 00:27Z by Steven

String of Pearls: Exploring the Melungeon mystery

SWVa Today
Wytheville, Virginia

Margaret Linford, President
Smyth County Genealogical Society, Marion, Virginia

Judge Isaac Freeman spoke to the Smyth County Genealogical Society on Tuesday, March 22, regarding the Melungeon people. He has been intrigued by this topic for many years. His father was best friends with local historian Goodridge Wilson, who often spoke of the Melungeons. Judge Freeman said he can remember him talking about which local families were part of this unique group.

“Where have all the purebred Melungeons gone?” This question was posed in an article many years ago. Judge Freeman laughed as he shared this question with our group. “Of course,” he said, “the answer to this question is that there is no such thing as a ‘purebred’ Melungeon.”

Who are the Melungeons? There is no simple answer to this question. In N. Brent Kennedy’s book, “The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People: An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America,” he proposes that Turkish slaves were brought to America by Portuguese sailors. Once they arrived in America, they joined with female Cherokee Indians and other local tribes. This was the beginning of the “Melungeons.”

Most definitions of the Melungeons simply state that they are a “mixed race people.”…

Read the entire article here.

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AmbryShare Restores Genes to the Public Domain

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2016-04-01 21:24Z by Steven

AmbryShare Restores Genes to the Public Domain

The Huffington Post

Amal Cheema, Biochemistry and Political Science Student
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

“As a stage four cancer survivor, I find it shocking that public and private laboratories routinely lock away vital genomic information. That practice is delaying medical progress, causing real human suffering, and it needs to stop.” —Ambry Genetics CEO and founder Charles Dunlop

In its purest form, science seeks to determine how the world works and endeavors to improve the human condition. Yet, the current culture of research undermines this value-system, as institutions across the nation look for ways to capitalize on discoveries. The commodification of information, particularly of the genome, hinders innovation and prevents the discovery of novel drugs and cures., researchers can either seek revenue for their underfunded research or ensure the accessibility of scientific knowledge, but they can’t do both.

It’s not clear whether academic solidarity will prevail, universities increasingly rely upon licensing revenues and keep information proprietary. Although genes can no longer be patented in the U.S. due to the 2013 Supreme Court case, Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. Myriad Genetics, most researchers perceive little benefit in sharing raw data. They silo their work and therefore, hamper innovation. The solution to this roadblock lies in the new, remediating, and open-access genomic libraries.

Ambry Genetics (Ambry), a leading genetics company, recently revealed its bypass to closed-door labs and patented information. It created a genomic library, AmbryShare, making the DNA data of 10,000 people available online to the public. And it’s the first private company to do so. While Ambry retains copyright, researchers now can easily download the data for free and investigate the genetic determinants of disease…

…Yet AmbryShare is not without its critics. Some fear that the database will lead to false positives and privacy breaches. Bioethicists like Dorothy Roberts of UPenn Law worry about false positives, such as race-specific gene differences. Roberts asserts that society has politically constructed race without a biological basis, and that researchers could support racism by misattributing differences in the genome as evidence of race. Scientists can address this concern by removing the race question from patient profiles…

Read the entire 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 2016-04-01 02:36Z 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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Taking race out of human genetics and memetics: We can’t achieve one without achieving the other

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2016-03-24 01:52Z by Steven

Taking race out of human genetics and memetics: We can’t achieve one without achieving the other

OUPblog: Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Carlos Hoyt

Carlos Hoyt explores race, racial identity and related issues as a scholar, teacher, psychotherapist, parent, and racialized member of our society, interrogating master narratives and the dominant discourse on race with the goal of illuminating and virtuously disrupting the racial worldview. Carlos holds teaching positions at Wheelock College, Simmons College, and Boston University in Boston Massachusetts, and has authored peer-reviewed articles on spirituality in social work practice and the pedagogy of the definition of racism. He is the author of The Arc of a Bad Idea: Understanding and Transcending Race, published by Oxford University Press.

Acknowledging that they are certainly not the first to do so, four scientists, Michael Yudell, Dorothy Roberts, Rob Desalle, and Sarah Tishkoff recently called for the phasing out of the use of the concept/term “race” in biological science.

Because race is an irredeemably nebulous, confused, and confusing social construct, the authors advocate for replacing it with “ancestry.” “Ancestry,” they say, is a “process-based” concept that encourages one to seek information about genomic heritage, while race is a “patternbased” concept that induces one to organize individuals into preconceived hierarchical groupings based on shifting, murky, and contradictory combinations of appearance, geography, ability, worth, and the like.

If biological science seeks and relies on valid and maximally precise population level comparisons between groups, and race is an irrefutably imprecise proxy for consistent and concordant biological/genetic comparison, then of course we should stop using it in biology and switch over to “ancestry,” “genetic heritage,” or some other term that actually gets at what’s real, reliable, and useful. It doesn’t feel like a rocket-science proposition. And yet biological science hasn’t been able to heed the call and make the shift. And I sadly forecast that the shift won’t soon – or ever – be made – unless and until we take the step that even the well-meaning authors of this call for stop short of taking…

Read the entire article here.

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I Can’t Breathe

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2016-03-23 20:53Z by Steven

I Can’t Breathe

Boston Review

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Nancy Duke Lewis Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies
Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

Race in Medical School Curricula

In the fall of 2015, U.S. college students ignited in protest about campus and national racism. Chanting “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”—recalling the final cries and acts of unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of police—the scholar-activists joined the Black Lives Matter movement that has burgeoned since the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and many others. At my home base, Brown University, school officials responded by drafting a detailed action plan and inviting community comment, a process that is ongoing. While the plan pays attention to student demands for more diversity in the faculty and the student body, as well as improvements in campus climate, it fails to address the need to reevaluate and revise the curriculum in both undergraduate and professional schools—particularly with regard to what we do and do not teach about race, to how both silence and subtly coded messages continue to transmit racial bias.

Integrating studies of race, ethnicity, class, and gender into the curriculum is not easy. And it does not suffice to develop specialized elective courses, such as the one I offered more than twenty-five years ago—Women and Minorities in Science. Such courses exemplify what we, in the early days of women’s studies, used to refer to derisively as “just add women and stir.” The “stir” approach addresses problems of representation but does not challenge underlying theories of disciplinary knowledge.

Biology courses should not be able to get by, for example, with only mentioning a few famous scientists of color and then returning to business as usual. To properly address race, courses need to present the still-disputed science behind concepts of race and genetics, or examine how Darwin’s racial views led him to develop the idea of sexual selection, or teach about the genetics of skin pigmentation and convergent evolution of human phenotypes. Change that matters can only come from altering the content and pedagogy of mainstream courses for generations to come…

Read the entire article here.

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“Whitening” and Whitewashing: Postcolonial Brazil is not an Egalitarian “Rainbow Nation”

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-03-20 01:12Z by Steven

“Whitening” and Whitewashing: Postcolonial Brazil is not an Egalitarian “Rainbow Nation”

The Postcolonialist

Sarah Lempp

To commemorate the 500th anniversary of its “discovery” by Portuguese sailor Alvares de Cabral in 2000, Brazil officially presented itself as a “rainbow nation” without discrimination or racism; a place where people from various ethnicities live peacefully together. That the “discovery” caused slavery and death for millions of Indigenes and Africans was overlooked. The Portuguese colonization was seen as a “non-imperial act, an exercise of fraternity and intercultural and interethnic democracy”, says Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos.[1]

The German author Stefan Zweig, who fled to Brazil from Nazi Germany, already considered Brazil a paradise characterized by hybridity and said in 1941 that Brazil “has taken the racial problem, that unsettles our European world ad absurdum in the simplest manner: in plainly ignoring its validity.” (translation S.L.)[2] According to Zweig, “for hundreds of years the Brazilian nation relies on the sole principle of free and unrestrained mixing, perfect equality of black and white, brown and yellow. (…) There are no limits to colours, no boundaries, no supercilious hierarchies…”[3]

Hence the image of Brazil as a tolerant, peaceful, “mestiço” nation is not at all new. But it ignores then and still today the multifaceted forms of discrimination and specifically Brazilian shapes of racism…

Read the entire article here.

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

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-03-15 02:51Z by Steven

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

July 2016
310 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-3063-1
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-3064-8

Judith Ann Warner, Professor of Sociology
Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

Do the commercial applications of the human genome in ancestry tracing, medicine, and forensics serve to further racialize and stereotype groups?

This book explores the ethical debates at the intersection of race, ethnicity, national origin, and DNA analysis, enabling readers to gain a better understanding of the human genome project and its impact on the biological sciences, medicine, and criminal justice.

Genome and genealogical research has become a subject of interest outside of science, as evidenced by the popularity of the genealogy research website that helps individuals discover their genetic past and television shows such as the celebrity-focused Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.. Applications of DNA analysis in the area of criminal justice and the law have major consequences for social control from birth to death. This book explores the role of DNA research and analysis within the framework of race, ethnicity, and national origin—and provides a warning about the potential dangers of a racialized America.

Synthesizing the work of sociologists, criminologists, anthropologists, and biologists, author Judith Ann Warner, PhD, examines how the human genome is being interpreted and commonly used to affirm—rather than dissolve—racial and ethnic boundaries. The individual, corporate, and government use of DNA is controversial, and international comparisons indicate that regulation of genome applications is a global concern. With analysis of ancestry mapping business practices, medical DNA applications, and forensic uses of DNA in the criminal justice system, the book sheds light on the sociological results of “remapping race on the human genome.”


  • Provides historical background on the human genome in the modern context of the social construction of race and ethnicity
  • Examines the use of overlapping racial-ethnic and geographical origin categories to situate ancestry, health risk, and criminal profiles in a stereotyped or discriminatory manner
  • Argues for a re-examination of genome research to avoid racialization
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Should biologists stop grouping us by race?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-03-13 16:59Z by Steven

Should biologists stop grouping us by race?

STAT: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine

Sharon Begley

More than a decade after leading geneticists argued that race is not a true biological category, many studies continue to use it, harming scientific understanding and possibly patients, researchers argued in a provocative essay in Science on Thursday.

“We thought that after the Human Genome Project, with [its leaders] saying it’s time to move beyond race as a biological marker, we would have done that,” said Michael Yudell, a professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University and coauthor of the Science paper calling on journals and researchers to stop using race as a category in genetics studies. “Yet here we are, and there is evidence things have actually gotten worse in the genomic age.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Teaching medical students to challenge ‘unscientific’ racial categories

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-03-11 22:58Z by Steven

Teaching medical students to challenge ‘unscientific’ racial categories

STAT: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine

Ike Swetlitz

Dr. Brooke Cunningham talks about race to medical students at the University of Minnesota.
Jenn Ackerman for Stat

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Medical students looking to score high on their board exams sometimes get a bit of uncomfortable advice: Embrace racial stereotypes.

“You see ‘African American,’ automatically just circle ‘sickle cell,’” said Nermine Abdelwahab, a first-year student at the University of Minnesota Medical School, recounting tips she’s heard from older classmates describing the “sad reality” of the tests.

Medical school curricula traditionally leave little room for nuanced discussions about the impact of race and racism on health, physicians and sociologists say. Instead, students learn to see race as a diagnostic shortcut, as lectures, textbooks, and scientific journal articles divide patients by racial categories, reinforcing the idea that race is biological. That mind-set can lead to misdiagnoses, such as treating sickle cell anemia as a largely “black” disease.

“Right now, students are learning an inaccurate and unscientific definition of race,” said Dorothy Roberts, a law and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who coauthored a recent paper in Science arguing for an end to the use of biological concepts of race in human genetics research.

“It’s simply not true that human beings are naturally divided into genetically distinct races,” Roberts said. “So it is not good medical practice to treat patients that way.”

Change is starting to come, but slowly…

……Cunningham also traced racial stereotypes through centuries of medical science, from an 1850s medical definition of drapetomania — “the disease causing Negroes to run away” — to the modern day, when a mainstream formula to measure kidney function and a common test of lung capacity differ for “whites” and “blacks.”

“I think it’s revolutionary to be teaching that way to first-year medical students,” said Dr. Helena Hansen, a professor with dual appointments in both New York University’s anthropology department and the medical school’s psychiatry department. She said Cunningham is one of a small but growing number of faculty members challenging the status quo.

Hansen said Cunningham’s lecture “fundamentally challenges” a central premise in clinical medicine: that racial categories are well-defined and universally applicable…

Read the entire article here.

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