The Color of American Genomics: Genetics in the Era of Racialized Medicine

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-12-08 03:36Z by Steven

The Color of American Genomics: Genetics in the Era of Racialized Medicine

University of California, Los Angeles
306 Royce Hall
340 Royce Drive
Los Angeles, California 90095
Friday, 2016-12-09, 13:30-16:30 PST (Local Time)


Michael Montoya, Associate Professor
University of California, Irvine

Sandra Soo Jin Lee, Senior Research Scholar
Stanford University

Joan Donovan
University of California, Los Angeles

Élodie Grossi
University of California, Los Angeles/EPIDAPO

Since the 1960s, American ethno-racial categories have been increasingly used to respond to the inclusion of ethnic and racial minorities in biomedicine and genetics. It has been the researchers’ very dedication to the positive ideals of diversity and to the struggle against medical disparities that has paradoxically allowed racial categories to massively gain ground in science. This half-day symposium aims to shed light on the scope of racialized science and the political and ethical considerations raised by this new paradigm.

This workshop is free and open to the public

Presented by EPIDAPO.  Co-sponsored by the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics.

For more information, click here.

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Race In The Northwest: Hood River Man Learns His Family’s Surprising Truth

Posted in Articles, Audio, Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-12-08 02:58Z by Steven

Race In The Northwest: Hood River Man Learns His Family’s Surprising Truth

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Anna Griffin, News Director

Hood River writer and cidermaker John Metta.
Anna Griffin/OPB

Hood River, OregonJohn Metta grew up thinking of himself as mixed race: His mother was white. His father’s side of the family proudly proclaimed themselves a blend of African-American and Native American.

“Actually, I grew up always being the Indian kid at school,” he said. “I have pictures of myself in like fourth and fifth grade, and my hair was dead straight parted in the middle. I looked like the typical Native American.”

The family wasn’t entirely clear on where that Native American element entered the mix — someone at some point had spent time on the Seneca reservation in Western New York. Still, they embraced their native side…

…A few years ago, Metta’s sisters got curious about precisely which tribes and parts of the country their relatives came from. They asked an uncle to swab his cheek and had the sample tested. How much Native American blood did they find?…

Read the entire article here.

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What Is the Color of Beauty?

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-11-27 16:10Z by Steven

What Is the Color of Beauty?

The New York Times

Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent

Tiffany Ford

A multibillion-dollar industry of skin-whitening products dominates the West African beauty market, creating a world of mixed messages for the women who live there.

ACCRA, Ghana — Semiratu Zakaru was standing in the hot sun on a crowded noontime street explaining why Ghana’s new ban against certain skin-bleaching creams was unlikely to work, when her friend, Desmond Kwamina Odonkor, walked up and interrupted our conversation, oozing confidence and game.

“You have to stop bleaching,” he said, sotto voce. Then he winked at her and sauntered off.

Ms. Zakaru, a 23-year-old hairdresser, rolled her eyes. His advice, in her view, was rubbish for the simple reason that “all of his girlfriends are light-skinned.” She said she wasn’t about to stop using the Viva White cream and Clinic Clear lotion that had, over the last year and a half, made her skin several shades lighter than her original chocolate-milk complexion.

Here in the heart of the multibillion-dollar industry of products in West Africa that are meant to whiten skin, it is a world of mixed messages. Women are now being told that it is wrong, and even illegal, to bleach their skin. At the same time, they are flooded with messages — and not even subliminal ones — that tell them that white is beautiful…

…In many West African countries, at the top of that class structure, sit white expats, whether they are European diplomats in affluent neighborhoods, the United States Embassy staff members in their walled compounds or Lebanese merchants in electronic shops.

Next in the hierarchy are the mixed-race people. The European colonists who came to Africa mated with Africans and produced mixed-race offspring, who were then deemed to be of a superior class to the full-blooded Africans. South Africa’s apartheid system went so far as to legally enshrine mixed-race people, called “coloureds.”

“Anyone in this country could see that the mulattos were given precedence everywhere,” Dr. Delle said. “They were more educated, they were viewed as superior.” In many African countries, the word “mulatto” does not have the negative connotation that it has in the United States…

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 2016-11-27 15:29Z by Steven

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

January 2017
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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You took a DNA test and it says you are Native American. So what?

Posted in Articles, Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-11-25 16:05Z by Steven

You took a DNA test and it says you are Native American. So what?

PRI’s The World
Public Radio International

Andrea Crossan, Senior Producer
Boston, Massachusetts

Have you been tempted to try one of those genetic testing kits, like the ones sold by or

Maybe you’ve seen a commercial featuring Kim Trujillo.

In it, Trujillo talks about how she discovered she was part Native American.

So you get the kit, swab your mouth, mail it back and you find out you are Native American. Then what?…

Read the story here. Listen to the story (00:05:15) here. Download the story here.

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The New American Face

Posted in Anthropology, Arts, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2016-11-21 21:28Z by Steven

The New American Face

The Atlantic

James Hamblin, Senior Editor

The least and most attractive male faces, based on statistical models.

Leaders are stoking human tendencies toward tribalism—but this instinct can be overcome more easily than once thought.

Since the election of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama has shifted into a prophylactic stance. He is warning that the world is complex, not a simple collection of binaries where things are either completely fantastic or the absolute worst.

Obama sees, rather, an ecosystem, a global community where borders are increasingly illusory, where prosperity for one economy means prosperity for others. Still this is a difficult concept to impart even to competitive students or coworkers, much less a population of seven billion. Recounting how he explained the election outcome to his daughters, Obama said in The New Yorker this week, “This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy.”

If biology is messy, neurobiology is a dumpster filled with smaller dumpsters, all ablaze. We are competitive by nature, as a matter of survival, and this tendency is easily goaded into hate…

Read the entire article here.

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Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Mexico, Monographs, Social Science on 2016-11-14 19:49Z by Steven

Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Duke University Press
324 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6358-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-6373-6
12 illustrations

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Race mixture, or mestizaje, has played a critical role in the history, culture, and politics of Latin America. In Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom, Peter Wade draws on a multidisciplinary research study in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. He shows how Latin American elites and outside observers have emphasized mixture’s democratizing potential, depicting it as a useful resource for addressing problems of racism (claiming that race mixture undoes racial difference and hierarchy), while Latin American scientists participate in this narrative with claims that genetic studies of mestizos can help isolate genetic contributors to diabetes and obesity and improve health for all. Wade argues that, in the process, genomics produces biologized versions of racialized difference within the nation and the region, but a comparative approach nuances the simple idea that highly racialized societies give rise to highly racialized genomics. Wade examines the tensions between mixture and purity, and between equality and hierarchy in liberal political orders, exploring how ideas and scientific data about genetic mixture are produced and circulate through complex networks.

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The New Biopolitics of Race, Health, and Justice

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Justice, United States on 2016-11-07 01:32Z by Steven

The New Biopolitics of Race, Health, and Justice

Center For Health and Wellbeing
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
001 Robertson Hall
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
Friday, 2016-11-11, 12:00-13:30 EST (Local Time)

Dorothy 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

Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and the Law School where she also holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mosell Alexander chair.

Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, social justice, and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. Her major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She is the author of more than 80 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law and women and the law.

For more information, click here.

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In An Election Defined By Race, How Do We Define Race?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-11-06 23:14Z by Steven

In An Election Defined By Race, How Do We Define Race?


Farai Chideya, Senior Writer

When I was younger, I had an idea for a satire in which a group of rogue genealogists would get blood samples from racially incendiary white politicians. They’d run DNA tests on them to see if they were part black, then publish the information on those who were.

This was way back before you could order DNA tests online and watch television shows about celebrities seeing their results. I don’t write satire, and wisely abandoned the idea. But the broader concept of bloodlines and our construction of political identity popped into my head during a recent discussion about the election.

Donald Trump’s supporters, 90 percent of whom are white, have measurably less positive feelings about African-Americans and several other groups than other Republicans or the public at large. But how many of his voters are “black,” not by our current categorization but under the “one-drop rule” saying that no matter how white they looked, anyone with a drop of black blood was categorized as such? Variations of the one-drop rule persisted in law until 1983 in Louisiana, after a mixed-race woman unsuccessfully sued to become legally white, and legislators overturned the law in response to the fractious case. Some argue that the one-drop rule had already been eroded by the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case on interracial marriage, now the subject of a new movie

Read the entire article here.

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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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