AAPA Statement on Biological Aspects of Race

Posted in Anthropology, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Statements on 2014-11-09 21:27Z by Steven

AAPA Statement on Biological Aspects of Race

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 101, Issue 4, December 1996
pages 569–570
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.1331010408

PREAMBLE

As scientists who study human evolution and variation, we believe that we have an obligation to share with other scientists and the general public our current understanding of the structure of human variation from a biological perspective. Popular conceptualizations of race are derived from 19th and early 20th century scientific formulations. These old racial categories were based on externally visible traits, primarily skin color, features of the face, and the shape and size of the head and body, and the underlying skeleton. They were often imbued with nonbiological attributes, based on social constructions of race. These categories of race are rooted in the scientific traditions of the 19th century, and in even earlier philosophical traditions which presumed that immutable visible traits can predict the measure of all other traits in an individual or a population. Such notions have often been used to support racist doctrines. Yet old racial concepts persist as social conventions that foster institutional discrimination. The expression of prejudice may or may not undermine material well-being, but it does involve the mistreatment of people and thus it often is psychologically distressing and socially damaging. Scientists should try to keep the results of their research from being used in a biased way that would serve discriminatory ends.

POSITION

We offer the following points as revisions of the 1964 UNESCO statement on race:

  1. All humans living today belong to a single species, Homo sapiens, and share a common descent. Although there are differences of opinion regarding how and where different human groups diverged or fused to form new ones from a common ancestral group, all living populations in each of the earth’s geographic areas have evolved from that ancestral group over the same amount of time. Much of the biological variation among populations involves modest degrees of variation in the frequency of shared traits. Human populations have at times been isolated, but have never genetically diverged enough to produce any biological barriers to mating between members of different populations.
  2. Biological differences between human beings reflect both hereditary factors and the influence of natural and social environments. In most cases, these differences are due to the interaction of both. The degree to which environment or heredity affects any particular trait varies greatly.
  3. There is great genetic diversity within all human populations. Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past

Read the entire statement here.

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American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”

Posted in History, Media Archive, Statements, United States on 2009-09-25 03:27Z by Steven

American Anthropological Association Statement on “Race”

1998-05-17

The following statement was adopted by the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association, acting on a draft prepared by a committee of representative American anthropologists. It does not reflect a consensus of all members of the AAA, as individuals vary in their approaches to the study of “race.”  We believe that it represents generally the contemporary thinking and scholarly positions of a majority of anthropologists.

In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic “racial” groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within “racial” groups than between them. In neighboring populations there is much overlapping of genes and their phenotypic (physical) expressions. Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species….

Read the entire statement here.

Mixed Race Organisations in the UK: Joint Statement

Posted in Media Archive, Statements, United Kingdom on 2009-09-17 03:55Z by Steven

Mixed Race Organisations in the UK: Joint Statement
2009-09-13

People in Harmony in consultation with:
Multiple Heritage Project
MixTogether
Sputnik
Inheritance Project
Planet Rainbow Project
MOSAIC Black and Mixed Parentage Family Group
Intermix
Starlight Black Child Mixed Heritage Group

As a coalition of mixed race organisations we seek to advance the social well being of people, couples and families of mixed race.  One of our main objectives is to influence and improve ways in which public services such as education, health, social care and criminal justice are delivered to the mixed race population though discussion and debate, research, campaigns and the arts.

In the past mixed race people, couples and families have frequently been portrayed as occupying a problematic position in our social fabric and life.  They have been described as marginal, isolated, and confused, burdened with identity problems, and disadvantaged in their life chances. In the last decade or so much fresh thinking has shifted the ground from that of problematising our various communities to celebrating their diversity.  New cultures of human rights, equality and diversity, and the positive duties expected of our public bodies have created an environment in which our coalition is seeking positive engagement with the various sectors in society, including government, voluntary bodies and NGOs, and the private sector: we are uniquely placed to share our knowledge and experience and to represent the interests of this community. We are aware, too, that disadvantage and discrimination persist, some of which is mediated by differences in socio-economic position across our different communities, and we seek positive change to ameliorate these drawbacks…

Read the joint statement here.

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