Dorothy Roberts: Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-18 02:55Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts: Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race

University of California, Los Angeles
School of Law
385 Charles E. Young Drive East
1242 Law Building
Los Angeles, California 90095
2015-02-19, 17:00-18:30 PST (Local Time)
Room: TBD

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

We are witnessing the emergence of a new biopolitics in the United States that relies on re-inventing race in biological terms using cutting-edge genomic science and biotechnologies. Some scientists are defining race as a biological category written in our genes, while the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries convert the new racial science into race-based products, such as race-specific medicines and ancestry tests, that incorporate false assumptions of racial difference at the genetic level. The genetic understanding of race calls for technological responses to racial disparities while masking the continuing impact of racism in a supposedly post-racial society. Instead, I call for affirming our common humanity by working to end social inequities supported by the political system of race.

For more information, click here.

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Dorothy Roberts: Bringing Different Perspectives into Class

Posted in Articles, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-02-16 01:53Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts: Bringing Different Perspectives into Class

University of Pennsylvania
Multimedia
2015-02-12

When Dorothy Roberts was 3 months old, she moved with her parents from Chicago to Liberia, where her mother, Iris, had worked as a young woman after leaving Jamaica.

It was the first of Dorothy’s many trips abroad, and one during which her father, Robert, took a bunch of photographs and filmed home movies with his 16-millimeter camera. The Roberts family moved back to Chicago when Dorothy was 2, and she can recall weekly screenings of the 16-milimeter reels from Liberia in the living room.

“I had a very strong interest in learning about other parts of the world from when I was very little,” says Roberts, the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor. “My whole childhood revolved around learning about other parts of the world and engaging with people from around the world.”…

Read the entire spotlight here.

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Penn PIK Professor Dorothy Roberts to Receive APA’s 2015 Fuller Award

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-01 00:24Z by Steven

Penn PIK Professor Dorothy Roberts to Receive APA’s 2015 Fuller Award

Penn News
University of Pennsylvania
2015-01-23

Jacquie Posey, Media Contact
Telephone: 215-898-6460

The American Psychiatric Association has named University of Pennsylvania professor Dorothy Roberts recipient of the 2015 Solomon Carter Fuller Award in recognition of her demonstrated leadership and exceptional achievements.

The award honors “a Black citizen who has pioneered in an area which has significantly benefitted the quality of life for Black people.”

Roberts is an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law who joined the University in 2012 as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor. She is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology. Her appointment is shared between the School of Law and the departments of sociology and Africana studies in Penn Arts & Sciences. She is also the founding director of Penn’s Program on Race, Science and Society.

Roberts’ path-breaking work explains the mechanisms and consequences of racial inequities for women, children, families and communities and counters scientific misunderstandings about racial identity. Her research focuses on family, criminal and civil-rights law; bioethics; child welfare; feminist theory; reproductive justice; critical race theory;  and science and society.

Her major books include Fatal Intervention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-first Century; Sex, Power and Taboo: Gender and HIV in the Caribbean and Beyond; Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare; and Killing The Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty

Read the entire news release here.

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The Dubious, Dangerous Science of Race Lives On, Says Scholar

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-01-19 20:14Z by Steven

The Dubious, Dangerous Science of Race Lives On, Says Scholar

Colorlines: News for Action
2011-09-23

Julianne Hing, Reporter/Blogger
Oakland, California

Back in the 19th century, scientists thought it was possible to determine a person’s race, and their corresponding levels of intelligence, based on the size of their skull. In the 20th century, mainstream scientists were convinced that intelligence was genetically determined, and therefore an inheritable trait; they helped spur the now disgraced eugenics movement.

In the 21st century, with racial science’s embarrassing history—and its disgraceful, deadly effects on people of color—seemingly long behind us, it’s easy to dismiss the science of yore as silly and antiquated. But Northwestern University law professor Dorothy Roberts argues this line of scientific inquiry is as alive as ever.

In her new book “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the 21st Century,” Roberts says that scientists are still preoccupied with the problematic questions of whether racial stratification in society is the result of genetic differences. Is race something that’s written into our genetic code? Is there, say, a gene within black folks that makes them more predisposed to cancer and hypertension? Why not use DNA as a forensic tool to predict the race of an unknown suspect?

This obsession, she argues, has led us astray from focusing on the more pressing and legitimate causes of racial stratification: racial inequality that’s deeply embedded in the structures of society. We caught up with Roberts to talk about her new book, and some of the ridiculous, troubling ways this racial science is impacting everyday people’s lives.

You write in the intro that you took on this question looking into the biological reality of race as a personal challenge to yourself, to test your convictions that race is a political category. Can you say more about that?

What motivated me to write the book was that I noticed this revival of the idea that human beings are divided into biological races in genomic science and biotechnologies. I read the headlines, first, of studies that purported to prove that there was a deep structure based on race in the human genome, [of] the approval of race-specific medicine. And I went to a lecture at Northwestern’s medical school where a conservative commentator was invited to talk about race even though he was well-known for his views that biological race determines intelligence. So I was really alarmed that this idea was being resuscitated in new technologies and on the cutting edge of science, and even some liberals were embracing it as a way to address health inequities, without having any sense that there was a danger in this way of thinking about human beings.

So when I say it was a personal challenge it was because I was at first surprised that genomic science was going in that direction and also surprised in the number of people who I talked to who believe that race really is a natural division of human beings and who embrace genetic technologies for a test of identity. To me that really contradicted the political convictions I had, not only about the meaning of race but also the way to fight against racism in America…

Read the entire interview here.

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The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2015-01-15 02:27Z by Steven

The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes

Vox
2015-01-13

Jenée Desmond Harris

You may know exactly what race you are, but how would you prove it if somebody disagreed with you? Jenée Desmond Harris explains. And for more on how race is a social construct, click here.

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Pharmacogenomics and the Biology of Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-08 02:36Z by Steven

Pharmacogenomics and the Biology of Race

Myles Jackson, Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor of the History of Science
New York University

The Huffington Post
2015-01-05

The numerous and impassioned responses to Nicholas Wade’s recently published Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History have once again reminded us of the complexity, ambiguity and perils of writing about the biology of race. In the US one is reminded of the collective sins of our past, including the eugenics movement of the early twentieth century, whereby a disproportionate percentage of people of color and those from lower socio-economic classes were sterilized, and the Tuskegee Study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in which 600 African-American sharecroppers in rural Alabama were purposely not treated for syphilis in order to ascertain information on the long-term effects of the disease. More recently, debates about the biology of race have raged among certain academic circles. While biologists will tell you that humans (other than identical twins, triplets, etc.) do differ from one another genetically — i.e. at the level of the DNA, they will also admit that the difference is rather small. And many (but certainly not all) are loath to label populations, which share the same genetic alleles (or different versions of a gene) as “races.” It turns out there are numerous ways in which one can understand human diversity, including geographic ancestry or responses to environmental selection factors. Sickle cell anemia is a case in point. Identified over a century ago, it was originally thought to be limited to “the Negro race.” As time went on, people from parts of Italy, Greece, Iran, India, and in other diverse locations were identified with the disease…

So why then is race the privileged category used by biomedical researchers in understanding human diversity? There are four sets of institutions that have used race as the primary signify of difference, albeit for very different reasons, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Big Pharma, and personal genomics companies…

…Big Pharma, while initially protesting what it saw as the unwarranted meddling of the government in the affairs of private companies, eventually embraced the move. They quickly realized that race creates markets, as Dorothy Roberts has argued in Fatal Invention (New Press, 2011). In 1996 the US became the second nation (after New Zealand) to permit direct-to-consumer advertising; Big Pharma began to market some of their drugs as race-based, including BiDil, used to treat African Americans with a history of heart attacks and Amaryl, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes in Mexican Americans. Many biomedical researchers have challenged the claims that these medications are more efficacious in one race than in the others…

Read the entire article here.

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Dorothy Roberts, “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2014-11-28 23:08Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts, “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S4L9, Canada
2014-10-23

Public Lecture: Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology at UPenn, came to McMaster University on October 23, 2014 to give a lecture titled “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

In her talk, Roberts examined the myth of the biological concept of race – revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases – continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era.

Presented by the Bourns Lectureship in Bioethics and the McMaster Centre for Scholarship in the Public Interest.

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Q&A with Dorothy Roberts

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Women on 2014-11-17 00:32Z by Steven

Q&A with Dorothy Roberts

Penn Current: News, ideas and conversations from the University of Pennsylvania
2014-10-16

Greg Johnson, Managing Editor

When Dorothy Roberts was 3 months old, she moved with her parents from Chicago to Liberia, where her mother, Iris, had worked as a young woman after leaving Jamaica.

It was the first of Dorothy’s many trips abroad, and one during which her father, Robert, took a bunch of photographs and filmed home movies with his 16-millimeter camera. The Roberts family moved back to Chicago when Dorothy was 2, and she can recall weekly screenings of the 16-milimeter reels from Liberia in he living room.

“I had a very strong interest in learning about other parts of the world from when I was very little,” says Roberts, the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor. “My whole childhood revolved around learning about other parts of the world and engaging with people from around the world.”

Robert was an anthropologist and Iris was working on her Ph.D. in anthropology when Dorothy was born. They raised their daughters as citizens of the world in a home filled with a wealth of books and ethnographies about different cultures, places, and people. The Roberts home stayed connected with the international community, hosting foreign-exchange students and living overseas.

Five-year-old Dorothy had already decided she was going to be an anthropologist—as her parents expected—and would sneak into her father’s office and spend hours reading his books. The family spent two years in Egypt when she was a teenager, reinforcing her status as a global citizen.

Twenty-one-year-old Dorothy, after finishing her undergraduate studies at Yale, including a year in South America, decided she wanted to be a lawyer, and enrolled at Harvard Law School.

“I got a law degree and went into legal practice because I thought that was the best tool for doing social justice work,” says Roberts, who has joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences and Penn Law School. Her work focuses on gender, bioethics, health, and social justice issues, specifically those that affect the lives of children, women, and African Americans.

Roberts began her legal career with one of the icons of the Civil Rights Movement, Judge Constance Baker Motley, for whom she clerked in the early 1980s. After practicing law in the private sector, she started her teaching career in 1988 at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark, an institution known for its history of social justice advocacy. She was a professor at Northwestern School of Law before joining Penn in 2012.

The Current sat down with Roberts in Penn Law’s Golkin Hall for a conversation about her globetrotting, her influential parents, racism in the child welfare system, the degradation of black bodies, the resurgence of race in science, and controversial decisions by the United States Supreme Court

…Q.Your most recent book, ‘Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century,’ examines the resurgence of biological concepts of race in genomic science and biotechnologies. What is it about?

A. Biological explanations have historically been a powerful way of convincing people that social inequality is natural and, therefore, does not require social change. To me, that is what the eugenics movement, which was prominent in the United States from the 1920s until World War II, was all about. Mainstream science in the United States promoted biological explanations for social inequality, claiming it resulted from differences in people’s inherited genetic traits. That basic ideology continues to this day in what is seen as cutting-edge and sophisticated scientific research. You can tie together all of my work from ‘Killing the Black Body’ to ‘Fatal Invention’ as uncovering the ways in which that basic philosophy—disguising social inequalities as biological ones—continues to fuel unjust social policies and legitimize very brutal practices against the most marginalized people in this country, blaming them for their own disadvantaged status. How can you blame the least powerful people for creating powerful systems of inequality in the United States? But the biological explanation for inequality deludes people into thinking that is possible—that it’s natural for black infants to die at two or three times the rate of white infants; it’s natural for black people to be incarcerated at many times the rate of white people; it’s natural for black children to have lower graduation rates than white children; it’s natural for black people to have a fraction of the wealth white people have. Americans who don’t want to explain these glaring inequities as stemming from institutionalized racism find comfort in explaining them as stemming from a natural order of human beings…

…What are you currently working on? I understand you are continuing a research project that was originally started by your father.

A. I’m working on a book using about 500 interviews of black/white couples that my father conducted in Chicago from 1937 to 1980. He was working on a book on interracial marriage my whole childhood but he never wrote it. My father was white and my mother was black. I want to take advantage of this extraordinary archive to study the relationship between the experiences and views of these couples and the intensifying challenge to the racial order that occurred during that period. How did they understand their own marriages in terms of changing race relations and politics in Chicago? I’m very interested in the role interracial marriage has played in perpetuating and contesting racial inequality.

While my father believed that interracial marriage could be a key strategy for overcoming racism, I neither glorify nor ignore its political significance. I am investigating interracial marriage from the perspective of black-white couples without assuming an inherently problematic or progressive role in the advancement of racial equality. And I’m very excited to explore what the interviews reveal.

Read the entire interview here.

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Race Medicine: Treating Health Inequities from Slavery to Genomics

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2014-10-31 19:21Z by Steven

Race Medicine: Treating Health Inequities from Slavery to Genomics

University of New England
Alfond Center for Health Sciences
Room 205
Biddeford, Maine
2014-11-03, 17:30 EST (Local Time)

Contact: David Livingstone Smith
Phone: (207) 602-2237

Annual David Hume Lecture on Human Nature

Dorothy Roberts, J.D., will trace the U.S. history of race medicine—the practice of treating disease according to race.

As Dr. Roberts will explain, race medicine has functioned to make health inequities and other forms of racial inequality seem natural and inevitable. This practice is no less troubling in today’s genomic age than at the time of its origins in slavery.

Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at the University of Pennsylvania 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…

For more information, click here.

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Dorothy Roberts Lecture: “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race”

Posted in Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Live Events, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-10-22 15:18Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts Lecture: “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race”

McMaster University
CIBC Hall, McMaster University Student Centre (MUSC 319)
280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S4L9, Canada
2014-10-23, 19:00-21:00 EDT (Local Time)

The Bourns Lectureship in Bioethics and the McMaster Centre for Scholarship in the Public Interest present a lecture by Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights

Dorothy Roberts is the fourteenth Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, George A. Weiss University Professor, and the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights at the University of Pennsylvania, where she holds appointments in the Law School and Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology. An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, Roberts has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of gender, race, and class in legal issues and has been a leader in transforming public thinking and policy on reproductive health, child welfare, and bioethics.

She is the author of many award-winning texts including: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Created Race in the Twenty-First Century (The New Press 2011), Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Civitas Books 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Random House 1997).

During her lecture at McMaster University, Roberts will examine how the myth of the biological concept of race – revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases – continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era.

For more information, click here. View the poster here.

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