Blog 3: Population Biology

The idea of race being the key factor to differentiate people has always impacted me. While reading the first paragraph of the AAA’s Statement on Race, the sentence “both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species,” reminded me of my English class as a junior prepping for the ACT in high school I learned that they used to ask simple questions such as, age, grade, parent’s annual income range, and race right before the students take the test and the African Americans would do worse on the test because it bought up the stigma that African Americans aren’t the smartest race and rarely break away from the cycle of poverty. However, if it was placed after the exam, the African American students would do much better. The idea of separating humans based on race has been ingrained on us since we were children, it might be almost impossible to remove all racial stereotypes later on in life. Therefore, it is important that we try to see the world without our racial goggles that we grew up with and decrease any racial biases as an entire human race for a better future.

The first paragraph of the AAA article also mentions, “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”. I know that the author of this article meant to portray this as a small amount but the background I have in genetics itches to ask where they got this information. Out of the hundreds of thousands of ways our 4 nucleotides A,T,C, and G can be put together in a single human genome this number seems quite small but when compared to the fact that we also share 98.8% of this A,T,C, and G sequence with apes and 50% with a banana make it seem like 6% is a really large number (Comfort 13). In genetics, any one wrong nucleotide misplacement can mean a certain death sentence. With that knowledge added to the 6% this is the variation that survived which might be even more rare. I could also be processing this sentence wrong; I didn’t do the best in stats 231 but it still seems like a really big amount to me.

From my ANP 201 class we learned that we give something a name only when it’s important enough. In order to explain the concept of the non-existence of biological race, we would first have to define the opposite of it, which is the concept of race itself. We can explain race as a term society uses to differentiate people by the color of their skin. We can then explain that the variation of skin color is the result adaptation of sun exposure from their ancestors. However, skin color is only a small fraction in our DNA and is more affected by environment than by genetics therefore we can say that race is merely a social and political concept rather than a biological.

 

Link that I used to confirm human genome similarities:

http://www.evolutionarymodel.com/dnasimilarities.htm

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