Some of the excerpts I found most interesting from the AAA and AAPA articles were the ones that discussed actual scientific proof of the concept of “race” being a social construct. I have taken many courses in my studies that have taught all about the history of race: how it began in the U.S. during the 1700s as a way to distinguish those that were brought together in colonial America (as mentioned in the AAA article) and how it has since trickled down into modern-day instilled racism. However, none have gone very far in-depth about the concrete, scientific proof of this. For example: in the AAA article, it states that, “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.” I find this incredibly interesting because people spend so much time concerning themselves with all of the ways in which people who look different are different when, in fact, 94% of all differences between humans actually occur between members of the same “race”.
Recently, I had a conversation with someone who was brought up in a very conservative household and didn’t quite understand where I was coming from when I tried explaining what we have been learning about in this class, specifically pertaining to this week’s topic. After going over all of the social origins and implications and still seeing their confusion, I tried to make a comparison. I asked them to think of all the different fruits in the world with all of their different colors, shapes, sizes, flavors, textures, and aromas. I then asked them to imagine if all of those fruits could reproduce with one another and create hybrids. So one could have a strawberry-kiwi hybrid fruit, or a banana-grape fruit. Once they had a picture in their head, I then asked to go a step further and imagine if those hybrids could mix with other hybrids and reproduce. I then had them imagine what one fruit would look like after thousands of years of mixing and matching and asked if they could possibly categorize that into one distinct and original fruit; and obviously their answer was that they could not. Granted, there are definitely flaws within this comparison: many people do tend to breed with people who look similar and have similar cultural backgrounds, and, as the AAPA article states, “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.” So there weren’t any original “bananas” or “kiwis” to start with, etc., but it was enough to get the point across.
After taking the “human variation quiz”, I realized that although I got the majority of them correct after being educated about the topic, had I taken the quiz before I took so many classes concerning the idea of “race”, I would have gotten most of them wrong. This is a monumentally egregious error on the k-12 schooling we offer in the United States because I believe that many of the prejudices and fallacies that children are brought up believing, are simply instilled out of sheer ignorance to the fact that race is a social construct- that there truly are no distinct differences between entire groups of people. This is just another testament to the notion that evolution should be deeply engrained into the curriculum of our school systems.