Blog 3 Summer Ort

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.

7 thoughts on “Blog 3 Summer Ort

  1. I thought this was a really great post! I agree with your thoughts at the end of your post concerning schooling in the United States. Just like you, I had a different idea of race before taking this class. When people talk about race, they are usually referring to one’s ethnicity or some factor that separates everyone – when really we are all just one large race. The human race! I think that children are taught certain things when they are younger – such topics as race and evolution – and the information they are learning is not quite “up to code.” In my experience, I learned little about evolution in grade school, but everything I have learned in this course is different than what I was originally learned. I have an open mind and love to take on new perspectives, but there are people that are not willing to learn new information or re-visit old information to put it in a new perspective. Therefore, I agree with you, and I think that evolution (and similar topics) should have more emphasis in the school systems around the nation. Also, your metaphor with the fruit was a really smart idea!

  2. It is true that there are dangerous fallacies in our current school system. While progress has been made, it is still true that children are not taught the accuracies of race being a social construct. I myself did not learn about it until I reached my freshman year of college.
    The fruit-quiz is an interesting way to teach this and definitely should be pinpointed towards the younger generation as an easier tool to understand the complexities of this issue. Granted, like you said, there are a few issues with the comparison but I can see that method being very successful in teaching elementary all the way through high school. I think it would have definitely worked with me.
    Hopefully in the near future the educational system will catch up and start teaching children the truth about race.

  3. I like your post.First thing, I am not a racist, but I do not want this issue to stand “anti-racism” moral high point to answer, I am opposed to blame, “Bai Renjiang Chauvinism.” I have neither engaged in anthropology, psychology research, nor engage in shaping medicine, but as a designer, “the United States” is the one we have been thinking about things. My limited knowledge, throwing bricks right when this answer, please correct me. Objective and rational perspective, there are obvious anatomical differences between races, hormone level differences are obvious differences in the surface appearance of this “internal differences” caused, thereby allowing us to produce aesthetic preferences. I believe it will be a better world for us. There will be a world with no distance between all kind of people.

  4. Hi,
    Your discussion about the positions published by the anthropological organizations about race had an interesting focus. The genetic similarities and limited differences identified between geographical groups of humans supplies evidence but obviously does not tell the whole story. After all, there is little genetic difference between Homo sapiens and other members of the Great Apes when examining their genomes. As you say, the social implications of race have deeply engrained modern day beliefs in our society. I loved your discussion of evolution making an analogy between humans and all of our common fruits. I imagined your suggestion to consider how fruits would change if they would breed successfully over hundreds or thousands of generations. Obviously, their unique qualities would disappear just as you suggest that humans have more similar qualities within “racial” groups than between them. That’s a great way to help understand how humans could evolve from a single group of individuals.
    -Jaclyn Kyko

  5. I also found the scientific proof of the idea of race to be interesting. I haven’t taken many classes discussing race but I did have one last semester and I was very delighted to have taken the class. We only discussed race on a very intermediate level but we did talk briefly about the history of how it all started and touched on some science. The first week we talked about how forensic anthropologist use race just like one of the articles we read this week but that was as far as we got. It was definitely fascinating to read about the percentage of variation within racial groups and between them in the AAA article. As you said, people are so concerned about all the ways people who look different are different, and don’t realize the facts behind themselves and their own “race”.

  6. Hi Summer! I also found the AAA and AAPA articles to be very interesting in how they connected race to the past and how it is actually a social construct. The fact that 94% of variation actually happens within the same race, and that there is very little variation between races goes to further prove the social construct that race is. I liked how you used an example of all the different kinds of fruit to help explain the idea of race to your highly conservative friend. Any flaws that could be found in your comparison are not that relevant to someone who is unfamiliar with the topic, it does a good enough job to teach them about it. I also like how you mentioned that race is taught in the curriculum in our school systems because I also did not realize until taking classes in college about how race is a social construct. You made very good points!

  7. I was also surprised that different race have actually similar DNA. For many years, people kill other race because they think they are superior to those people, but actually we all come from the same ancestor. It is interesting that you use fruits to explain the non-existence of biological race them, your explanation is very clear and easy to understand for those people who are unfamiliar with non-existence of biological race. I think it takes time to let people do not use race to determine others who they are because “race” and “racism” already deeply rooted in our culture. Therefore, we should teach children not to think people who have different skin color are superior or inferior.

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