In reading these statements, what stuck out to me was how the stance on race was presented, what information was used to attempt to invalidate it, and what information was simply not discussed at all. The word race is old and has had many definitions over time, as described and discussed in the material from the preceding week. I find it interesting that there is a clear attempt to completely devalue and do away with the word race itself. Yet, we also read an article on race’s utilization in forensic anthropology as a way to very generally divide groups and individuals based on geographic ancestry in correlation to phenotypic expression. It was clearly useful, except when ancestry was mixed to a degree that race phenotypically really did no longer mean anything. But through genetic testing, even someone who did not show clear phenotypic traits of ancestry, or race, could be identified through genetic ancestry informative markers, haplogroup, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome data. They, then, could be grouped by their genetic lineage, indicative of general geographic ancestry, which is the colloquial, modern definition of race.
Is it because, then, of the historical context that the word race, used in its modern way of indicating geographic ancestry, is being painted as nonexistent? The AAA statement addresses this, detailing the colonial past of the word race, and indicating the flaws in its usage and definition according to the beliefs and justifications of that era. But that is indeed not the modern, or commonly used, definition. In this aspect lies my greatest quandary, I understand completely their argument, agree with its definitions, but am concerned by the clear attempt at language modification and word erasure. Earl B Hunt, in his book Human Intelligence, demonstrates that racial categories are defined by social conventions but correlate with clusters of both genetic traits and cultural traits. To me, that is a succinct definition of race, and the way I would explain why “biological race does not exist” to someone unfamiliar with the anthropological stance. The difference between the races is not genetically significant, but there are general clusters of traits that still statistically correlate to racial self-identification. This statistical significance is explained by C. Loring Brace, author of “Race” is a Four-letter Word: The Genesis of the Concept and professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, as not justifying the existence of biological race, but indicative of the differences between any geographically segregated groups.
In my other blogs, I have written on the importance of keeping politics out of science. Race was thought of as science when the idea was introduced, but those definitions have clearly been rebuked by science itself as it progressed. The old definitions were used politically in inhuman and immoral, unjustifiable ways. But those old definitions are gone, race still exists; just as a Christian today is nothing like a Christian was 1,000 years ago, what being a race means today is quite different from the definitions of the past. To attempt to erase a word because you disagree with its origins, is itself political. It is an artificial cultural edit. Intentionally editing language is an attempt to control thought and thought patterns. This is called “Newspeak” in the book 1984, which Orwell wrote as a warning and a premonition of the future he foresaw.