Week 6 Activity Post-Lucy Grogan

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/01/racism-science-human-genomes-darwin

The article I found is titled “Why racism is not backed by science”, and it talked about how Darwin’s cousin, Galton, took his work and used it to support his racist ideals of some groups of individuals being inferior and separate from others.  This way of thinking has led to a strain of thought that considers certain diseases to be tied to particular “races” of humans.  However, these ideals have been disproved the more we learn about human genetics.  There is no one trait that separates one so called “race” from another.  In fact, most differentiation occurs within a “racial” group, and not between groups.  Furthermore, this information also combats the idea that certain diseases only affect particular “races” of people.  The end statement of this article sums up the author’s point about the social construct of race very succinctly: “Race doesn’t exist, racism does. But we can now confine it to opinions and not pretend that there might be any scientific validity in bigotry.”

This article relates to this week’s materials because it tackles the false idea that there is a biological component to race that can be, and some people believe is, supported by genetics. For example, while there are certain diseases such as Sickle Cell Anemia and Tay-Sachs that have been associated with certain groups of people, individuals of African descent and Jewish individuals respectively, these diseases do not just affect one particular “race”.  As was discussed in this week’s readings and in the article I chose, sickle cell anemia was found in areas that experienced high case numbers of malaria.  This is due to its ability to provide the affected individual with some resistance to the malaria virus (Rutherford, 2015 and Week 6 readings).  Likewise, Tay-Sachs was found to not be a “Jewish Disease”, but a disease that also affects people of French Canadian and Cajun decent (Rutherford, 2015 and Week 6 material).

One thought on “Week 6 Activity Post-Lucy Grogan

  1. I loved the quote you used from the end of the article. What I have found in discussing this topic with others from outside this class is that it is hard for people to understand that there is a useful data in understanding what combination of biology and geography produce different traits or predispositions to certain diseases without conflating it with “race.” We seem to be so hard wired to name groups of people by their traditional geographic home that it is just easier to say that sickle-cell anemia is an African disease rather than the longer but more accurate description. Sickle-cell occurs more frequently in populations whose ancestry comes from areas of the world that suffer most with Malaria. The difference between a belief in a disease’s probability in a certain population and its exclusivity to a certain population is racism. Even if we understood our genome well enough to pin point all of the genetic factors that play a role in whether or not a given person will get a certain disease in their lifetime, we still can’t say that the cause is their racial makeup of their genes. There are no sets of genes that delineate the “races.”

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