A Troublesome Inheritance

If the webinar was a debate Agustín Fuentes would win. He’d win because the base of his arguments were much more thought out and the evidence he presented made more sense than Wade’s. Sometimes Wade was not able to come up with responses to Fuentes’ arguments. It seemed like many times he would try and dodge Fuentes’ evidence.

Wade’s argument is based on two premises. One, that there are 5 genetically identified continental races and secondly, that there are observable differences in genetically based social behaviors between these races. I find that the basis of Wade’s argument is not strong enough to be considered. He uses a program called Structure which makes the clusters that Wade believes exist as biological differences between races.

The readings helped me a lot in understanding the webinar better since Wade became difficult to hear at times. From the positions that we read I found most convincing Jennifer Raff’s. I agree with her argument mostly because of the observation she makes about the Structure program.  All through the webinar I often thought “How can Structure be considered valid since it is so arbitrary? Why is this not being addressed?” If I were a follower of Wade’s claim but thought there should be eight clusters instead of five then with Structure I could manipulate these pre-specified clusters and claim whatever I want. I think this is the biggest issue with Wade’s argument and what makes it lose validity.

The claim which I find least convincing from the three articles is Wade’s. He keeps  trying to justify his claims by saying “Social scientists believe that other people, less enlightened and intelligent than they, will not abandon racism unless told that everyone is identical beneath the skin. So whenever someone points out that race is obviously biological, defenders of the social science position respond with attacks of whatever vehemence is necessary to get the inconvenient truth-teller to shut up.” When I read this I was very surprised. Not only does it sound wrong but it IS wrong. People ARE the same beneath the skin that’s why we share 99.9% of our genes!

The weakness I found to Fuentes’ argument is that I think he sometimes disregards race all together. He does say in the webinar that race as a social concept is very real but he describes it as a population difference. While I do not agree with race as a biological concept I strongly believe that race as a social construct defines our society in many ways.

Truthfully I don’t believe that any of Wade’s claims are very strong. He dodges many questions which Fuentes’ asked him during the webinar and he justifies his claims with popular beliefs of racism.  He was never even able to give a definition of race as a biological concept. All in all, the biggest lesson from all this is that race is not biological. Race is a social construct and it is very real in that sense. We need to talk about race, we need more discussions like this but like Fuentes said we need these conversations with actual facts.

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