Monday, June 25, 2012

Human Races and Racism

There are questions about human race and racism as we preceive them in our everyday lives and governmental rules and regulations. It appears to be rooted in pseudoscience. The misconception of race has had a great influence on the world as we know it today. There is no scientific evidence that certain races of people are inferior or superior to other races or a certain race of people is smarter than another although we have social practices and laws based on a perceived fallacy of races. Race classifications were formally (and under some laws remain) based on skin color, hair type, facial and skull dimensions and body proportions which are physical or morphological characteristics. These classifications are not based on a biological or genetic scientific basis.

The cause of these false misconceptions of race in the modern world has resulted in unwarranted discrimination and considerable human pain and misery. The existence of different morphological phenotypes does not scientifically constitute different races or even ethnicity. Cultures may develop specific systematic human classification systems which are based upon their cultural beliefs. The need to find differences based on human morphological characteristics may have had an evolutionary advantage to protect different groups from other groups; a survival mechanism. The concept of human races appears to be learned from other humans from their own culture. The culturally practiced classification system(s) have no biological foundations. Racial discrimination may have originated as a cultural economic survival mechanism.

Scientific evidence reveals that races exist only in a context that there are morphological differences between groups of people as a result of genetic drift, genetic isolation (in the sharing of similar genetic traits) and the group’s geographical position on the earth. For example, there is a misconception that skin color is a demonstration of racial subdivision. Genetic studies have shown that many dark skinned isolated populations have no common ancestry and thus are examples of convergent evolution. They evolved under similar environmental and geographical conditions where dark skin was favored over lighter skin shade. Skin color is genetically transmitted but is not an indicator of common ancestry. Lewontin (1972) demonstrated that human genetic diversity is found within a population and not the overall population. There are more genetic differences between individuals within a population that share genetic material than individuals in isolated populations that do not share genetic material. Thus, the ability to share genetic material in isolation from another population group causes continuous variation (race) and there are less genetic differences between individuals in isolated populations.

In my opinion, perceived differences between groups are most likely the result of cultural racism which in reality causes poverty for those economically and socially discriminated against. Of course, by definition science is dynamic and evolutionary in nature. The results of these findings are not going to correct the social wrongs committed by one group on another group. Nor will the masses change their racial opinions of each other based on these findings, proof of this is realized from the Lewontin 1972 study which was published forty (40) years ago. This study has received renewed insight from Spencer Wells, Ph.D., who studied under Lewontin, and has made great strides in the development of genetic anthropology. 

This information is subject to change given the development of new evidence, hypothesis, theory and experimentation.

Additional Supporting Evidence: According to Spencer Wells, Ph.D., author of The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey (2002) and head of The National Geographic Genographic Project, current genetic evidence suggests that all human populations can be traced to the San Bushman tribe living today in Africa.

Additional Information:

Lewontin, R. C. (1972). The apportionment of human diversity. Evol. Biol. 6, 381-98. Print.

Madrigal, L., Barbujani, G. (2007). Partitioning of genetic variation in human populations and the concept of race. Anthropological Genetics - theory, methods and applications. Crawford, M. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 18-35. Print.

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