Presentation on theme: "RACE, BIOLOGY, AND HUMAN DIVERISTY Is “race” a myth?"— Presentation transcript:
RACE, BIOLOGY, AND HUMAN DIVERISTY Is “race” a myth?
Questions about “Seeing Daylight” Are the Tlingit a race? If not, to what race do they belong? What do we mean when we the word “race?”
Race is a biological concept Race is a geographically (hence, reproductively) isolated subdivision of a species, or subspecies. If reproductive isolation lasts long enough, then a new species is produced.
Do human “races” exist? Human populations have not been reproductively isolated long enough to have developed into biological races. Early human classification into races have been dependent solely on the evaluation of phenotype (manifest biology—appearance, skin color, hair texture, etc.).
The “Standard” Geographical Groupings of Races Negroid or African—Africa. Caucasoid—Eurasia. Mongoloid—Asia and Americas. Australoid—Australia and Oceania. Each group is based on differences in appearance (skin color, hair texture, body form, etc.)
Geographic “types” are ambiguous Only 6% of human genes account for the phenotypical differences seen between “races.” Greater overall variation exists within each “racial” grouping than between such groups. The phenotypic traits that do exist are largely adaptive in nature.
How does the previous map compare with the Biasutti Skin Color Map? Look at Map 9 in your atlas. If human races were as distinct as many have assumed, should shouldn’t there be some correlation between skin color and blood type? Skin color is a function of melanin production in the dermis layer of the skin. Skin coloring is adaptive.
Skin pigmentation, Vitamin D, and survival Vitamin D not common in nature; the human body synthesizes it in the skin with the help of ultraviolet radiation. Vitamin D is necessary for directing the body’s use of calcium. Too much Vitamin D is toxic; too little will result in debilitating bone disease. Skin pigmentation levels monitors Vitamin D production.
Dark skin protects skin from excessive ultraviolet radiation Northern populations, with little sunlight, require minimal pigmentation to produce Vitamin D. Tropical populations require protection from too much ultraviolet radiation and too much Vitamin D. Light skinned people are maladapted for tropical areas.
Summary about human variation Human variation essential for survival of the species. Some differences attributed to “races” the result of biological adaptive response to climate to certain regions of the world. Humans groups have never been isolated long enough to form true biological races.
Social Constructions of Race Social races are groups assumed to have true biological differences based on culturally arbitrary rather than scientific assessment. Examples: “blacks” and “whites.” What is a “black race?” A “white race?” Racial categorization in American culture: A child of mixed parents (one black and one white) is socially labeled as black, even though genetically, the child could just as easily be considered white (genotype 50/50).
Rule of Hypodescent Descent is the assignment of social identity based on ancestory. Hypodescent is the American cultural practice of placing the children of parents representing different groups (“mixed marriages”) in the minority status. Example: Louisiana law states that anyone with 1/32 nd black ancestry is legally black.
The Pervasiveness of Hypodescent The flap over Miss Saigon for the New York production: Jonathan Pryce, a “caucasian” actor, could not play the role of a French/Vietnamese pimp. The actor needed to be “Asian.”
Race and the U.S. Census Race tracked in the U.S. since 1790, since slaves counted as 3/5 th of a white person and Indians were not taxed. New census has a place for considering multiple racial affiliations. Canada: visible minorities vs. “race”
Hypodescent in Japan “Pure” Japanese 90% of the population. Japanese say Koreans “smell different.” Burakumin, although genetically indistinguishable from other Japanese, are considered unclean, and segregated into separate communities.
Other approaches toward “race”: Brazil Brazilians use up to 500 different racial labels. Class status, though, is based on skin color. Dark skin suggests hard labor, but “money lightens.” Brazil lacks racial aversion. In spite of racial admixture, hypodescent never developed.
“Race” and Intelligence 19 th century arguments for racial superiority have survived to some degree (Nazi Germany’s pure “Aryan race.”). Class-based societies perpetuate the myths, in part to fuel segregation and domination. Poverty=minority=unintelligent has been reinforced by unscientific testing. Culture and environment appear to be the factors at work, not innate intellectual potential.
Conclusions A great level of human biological diversity exists, although more variation occurs within geographical groups than between. Most social definitions of race are based on phenotype, although some may be mythological. Innate intelligence varies from individual to individual, irrespective of ancestry. Most testing has cultural bias.