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Presentation on theme: "RACE, BIOLOGY, AND HUMAN DIVERISTY Is “race” a myth?"— Presentation transcript:


2 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?”

3 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.

4 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.).

5 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.)

6 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.

7 Distribution of Type “O” blood

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.

12 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).

13 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.

14 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.”

15 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”

16 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.

17 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.

18 “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.

19 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.

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