Our world is much different than it was just 50 years ago regarding dating and marriages. It has become more socially acceptable to date across races, which over time leads to a new generation littered with racially diverse children. This hits home for me because I am one of those children, my mother coming from the Philippines and my father from Jamaica, and my friends always thought it was so interesting that I was “exotic.” Personally, I did not think too much about it but I always wondered if my combination helped or hindered me in any health related way. It is believed that this trend of people with mixed races is going to only going to continue exponentially. National Geographic wrote an article describing the “Changing Faces” of America, and in the last 10 years the number of multiracial people has jumped by 32%, making it now one of the most popular categories(which was later reviewed by Time Magazine). So with all of this mixing going on, I had to ask myself—“Is being mixed better than not?” I read an overview of a documentary that aired on Channel 4—which is a British public-service television broadcaster—that tackled this question. You can watch the full documentary below.
All of the benefits from being mixed come first and foremost from the unique combinations within the genetic makeup. Everyone carries a handful of broken or malfunctioning genes that are only apparent when combined with another broken or malfunctioning gene. Similar broken genes can normally be found in areas where most of the people share the same racial profiles—so it is more likely than when two people with similar racial backgrounds come together that they will have a child with a weaker genetic makeup.
The term to describe an organism that has a higher growth rate and greater resistance to disease is “hybrid vigor”. Hybrid vigor can be divided into the components of outbreeding and heterozygote advantage. In essence, outbreeding leads to heterozygote advantage. As stated before, so-called “inbreeding”—or reproducing within your gene pool—can lead to serious physical deformities and health issues. Outbreeding pretty much scrambles the genes and make the chance that two malfunctioning genes will come together close to none.
So on the whole, mixed people seem genetically ‘better’. So, could mixed race children gain a noticeable genetic advantage and show degree of hybrid vigor? Some scientists think the answer is ‘yes’. However, as in other species, environmental conditions can mask the genetic effects, and in humans the environment can play an unusually big role. There are other cases of genetic hybrids outside of the human race—scientists had crossed animals and plants to analyze how they function as mixed entities. The differences between human populations are similar to if not greater than those seen between strains of plants and animals.
I think we need more time to watch how people develop as we continue to mix genes cross culturally. I agree with what National Geographic predicts, and I believe that we can potentially get to a point in time where there are more genetically diverse people than not (in short, no one will be “pure blood” any more).