Racial Differences: Genetic or Societal?

Race is always a controversial issue in today’s society.  The issue is the idea of race is just that an idea. There is no real way to measure or verify race in any way. It is a social idea made to explain a difference in skin pigment. So, what is really race and how does it work in a scientific sense versus our personal ideas of what race is?

A lot of doctors look into race because a large amount of illnesses are related to race in that some races have a higher chance to get one illness over another. In one source, Cardiovascular diseases in Racial and Ethnic Minorities, there is a discussion on what race people think they were versus where their genes came from. The source looked at their genes to find where they were from and found that people who identified identified as Caucasian were usually only had European roots while those who were African-American had a much larger mix of racial backgrounds. This makes sense due to slavery and a massive amount of discrimination which led to a lot of mixed race children who lived mainly in the African-American community so that is what they identified as African-American more.

In another study on the Nature of Genetics website,  there is a discussion on the genetics of race. It also goes over how genetics can show where people comes from but can not define race. There are too many genes and combinations to find the link between skin tone and genes. Addition, as show above people do not always know where they come from so they could be more then one race which muddies the water even more. This source even goes over how so many other factors affect the rate of illnesses more then race can. It seems that the deep scientists look into race the more they find very little genetic info to explain race.

This is not the only source that found this. In another study Sage Journals, Social Study of Sciences, found that a lot of scientists who look into genetics make sure to say their research does not show anything that connects or defines race. It is a societal concept not an actual scientific idea. People can use it to say one group of people are smarter then others to more prone to something but in the end that is outside societal factors not genetic factors. The world made the idea of race not nature. While genes have to do with race there is no scientific way to define it.

Sources

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-59745-410-0_4

http://www.nature.com/index.html?file=/ng/journal/v36/n11s/full/ng1436.html

http://sss.sagepub.com/content/38/5/643.short

4 thoughts on “Racial Differences: Genetic or Societal?

  1. Tyler John Sokolich

    Race is definitely societally developed. People tend to make stereotypes of a certain race being better at something than another, which implies genetics. However its probably just due to the value system of that race. A lot of the time a specific ethnicity actually is dominant in a certain field or area. The actual reason for that relies a lot on the fact that that is what their race is found commonly doing. This doesn’t make one race better than another genetically, they just are more commonly doing something. In fact, studies show any human genetics generally differ from each other minimally. Any advantage they have would be societal not genetic. Nice post.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/22/science/do-races-differ-not-really-genes-show.html?pagewanted=all

  2. Angelique L Santiago

    This blog is very interesting. I can definitely see how race is socially constructed rather than genetically determined. I am of a mixed background and therefore, I don’t identify with one specific race. Also, with all the stereotypes that go around about different races, some people are often associated with a certain race based on how they act which is ultimately due to their social environment. I also looked into this topic and read, “Without natural genetic boundaries to guide us, human racial categories remain a product of our choices.” How interesting does that sound? If you would like to read more, go to the following link!
    http://www.psmag.com/nature-and-technology/why-your-race-isnt-genetic-82475

  3. Cassidy Paige Heiserman

    Last semester, I took a course called AF AM 103 in which we discussed racism and sexism. One of the things that stuck out to me most about race was a test that was performed by using DNA. The experiment took place in a class room. The students were of all types of races and ethnicities, such as caucasian, African American, and Asian. The procedure involved swabbing the individuals cheek with a Q-tip, and testing the DNA from it. The results were shocking. It turns out that people of all races have the same DNA and genetics. The most similar match in DNA in the class was between an African American girl and a white boy. All of the common misconceptions about blacks not being as smart or having an extra muscle in their leg which explains their extraordinary athletic ability are false. This study proves that there is no true difference between races; only things we have socially constructed to differentiate them.

  4. Rana Mohamed

    After reading your blog and doing some research on my own, I have come to the same conclusion as you. According the the Harvard Magazine, humans are 99.9% genetically identical. Which also proves that society decides race and not genetics. Moreover, in the article I read it says ” I am an African American, but in parts of Africa, I am white.” This goes to show that depending on which country and society you are in, your race could change based on that country’s definition of who is what race.
    http://harvardmagazine.com/2008/05/race-in-a-genetic-world-html

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