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Reply to "Mulatto Couple Produces Blonde, Blue Eyed White Child"

Originally posted by UppityNegress:

...that to a certain extent "race" is biologial fact, in that seperate human populations are genetically distinct.

The results of the Human Genome Project, completed in 2003 and the HapMap project seem to contradict this statement. Some excerpts:

By the Numbers:

  • The human genome contains 3164.7 million chemical nucleotide bases (A, C, T, and G).
  • The average gene consists of 3000 bases, but sizes vary greatly, with the largest known human gene being dystrophin at 2.4 million bases.
  • The total number of genes is estimated at 30,000 "”much lower than previous estimates of 80,000 to 140,000 that had been based on extrapolations from gene-rich areas as opposed to a composite of gene-rich and gene-poor areas.
  • Almost all (99.9%) nucleotide bases are exactly the same in all people.
  • The functions are unknown for over 50% of discovered genes.

"Finally, the results of the [HapMap] Project could be misinterpreted to imply that constructs such as "race" are precise and highly meaningful biological categories. In fact, the information emerging from the Project is helping to demonstrate that common ideas about race emerge largely from social and cultural interactions and are only loosely connected to biological ancestry."

"We all have a common birthplace somewhere in Africa, and this common origin is the reason why we share most of our genetic information. Our common history also explains why contemporary African populations have more genetic variation than younger human populations that migrated out of Africa 100,000 years ago to populate other parts of the world, carrying with them a subset of the existing genetic information.

Given this shared history, why do we interpret human genetic variation data as though our differences rise to the level of subspecies? Two facts are relevant: as a result of different evolutionary forces, including natural selection, there are geographical patterns of genetic variations that correspond, for the most part, to continental origin; and observed patterns of geographical differences in genetic information do not correspond to our notion of social identities, including 'race' and 'ethnicity'.

In this regard, no matter what categorical framework is applied, we cannot consistently use genetics to define racial groups without classifying some human populations as exceptions. Our evolutionary history is a continuous process of combining the new with the old, and the end result is a mosaic that is modified with each birth and death. This is why the process of using genetics to define 'race' is like slicing soup: "You can cut wherever you want, but the soup stays mixed".

"The Human Genome Project (HGP) has determined unequivocally that there is the same amount of genetic variation among individuals within a so called racial group as there is between individuals in different racial groups. What that means is that there is no real genetic difference between blacks and whites or between whites and Asians or between any of the so called races."

"But if we are all one race, which race are we? One answer is the cute one that we are the "human race". But buckle your seat belts folks, because the genetic answer is that we are all really black. And white people are pale adaptations of black people that evolved during the past 140,000 years. "

A Paler Shade of Black, Linda Beckerman, Ph, D.
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