What DNA Says About Human Ancestry—and Bigotry

What DNA Says About Human Ancestry—and Bigotry

The Village Voice
pages 34-35

Mark Schoofs, Senior Editor

Race and genetics form their own double helix, twisting together through history. The Nazis, as everyone knows, justified the death camps on the grounds that Jews and Gypsies were genetically inferior—but what is less known is that the Nazis took their cue from eugenics legislation passed in the United States. Here, race is defined primarily by skin color. Since that’s a genetic trait, the logic goes, race itself must be genetic, and there must be differences that are more than skin deep.

But that’s not what modern genetics reveals. Quite the contrary, it shows that race is truly skin deep. Indeed, genetics undermines the whole concept that humanity is composed of ”races”—pure and static groups that are significantly different from one another. Genetics has proven otherwise by tracing human ancestry, as it is inscribed on DNA.

Demystifying race may be the most important accomplishment of this research, but it has also solved some of the most intriguing mysteries of human history…

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