Abolish race correction

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States on 2021-08-18 15:19Z by Steven

Abolish race correction

The Lancet
Volume 397, Issue 10268 (2021-01-02)
pages 17-18
DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32716-1

Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology; Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Several years ago my daughter sent me an alarming text. She copied the results of her routine blood work and wrote, “Look at eGFR!”. Under the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were listed two numbers—one for non-African Americans and a higher one for African Americans. I was floored. Did this automatic adjustment mean the doctor interpreted my daughter’s eGFR differently based simply on her racial identity? The test’s categories themselves made no biological sense. “African American”, like all racialised populations, is a socially constructed grouping. In the USA, individuals with any amount of discernible African ancestry fit the definition—irrespective of the rest of their ancestral backgrounds. Although my daughter and I identify solely as Black, my mother was a Black Jamaican and my father was the son of white Welsh and German immigrants to the USA. The eGFR disregarded the fabricated nature of the racial distinction it made in calculating kidney function.

I later learned that eGFR race “correction” stems from study findings that participants who self-reported as Black, on average, released more creatinine than white participants for a given kidney function, which historically was attributed to Black people’s assumed higher muscle mass. Recent studies have challenged the muscle-mass hypothesis, but the upward adjustment for all Black patients remains embedded in eGFR calculations. Whatever the flawed rationale, there must be a better way to measure kidney function accurately than by using race—a social classification whose delineations change across time, geography, and political priorities.

Yet misguided ideas about race continue to feature in medicine. I was also dismayed when data on COVID-19 cases and deaths revealed staggering—and strikingly similar—racial disparities in the USA and the UK. As of Dec 10, 2020, the age-adjusted US mortality rates for COVID-19 for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people were more than 2·7 times higher than for white people. The greater COVID-19 burden on these populations is not surprising: it stems from structural racism that impaired their health before the pandemic—eg, disproportionate exposure to unhealthy food, environmental toxins, shoddy housing, inadequate health care, and stress from racial discrimination—and forced them into risky front-line jobs with greater exposure to infection. Yet some researchers speculated that these unequal outcomes might be caused by Black people’s innate susceptibility—potentially resuscitating the same false racial concepts that underlie race correction.

My 2011 book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century, challenged the resurgence of biological concepts of race in genomics, biomedical research, and biotechnologies. As I wrote: “the delusion that race is a biological inheritance rather than a political relationship leads plenty of intelligent people to make the most ludicrous statements about Black biological traits”. Since then, I have warned dozens of audiences about the dangerous persistence of this racial ideology. Yet I have encountered resistance from many doctors, who tend to defend their use of race by saying it’s only part of a nuanced evaluation of many factors meant to produce more accurate diagnoses and therapies. But the eGFR race correction isn’t nuanced at all—it’s an automatic, across-the-board adjustment. It asserts that Black people, as a race, are biologically distinguishable from all others…

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The Franklin Institute Speaker Series: Does Race Exist? (9/12/18)

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Videos on 2019-02-25 02:46Z by Steven

The Franklin Institute Speaker Series: Does Race Exist? (9/12/18)

The Franklin Institute
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On September 12, 2018, as part of The Franklin Institute Speaker Series, University of Pennsylvania professors Sarah Tishkoff and Dorothy Roberts joined The Franklin Institute’s chief bioscientist Jayatri Das for a program titled “Does Race Exist? Exploring the Future of Genetics, Ancestry, and Medicine.”

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The Problems With Raced Based Medicine

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Videos on 2019-02-25 01:39Z by Steven

The Problems With Raced Based Medicine


Abbie Arce

Race is often used in medicine to evaluate symptoms, make diagnoses, and decide on a course of care. These systems of evaluation are often inaccurate representations of reality, based on stereotypes.

For example, minorities are much less likely to be prescribed pain medication based on these kinds of preconceived notions about race. This type of race-based medicine has a way of blinding doctors to other more important factors such as an individual’s family or social history, symptoms, or related illnesses…

Read the entire article here.

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How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Letters, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:37Z by Steven

How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics


Micah Baldwin / Via Flickr: micahb37

Race has long been a potent way of defining differences between human beings. But science and the categories it constructs do not operate in a political vacuum.

This open letter was produced by a group of 68 scientists and researchers. The full list of signatories can be found below.

In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 68 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed…

Read the entire letter here.

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Myth of race still embedded in scientific research, scholar says

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2017-11-21 04:08Z by Steven

Myth of race still embedded in scientific research, scholar says

Cornell Chronicle

Susan Kelley
Telephone: 607-255-9737

Dorothy Roberts, professor of law, Africana studies and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, speaks Nov. 15 in Klarman Hall.
Chris Kitchen/University Photography

The concept of “race” – the idea that humans are naturally divided into biologically distinct groups – has been definitively proven false. But the 21st century has seen a disturbing increase in scientists inaccurately presenting race as the reason for racial inequality, says an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and law.

“Social scientists absolutely should engage with this rise of racial science to work on research designs that account for structural racism and state violence and that confront the racial politics of science … and unabashedly put racial justice at the center,” said Dorothy Roberts Nov. 15.

Roberts, a professor of professor of law, Africana studies and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke on “Racism and the New Racial Science” at the 2017 Institute for the Social Sciences’ Annual Lecture in Klarman Hall.

There has been a long legacy of scientists presenting the concept of biological race as an explanation for racial inequality, Roberts said. European typologists created the idea of race in the 17th century to support slavery, colonialism and the conquest of people whom they defined as separate and inferior, Roberts said…

Read the entire article here.

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Dorothy Roberts: What’s Race Got to Do with Medicine?

Posted in Articles, Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive on 2017-10-07 21:14Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts: What’s Race Got to Do with Medicine?

TED Radio Hour
National Public Radio

Guy Raz, Host

About Dorothy Roberts’ TED Talk

Doctors often take a patient’s race into account when making a diagnosis—or ruling one out. Professor Dorothy Roberts says this practice is both outdated and dangerous.

About Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts is a social justice advocate and law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She directs the program on Race, Science, and Society in the Center for Africana Studies. Roberts is the author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century.

So sometimes getting better results in medicine isn’t just about developing new technology or drugs. Sometimes getting better results is about looking at patients in a different way.

DOROTHY ROBERTS: Yes, exactly.

RAZ: This is Dorothy Roberts.

ROBERTS: Professor of Africana studies and law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

RAZ: About 15 years ago, Dorothy had an experience when she was pregnant with her fourth child.

ROBERTS: I was 44 years old when I had him, and I was considered to be a high-risk, high-maternal age.

RAZ: So her doctor had her sign up for a clinical trial.

ROBERTS: That involved a genetic test.

RAZ: And one of the first questions she was asked was about her race.

ROBERTS: They just asked me to check the box. And my question is, why use race?

RAZ: In other words, why use race when it doesn’t tell us anything about our genes? Here’s Dorothy Roberts on the TED stage…

Listen to the entire interview here. Download the interview (00:09:27) here. Read the transcript here.

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Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change (First Edition)

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Economics, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science, United States on 2017-07-05 13:37Z by Steven

Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change (First Edition)

Cognella Academic Publishing
372 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63487-489-2

Edited by:

Milton Vickerman, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Virginia

Hephzibah V. Strmic-Pawl, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York

Race and Ethnicity: Constancy in Change uses both classic readings and new research on contemporary racial inequality to create a logical progression through the primary issues of race and ethnicity.

The nine sections discuss the history of race and racism, define major concepts, and analyze how and why inequality persists. In addition to the readings, the anthology features introductions that frame each section’s readings, key terms with which students should be familiar, learning objectives for each section, and Reflect and Consider inquiries designed for each reading. Each section ends with a Highlight that showcases a contemporary racial trend in the news. The sections are also supplemented by Read, Listen, Watch, Interact! features, which supply easily accessible links to complementary readings, audio stories, videos, and interactive websites. The book concludes with Investigate Further, a list of readings for those who wish to delve deeper into a particular topic.

Race and Ethnicity enables students to grasp the fundamentals of race and racism and encourages them to engage in conversations about them. Ideal for sociology programs, the anthology is well-suited to courses on race and ethnicity.

Table of Contents

    • HIGHLIGHT: Eugenics are Alive and Well in the United States BY PAUL CAMPOS, TIME
    • READING 2.1 Immigrants and the Changing Categories of Race BY KENNETH PREWITT
    • READING 2.2 The Theory of Racial Formation BY MICHAEL OMI AND HOWARD WINANT
    • HIGHLIGHT: Why Do So Many Americans Think They Have Cherokee Blood: The History of a Myth BY GREGORY D. SMITHERS, SLATE
    • READING 3.1 The United States: A Nation of Immigrants BY PETER KIVISTO
    • READING 3.2 The Three Phases of US Bound Immigration BY ALEJANDRO PORTES AND RUBEN RUMBAUT
    • READING 3.3 The Ideological Roots of the “Illegal” as Threat and the Boundary as Protector BY JOSEPH NEVINS
    • READING 3.4 Segmented Assimilation Revisited: Types of Acculturation and Socioeconomic Mobility in Young Adulthood BY MARY C. WATERS, VAN C. TRAN, PHILIP KASINITZ, AND JOHN H. MOLLENKOPF
    • READING 3.5 Immigration Patterns, Characteristics, and Identities BY ANNY BAKALIAN & MEHDI BOZORGMEHR
    • READING 3.6 The Reality of Asian American Oppression BY ROSALIND CHOU AND JOE FEAGIN
    • HIGHLIGHT: Future Immigration Will Change the Face of America by 2065 BY D’VERY COHN, PEW RESEARCH CENTER
    • READING 4.1 The Nature of Prejudice BY PETER ROSE
    • READING 4.2 Racism without Racists: “Killing Me Softly” with Color Blindness BY EDUARDO BONILLA-SILVA AND DAVID G. EMBRICK
    • READING 4.3 Colorstruck BY MARGARET HUNTER
    • READING 4.4 The White Supremacy Flower: A Model for Understanding Racism BY HEPHZIBAH V. STRMIC-PAWL
    • READING 4.5 Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory, and the Problem of Racial Hierarchy BY TWILA L. PERRY
    • HIGHLIGHT: Yes, All White People Are Racists— Now Let’s Do Something About It BY TIM DONOVAN, ALTERNET
    • READING 5.1 The American Dream of Meritocracy BY HEATHER BETH JOHNSON
    • READING 5.2 Racial Orders in American Political Development BY DESMOND S. KING AND ROGERS M. SMITH
    • READING 5.3 Migration and Residential Segregation BY JOHN ICELAND
    • READING 5.4 “White, Young, Middle Class”: Aesthetic Labor, Race and Class in the Youth Labor Force BY YASEMIN BESEN-CASSINO
    • READING 5.5 Why Both Social Structure and Culture Matter in a Holistic Analysis of Inner-City Poverty BY WILLIAM JULIUS WILSON
    • HIGHLIGHT: Nine Charts About Wealth Inequality in America BY THE URBAN INSTITUTE
    • READING 6.1 The Revolution Will Not Be Available on iTunes: Racial Perspectives BY DUSTIN KIDD
    • READING 6.2 Racial Exclusion in the Online World BY REBECCA J. WEST AND BHOOMI THAKORE
    • READING 6.3 Fear Of A Black Athlete: Masculinity, Politics and The Body BY BEN CARRINGTON
    • READING 6.4 The Native American Experience: Racism and Mascots in Professional Sports BY KRYSTAL BEAMON
    • HIGHLIGHT: Pop Culture’s Black Lives Matter Moment Couldn’t Come at a Better Time BY STEVEN W. THRASHER, THE GUARDIAN
    • READING 7.1 The State of Our Education BY TERENCE FITZGERALD
    • READING 7.2 The Immigration Industrial Complex BY TANYA GOLASH-BOZA
    • READING 7.3 Evading Responsibility for Green Harm: State Corporate Exploitation of Race, Class, and Gender Inequality BY EMILY GAARDER
    • HIGHLIGHT: 5 Links Between Higher Education and the Prison Industry BY HANNAH K. GOLD, ROLLING STONE
    • READING 8.1 Liminality in the Multiracial Experience: Towards a Concept of Identity Matrix BY DAVID L. BRUNSMA, DANIEL J. DELGADO, AND KERRY ANN ROCKQUEMORE
    • READING 8.2 Race and the New Bio-Citizen BY DOROTHY ROBERTS
    • READING 8.3 A Post-Racial Society? BY KATHLEEN FITZGERALD
    • READING 9.1 The Problem of The Twentieth Century is The Problem of The Color Line BY W.E.B. DU BOIS
    • READING 9.2 The Optimism of Uncertainty BY HOWARD ZINN
    • READING 9.3 Why We Still Need Affirmative Action BY ORLANDO PATTERSON
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Episode 38: Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)

Posted in Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews on 2017-06-11 22:01Z by Steven

Episode 38: Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)

Scene on Radio

John Biewen, Host and Audio Program Director/Instructor
Center for Documentary Studies
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Skulls in the Samuel Morton Collection, University of Pennsylvania Museum. Photo by John Biewen

Scientists weren’t the first to divide humanity along racial – and racist – lines. But for hundreds of years, racial scientists claimed to provide proof for those racist hierarchies – and some still do.

Resources for this episode:

Listen to the podcast (00:45:56) here. Download the podcast here.

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In contrast to the Loving litigators’ approach, the ideology that race is important to genetics but not to society is spreading in the United States today.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-03-11 03:20Z by Steven

In contrast to the Loving litigators’ approach, the ideology that race is important to genetics but not to society is spreading in the United States today. The current resurgence of genetic definitions of race at a time when a majority of Supreme Court justices have embraced a colorblind approach that ignores white supremacy has the potential to intensify racial inequality. The coincidence of these two flawed ideologies—that human beings are naturally divided into genetically distinct races and that racism has ceased significantly to affect society—reinforces a biological explanation for persistent racial inequities. Finding racial differences at the molecular level seems to make sense of the paradox of intensifying racial gaps in health, economic status, and incarceration since the civil rights movement.

Dorothy E. Roberts, “Loving v. Virginia as a Civil Rights Decision,” New York Law School Law Review, Volume 59, Number 1 (2014/2015), 208. http://www.nylslawreview.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2015/02/Volume-59-1.Roberts.pdf.

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Loving v. Virginia as a Civil Rights Decision

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-06 20:13Z by Steven

Loving v. Virginia as a Civil Rights Decision

New York Law School Law Review
Volume 59, Number 1 (2014/2015)
pages 175-209

Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

Loving v. Virginia, the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision that invalidated state laws restricting interracial marriage, marked the tail end of the civil rights cases of the 1950s and ’60s. Loving was not issued until 1967, more than a decade after the Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, holding racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional. At the time of the 1963 March on Washington, nineteen states still had laws prohibiting interracial marriage, and federal jurisprudence upholding these laws had remained the same since 1883.

Civil rights litigators waited so long to launch an attack on state anti-miscegenation statutes in federal court because interracial marriage seemed at once so trivial and so controversial. Trivial because it involved interpersonal relationships rather than the weighty public rights to equal education, voting, and employment. But challenging the marriage laws also struck at the bedrock of racism: Classifying human beings into supposedly biological races that should be kept apart. Some civil rights advocates, as well as justices on the Warren Court, feared that attacking anti-miscegenation too soon was doomed to fail and would threaten the implementation of recent civil rights victories because white Southerners’ loathing of racial intermingling was so basic to their dogma of racial separation. After all, a primary reason for segregated schooling was to foreclose the interracial intimacy that might be sparked in integrated classrooms. Moreover, prior to Loving, state control over marriage was absolute.

Loving was the capstone of the Court’s blow to the Jim Crow regime. As the Court stated, it struck down the Virginia law because it was a measure “designed to maintain White Supremacy.” Yet subsequent decades have faded the understanding of Loving as a civil rights decision. While Brown became the emblem of the end to de jure segregation, Loving fell into relative obscurity. In his recent book, The Civil Rights Revolution, constitutional law scholar Bruce Ackerman denies that Loving “deserves a central place in the civil rights canon.” The same-sex marriage movement revived the decision to stand for the right to marry the partner of one’s choice. In 2007, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Loving decision, Mildred Loving commented:

I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Today, Loving is remembered more for protecting the right to marry than for toppling the final pillar of the de jure racial caste system in the United States. Moreover, to the extent that federal courts rely on Loving as a civil rights decision, they have largely distorted its reasoning, as well as its significance to the struggle to end racism and white domination.

This article aims to revive Loving as a civil rights decision, and to stress the continuing importance of its recognition of the relationship between racial classifications and white supremacy. Part I places the Lovings’ lawsuit in the context of the litigation agenda that helped institute the civil rights revolution. Jim Crow restrictions on marriage implemented the combined white supremacist and eugenicist ideologies of an innate racial hierarchy that called for racial separation. Both civil rights lawyers and U.S. Supreme Court justices delayed tackling state anti-miscegenation laws for strategic reasons. But they understood these laws as part of the Jim Crow segregationist system that the civil rights movement was dismantling and kept their abolition as an eventual goal.

Part II analyzes the Loving decision as a challenge to racism and white supremacy as much as the validation of marriage rights—and the entangled relationship between the two in the Court’s constitutional reasoning. Just as bans on interracial marriage were an essential part of the segregationist regime, eliminating them was an integral chapter in the series of civil rights decisions issued by the Warren Court. A central question in Loving was whether the Court would extend the holding in Brown from the realm of public education to state laws regulating marriage. By applying Brown’s prohibition of racial separation to the private sphere of marriage, formerly seen as the exclusive domain of states’ power, the Court radically confirmed a constitutional mandate for federal intervention in all aspects of the nation’s racial regime.

Part III evaluates how federal courts have interpreted the civil rights dimension of Loving in the decades that followed. I argue that key U.S. Supreme Court decisions have perverted the central lesson of Loving. Rather than link racial classifications to political subordination (as the Loving Court did), subsequent Court opinions have wrongly relied on Loving to do just the opposite. Loving has been misused to support a colorblind approach to the Fourteenth Amendment that treats the government’s use of race to eliminate the contemporary vestiges of Jim Crow as contemptible as the Jim Crow classifications designed to enforce white rule.

Finally, Part IV explains why the lessons of Loving as a civil rights decision are especially important in today’s supposedly “post-racial” society. A new biopolitics of race is resuscitating the notion of biological racial classifications underlying the anti-miscegenation laws that Loving struck down. Genomic science and gene-based biotechnologies are promoting race-consciousness at the molecular level at the very moment the Court and many policymakers believe race-consciousness is no longer necessary at the social level. I conclude that it is more urgent than ever to understand race as a political system that determines individuals’ status and welfare, and for federal courts to implement, uphold, and enforce strong race-conscious remedies for the lasting legacy of slavery that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to abolish and civil rights activists fought to eradicate…

Read the entire article here.

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