PAGE ONE — No Biological Basis For Race, Scientists Say / Distinctions prove to be skin deep

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2010-02-14 05:10Z by Steven

PAGE ONE — No Biological Basis For Race, Scientists Say / Distinctions prove to be skin deep

San Fransisco Gate Chronicle

Charles Petit, Chronicle Science Writer

This is one of a series of articles in “About Race,” a year-long public journalism project in which The Chronicle, KRON-TV, BayTV and KQED-FM are examining various aspects of race relations in the Bay Area.

The President’s Initiative on Race, designed to attack prejudice by bringing people of different races together to talk, may have overlooked something.

Namely, that the very concept of race is bogus and has no basis in biology, according to most scientists.

“This dialogue on race is driving me up the wall,” said Jefferson Fish, a psychologist at St. John’s University in New York who has written extensively about race in America. “Nobody is asking the question, ‘What is race?’ It is a biologically meaningless category. It is a cultural term that Americans use to describe what a person’s ancestry is…

…Despite this, many Americans still believe in three great racial groups, a system developed in Europe and North America in the 18th century…

…If anything, the president’s initiative should have been on racism, say the scientists. For, even without race, racism can exist as a belief that ancestry is a significant factor in cultural and behavioral differences among peoples…

…In years past, children of mixed marriages “were assigned the racial (and legal) status of the more subordinate parent,” said Faye Harrison, an anthropologist at the University of South Carolina [now University of Florida].

“That rule, called . . . the ‘one drop rule’ (for one drop of blood), has worked to classify me as African American, period,” said Harrison. “Despite the fact that I, like most other African Americans I know, have a mixed heritage and mixed ‘race’ genealogy. But that multicultural or multiracial reality is part of my extended family’s private transcript, not our public identity as blacks, as African Americans.”

Studies show that the ancestry of American blacks is about 70 percent African, with the rest European and American Indian….

Read the entire article here.

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