View RSS Feed

Memories of the 28th Century

The End of Racism

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
I don't think much of racism mostly because it is not a valid way to classify humans. But before I go further into that, there are a couple of things that I have to clear up. First, what is a race?

Whether one is considering animals or plants, a race is a subspecies that is separated from others of that species physically and by some genetic distance. Subspecies are on their way to becoming a separate species, but genetic drift has not yet separated them that much. An example of subspecies among animals can be seen in the northern brown bears. Eurasian Brown Bears, North American Brown Bears, Alaskan Brown Bears, Kodiak Bears, Grizzly Bears, and Polar Bears are all of a single species; they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, but they seldom meet in the wild. There is significant genetic distant from one subspecies to another, and they bears live in different regions, so they fit the definition of races.

Secondly, are there races among humans? There are some differences in appearance among groups of humans, but those differences are largely adaptations to local conditions. This is especially true of skin pigmentation and general build. The dark pigmentation of humans whose ancestors have lived in tropical regions for thousands of years reflects the ultraviolet light that can damage cells, and tall, slender people diffuse heat more readily than do short, stout people, so there is a tendency for tropical people to be tall, thin, and darkly pigmented, while arctic people are more commonly short, stout, and lightly pigmented. Further back in hominid development there were major differences among different regional groups, and calling those groups races or subspecies was justifiable, because they were groups that had genetic differences and were separated geographically, so they were unlikely in interbreed, but the differences have diminished, especially in the last hundred thousand years, because of an apparent genetic bottleneck about 70,000 years ago and the mashing together of different groups during periods of massive glaciation, but mainly because humans moved around more and bred with people who didn't look like them. Even so there are traces of the earlier differences in some groups; the facial structures of East Asian people are the clearest example of those earlier differences, and the earlier differences of Neanderthals are another example. But the genetic traits that made Neanderthals different have been spread around the world, and the differences in East Asians have been diluted by invasions by and intermarriage with other groups of humans. At present the differences in the different populations are not so great as to make those groups races, and the regional differentiation is so slight that those are trivial.

It has been written that the genetic differences within the so-called races of humans are greater than the differences between them. Unfortunately, that is largely a matter of how one defines the differences and the so-called races, but skin color is the major consideration that most people who divide humanity into races use as their determiner, and that characteristic is minor and does not account for a significant amount of genes, so it is strictly true in at least one way. Indeed, the genetic diversity among sub-Saharan people is greater than the difference between the people of Kenya and the people of the Arabian Peninsula, as one example (and if you don't like that one, then I have several other comparisons that are more interesting).

Perhaps we could find greater differences from "race" to "race" if we used other markers to determine "race". For example, one other marker is the type of nose, big, small, or flat. But even that doesn't create differences that would rise to the level of sub-species or race. As I mentioned above, there were in the distant past greater differences from one group or type of human to other groups, and those groups were unlikely to interbreed. For example, Homo erectus was living within what is now Indonesia 50,000 years ago, and they almost certainly were still there 30,000 years ago, and may have still been there as recently as 20,000 years ago. Homo Erectus is classified as a different species from Homo sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Neanderthals were living in South Asia (and other areas) during the same period, and there apparently was substantial genetic distance between those two races of humans, and they lived in non-adjacent areas, so it is appropriate to call those groups races. Conversely, Neanderthals and "modern" humans lived in adjacent regions, and they interbred to a degree that there ceased to be any difference between the groups. But it is possible that there was interbreeding between modern humans and Homo erectus in the East Indies, but the definitions and data are not complete.

In conclusion, the differences among humans living today are quite insignificant, and it is not surprising to find intermarriage among the different varieties of humans, so it isn't appropriate to divide humanity into various races. It is more appropriate to say that there is one race of humans, the human race.

If you are a racist, one who believes that there is more than one race of humans, then please do a little research into the matter before you tell me that I'm a complete idiot for not believing that there are several races of humans, and please define the races for me. I have been trying to find out for years what the proper defining characteristics are, and no one has managed to create a consistent set of defining characteristics that were adequate.

By the way, evolutionary genetics is utterly fascinating.

Fallacies with regard to races among humans
"85% of variation is within races, and only 15% between."

Non-existence of races among humans

Human Races: A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective
This gives a scientific definition of race

Updated 01-11-2014 at 11:34 AM by PeterL