There is no scientific basis for the notion of race. We made that shit up.
Same goes for gender by the way. It exists in culture, but it does not exist in science. Sex, however, does.
Can we find antiquated and flawed science supporting the existence of race and gender? Yeah. So what? Most scientists throughout history have allowed their cultural beliefs to cloud their scientific judgement. It happens. It’s really hard not to let something fundamental like one’s belief in God shape your theories about where babies or universes or immutable natural laws come from.
Back to race. It exists, but only because we say it exists. It matters because our cultures and institutions and subconscious minds act as if it matters. People are people, and 2-5mm of surface pigmentation doesn’t change that. Ancestry is real, and genetics are us. But they work the same way whether you can trace your line back to Africa in one generation or a thousand generations.
If you’re looking for genetic trends, then you might be interested to know that it is more likely that a black person, a white person, and an asian person would share like DNA code than any three black people. Why? Because that’s how evolutionary branches work, and race is something we made up.
The reasons we made it up are as understandably common as they are sinister. You can’t look at that question and feel good about yourself, no matter what race you consider yourself to be. We humans can be nasty little creatures indeed.
I’m not saying race doesn’t matter. It does matter. It matters WAY more than it should to me too, as I wrote about a bit yesterday.
But I know that it is a cultural artifact, not a physical one. Like what pronouns you use to refer to yourself vs your body having the physical architecture required to make & feed babies. One is up for debate and redefinition over time. The other is not.
Being that race is essentially a belief, we do have the collective power to transform the definition. We were born into this belief — not with this belief. So we can still shake it off over the generations as we have with so many other outdated cultural stories. We don’t need to pretend we’re all the same color or culture. We just need to drop the skin color part from the culture, because it’s as irrelevant at eye color, tooth color, or hair color.
Here’s to working to make sure that this legacy notion of race isn’t something we continue to condemn our children to. We can do better for them. Will we? Will you?