Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog

SCIENCE AGAINST RACISM

SCIENCE AGAINST RACISM:

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Prologue:

When Hitler said, “Take away the Nordic Germans and nothing remains but the dance of apes, he based that thought on the Darwinist ideas that man had evolved from apes, for which reason some of them still possessed ape status.”  This logic constitutes the starting point of the horrible massacres they carried out against various races such as Gypsies, Slavs, Russians, and especially the Jews, and the horrible insensitivity they displayed while carrying out these horrendous acts. In 1986, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone remarked that the average American intellectual standard is lower than the average Japanese standard because of the blacks and Hispanics in the U.S. Eleven years later, University of Texas Law School Professor Lino Graglia triggered a firestorm of criticism for his remarks that “Blacks and Mexican-Americans are not academically competitive with whites in selective institutions. It is the result primarily of cultural effects. They have a culture that seems not to encourage achievement. Failure is not looked upon with disgrace.”  Our daily lives are affected by race whether we are aware of it or not. We all see the world through a racial lens that colors our world; black, white, Asian, Mexican, minority, or “other”. How we are seen and how we see others affects various domains of our lives and the lives of others; from the types of jobs we have, the amount of wealth we make, the kind of friends we make, the places we live, the foods we eat, the schools we go to, etc… The entire social structure we inhabit is affected by at least one social construction, the race. So I decided to go into the details of the ‘race’ and the ‘racism’ to determine whether there is any scientific evidence to support existence of different human races or whether the concept of race is a mere superstition.

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As the dawn of the 21st century nears, racism, one of the most important and persistent social evils throughout the world today, is on the rise in manifold ways. Whether we are talking about ethnic cleansings, tribal conflicts, warring factions, group hatred, subtle discrimination, or retraction of equity laws under the guise of fairness; the underlying result is the same. One group, threatened by a perceived loss of power; exercises social, economic, political, religious, and physical muscle against the other to retain privilege by restructuring for social advantage.

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Racism is any time somebody doesn’t like somebody else because of some group characteristic. The problem with that definition, of course, is it misses history, it misses economics and it misses politics. Racism isn’t just about disliking people because of the color of their skin or a religious affiliation or an ethnic affiliation or something like that. When we talk about racism we have to talk about its roots in white supremacy. We wouldn’t be talking about racism today if it weren’t for a white supremacist system. That is a system that defines white as superior, as better, as more deserving. So racism, that distinct, modern form of racism, flows from what we would call a white supremacist system. Now throughout human history, people have always had a sense of in-group and out-group. In other words, people have always had a sense that they are a member of a clan, a tribe, some sort of grouping and that others are different. That ability for human beings to identify as part of a group is not the same thing as modern racism. Racism of the last, let’s say 500 years, flowing out of Europe, is based on an assertion of white supremacy, white superiority and the right of white people to a disproportionate share of the world’s resources. When we talk about race today, we always have to keep that white supremacist system in mind. Otherwise, race just becomes a kind of free-floating term to mean somebody doesn’t like somebody, and that’s really not what we’re talking about.

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Racial hatred:


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The concept of racism as black experience:


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Critics argue that the term is applied differentially, with a focus on such prejudices by whites and defining mere observations of racial differences as racism. Some definitions would have it that any assumption that a person’s behavior would be influenced by their racial categorization is racist, regardless of whether the action is intentionally harmful or pejorative. Other definitions only include consciously malignant forms of discrimination. Some definitions of racism also include discriminatory behaviors and beliefs based on cultural, national, ethnic, caste, or religious stereotypes. Modeled on the term “racism”, a large number of pejorative -ism terms have been created to describe various types of prejudice: sexism, ageism, ableism, speciesism, etc. Related concepts are anti-Semitism, chauvinism and homophobia (which in turn has led to terms such as Islamaphobia).

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Debates over the origins of racism often suffer from a lack of clarity over the term. Many use the term “racism” to refer to more general phenomena, such as xenophobia and ethnocentrism, although scholars attempt to clearly distinguish those phenomena from racism as an ideology or from scientific racism, which has little to do with ordinary xenophobia. Others conflate recent forms of racism with earlier forms of ethnic and national conflict. In most cases, ethno-national conflict seems to owe itself to conflict over land and strategic resources. In some cases, ethnicity and nationalism were harnessed to rally combatants in wars between great religious empires (for example, the Muslim Turks and the Catholic Austro-Hungarians).

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Different nations assign race in different ways. In Japan and the U.S., race is fixed and assigned at birth. However, in Brazil, race is more fluid and is determined by a number of factors such as a person’s parents, a person’s phenotype, and a person’s socioeconomic status. In places like Brazil, a person’s race can change as they become wealthier or poorer.

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The U.S. Census Bureau defines race as a social category recognized by the United States and does not attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically. The Census Bureau recognizes five categories of race: White (people with origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa,) Black or African American (Africa), American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The census also includes Hispanic ethnic category. It is an ethnic category rather than a race category because the Latino community includes many races, such as white, black, Native American, Asian, and mixed. Most people who identify themselves as African American in the United States have some European ancestors. Additionally, a large number of people who identify themselves as European American have some Native American or African ancestors.

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In this article, I will frequently use the term ‘white’ for people of European origin and ‘black’ for people of African origin, not because I am racist but because I want to prove scientifically that color of skin has nothing to do with ability and behaviors of humans. So please excuse me for using such terms.

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Racism as ideology:

In a broader sense, racism constitutes an ideology, whereby people are classified according to physical or cultural criteria or according to their ethnic, national or religious origin, into groups (race) supposedly defined by the laws of nature. Racism does not judge and treat people as individuals but as members of said groups sharing unchangeable assumed attributes.  As an ideology, racism existed during the 19th century as “scientific racism”, which attempted to provide a racial classification of humanity (vide infra). Although such racist ideologies have been widely discredited after World War II and the Holocaust, racism and racial discrimination have remained widespread around the world. Some examples of this in present day are statistics including, but not limited to, the racial breakdown of the prison population versus the national population, physical abilities and mental ability statistics, and other data gathered by scientific groups. While these statistics may be accurate, and can show trends, it’s inappropriate in most countries to assume that because a particular race has a high crime or low literacy rate, that the entire race of people are inherent criminals, or inherently unintelligent. Many instances of racism and discrimination are not based on ideology but are the expression of vague fears, aggressiveness, prejudice and lack of sympathy towards others. It therefore makes sense to differentiate racial discrimination from racism as an ideology. Racial discrimination is any practice, depriving people of their rights, involving unfair or intolerant treatment, humiliation, offence, threats or constituting a threat to life or physical condition on the basis of physiognomic attributes, ethnic background, cultural attributes (language, name) or religious affiliation. Racism like any other form of bigotry and oppression is absolutely wrong because it denigrates and dehumanizes people. Every creature on this planet has the inalienable right to be treated with dignity. No person or group has the right to proclaim social superiority over any other. It is absolutely wrong /unjust for any person or group to vilify, oppress, persecute and terrorize others for their selfish amusement or aggrandizement. It’s socially unacceptable.

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The real problems arise when differences between races are seen as an excuse to favor one kind of person over another. In recent years we saw white people oppressing the black and asian in South Africa; we also saw different black tribes murdering each other in Rwanda; white people ‘ethnically cleansing’ other white people in former Yugoslavia; just because they are ‘different’. So racism in the broader sense is not only white v/s black, but also black v/s black and white v/s white. And racism is still very much present in society – especially in parts of the USA and Australia, where blacks are still treated as second class citizens and Aborigines still treated with distain. A country can make rules and laws against racial discrimination, but that does not change peoples’ attitudes.  

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Racism as a problem in social context:


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Racism as a term of political abuse:


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Dictionary definitions of racism:

The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as the “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” and the expression of such prejudice, while the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular racial group, and alternatively that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief. The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism as: “the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others.”

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Anthropologists used a system based on outward appearance when they grouped humans into the five racial categories, Negroid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Capoid, and Australoid. Today we distinguish between human groups in much the same way, through outward physical characteristics. This suggests that not much has changed regarding concepts of human race and current science supports the notion that variation between groups is mostly skin-deep. However, race is also socially constructed and designations can be used to describe an orientation to religion, culture, socio-economic status or historical event.

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Racism has many definitions and types:

Jones (1997) presented some 18-20 types and definitions of racism offered by various scholars. Some elements involved are;

(1) Beliefs in biological traits and own group superiority and out-group inferiority,

(2) Rejection of in-group customs and beliefs;

(3)In-group cultural systems that advantages the in-group in power;

(4) Evidence is offered to validate race difference to justify policies and social structures based on racial beliefs.

Thus, racism involves individual, institutional, and cultural practices used by the group in power to maintain the inferior status of the out-group (usually with little power).

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Racism is defined by a Ricky Sherover-Marcuse: “The systematic mistreatment experienced by people of color is a result of institutionalized inequalities in the social structure. Racism is one consequence of a self-perpetuating imbalance in economic, political and social power. This imbalance consistently favors members of some ethnic and cultural groups at the expense of others. The consequences of this imbalance pervade all aspects of the social system and affect all facets of people’s lives.” 

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Defining racism:

Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior. Racism involves the belief in racial differences, which acts as a justification for non-equal treatment (which some regard as “discrimination”) of members of that race. The term is commonly used negatively and is usually associated with race-based prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination, or oppression; the term can also have varying and contested definitions. Racialism is a related term, sometimes intended to avoid these negative meanings.

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Racism (also known as discrimination against a race or races) is a belief that all members of one racial group have superior characteristics or abilities specific to that group; it allows the ranking of races based on superiority and implies the importance of one race over the others. Supremacy ideology is core to racism. In the 20th century, the face of racism was largely black and white; however, in recent times there have been examples of racism against Native Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, and some other immigrant groups. Today, racism has become multi-colored and multicultural. Racism and racial discrimination are very powerful forces which unfortunately harm the whole economy. Racism can take place in many areas such as the job market, housing market, educational system, and health care services. Even today, racial discrimination against minorities (especially African Americans) can be found in the housing market (i.e. making renting apartments, taking out mortgages, and buying houses extremely difficult or even impossible in some areas). In India, minorities like Muslims find it difficult to acquire residential apartment in an area crowded by Hindu majority even though both Hindus and Muslims have similar facial features.

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Race and racism:

The term race refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. For instance, while differences and similarities in eye color have not been treated as socially significant, differences and similarities in skin color have. Racism is any action or attitude, conscious or unconscious that subordinates an individual or group based on skin color. Certainly, obvious physical differences—some of which are inherited—exist between humans. But how these variations form the basis for social prejudice and discrimination has nothing to do with genetics but rather with a social phenomenon related to outward appearances. Racism, then, is prejudice based on socially significant physical features. A racist believes that certain people are superior, or inferior, to others in light of racial differences. Racists approve of segregation, or the social and physical separation of classes of people.

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Race is not simply a biological or genetic classification. It is, according to Manning Marable “a way of interpreting differences between people which creates or reinforces inequalities among them.” Racism is not simply a collection of beliefs and attitudes. It is “a strategy and a process of social and political control which functions to exclude opportunities and benefits to certain groups and serves to exclude the diversity of people’s lives and rights.” In this way, racism is similar to patriarchy.  

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Xenophobia:

Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries (Oxford Dictionaries), unreasonable fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign (Merriam-Webster). The Dictionary of Psychology defines it as “a fear of strangers”.

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Supremacism:

Centuries of European colonialism of the Americas, Africa and Asia was excused by white supremacist attitudes. During the early 20th century, the phrase “The White Man’s Burden” was widely used to justify imperialist policy as a noble enterprise.

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Segregationism:

Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a bath room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home. Racial Segregation is defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as “the act by which a (natural or legal) person separates other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds without an objective and reasonable justification, in conformity with the proposed definition of discrimination. As a result, the voluntary act of separating oneself from other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds does not constitute segregation”.  According to the UN Forum on Minority Issues, “The creation and development of classes and schools providing education in minority languages should not be considered impermissible segregation, if the assignment to such classes and schools is of a voluntary nature”. Segregation is generally outlawed, but may exist through social norms, even when there is no strong individual preference for it, as suggested by Thomas Schelling’s models of segregation and subsequent work.

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What is discrimination? Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of a different person or groups of people based on certain characteristics.

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Racial Discrimination:

It is to treat differently a person or group of people based on their racial origins. Power is a necessary precondition, for it depends on the ability to give or withhold social benefits, facilities, services, opportunities etc., from someone who should be entitled to them, and are denied on the basis of race, color or national origin.

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Defining and Distinguishing Terms: Racial Discrimination v/s racial harassment:

Carter and Helms (2002) have argued that racial discrimination should be distinguished from racial harassment in the following ways:

Racial Discrimination – is a form of “Aversive” or avoidant racism – behaviors, actions, policies, and strategies that have the intended or unintended effects of maintaining distance or minimizing contact between members of the dominant and non-dominant racial groups.

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Racial Harassment – is a form of “Domination or Hostile Racism” that involve actions, strategies, and policies whose intended purpose is to communicate or make salient the subordinate or inferior status due to the race of non-dominant racial group members. Racial Harassment may be characterized by active hostility, which may include commission or implied or actual permission to commit flagrant acts of racism. Racial Harassment – may also be characterized by “quid pro quo” pressure or threats to “fall-in-line” with institutional racial policies.

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Racism is the ideology or practice through demonstrated power of perceiving the superiority of one group over others by reason of race, color, ethnicity, or cultural heritage. Racism is manifested at the individual, group, and institutional levels. It has been institutionalized and maintained through educational, economic, political, religious, social, and cultural policies and activities. It is observable in the prejudiced attitudes, values, myths, beliefs, and practices expressed by many people, including those in positions of power.

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Racism can be individual, institutional (structural / systemic) or cultural.

Individual Racism:

Individual acts that overtly reflect racist attitudes/beliefs. This is the easiest one to identify. i.e. racial slurs, jokes, etc.

Institutional Racism:

Institutional racism is a system of procedures/patterns in all walks of life, i.e. education, housing, businesses, employment, professional associations, religion, media, etc., whose effect is to perpetuate and maintain the power, influence and well-being of one group over another. It originates in the operation of established and respected forces in the society; and thus receives far less public condemnation than does individual racism. Although more subtle than individual racism, it is more destructive of humanity. It is organizational policies and practices at the structural level that indirectly target communities of color and maintain white privilege. i.e. racism in the criminal justice system (police profiling); racism in the educational system (all white authors on a course reading list) etc

Cultural Racism:

Value system that supports and allows discriminatory actions against ethno-culturally marginalized communities.  

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The figure below shows vicious cycle in which an oppressed individual is caught:


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 Institutional (Systemic) Racism:

Just as individuals can act in racist ways, so can institutions. Institutions can behave in ways that are overtly racist (i.e., specifically excluding people-of-color from services) or inherently racist (i.e., adopting policies that while not specifically directed at excluding people-of-color, nevertheless result in their exclusion). Therefore, institutions can respond to people-of-color and whites differently. Institutional behavior can injure people-of-color; and, when it does, it is nonetheless racist in outcome if not in intent. Institutional racism (also known as structural racism, state racism or systemic racism) is racial discrimination by governments, corporations, religions, or educational institutions or other large organizations with the power to influence the lives of many individuals. Stokely Carmichael is credited for coining the phrase institutional racism in the late 1960s. He defined the term as “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture or ethnic origin”. When the practice of treating certain groups preferentially, or denying rights or benefits to certain groups, based on racial characteristics is institutionalized, it is termed “institutional racism”. Structural racism is present in immigration laws and policies, criminal justice systems, governance structures and health care systems. This kind of racism means that African and Latino Americans are criminalized more than other races in the United States. Juries, for instance, are more likely to convict them. Black people are more likely to be denied mortgages than white people with similar income levels. The classical example of institutional racism is acquittal of O. J. Simpson in a criminal trial where the jury was predominantly black, and conviction in a civil trial where the jury was predominantly white. This case exemplifies institutional racism and institutional reverse racism. O.J.Simpson is a black footballer who is alleged to have killed his white wife. Majority of black people felt that he is innocent and majority of white people felt that he is guilty.

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Types of racism: covert/overt racism, explicit/implicit racism, aversive racism etc: 

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Explicit/implicit racism:

Explicit racism includes any thoughts or behaviors that demonstrate a conscious acknowledgement of racist attitudes and beliefs. Implicit racism, in contrast, includes nonconscious biases, expectations, or tendencies that exist within an individual, regardless of ill-will or any self-aware prejudices the person may or may not hold. The passage of civil rights legislation and socially enforced taboos against explicit racism has served to inhibit direct outward expressions of prejudice against minorities over the last several decades. But forms of implicit racism including Aversive racism, Symbolic racism, and Ambivalent prejudice, may have come to replace these overt expressions of prejudice. Research has not revealed a downward trend in implicit racism that would mirror the decline of explicit racism. Furthermore, implicit racism, when explicit racism is absent or rare, raises new issues. When surveyed about their attitudes concerning the racial climate in America, Blacks and Whites had largely different perceptions, with Blacks viewing racial discrimination as far more impactful on income and education disparities, and being far less satisfied in general with the treatment of minorities in America. One explanation for this is that because explicit racism is so much less prevalent, Whites no longer perceive directly the ways that prejudice leaves its mark on American society; minorities, on the other hand, still recognize or feel the implicit racism behind certain interracial interactions. Explicit racism is synonymous with overt racism and implicit racism is synonymous with covert racism.

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Covert racism: The American example:

Covert racism is a much less public and obvious form of racism or overt racism. It is hidden in the fabric of society, covertly suppressing the individuals being discriminated against. Covert racially biased decisions are often disguised or rationalized with an explanation that society is more willing to accept. These racial biases cause a variety of problems that work to empower the suppressors while diminishing the rights and powers of the oppressed. Covert racism often works subliminally, and often much of the discrimination is being done subconsciously. Covert racism, sometimes called “color blind” racism, is less obvious but can be equally oppressive as overt racism. Covert racism comes in many forms including unnecessary politeness to a racial group, the use of political correctness. In the United States covert racism is used to construct barriers that disable and oppress a racial group. Some of these methods are covertly racial profiling and the use of racial stereotypes. In the 1950s after World War II, urban areas were overtly divided into blocks by race. The wide acceptance of these divisions by the majority and the lack of social integration was covert. These blocks were close to toxic dumps, busy highways, and other undesirable locations throughout cities. Whites lived away from these areas and often time Realtors would not be able to show properties to whites within these areas. Minorities are also denied access to a quality education, unlike whites in the U.S. This is usually because many poor areas are also predominantly minorities. This means lack of funding in schools. The levels of poverty and lack of educational opportunities perpetuate themselves creating an unbreakable cycle. Racial stereotypes emerge and these populations are further disenfranchised by individuals not helping or simply not caring. In the new Civil Rights Project report from UCLA, dated January 2009, it stated that schools are more segregated today than they have been in the 1950s. Millions of non-white students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate, and few are well prepared for college or a future in the US economy. Prisons are another place where covert racism occurs. Prisons are filled with racial minorities due to the way the U.S. judicial system works and how police work on the street.  Black men are more likely to be convicted and spend more time in prison than whites who did the same crimes.  Another problem dealing with covert racism is the presence of inequality vs. inequity. Often an attempt at overall equality is made by trying to provide everyone with the same opportunities. Inequity occurs when the conditions and opportunities provided are not equal to those of the majority of Americans. This generally occurs in the education system in the U.S. This unfairness in the system is not overtly in place but stems from a perpetuated injustice and is often maintained through the invisibility of it. Covert racism uses discursive repertoires to perpetuate racism and to suppress the “racialized” groups. The White majority and this is stronger in the older generations, are afraid of saying the wrong thing and being labeled as racist, so they confine themselves to the social circle they are most comfortable in — an all-white one. This translates in some part of the division of neighborhoods into school districts that avoid integration; they end up investing on the “whiteness” of their neighborhoods. The wealthy also control some of these divisions, which results in the minorities being excluded due to the low levels of income in most minority neighborhoods. The residential and social segregation of whites from blacks in the United States creates a socialization process that limits whites’ chances for developing meaningful relationships with blacks and other minorities. The segregation experienced by whites from blacks fosters segregated lifestyles and leads them to develop positive views about themselves and negative views about blacks.

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Although people whose ancestors came from different geographic regions look different, no scientific or biologic evidence exists to support even the idea of race. Not surprisingly, it is rare, today, for a person to admit to being a racist. Despite the prevalence of racism, the word “racist” has acquired a very negative connotation and is even somewhat pejorative. It is even rare for people to openly espouse racist philosophy. Someone can be a racist regardless of their religion, intelligence, cultural level, social status, benevolence towards members of their own race or social motivation. Racists come from all races (sometimes the race which they feel they belong to may not be obvious). Racism is thus only implicit in behavior. As societies become ever more multi-racial and members of minority groups reach positions of power and influence, subtle racism will be the predominant form in all countries in the 21stcentury. It is a hugely more pernicious and dangerous form than the more explicit varieties because of a fundamental truth – the spirit of a person can only be diminished by loss, bereavement or defeat, in the long run the human spirit will always rise up and triumph in the face of overt oppression because no one can respect his oppressor.

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Basis for explicit racism is ideology and basis for implicit racism is conditioning of mind:

Ideological racism (aka explicit or overt racism), is based on the conscious belief that race or ethnicity is the most important determinant of human traits and abilities. ‘Adherents’ typically claim that race-related traits and abilities render one race or group superior or inferior to another. This usually translates into claims that their own race (identified as such on the basis of factors such as skin tone, eye color, language, culture, customs and origin) is superior and that other races are of lesser value. Over the years ideological racism has been offered as an excuse for discrimination, intolerance, hate speech, oppressive laws and policies and also racial violence and killings. In organized form ideological racism is typically expressed in right-wing or supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, neo-Nazi groups, the Nation of Islam and others. The conditioned racism (aka implicit, subconscious or covert racism) – is often less visible but sometimes more harmful when it rears its head in the workplace or other social environments. It is also more widespread – several studies have shown that although most people would deny having any racial biases and even be outspoken against ideological racism, almost all of us are to some extent or another influenced by conditioned racism. Unlike ideological racism, racist behavior driven by conditioned racism is not necessarily based on conscious beliefs or ideologies about supposed racial differences. While factors such as skin tone or culture or accent can act as ‘triggers’ for conditioned racism, it is largely our brains’ automated response to anything and anyone perceived as a possible threat or enemy.

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Aversive racism:

Aversive Racism is a theory proposed by Samuel L. Gaertner & John F. Dovidio (1986), according to which negative evaluations of racial/ethnic minorities are realized by a persistent avoidance of interaction with of other racial and ethnic groups. As opposed to traditional, overt racism, which is characterized by overt hatred for and discrimination against racial/ethnic minorities, aversive racism is characterized by more complex, ambivalent expressions and attitudes. ‘Aversive racism’ was coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group who rationalize their aversion to a particular group by appeal to rules or stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way may profess egalitarian beliefs, and will often deny their racially motivated behavior; nevertheless they change their behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. The motivation for the change is thought to be implicit or subconscious. While the social and political movements to eliminate racism in our society may have decreased overt displays of racism, only explicit racism is thereby affected.

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Cyber racism:

When racism happens in the cyber-world it is known as cyber-racism. Cyber racism is a form of racism. Online activities or published material that result in offensive comments in relation to a person’s race, color or national or ethnic origin, have the same effect as similar offline activities. Cyber racism may present as racial hatred or cyber bullying. On the internet, cyber-racism can take the form of a website itself, its written content, its images, blogs, videos and on-line comments. Additionally, racist comments, images or language in text messages, on social networking sites or in emails are also examples of cyber racism. The internet has changed the ways in which people communicate, enabling ideas and images to spread quickly between large numbers of people all over the world. While this increased freedom of information-sharing has usually been used in a positive way, in some cases it has also been used to disseminate content that is offensive, threatening, violent and abusive. In fact, internationally, the number internet and on social-networking sites devoted to racism, hate and militancy has been found to be on the increase. When the internet is used ‘for purposes contrary to respect for human values, equality, non-discrimination, respect for others and tolerance’, it can also affect the enjoyment of a person’s rights. There are a number of different organizations to which you can report inappropriate material. 

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Race identification:

Race in the studies is almost always determined using self-reports, rather than based on analyses of the genetic history of the tested individuals. According to psychologist David Rowe, self-report is the preferred method for racial classification in studies of racial differences because classification based on genetic markers alone ignore the “cultural, behavioral, sociological, psychological, and epidemiological variables” that distinguish racial groups. Hunt and Carlson write that self-identification is a surprisingly reliable guide to genetic composition. Tang et al. (2005) applied mathematical clustering techniques to sort genomic markers for over 3,600 people in the United States and Taiwan into four groups. There was almost perfect agreement between cluster assignment and individuals’ self-reports of racial/ethnic identification as White, Black, East Asian, or Latino.

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Race and slavery:

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Aristotle and slavery:




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Even though slavery and physical peculiarities of slaves was existent during Aristotle’s time, the concept of race & slavery is a relatively modern concept. In the ancient world, the Greeks, Romans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims did not have racial categories. Rather people were divided according to religion, class, language, etc. Most anthropologists and biologists view race as a political grouping with roots in slavery and colonialism. The number of races and who belongs in each race has shifted over time and nations—not because of responses to scientific advances in human biology, but rather in response to political purposes.

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Racism is any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview, the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called races, that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the overseas colonization and empire-building activities of some western Europeans, especially in the 18th century. The idea of race was invented to magnify the differences between people of European origin in the U.S. and those of African descent whose ancestors had been brought against their will to function as slaves in the American South. By viewing Africans and their descendants as lesser human beings, the proponents of slavery attempted to justify and maintain this system of exploitation while at the same time portraying the U.S. as a bastion and champion of human freedom, with human rights, democratic institutions, unlimited opportunities, and equality. The contradiction between slavery and the ideology of human equality, accompanying a philosophy of human freedom and dignity, seemed to demand the dehumanization of those enslaved. The European colonization of Americas, Africa and Asia is explicitly linked to racism & slavery in the sense that colonial invaders were perceived to be superior whites and non-white natives were perceived to be inferior slaves. By the 19th century racism had matured and the idea spread around the world.

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The picture above shows that the slaves were sold at public auctions and branded in the back.

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The slaves who came to America and their descendants experienced that the whites regarded black people as biologically inferior to themselves. In other words, they experienced that blacks were considered to represent a primitive race with low morale, lack of civilization and little intelligence. Statements with the racist message that blacks represented such a race were uttered to justify the exploitation of blacks. Immediately after having been put ashore in America, the slaves were forbidden to speak their own languages. Further, they were prohibited from keeping their original names. They were also forbidden to read, write and meet in groups consisting of more than five persons. At public auctions they were inspected like animals. Family members could be separated and sold to different buyers. When the United States gained independence in 1783, slavery had spread to all the colonies of the new nation. It gradually died out in the northern states, but grew in scope in the south. In the latter region, many workers were needed for the large tobacco plantations, and the cheapest workforce was the black slave population. Several times the bad treatment of this population led to slave revolts and escape.

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After abolition of slavery, racism took many different forms which can include:

  • Written or verbal threats or insults, racial segregation
  • Damage to property, including graffiti
  • Personal attacks of any kind, including violence.

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Signs of racism are as follows:

1. Reducing people of other races to racial stereotypes:

This can often be done in very subtle ways. For example, confusing race with culture, a belief that certain races are more adept in particular jobs or functions, a belief in differences in intelligence between the races, etc.

2. Advocation of segregation:

This advocation represents a belief that different races should live apart, be educated separately or not intermarry. The advocacy can occur explicitly or implicitly.

3. Extreme pride in one’s own country or race:

 Patriotism can be laudable but when taken to extremes, this sentiment becomes the basis of all fascist regimes.

4. Association:

It is common for racists to associate with other racists. While not necessarily espousing racist opinions themselves it is common for them to personally defend other racists (without directly defending their opinions).

5. Belittlement of members of other races:

 Racist will constantly criticize the opinions of other races or even ridicule them. Often they will do it without explicitly making mention of the race of the person or persons.

6. Latent hate:

An exaggerated reaction to any misconduct from a person of the other race, where the punishment is out of all proportion to the original wrong (real or perceived) and completely ignores the provocation which could have led to the original “wrong”. Also, no feeling of moral debt to a racially “other” person for any favors he may have done.

7. Denial:

 Racist denies that the other person’s or group’s intelligence, cultural level, social status or other merits even in the face of overwhelming evidence which proves these qualities. The racist will attempt to “objectively” show proof, usually in the form of insignificant details to contradict the obvious.

8. Constant references to race:

 A mere mention of someone’s race on a first encounter could be benign but when these references continue after a long period of knowing that person, no matter how innocent the references may appear, they establish an unmistakable pattern.

9. Antagonistic sentiments:

When a person has antagonistic sentiments towards someone at first sight it is often related to skin color. The only information that one normally has about someone on seeing them for the first time is their skin color.

10. Invisibility:

An indifference to the plight of members of society who are of other races when they suffer injustices. It is typical of the racist to claim that he is under no obligation to help or that the situation in question is somehow an “inevitable” by-product of some greater good. When the great majority of members of the disadvantaged group are not of his race a pattern emerges.

11. Presumption of racism in members of own race:

Racists typically expect members of their own race to be similarly racist. This often results in expectations of preferential treatment and they expect, for example, members of their race to see the humor in racist jokes or join with them in what but for the race of the victim would be seen as morally reprehensible behavior.

12. Condescending attitude or behavior:

Racists show condescending attitudes towards members of other races. For this reason they often try to use even members of the race which they despise to attack members of that race which cause them most offense. They believe that these other members of the victimized race will collaborate because of the magnanimity which the racist is showing in momentarily treating them as members of the “superior” race.

13. Strongest reaction to members of other race which rebut racist model:

 The members of the other race which a racist will typically try most to denigrate are those which act as a rebuttal to his model of what members of the other race should be. If this model is a weak, timid and stupid person, he will see a strong, independent and intelligent person of the “inferior” race as a threat to his model. If they do not attack this person directly, racists contend with this by speaking of “exceptions” to their theory.

14. Extreme reaction to word racist:

Normally the worst insult which an extreme racist can receive is to be called a racist in public. For the extreme racist it is infuriating because there is no adequate response. On the one hand he does not really want to deny it but he knows that the implications of this word are generally negative. It is not like being called stupid or ignorant, because it is difficult for him to counterattack by simply reverting the accusation. The idea that a member of the other race could look down upon the race of the racist normally challenges the model that the racist has about this other race (he typically sees it as weak, timid and cowardly). If he attempts to ridicule the other person he will publicly prove the original accusation correct.

15. No insight into own prejudice:

 It is common for racists to have no insight into their own prejudice. This is because they believe their prejudice to be based upon objective grounds.

16. Indifference to the opinions of members of the other race:

It is typical of racists to e.g. make fun of members of the “inferior” race without any consideration for what those members will then think of these racists. At best, racists only care about what people of their own race think of them.

17. Lack of impartiality:

This is extremely common and affects practically all the racist’s opinions and decision-making. Its effects extend beyond the obvious areas like jobs, education and housing. Veneration of great historical figures, membership of clubs and societies etc.

18. Acceptance of racist behavior or conduct:

To view “mildly” racist acts as either reasonable or, at least, not racist and to feel that more severely racist acts are wrong but “understandable”.

19. Failure to recognize impact of racism on the victim:

To believe that a victim of racism can be unaltered by racism. For example, when racists examine apparent differences between members of different races or ethnic groups, they completely ignore all differences in circumstances and history which could have affected the “inferior” race.

20. Maintaining superior position “By all means possible”:

A phrase often remembered as a precept of the maintenance of slavery in the Southern United States during the nineteenth century. A racist will use all means possible to preserve the inferior position of the victimized race. Even a person with social motivations and benevolent to members of his own race is capable of violence and other forms of crime towards members of what he views as the “inferior” race. He could easily support the use of force to maintain those disadvantaged by racism in their present condition. 

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How to detect subtle racial bias? Implicit Association Test:

This research builds on several years of work by social psychologists. They have found evidence of subtle effects of hidden racial biases with an experiment they call the Implicit Association Test. The test is remarkably simple. You look at words and names flashing on a computer screen. In one version of the test, if you see a word, you press the left button if it’s a positive word (beauty, for example), and if it’s negative, you press the right one (filth). If a name appears, you press the left button if it sounds like a white name to you, and the right button if it sounds like a black name. In other words, you’re pressing the same button for positive words and white names, and negative words and black names. The researchers then flip the test around, so that black names and positive words use the same button, and so do negative words and white names. The subjects have to hit the buttons as fast as they can, and the researchers then measure how long it takes for people to press a button. Tests like these reveal some surprising patterns. Some people show consistent differences in their button speed, depending on how the test is conducted. Some white people, for example, take longer in the black/positive-white/negative version than in the white/positive-black/negative version. Often, these people will claim not to be racist, and yet they show clear (but subtle) biases in the way they take the test.

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Prevalence of racism in various countries:

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Let me begin with the greatest democracy, the United States of America:

“Racist” and “racism” are provocative words in American society. To some, these words have reached the level of curse words in their offensiveness. Yet, “racist” and “racism” are descriptive words of a reality that cannot be denied. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans (people-of-color) live daily with the effects of both institutional and individual racism.  Race issues are so fundamental in American society that they seem almost an integral component. Some Americans believe that race is the primary determinant of human abilities and capacities. Some Americans behave as if racial differences produce inherent superiority in European Americans (whites). In fact, such individuals respond to people-of-color and whites differently merely because of race (or ethnicity). As a consequence, people of color are injured by judgments or actions that are directly or indirectly racist. 

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Racism is functional—that is, it serves a purpose. In U.S. society, racism functions to maintain structural inequities that are to the disadvantage of people of color. Organized discrimination against members of visibly identifiable racial and ethnic groups has permeated every aspect of their lives, including education, employment, contacts with the legal system, economics, housing, politics, religion, and social relationships. It has become institutionalized through folklore, legal restrictions, values, myths, and social mores that are openly supported by a substantial number of people, including those who maintain control of the major institutions of American society.

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In the U.S., people are categorized as Whites, Blacks or Asians, native Americans or Hispanic/Latino. Among blacks and Hispanics, more than 55 per cent saw racism as a growing problem, while just 44 per cent of whites did in one survey. October 2012 AP Poll finds 56 Percent harbor ‘Anti-Black’ views in the US. Millions of African American and Latino young people in the United States don’t get an education equal to that of most whites, partly because the urban schools they go to don’t have as much money as the schools in the white suburbs. This is because the country has decided that much of the money for schools should come from local property taxes. So in communities where the houses and businesses are less expensive, the schools don’t get enough money to provide a high quality education.

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Racism and ethnic discrimination in the United States has been a major issue since the colonial era and the slave era. Legally sanctioned racism imposed a heavy burden on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans. European Americans (particularly Anglo Americans) were privileged by law in matters of literacy, immigration, voting rights, citizenship, land acquisition, and criminal procedure over periods of time extending from the 17th century to the 1960s. Many non-Protestant European immigrant groups, particularly American Jews, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, as well as other immigrants from elsewhere, suffered xenophobic exclusion and other forms of discrimination in American society. Major racially and ethnically-structured institutions included slavery, Indian Wars, Native American reservations, segregation, residential schools (for Native Americans), and internment camps. Formal racial discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and came to be perceived as socially unacceptable and/or morally repugnant as well, yet racial politics remain a major phenomenon. Historical racism continues to be reflected in socio-economic inequality, and has taken on more modern, indirect forms of expression, most prevalently symbolic racism. Racial stratification continues to occur in employment, housing, education, lending, and government.

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Representation in the U.S. Government:

This chart shows the approximate percentages of each group of people of color in the United States today, in Congress in 2009, and in the Presidency since the beginning of the country. Other groups are dramatically underrepresented, while whites are overrepresented.

Percentage of the U.S. Population U.S. House of Representatives 2009 U.S. Senate 2009 Presidents1787 – 2013
African Americans 13% <10% 1% 2%*
Asians and Pacific Islanders 4% <2% 2% 0%
Latinos 14% <6% 3% 0%
Native Americans 2% .2% 0% 0%
Whites 67% 83% 94% 98%*

*Note: President Barack Obama has both African and White ancestors.

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Hispanic v/s Latino:

The term Hispanic is derived from the Latin word for “Spain,” While Latino is derived from Spanish word for Latin but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano. Hispanic is used to denote the culture and people of countries formerly ruled by the Spanish Empire, usually with a majority of the population speaking the Spanish language. Latino (derived from Latino Americano) refers specifically to people living in the US of Latin American nationality and their US-born descendants. Latin America refers to countries in South America and North America (including Central America and the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken there. The term Latino is restricted to immigrants and their descendants from Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian or Portuguese speaking countries in North, Central and South America, and it includes the French-speaking areas of Haiti, French Guiana, French speaking Canada and the French West Indies. Even though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between Hispanic and Latino. While there is a significant overlap between the groups, Brazilians are good examples of Latinos who are not Hispanic (they speak Portuguese).


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Whites have 22 times more wealth than blacks and 15 times more wealth than Latinos. Median household net worth for whites was $110,000 versus $4,900 for blacks versus $7,424 for Latinos, according to CNN Money and the Census Bureau. African Americans are 12.3 percent of the population but 4.7 percent of attorneys. Latinos are 15.8 percent of the population but only 2.8 percent of attorneys. African American students face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous high school classes and are more likely to be taught by less experienced and lower paid teachers according to a government sponsored national survey of 72,000 schools. 13% of whites, 21% of blacks and 32% of Hispanics lack health insurance, according to the Kaiser Foundation. The latest Census analysis shows 9% of white families below the US poverty level and 23% of Black and Hispanic families below the same levels.

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Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity, U.S. (2011):


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A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination: 2003 study:

Researchers perform a field experiment to measure racial discrimination in the labor market. They respond with fictitious resumes to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. To manipulate perception of race, each resume is assigned either a very African American sounding name or a very White sounding name. The results show significant discrimination against African-American names: White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. Researchers also find that race affects the benefits of a better resume. For White names, a higher quality resume elicits 30 percent more callbacks whereas for African Americans, it elicits a far smaller increase. Applicants living in better neighborhoods receive more callbacks but, interestingly, this effect does not differ by race. The amount of discrimination is uniform across occupations and industries. Federal contractors and employers who list Equal Opportunity Employer’ in their ad discriminate as much as other employers. Researchers find little evidence that their results are driven by employers inferring something other than race, such as social class, from the names. These results suggest that racial discrimination is still a prominent feature of the labor market.

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$335 Million Settlement on Countrywide Lending Bias:

The Justice Department announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom. A department investigation concluded that countrywide loan officers and brokers charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers across the country than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. Countrywide also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received regular loans, it found. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the settlement showed that the Justice Department would “vigorously pursue those who would take advantage of certain Americans because of their race, national origin, gender or disability,” adding: “Such conduct undercuts the notion of a level playing field for all consumers. It betrays the promise of equal opportunity that is enshrined in our Constitution and our legal framework.”

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Black farmers win $1.25 billion in discrimination suit:

Thousands of black farmers who were discriminated against by the U.S. Agriculture Department will be eligible to receive $1.25 billion in a settlement. The settlement of the case, known as Pigford II, is contingent on Congress approving $1.15 billion for the farmers, in addition to $100 million already provided in the Farm Bill. For decades, black farmers said they were unjustly being denied farm loans or subjected to longer waits for loan approval because of racism, and accused the USDA of not responding to their complaints.

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Gun control and racism:

In America there are people who equate gun ownership and general support for the Second Amendment to racism. The lineage of this particular facet of gun control can be traced back far beyond the most recent uttering of left-wing documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who wrote on his blog following the Newtown, Conn., shootings that there are so many guns in the United States “Because too many white people are afraid of black people. The vast majority of the guns in the U.S. are sold to white people who live in the suburbs or the country.” He wrote “When we fantasize about being mugged or home invaded, what’s the image of the perpetrator in our heads? Is it the freckled-face kid from down the street – or is it someone who is, if not black, at least poor?”  However, the polling data show that a healthy number of African-Americans not only own firearms but, in fact, do not favor curbs on gun ownership.

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Racism in schools:

Former miss world and bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra, who went to high school for a few years in Boston, said she faced racial issues there as some fellow students called her “browny” and pointed a finger at her for being an Indian. The bullying ensued into a fight and Priyanka was suspended from school for three days. According to federal statistics, one in four students reports being a target of ethnic or racial bias in a typical school year.

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Ghetto:

In the United States, a ghetto is a predominantly black, metropolitan neighbourhood with a high concentration of poverty (40 percent or more below the federal poverty). Joblessness is an influential and compelling explanation for why ghettos persist: it is the fact that so many among the ghetto poor do not work regularly that best explains why those in these communities often remain poor. Some advocates of this view maintain moreover that concentrated joblessness not only keeps the ghetto poor in poverty but has negative ramifications far beyond mere income disadvantage. For instance, joblessness is said to increase violent crime and juvenile delinquency, to encourage welfare dependency and single-parent households, to undermine personal dignity and self-respect, to foster a pathological ghetto subculture, and to weaken crucial institutions of civil society (e.g., religious institutions, political organizations, and neighbourhood social networks).

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Now let me discuss racism in the largest democracy, India:

People will be surprised to know attraction for white skin in India. You read matrimonial column in any new paper or magazine and you will find that men are dying to marry girls having white skin. Whether it is a hotel or train or aircraft, white skinned Europeans are given preferential treatment than black skinned Africans. Whether casteism is racism or not will be discussed later on.

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Rape and Racism in India:

On December 3, in the Indian capital of Delhi, five men gang-raped a 24-year-old Rwandan woman. They robbed and assaulted her when she was returning to her home in a residential area close to the University of Delhi. The local police tried to keep the assault under wraps. They refused to file a “first information report,” or FIR, a prerequisite for action in a reported crime. Most bizarrely, they told her to “come back after two days.” A non-governmental organization, which was assisting the Rwandan national seek asylum in India, escalated the matter. A senior Delhi Police officer ordered a departmental enquiry. The case was finally registered three days after the incident, and four of the five rapists tracked down and arrested. The police inspector responsible for the delayed FIR and action was suspended. On the face of it, a series of things happened in this case. A rape is not uncommon in Delhi. Reluctance by the police to take action is even less uncommon. Pressure from a non-governmental organization and finally corrective action by the police, including punishment of the official responsible is also not uncommon. However, a closer look suggests a deeper issue: that of persistent racism in Indian society. While European or American white women are far from being immune from rape in India, the chances of their FIR being not registered is unheard.  

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A Black African American’s first-hand experience of working in India, in her own words, is as follows:

“Racism is never a personal experience. Racism in India is systematic and independent of the presence of foreigners of any hue. This climate permits and promotes lawlessness and disdain for dark skin. Most Indian pop icons have light-damn-near-white skin. Several stars even promote skin-bleaching creams that promise to improve one’s popularity and career success. Matrimonial ads boast of fair, v.fair and v.very fair skin alongside foreign visas and advanced university degrees. Moreover, each time I visit one of Delhi’s clubhouses, I notice that I am the darkest person not wearing a work uniform. It’s unfair and ugly. Discrimination in Delhi surpasses the denial of courtesy. I have been denied visas, apartments, entrance to discos, attentiveness, kindness and the benefit of doubt. Further, the lack of neighborliness exceeds what locals describe as normal for a capital already known for its coldness. My partner is white and I am black, facts of which the Indian public reminds us daily. Bank associates have denied me tea, while falling over to please my white friend. Mall shop attendants have denied me attentiveness, while mobbing my partner. Who knows what else is more quietly denied? ‘An African has come,’ a guard announced over the intercom as I showed up. Whites are afforded the luxury of their own names, but this careful attention to my presence was not new. ATM guards stand and salute my white friend, while one guard actually asked me why I had come to the bank machine as if I might have said that I was taking over his shift.”

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Canada:

Canadians in a survey were categorized as English, French or allophone, the last of which would be most likely to include visible minorities. Half of English Canadians thought racism was a growing problem, while that proportion was at about 40 per cent for both francophones and allophones.

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South Africa:

The picture below shows South African beach during apartheid era:


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Apartheid (from Afrikaans “the status of being apart”) was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994, of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy & Afrikaner minority rule was maintained. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times under Dutch and British rule. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups (“native”, “white”, “colored”, and “Asian”), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. A series of Apartheid legislation in South Africa was passed through the legal systems to make it legal for white South Africans to have rights which were superior to those of non-white South Africans. Non-white South Africans were not allowed involvement in any governing matters, including voting; access to quality healthcare; the provision of basic services, including clean water; electricity; as well as access to adequate schooling. Non-white South Africans were also prevented from accessing certain public areas, using certain public transportation and were required to live only in certain designated areas. Non-white South Africans were taxed differently from white South Africans and were required to carry on them at all times additional documentation, which later became known as “dom passes”, to certify their non-white South African citizenship. All of these legislative racial laws were abolished through a series of equal human rights laws passed at the end of Apartheid in the early 1990s.   

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Malaysia:

Malaysia’s first serious survey (2006) of race relations in more than 50 years indicates that behind the government-promoted facade of unity and peace, racism runs deep in one of Asia’s most multi-ethnic melting pots. The survey, conducted by the independent Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, also found that negative racial stereotyping was deeply entrenched. For example, minority Chinese and Indians see the majority Malays, who make up 60% of Malaysia’s 25 million population, as lazy. Chinese and Indians, who began migrating to Malaysia in the early 19th century, make up 26% and 8% of the population, respectively.

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Zionism:

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determined that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”; resolution 3379 was revoked in 1991 by UN General Assembly Resolution 4686. Israel had said that resolution 3379 is another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society.

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Uganda:

The Ugandan leader Idi Amin had set a deadline for the expulsion of most of the country’s Asians. General Amin had said all Asians who are not Ugandan citizens – around 60,000 – must leave Uganda within 90 days. Asians, who were the backbone of the Ugandan economy, had been living in the country for more than a century. General Amin has called the Asians “bloodsuckers” and accused them of milking the economy of its wealth.

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China:

Since 1949 China has cultivated special relations with black Africa. The ties have been founded in the spirit of third world camaraderie and in the hope that Mao’s brand of agrarian Communism might influence Africa. China has denounced apartheid in South Africa, and has devoted some of its scarce resources to aid for black Africa. It also offers scholarships to Africans, and 1,500 Africans were studying across China. But in 1988, more than 130 of those African students remained confined to a Government guest house in Yangzhou, 50 miles northeast of Nanjing, to protect them from angry crowds that earlier in the week screamed for the ”black devils” to face punishment. With them were a handful of dark-complexioned Nepalese and Pakistani students who also were threatened by Chinese who in some cases had only a hazy idea of what an African looked like. “A lot of Chinese don’t like Africans, but there’s nothing we can do. They’re flooding into Guangzhou,” wrote one blogger on Tianya. Others blamed the immigrants for problems from drug peddling and petty theft, to the spread of HIV among prostitutes. On the streets, while explicit racism is rare among conservative Chinese urbanites, fights do sometimes break out between Africans and Chinese over business disputes. “Racial stereotypes on both sides do exist … it’s indicative of starkly different cultures,” said Martyn Davies, a China expert at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. “The challenge of the whole China-Africa relationship is going to be cultural acceptance … It’s not about capital or management skill or whatever, it’s about culture and essentially to break down stereotypes they have of one another.”  

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Sinophobia or anti-Chinese sentiment is the fear of or dislike of China, its people, overseas Chinese, or Chinese culture. It often targets Chinese minorities living outside of China and is complicated by the dilemma of immigration, development of national identity in neighbouring countries, disparity of wealth, fall of the past central tribute system and majority-minority relations. Its opposite is Sinophilia.  

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Racism at root of Sudan’s Darfur crisis:

Darfur is not an accidental apocalypse of mass slaughters, enslavement, pillage, and ethnic cleansing. The Darfur pogrom is part of a historic continuum in which successive Arab governments have sought to entirely destroy black Africans in this biracial nation. The raison d’être of the atrocities committed by government-supported Arab militias is the racist, fundamentalist, and undemocratic Sudanese state. Thoughtlessly carved out by the British during the 19th-century scramble to claim Africa, Sudan is a forced crucible of Muslim Arabs and black Africans. The blacks in the south either mold to their ancestral traditional African religions or some have converted to Christianity. The fact that black Africans in Darfur are predominantly Muslim has not stopped the Arab Janjaweed militias and the government from exterminating them. Race – not religion – is the fundamental fault line in Sudan, though religion has certainly added fuel to the fire in the south. Indeed, since independence from the British in 1956, the demon of Sudan has been race. The Arab north, except for brief periods when token Africans were included in government, has exclusively held political and military power. To protest political exclusion, military repression, enslavement, and economic exploitation, Africans in the south rose against the state several years after independence.

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How nationalism affected racism?

Nationalism to an extreme can stir up xenophobic sentiments against “foreigners, drifters, anyone who is received to be not of the country.” Nationalism is generally placing one’s own country first, and therefore perceived foreign people can be categorized generally in the form of racism. The more extreme form of nationalism is fascism.

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Nazism:

Nazism was the ideology of the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany. It is a variety of fascism that incorporates biological racism and anti-Semitism. Major elements of Nazism have been described as far-right, such as allowing domination of society by people deemed racially superior, while purging society of people declared inferior which were said to be a threat to national survival. Nazi philosophy claimed that an Aryan master race was superior to all other races. The Nazis recognized the German nation as being composed of five Aryan racial subtypes: Nordic, Alpine, East Baltic, Dinaric, and a very small proportion being Mediterranean; viewing Nordics as being at the top of the racial hierarchy. To maintain what it regarded as the purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews and Romani, and the physically and mentally disabled. Other groups deemed “degenerate” or “asocial” received exclusionary treatment by the Nazi state and included homosexuals, blacks, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political opponents. The Nazis promoted German territorial expansionism to gain Lebensraum (“living space”) for German settlers and to bring labor, food and materials into the nation for growth.

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Ku Klux Klan (KKK):

This is a history of hate in America —not the natural discord that characterizes a democracy, but the wild, irrational, killing hate that has led men and women throughout our history to extremes of violence against others simply because of their race, nationality, religion or lifestyle. Since 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has provided a vehicle for this kind of hatred in America, and its members have been responsible for atrocities that are difficult for most people to even imagine. Today, while the traditional Klan has declined, there are many other groups which go by a variety of names & symbols and are at least as dangerous as the KKK. Some of them are teenagers who shave their heads and wear swastika tattoos and call themselves Skinheads (vide infra); some of them are young men who wear camouflage fatigues and practice guerrilla warfare tactics; some of them are conservatively dressed professionals who publish journals filled with their bizarre beliefs — ideas which range from denying that the Nazi Holocaust ever happened to the contention that the U.S. federal government is an illegal body and that all governing power should rest with county sheriffs.

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Neo-Nazism:

Neo-Nazism borrows elements from Nazi doctrine, including militant nationalism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and anti-Semitism. Holocaust denial is a common feature, as is incorporation of Nazi symbols and admiration of Adolf Hitler. It is related to the white nationalist and white power skinhead movements in many countries. Neo-Nazi activity appears to be a global phenomenon, with organized representation in many countries, as well as international networks. Some European and Latin American countries have laws prohibiting the expression of pro-Nazi, racist, anti-Semitic or anti-gay views. Many Nazi-related symbols are banned in European countries in an effort to curtail neo-Nazism.

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White power skinhead:


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White power skinheads are a white supremacist and anti-Semitic offshoot of the skinhead subculture.  Many of them are affiliated with white nationalist organizations. The skinhead in Britain included a sizable white nationalist faction, involving organizations such as the National Front, British Movement, Rock Against Communism and later Blood and Honour. Because of this, the mainstream media began to label the whole skinhead identity as neo-Nazi. The racist subculture eventually spread to North America, Europe and other areas of the world. Groups soon emerged, such as the Hammerskins, and racist skinheads gained acceptance among other organized hate groups such as Church of the Creator, White Aryan Resistance and the Ku Klux Klan. In 1988, there were approximately 2,000 neo-Nazi skinheads in the US. The majority of American white power skinhead groups are organized either at the state, county, city or neighborhood level.  By the 1990s, racist skinheads occupied many parts of the larger white supremacist counterculture. At times, the skinheads have seemed to be the foot soldiers of an organized racist movement with a clear agenda of inciting racial conflict. Seemingly taking a cue from the notorious race-war novel The Turner Diaries, they would instigate hate crimes to spark a race war in America. This would allow racist leaders to foment a revolution that would drive Jews, liberals, “race traitors” and other enemies from power. Contemporary skinheads are diverse. Some do not claim membership in any groups. Some have rejected the shaven head, steel-toed-boot look in an attempt to blend in. Others have turned increasingly to a professional life of crime — racist skinheads today are as likely to be involved in drug trade, attacking immigrants and vandalizing synagogues. All in all, the supposed movement has shown no sign of stopping. Because of their dramatic nature, skinheads have become a common topic in film. Films about skinheads range from the cartoonish to the sympathetic and include “Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate” (1989), “Romper Stomper” (1992), “American History X” (1998), “The Believer” (2001) and “This Is England” (2007). These films have served to provide some insight into the skinhead psyche.

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White pride:

White pride is a slogan indicating pride in being white. The slogan has been adopted by neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations. White pride advocates claim that there is a cultural double standard in which only certain ethnic groups are permitted to openly express pride in their heritage, and that white pride is not inherently racist, being roughly analogous to racial positions such as Asian pride, black pride, or non-racial forms such as gay pride.

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Cosmetics: dying to become fair skinned:

In Asia and Latin America, light skin is seen as more attractive. Thus, skins whitening cosmetic products are popular in Asia and Latin America. A recent survey shows that most men find Asian females more attractive if they were pale. Skin whitening has a long history in Asia, stemming back to ancient China and Japan, where the saying “one white covers up three ugliness” was passed through the generations. A white complexion was seen as noble and aristocratic, especially in Southeast Asia, where the sun was always out. Only those rich enough could afford to stay indoors, while peasants baked in the rice fields. In their early bid to lighten up, Chinese ground pearl from seashells into powder and swallowed it to whiten their skin, while across the Yellow Sea, Geisha girls powdered their faces chalk white. This obsession with whiteness has not faded over time. A survey by Asia Market Intelligence this year revealed that three quarters of Malaysian men thought their partners would be more attractive with lighter complexions.  In Hong Kong two thirds of men prefer fairer skin, while half the local women wanted their men paler. Almost half of Asians aged 25 to 34 years used skin whiteners in a business that some analysts have said could be worth billions of dollars.

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Racism and politics:

In politics, racism is commonly located on the far right due to the far right’s common association with nativism, racism, and xenophobia. In history, racism has been a major part of the political and ideological underpinning of genocides such as The Holocaust, but also in colonial contexts such as the rubber booms in South America and the Congo, and in the European conquest of the Americas and colonization of Africa, Asia and Australia. It was also a driving force behind the transatlantic slave trade, and behind states based on racial segregation such as the USA in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and South Africa under apartheid.  Practices and ideologies of racism are universally condemned by the United Nations in the Declaration of Human Rights.

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State sponsored racism:

State racism—that is, institutions and practices of a nation-state that are grounded in racist ideology—have played a major role in all instances of settler colonialism, from the United States to Australia to Israel. It also played a prominent role in the Nazi German regime and fascist regimes in Europe, and in the first part of Japan’s Shōwa period. These governments advocated and implemented policies that were racist, xenophobic and, in case of Nazism, genocidal. The politics of Zimbabwe promote discrimination against whites, in an effort to ethnically cleanse the country. Legislative state racism is known to have been enforced by the National Party of South Africa during their Apartheid regime between 1948 and 1994. State racism contributed as well to the formation of the Dominican Republic’s identity and violent actions encouraged by Dominican governmental xenophobia against Haitians and “Haitian looking” people. Currently the Dominican Republic employs a de facto system of separatism for children and grandchildren of Haitians and black Dominicans, denying them birth certificates, education and access to health care.

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Racism and economy:

Historical economic or social disparity is alleged to be a form of discrimination caused by past racism and historical reasons, affecting the present generation through deficits in the formal education and kinds of preparation in previous generation, and through primarily unconscious racist attitudes and actions on members of the general population. A hypothesis embraced by classical economists is that competition in a capitalist economy decreases the impact of discrimination. The thinking behind the hypothesis is that discrimination imposes a cost on the employer, and thus a profit-driven employer will avoid racist hiring policies. Although a capitalist economy would avoid discrimination in order to avoid extra cost, this can be avoided in other ways. A capitalist company, for example, may use racist hiring policies as it deviates towards the “cultural norm”. For example, in a predominantly white society, hiring a person of color into a position of management may then cause disputes, and damage communications between other employers. Thus, the company would be economically put in a deficit because of the discrimination of other companies, as they invoke discrimination and isolate that company. For decades, African American farmers said they were unjustly being denied farm loans or subjected to longer waits for loan approval because of racism, and accused the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) of not responding to their complaint. As discussed earlier, in 2011, Bank of America agreed to pay $335 million to settle a federal government claim that its mortgage division, Countrywide Financial, discriminated against black and Hispanic homebuyers. During the Spanish colonial period, Spaniards developed a complex caste system based on race, which was used for social control and which also determined a person’s importance in society. While many Latin American countries have long since rendered the system officially illegal through legislation, usually at the time of their independence, prejudice based on degrees of perceived racial distance from European ancestry combined with one’s socioeconomic status remain, an echo of the colonial caste system. Almost uniformly, people who are darker-skinned and of indigenous descent make up the peasantry and working classes, while lighter-skinned, Spanish-descent Latin Americans are in the ruling elite.

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Black Economic Empowerment (BEE):

Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is a program launched by the South African government to redress the inequalities of Apartheid by giving previously disadvantaged groups (black Africans, Colored, Indians and some Chinese) of South African citizens economic privileges previously not available to them. It includes measures such as employment preference, skills development, ownership, management, socioeconomic development, and preferential procurement. Critics argue that BEE’s aim was to attempt to create equality of the workforce of South Africa as a whole by enforcing the advantaging of the previously disadvantaged and the disadvantaging the previously advantaged. This results in businesses having to consider the race and social background of any potential applicant instead of making decisions purely based on qualifications and experience, resulting in a system in which one’s race is often the determining factor in finding employment. Instead of using this type of policy, it has been shown by critics that a policy of qualification equality should be used. This would allow businesses to focus on employing the person with the highest qualifications, the most experience and the best recommendations. To allow previously disadvantaged individuals to achieve these qualifications and experience, critics of BEE say that the government should place more emphasis on secondary and tertiary education, as well as subsidizing companies wishing to employ entry level applicants, or fund tertiary education for students from previously disadvantaged communities. BEE has also been criticized for creating a brain drain, where the qualified white expertise is emigrating to countries where they would not be discriminated against.  

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Slavery and Racism: part of the capitalist system:

Many believe that racism is part and parcel of the capitalist profit system. Britain once ruled over a vast and powerful Empire, spanning the globe. Britain conquered large parts of Africa and the whole of India. The rich businessmen that rule Britain made millions and millions of pounds from these colonies. They stole food, minerals and precious stones. They enslaved millions of Africans and transported them to America and the West Indies in the slave trade. They forced millions of Africans and Indians to work for very low wages, and they made enormous profits as a result. When the victims of this system fought back, the British army crushed them using the best weapons technology could create. For years they steadfastly refused to meet the demands of the colonial peoples for independence. At home the British ruling class tried to present themselves as democrats and “good Christians”. But in the Empire the people were denied any rights at all. To justify this, the capitalists developed the ideas of modern racism. To explain why the British and European colonialists had the “right” to trade in slaves as if they were cattle, and to kill them like animals, the colonialists had to pretend that black people were not really human. Theories started to appear suggesting that black people were really closer to apes than humans. These lies became very deep-rooted; we still hear echoes of these sick ideas in racist taunts in the playground and the classroom today. Books claiming to be “scientific” appeared in the 1800s trying to ‘prove” that black people were inferior.

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The close connection between slavery and capitalism, and thus, between racism and capitalism, gives the lie to those who insist that slavery would have just died out. In fact, the South was more dependent on slavery right before the Civil War than it was 50 or 100 years earlier. Slavery lasted as long as it did because it was profitable. And it was profitable to the richest and most “well-bred” people in the world. The Civil War abolished slavery and struck a great blow against racism. But racism itself wasn’t abolished. On the contrary, just as racism was created to justify colonial slavery, racism as an ideology was refashioned. It now no longer justified the enslavement of Blacks, but it justified second-class status for Blacks as wage laborers and sharecroppers. Racist ideology was also refashioned to justify imperialist conquest at the turn of the last century. As a handful of competing world powers vied to carve up the globe into colonial preserves for cheap raw materials and labor, racism served as a convenient justification. The vast majority of the world’s people were now portrayed as inferior races, incapable of determining their own future. Slavery disappeared, but racism remained as a means to justify the domination of millions of people by the U.S., various European powers, and later by Japan. Because racism is woven right into the fabric of capitalism, new forms of racism arose with changes in capitalism. As the U.S. economy expanded and underpinned U.S. imperial expansion, imperialist racism–which asserted that the U.S. had a right to dominate other peoples, such as Mexicans and Filipinos–developed. As the U.S. economy grew and sucked in millions of immigrant laborers, anti-immigrant racism developed. But these are both different forms of the same ideology–of white supremacy and division of the world into “superior” and “inferior” races–that had their origins in slavery. Racism and capitalism have been intertwined since the beginning of capitalism. You can’t have capitalism without racism. Therefore, the final triumph over racism will only come when we abolish racism’s chief source–capitalism–and build a new socialist society.

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Because of the limited opportunities under capitalism, and due to the need to keep the working class divided and in opposition to each other, racist ideologies are encouraged. Because the black race started out as slaves in America, until their release after the Civil War, they have never been able to gain equal employment in a society that was raised for over two hundred years to consider them inferior. Such an ideology was considered normal and necessary to maintain the horror of chattel slavery. When they were released to the wage slavery job market after their “freedom” was given, many of the white race, born and raised with racist leanings, were resentful of this new level of competition in their midst. Capitalist society dealt with the “problem” by creating racist laws that denied decent jobs to members of the black race. This caused the black members of society to resent all white folks, despite the fact that white working class members had the same problems as wage slaves that the black members of their class endured (albeit usually to a lesser extent at the time). As a result, instead of uniting against the capitalist class, the white and black members of the working class fought in violent opposition to each other, with the white members of society determined to preserve their monopoly over their privileges in the job market that gave them a feeling of financial security, and the newly freed black members of society understandably struggling for better jobs and an improvement over their terrible and unequal economic condition. This battle raged on until the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s caused racist legislation to be curtailed to a great degree, and for affirmative action laws to pass quotas, causing legalized discrimination against the white race. As a result, few blacks have benefited much from affirmative action, and the reverse discrimination has only caused more enmity between the blacks and the whites.

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Like the proverbial snake in the grass, capitalism, and all class-divided societies, nurture and create imaginary dividing lines between human beings based on race, gender, ethnic affiliation and other things. We are told in capitalist propaganda that different races and genders have different needs that will forever be in conflict, and the only resolution are laws which discriminate against one group or another. Attempts to placate race minorities by the capitalist government result in reverse racist laws and quotas, which further inflame tensions between the races and genders.

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Sports and racism:

Sport brings together millions of people, regardless of their sex, color, gender, age, nationality or religion, and has thus the potential to play an important role in creating an inclusive society. Sports activities ranging from the local to the national and international level, embracing leisure as well as competitive sport, can support the integration of migrants and persons belonging to minorities into society as whole. In other words, sport events could be an ideal platform to foster inclusion, acceptance of diversity and mutual respect while combating racism, discrimination and exclusion. The sport itself does not induce racism. The people that participate in the playing, organization, and implementation of sports as well as fans bring racism into sports. Some nations, such as the United Kingdom, have used sports in order to battle the overarching racism in its society. Sport is meant to be a colorblind activity that adheres to the notion of fair play.

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Racism and ethnic discrimination in sport have increasingly become a public issue in European sport over the past. Incidents of racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Gypsyism were identified in football and basketball across the EU. In particular in Germany and Italy, experts warn that rightwing extremists are becoming active in amateur leagues. No data were available for athletics and almost no data for the various sports examined within the national context of each Member State, with the exception of basketball. Only 10 EU Member States monitor systematically incidents of racism in sports and mainly relating to men’s professional football, although racist incidents also occur frequently in men’s amateur football. In football, fans are primarily the perpetrators of racist incidents in men’s professional and amateur football. However, a considerable number of racist incidents concerned children’s and youth football. Racist incidents were also recorded among players, particularly in amateur football, but there is a tendency to ignore them in amateur sports. Referees and club officials were involved in some racist incidents. No data were available for women’s amateur and professional sport. Despite significant progress made in past years, sport continues to face a number of challenges related to racism and ethnic discrimination, incidences of which affect sport at professional as well as at amateur level. With some notable exceptions the focus still seems to be predominantly on addressing racist incidents, mainly attributed to spectators and mostly in professional sports, with less emphasis on various other forms of discrimination. Sports leagues and governing bodies have taken steps to combat racism. Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) was founded in 1999 to combat the rise of racist incidents at soccer games and in the larger community. FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the European Commission have endorsed FARE’s efforts. 

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Sports, race and ethnicity:


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Racism and anti-Semitism in sports often reflect the racism that exists in larger society. Historically, many segregated societies have segregated their sporting events. As societies began racial desegregation, their sporting teams and major sporting events became more integrated, with many of the same kinds of transitional problems that occurred with other types of racial integration. One of the most notorious examples of racism in an international sporting event occurred in the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Berlin, Germany, in the Nazi era. German Chancellor Adolf Hitler hoped that the Olympic events would display the superiority of the Aryan race—that is, he hoped that the white athletes would greatly surpass athletes of other racial or ethnic backgrounds. When black American track and field athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals, a stunned Hitler angrily left the stadium. German fans, however, received Owens well and cheered his accomplishments.

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As late as the early 1990s, it was quite common for black players to have bananas thrown at them during games. There were many teams that simply refused to hire black players. These decisions were generally motivated by arguments that black players “lacked bottle” or were not able to “read the game” as well as white players. These things still happen, especially in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe, but it is much less common now and it is often to join action with some shame. In November 2005, fans of Italian soccer club Inter Milan subjected black player Marc Zoro, a native of the Ivory Coast, to racist chants. Zoro started to leave the field and broke into tears as players from both teams consoled him. The other players convinced him to continue playing. After the incident, the Italian soccer league ordered its players to observe a five minute anti-racism delay before the start of games the next week. Following several high-profile incidents, racism in cricket has also become an issue in recent years. In December 2005, fans at a cricket test match in Australia hurled apartheid-era racial slurs at members of the South African cricket team. Indian cricket fans taunted black Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds in 2007. In 2008, a referee gave Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh a three-day ban, which was later overturned, after he allegedly used a racial epithet against Symonds during a test match.

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The overrepresentation of certain ethnicities with respect to certain sports has led some to question whether there is a genetic component giving certain races a competitive advantage. Others point out that such overrepresentations are not necessarily due to genetic causes. Such views differ between nations. Among Chinese, the proposition that there are genetic differences affecting sports performance is a widely accepted. A 1994 examination of 32 English sport/exercise science textbooks found that 7 (21.9%) claimed that there are biophysical differences due to race that might explain differences in sports performance, 24 (75%) did not mention nor refute the concept, and 1 (3.12%) expressed caution with the idea.

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Race and food tolerance:

Lactose tolerance and alcohol tolerance differ with geographic ancestry in part due to genetic factors. Lactose tolerance appears to be an evolutionarily recent adaptation to dairy consumption, and has occurred independently in both northern Europe and east Africa in populations with a historically pastoral lifestyle.

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Religion and racism:

Whilst the subject of religion is not amongst the key themes on the agenda at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, the role that religion plays in racial discrimination has dominated talks. Topics of discussion have included how faith communities are hoping to combat racial prejudice, and also how religion can make existing racial and ethnic divisions worse. Apartheid may have been abolished but separate worship along racial lines remains the norm in South Africa. The problems facing India’s low caste Hindus, the so-called untouchables, have also been well documented. How Hindu religion created caste system, divided people and cause discrimination, will be discussed later in the article.  In India, Dr John Dayal is the past president of the All India Catholic Union Council, representing the country’s 16 million Catholics. The Union is heading a campaign for equality for the country’s Dalits – the lowest caste people in the country’s social hierarchy.  Although caste is traditionally associated with Hinduism, he says the church has also oppressed the Dalits.  ‘Sixty per cent of all Christians in India are Dalits, but the representation in the churches is still pitiful. There was a time 30 years ago when there were different pews in churches for the Dalits and there were different portions in cemeteries for them, they were not buried with the rest of us.’

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Why religion can lead to racism:

Religious people are more racist than average. That fact has been known for decades, and it’s rather surprising given that mainstream religions are unanimous in preaching racial tolerance. Does religion really cause racism, or is it that racists are drawn to religion? Three recent studies have shed a little light on that question, with fascinating results.
1. Do subconscious religious prompts increase racism?

Can you make someone more racist simply by subtly reminding them about religion? That’s what Wade Rowatt and colleagues set out to discover. They gave a group of college students a task that had religious cues embedded within it. The idea was to prime their subconscious with religious thoughts. Then they asked them about their racial attitudes. Although the primed students didn’t come straight out and admit to greater racism, their covert racism did increase. Rowatt and colleagues also found that students, when religiously primed, were more likely to agree that they dislike African-Americans. So religious thoughts seem to trigger racist thoughts. One obvious explanation for this is that religion tends to increase benevolence towards co-religionists, but can increase hostility towards outsiders. But in the USA, most Whites and African-Americans are Protestant Christians – not only the same religion, but the same sect! It’s true that worship and religious styles are often segregated, but it seems far-fetched to say that the religious differences came first.

2. Religious conformity is linked to racist attitudes:

That would fit with the results of a recent analysis of studies reaching back over several decades and looking at the correlation between different aspects of religion and racism (all of which were done mostly or entirely in the USA). This analysis, by Deborah Hall at Duke University and colleagues, found no correlation between racism and the liberal, ‘questioning’ form of religion. The aspect of religion that was linked strongly to racism was so-called ‘extrinsic’ religiosity – a measure of whether the individual’s religious attitudes are driven by a desire for social conformity and social status. An even more fascinating finding was that the strength of this correlation is declining. As racist attitudes gradually become socially unacceptable, so the link between ‘extrinsic’ religiosity and racism is ebbing away. They also found a tight link between fundamentalist religion and racism. This isn’t too surprising, but what was interesting was that there were close parallels between fundamentalism, racism, and right-wing authoritarianism. Fundamentalists also tend to be ‘right-wing authoritarians’ – they value obedience to authority, hostility to outsiders, and conventionalism. When you take this into account, it turns out that right-wing authoritarianism pretty much explains the link between fundamentalism and racism.

3. Does religious fundamentalism increase right-wing authoritarianism?


The world view promoted by religious fundamentalism has many facets that look a lot like the precursors of right wing authoritarianism. Fundamentalists tend to believe that knowledge consists of simple truths which are either right or wrong (good or evil, with us or against us), which are unchanging, and which are handed down by a powerful authority and not to be questioned. All of these could lead to right-wing authoritarianism. Laura Barnes, at Oklahoma State University, and her grad student John Hathcoat set out to test this model analyzing the beliefs of undergraduate students. They used a statistical technique, bootstrapping, to test whether the model was plausible. They found that three key beliefs about how the world works seemed to mediate the relationship between fundamentalism and authoritarianism: certain knowledge (the idea that there are fixed, absolute truths), simple knowledge (the idea that the world is simple and straightforward, not complex), and omniscient authority (the idea that authority should be obeyed). This analysis doesn’t prove the causal link, but it does show that it’s plausible. What’s more, they tested a model that worked in the opposite direction, and found it didn’t fit the data nearly so well. In other words, fundamentalist beliefs really do seem to lead down a pathway towards right-wing authoritarianism (and so on to racism).

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Anti-Semitism:

Semitic is a descriptive term for several peoples of the Middle East and their descendants, including Jews and Arabs. Technically you could use the term anti-Semitic to describe discrimination against Muslims or Arabs but it may confuse a lot people as the phrase anti-Semitism has evolved through the ages and is now used exclusively to describe discrimination against Judaism. Jews are technically not a race of people as Judaism is now practised in many different countries and cultures. It can be very confusing when describing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict some would say that the Palestinians are anti-Semitic. As Palestine is part of the Middle East, How can this be so? When describing this conflict you can use the term Anti-Jewish to evade confusion or offence. It is assumed that Jews were classed as Semitic because Judaism originated and was quite prevalent in the Middle East. According to Professor S. D. Goitein, “the word ‘Semitic’ was coined by an l8th-century German scholar, concerned with linguistics. The idea of a Semitic race was invented and cultivated in particular in order to emphasize the inalterable otherness and alien character of the Jews living in Europe.” Another eminent Arabist, Bernard Lewis, dates the invention of the term “anti-Semitism” to 1862, although “the racial ideology that gave rise to it was already well established in the early 19th century. Instead of — or as well as — an unbeliever … the Jew was now labelled as a member of an alien and inferior race… “

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Contemporary Islamaphobia as racism:

Contemporary anti-Muslim sentiment in western world is reproduced through a racialization that includes well rehearsed stereotypes of Islam, perceptions of threat and inferiority. These are not old or color-based racisms, but they do manifest certain characteristics that allow us to conceive a racialization process in relation to Muslims. Three sets of findings show how constructions of Islam are important means through which racism is reproduced. First, public opinion surveys reveal the extent of Islamaphobia in world and the links between threat perception and constructions of alien-ness. The second data set is from a content analysis of the racialized pathologies of Muslims and their spaces. The third is from an examination of the undercurrents of Islamaphobia and national cultural selectivity in the politics of responding to asylum seekers. Negative media treatment is strongly linked to antipathetic government dispositions. This negativity has material impacts upon Muslims. It sponsors a more widespread Islamaphobia, creates opposition to mosque development and ever more restrictive asylum seeker policies, and lies behind arson attacks and racist violence. Ultimately, the racialization of Islam corrupts belonging and citizenship for Muslims worldwide.  

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Environmental racism:

Environmental racism is racial discrimination in environmental policy-making and enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the presence of life threatening poisons and pollutants for communities of color, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the environmental movement. Those who are critical of this viewpoint suggest that it is restrictive because deliberate racism is just one of a variety of forms of racism. Even if it’s not intentional, some groups, for a number of reasons, are more likely to be present in areas of environmental hazard and pollution than others. Thus, lack of intentionality doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not environmental racism. The difficulty of proving group intent versus individual intent is one of the reasons why the intentionality requirement found in some definitions is seen as limiting.

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According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), in the U.S., there is a correlation between the location of hazardous waste facilities and the ethnic background of an area’s residents. In predominantly minority areas, voter registration and education are often lower than average, and citizens are less likely to challenge proposals or seek financial compensation for environmental and health damages. Implementing techniques to stop hazardous waste sites requires time, money, and political influence or backing. Resources such as meeting places, access to private and public records, and funding for technical assistance are also required for action. Minority groups may not have full access to these tools and resources creating challenges for the groups in fighting against the placement of toxic sites. Further, controversial projects are less likely to be sited in areas expected to pursue collective action. Some studies also suggest that the lack of protest could be due to fear of losing area jobs. Non-minority communities are more likely to succeed when opposing the putting up of hazardous waste and sewage treatment facilities, incinerators, and freeways in their areas. Non-minority communities have better chance at accessing these tools and resources used to prevent placement of toxic sites and also negative impacts of environmental policy decisions. While some social scientists see putting up of hazardous facilities in minority communities as a demonstration of intentional racism, whereby these communities are targeted for prejudicial reasons, belief in racial inferiority, or a desire to protect racial group privilege; others see the causes of environmental racism as structural and institutional.

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Environmental racism also exists on an international scale. Environmental racism on a world scale exists between groups in the developed world and groups in the developing world, and between different races and ethnicities on different continents. First world corporations often produce dangerous chemicals banned in the United States and export them to developing countries, or send waste materials to countries with relaxed environmental laws. In one instance, the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau was prohibited from entering Alang, an Indian ship-breaking yard, due to a lack of clear documentation about its toxic contents. French President Jacques Chirac ultimately ordered the carrier, which contained tons of hazardous materials including asbestos and PCBs, to return to France. In another example of foreign environmental racism, in 1984, both the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India, and the PEMEX liquid propane gas plant in Mexico City, where minorities reside (who are actually majorities in those countries), blew up, killing thousands and injuring roughly a million nearby residents. The images of the victims in India and Mexico spread knowledge of environmental racism around the globe. On the other hand, some countries have small “eco laws” and are more prone to accept dangerous industries.

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Black supremacy and black racism:

The term black supremacy is a blanket term for various racist ideologies which hold that black people are superior to people of other races. In the 1930s the Nation of Islam emerged, coming to prominence during the 1960s, when charismatic minister Malcolm X became a spokesman for the movement. The group’s founders, “Master Fard” Muhammad and Elijah Muhammad, preached the Doctrine of Yakub, which held that the Original Man was an “Asiatic black man”. White people, it contended, were “grafted” from black people 6,000 years ago by an ancient black scientist named Yakub. The belief in sacrificial killing and ritualistic murder was part of the early Nation of Islam doctrine. Fard thought explicitly that it was the duty for every Muslim to offer as sacrifice four “Caucasian devils”. Some black supremacists justify supremacist assertions by assigning dubious properties to melanin based on pseudo-science and distortions of scientific fact or speculation. This body of belief is known generally as “Melanin theory”. The central idea of the Melanin theory is that the levels of melanin in dark skin naturally enhance intelligence and emotional, psychic and spiritual sensitivity. Such claims have made inroads among some African Americans within academia. Blacks cannot be “racists.” They are not in a position to oppress anyone–certainly not the majority white population of the U.S. But the charge of “Black racism” has always been used to discredit militants, especially Black nationalists. The two most important Black nationalists of the 20th century, Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, were both denounced for their message of racial pride and their calls for Blacks to arm themselves against racist attacks.

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Black racism is not a mirror image of white racism:

Black racism is not a mirror image of white racism. It is not equal and opposite. Instead it is different in scale and kind. Blacks lack institutional power in the US. Whites do racism through institutional power which affects rates of black unemployment, income, life expectancy, education, segregation and incarceration. Blacks do not even begin to have that kind of power over whites. If wealth is power, as it largely is in America, then whites as a whole are a hundred times more powerful than blacks. Even though the president is black, he cannot openly help blacks without being accused of racism. Blacks understand whites way better than whites understand blacks because they have to just to feed their families in a society that is mostly white. Also they read white books, watch white television, receive white educations, work at white companies, etc. They have to deal with whites. Meantime whites can avoid dealing with blacks or having to take them seriously. This makes it hard for blacks to stereotype and dehumanize whites to a serious degree. Blacks have not committed serious injustices that require racist whitewashing. Blacks do not build their sense of self-worth on looking down on whites. There is nothing like a black n-word for whites. There is nothing like the black Klan. Blacks do commit hate crimes and so on, but to think black racism is equal and opposite to white racism is to miss the nature of both white racism and black racism. White racism is institutional and cultural and a hundred times more powerful. Black racism is personal and, to a large degree, is a weakened form of white racism.  

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Internalized racism: 

Internalized racism is the racism among blacks is mostly directed against other blacks, especially against one’s self. Blacks are subject to much of the same racist brainwashing as whites, particularly through television and school. According to one test of racism (the IAT), 42% of blacks are racist in favor of whites!

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Reverse discrimination:

Reverse discrimination is discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group. Groups may be defined in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, or other factors. It is unfair treatment of members of majority groups resulting from preferential policies, as in college admissions or employment, intended to remedy earlier discrimination against minorities. This discrimination may seek to redress social inequalities where minority groups have been denied access to the same privileges of the majority group. In such cases it is intended to remove discrimination that minority groups may already face. Reverse discrimination may also be used to highlight the discrimination inherent in affirmative action programs. Conceptualizing efforts as reverse discrimination began to become popular in the early-mid 1970s, the time period that focused on underrepresentation and affirmative action intended to remedy the effects of past discrimination. Reverse discrimination need not be viewed merely as a way of compensating individuals for harms allegedly caused by historical discrimination; some proponents of reverse discrimination view it as a way of promoting certain forms of social change which they find desirable. Although the details of this account have tended to vary, their fundamental contention is that reverse discrimination is a necessary tool for improving the socioeconomic position of minorities and for providing role-models for both members of minority groups and women, and that these results are in turn essential steps toward bringing the present and future members of these groups into society’s mainstream. Opponents of reverse discrimination sometimes object that it cannot achieve its objectives because it inevitably creates two classes; those who gain their job or university place (or whatever) purely on merit and those who succeed only because of the existence of the program. So when women or ethnic minorities succeed on merit alone this is not recognized and their success is attributed to Reverse Discrimination.

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A white man is called “Cracker” by a black man:

Reverse racism is a term which refers to racial prejudice or discrimination directed against the traditionally dominant racial group in a society. It is sometimes used as a pejorative description of systems which discriminate in favor of members of racial minorities, more formally known as reverse discrimination. Many white people in societies with histories of legal white privilege—particularly the United States and South Africa—feel that they are now victims of reverse racism. Critics of the term “reverse racism” have called it a myth or an oxymoron, saying that racism entails systemic oppression and inequality. In this view, instances of discrimination or prejudice against a functionally dominant group do not amount to racism. In the United States, these critics argue, African Americans and Native Americans are still not equal to European Americans, let alone able to enslave them, imprison them, or seize their land. So whereas “nigger” was and is a term used by whites to dehumanize blacks, to imply their inferiority, to “put them in their place” if you will, the same cannot be said of honky: after all, you can’t put white people in their place when they own the place to begin with.

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It’s crucial to maintain the distinction between these terms, because otherwise white people tend to redefine “Discrimination” as “Racism”. Their main argument is that because both blacks and white can discriminate against each other, that “Reverse Racism” is possible. But the truth of the matter is that black people: 1) have far less opportunity to discriminate against whites than whites have to discriminate against blacks, overall; and 2) black people lack a system of institutionalized support that protect them when they discriminate against whites. It took black and white people working together for one hundred years to get programs like Affirmative Action installed in the U.S., but it took one white man (Alan Bakke) only a single Supreme Court case to get those programs dismantled because he felt he didn’t gain entry into medical school based on his white race. “Reverse Racism” would only describe a society in which all the rules and roles were turned upside down. That has not happened in the U.S., however much white right wing ideologues want to complain that they’re being victimized by the few points of equality that minorities and women have managed to claim. White people who complain about “Reverse Racism” are actually complaining about being denied their privileges, rather than being denied their rights. They feel entitled to be hired and not to be discriminated against, even though the norm is white people discriminating against blacks. If, in a rare instance, a black employer discriminates against a white job applicant, that’s not “reverse” anything — it’s simple discrimination. It’s to be condemned on principle, but it’s not evidence of some systematic program by which whites are being deprived of their rights. The right wing popularized the term “Reverse Racism” because they were really angry at having their white privileges challenged. Anyone who uses that phrase, whether they are right wing or not, furthers the right wing’s cause.

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U.S. “Whites suffer more Racism than Blacks”: A study:

A new study has shown that white American people believe they are more discriminated against than blacks. Sociologists from Harvard and Tufts universities asked 209 white and 208 black men and women to rate ‘racism’ against both ethnic groups since the 1950s on a scale of 1 to 10. The results showed that while both blacks and whites saw anti-black racism decreasing over the decades, whites saw race relations as a ‘zero sum game’ where they were losing out as blacks ‘gained’ the advantage.

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The results, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, showed that on average blacks saw anti-white bias rising slightly from 1.4 in the 1950s to 1.8 today. Blacks also perceived that racism against themselves had steeply declined from 9.7 in the 1950s to 6.1 in the 90s. White respondents, however, saw a very different picture. For the 2000s, 11 per cent of whites gave anti-white bias the maximum 10 out of 10 rating, compared with only two per cent of whites who did so for anti-black bias. Whites believed that discrimination against them had increased from an average of 1.8 in the 1950s to 4.7 in the 2000s. All those surveyed were asked: ‘Indicate how much you think blacks/whites were/are the victims of discrimination in the United States in each of the following decades.’ Responding to the results, researchers Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers said that despite predictions that Barack Obama’s election would herald a ‘post racial’ America, this had not in fact occurred. They concluded: ‘a flurry of legal and cultural disputes over the past decade has revealed a new race-related controversy gaining traction: an emerging belief in anti-white prejudice. Whites believe…the pendulum has now swung beyond equality in the direction of anti-white discrimination. Whites think more progress has been made toward equality than do blacks, but whites also now believe that this progress is linked to a new inequality—at their expense.’ Whites believe that they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America. Whites see racial equality as a zero sum game, in which gains for one group mean losses for the other. The belief that anti-white bias is more prevalent than anti-black bias has clear implications for future public policy debates and behavioral science research, say the authors.

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In a study conducted by S. K. Camara & M. P. Orbe in the US, they collected narratives of individuals describing situations where they were discriminated against based on their majority-group status (cases of reverse discrimination). The population sample consisted of the respondents being 30% female and 70% male. Birth era of respondents was 3% in the pre civil rights era between 1900-1935, and 53% during civil rights era 1938-1969, and 44% in the post civil rights era between 1970 and 1985. Approximately 9% of the respondents were Hispanic, 3% African American, 77% Caucasian 1% Asian, 1% Native American, and 9% identified themselves as other.

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White Men Youth Heterosexual
Racism 70
Sexism 19
Ageism 12
Homophobia 3

Vast majority of these stories involved Whites describing discrimination based on their race = a value of 70. Men who were discriminated against based on their sex = a value of 19. Young people experience age-based discrimination = a value of 12, and heterosexuals experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation = a value of 4. 

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White trash:
White trash is an American English pejorative term referring to poor white people in the United States, especially in the rural South, suggesting lower social class and degraded living standards. The term suggests outcasts from respectable society living on the fringes of the social order who are seen as dangerous because they may be criminal, unpredictable, and without respect for authority whether it be political, legal, or moral. The term is usually a slur, but may also be used self-referentially by whites to jokingly describe their origins. In common usage “white trash” overlaps in meaning with cracker (regarding Georgia and Florida), hillbilly (regarding Appalachia), Okie (regarding Oklahoma origins), and redneck. The main difference is that “redneck,” “cracker”, “Okie”, and “hillbilly” emphasize that a person is poor and uneducated and comes from the backwoods with little awareness of the modern world, while “white trash” emphasizes the person’s moral failings.

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Racism and children:

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Protect children from exposure to racism: 

The two most powerful providers of racism in our children’s lives are the media and the adults they know. Since racism frightens children, the older they are before they encounter it, the more able they are to understand that only people who have been badly treated would act like that. Fairy tales, TV, videos, and video games all are full of messages of fear, and fear lays fertile ground for the “isms.” It makes sense to strictly limit children’s exposure to infection from these sources. This will make your family different from other families: being different is great practice for standing up, kindly and firmly, for ourselves and what we believe. Parents of color can work to interrupt internalized racism, the use of racial put-downs by people of color toward other people of color. We also have to keep working through the hatred of ourselves that is usually the root cause of those put-downs. Children are not “toughened up” by racism coming from their folks. They are hurt and confused by it. Fear and anger grow between them and the loved ones who treat them this way, however well-intentioned those loved ones are. It helps children when we explain to them that people act thoughtlessly because, once upon a time, they were themselves harshly treated, and they haven’t had the chance to heal. A policy of dealing with difficult incidents, detail by detail, with faith that the people involved can certainly work out their upsets and come to understand each other is one which can disarm stereotyping. We need to work on our own feelings of worry and fear to stay hopeful for our children, and active in taking initiative to help people see each other as friends and allies. White parents can acknowledge their own fears and talk about them openly and regularly with a good listener. We have been raised to feel so separate, so wary, and often, so superior. The way out is to notice our own behavior, find a listener (not a person of color), and try to notice the feelings behind the tightness. We also need to know that our fears need not stop us from making friends with people of color even when it means making mistakes as we go.

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Talking about Racism with Kids:

Don’t be afraid to bring it up:

 For many parents, the race talk is as difficult as the birds and the bees talk. This awkwardness is due to a lack of communication about race in many of our own childhoods. There are concerns about saying the wrong thing and sounding racist, even if that is not the intent. Sometimes parents naively believe that if they talk about issues of race with their children, they will cause them to notice race in a way that they did not before.

Look for teaching moments:

Not sure how to get the conversation started? If your child comments on different skin colors, that’s an easy in. Children’s books that discuss race are also a gentle introduction. Or, you can look for subtle openings in everyday life.

Make the message age-appropriate:

 Since even young children can understand when something is unfair (how many times have they lobbed the “not fair!” charge at you?), you can break down slavery (or segregation) for them: Slavery happened a long time ago, but holding people captive and making them work without paying them is unfair. So slavery ended, because many people thought it was unfair and worked to change it. It is important to emphasize that no racial group is all bad or all victims. In the US, white people were slave-owners, but white people also worked against slavery. Black people were enslaved, but many resisted their mistreatment by running away and helping others escape. Offering examples of people working together is also important.

Accept that prejudiced comments may happen — and that doesn’t mean your child is racist:

 If your kid makes a questionable remark, don’t freak. Children often repeat what they hear others say, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the child believes it. Gently dispute the stereotype or prejudiced attitudes.

Most importantly, be a role model:

 The best way to reduce children’s prejudices is to model an inclusive home, demonstrating that you have friends of all backgrounds. Parents who have learned to lead multicultural lives, connecting with people different from themselves, are more likely to have children who develop those important life skills at an early age.

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7 ways to stop racism are:
1) Support and get involved with multicultural events at your school and in your community
2) Get active in programmers which teach people how to react and respond to racism. So you can learn a lot and give others the benefit of your experience.
3) Its really hard not to tell someone about racism. Even if it’s hard just go tell an adult.
4) Speak out when and where you can. The problems you face with racism are the same that other people feel.
5) Don’t wait till someone else tells an adult. Try and tell an adult as fast as you can.
6) Make sure that your school does something about racism.
7) Make sure that your school has an anti-racism…

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Awareness of Racism affects how children do socially and academically:

The study, by researchers at Rush University and Yale University, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development. This study looked at more than 120 elementary school children from an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse area of the United States. Children were asked questions to determine their ability to understand another person’s stereotypical beliefs as well as their own comprehension of broadly held stereotypes. They were also asked about their own experiences with discrimination. In addition, the children’s parents completed questionnaires asking about their parenting. Between ages 5 and 11, the researchers found, children become aware that many people believe stereotypes, including stereotypes about academic ability (for example, how intelligent certain racial and ethnic groups are). When children become aware of these types of bias about their own racial or ethnic group, it can affect how they respond to everyday situations, ranging from interacting with others to taking tests. For example, African American and Latino youths who were aware of broadly held stereotypes about their groups performed poorly on a standardized test, confirming the negative stereotype in a self-fulfilling prophecy. These results have important implications for social policy. Specifically, they suggest the need for educational policies and comprehensive programs to reduce stereotypes and their consequences early in children’s school careers.

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Racism ‘harms children’s learning'(UK study):

Children from families subjected to racist abuse are more likely to struggle in school, according to new research. The study, by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University, found that racial prejudice had an impact on children as young as five. Youngsters from the families affected were found to be more likely to struggle with cognitive tests and faced more socio-emotional problems than other children their ages. The findings were based on a study of 2,000 five-year-olds from ethnic minority backgrounds and their mothers. Of the women, more than one in five had experienced racist abuse, with 23% suffering verbal insults in the past 12 months, 20% reporting unfair treatment and 23% reporting unfair treatment of a family member. Researchers found that their children were more likely to have socio-emotional issues – such as hyper-activity or problems interacting with their peers. They also received lower scores in cognitive skills tests – a key influence on academic achievement – while the results also showed a small increased risk of obesity. The findings showed how racism could affect the way families brought up their children. The findings suggest experienced racism or feeling fearful about racist victimization might impact on what parents allow their children to do, and constrain their capacity to provide the conditions to foster healthy child development. Living in an area where racist attacks are perceived to be common may lead to children spending less time outside the home environment than might otherwise be the case, thus limiting the breadth and interactions and experiences with others outside the home setting. This may be further compounded by the impact of poor parental mental health, linked to experienced racism and discrimination, which is in turn likely to lead to non-favorable parent-child interactions and parenting behaviors.

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How colleges should respond to racism against international students:

Neo-racism toward international students, such as the recent incidents at Michigan State and Ohio State Universities, highlights the challenges higher education leaders face in creating a positive campus climate for international students. Many international students live in a parallel social world, shut off from friendships with American peers. When a neo-racist act occurs, international students – and all students, except for a few – look to campus administrators and faculty for ethical academic leadership. Even if no major incident has occurred, campus leaders are responsible for creating a positive climate for the burgeoning number of international students arriving at their institutions. Some may argue that cash-strapped colleges and universities have rushed into international student recruitment, driven by tuition dollars, without fully considering its implications for student support services, residence life, or undergraduate education. Regardless of the various motivations for expanding international student enrollment, this much is clear: international recruitment must be matched with real institutional change. If the rise in the number of international students studying in the U.S. is to strengthen teaching and learning, leaders must identify the types of educational experiences that contribute to international students’ positive perceptions of their campus’ climate and their learning and development. Many campus leaders want to act, yet have little research to guide conversations about the kinds of interventions that will make a meaningful difference. Focusing on experiences that contribute to international students’ positive perceptions of their campuses offers one entry point for catalyzing conversations about comprehensive internationalization. The growing presence of international students, while introducing new challenges, also creates new opportunities to strengthen higher education’s academic mission, where international students contribute to the learning and development of all students.

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Racism, gender and feminism:

Race and gender:

Racism affects women in some ways differently from men, and gender discrimination does not affect all women in the same way. Pragna Patel writing about black and minority women says that “their experiences are seen through the lens of a mutually exclusive checklist of discrimination.” They face over-inclusion and under-inclusion. Over-inclusion means that “the racial dimension of an experience is subsumed within a gender perspective.” For instance, the trafficking of girls and women is perceived as gender subordination. The fact that certain groups of girls and women are targeted is not considered in spite of the fact that it is a combination of their gender, race and socio-economic status that makes them vulnerable to trafficking. Under-inclusion means that the gender dimension of an experience is ignored. For instance, where forced sterilization is seen as racial discrimination and not as gender discrimination. For a time in the 1970s and 1980s, in the United Kingdom’s immigration policies, virginity testing of young South Asian brides travelling to the UK to get married was sanctioned. The public outcry against this practice focused on its racial discrimination dimension, but not on the fact that it was a violation of women’s bodies.

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Racism and sexism: the common root:

We often use “racism” as almost synonymous with “white supremacy “, the belief that whites are superior to other races and the innumerable institutions enforcing white domination, or the attitudes and actions that foster white supremacy. By “sexism “, we mean the attitudes and actions that foster “male supremacy “. Do ‘white supremacy’ and ‘male supremacy’ go hand in hand? Sexism and racism go hand-in-hand, suggests new research that finds sexist and racist people are those who are likely to approve of hierarchies. No matter how egalitarian, people generally hold some subconscious biases. The results suggest that racist and sexist attitudes are linked to personality, said study researcher Maite Garaigordobil, a psychologist at the University of the Basque Country in Spain. Sexism is linked to authoritarianism and a leaning towards social dominance. In other words, sexist people accept hierarchies and social inequality, they believe that different social groups have a status that they deserve, and they feel that the social class to which they belong is the best. The researchers also found that sexism and racism are likely to occur in the same people. People with high sexist tendencies also tended to score low in intercultural sensitivity, or empathy and interest in other cultures. The findings suggest that people’s attitudes toward relationships with other people are strongly tied to sexism and racism. If someone believes that relationships are hierarchical and that social inequality is fine, they’re likely to espouse sexist and racist beliefs. The results even suggest that such prejudiced attitudes could be a personality trait.

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Racism and Feminism: Is women’s liberation for Whites only?

The women’s movement in western world is often described as “white middleclass” despite the fact that black women not only are more oppressed than whites, but are more favorable to the goals of the women’s movement. Black women, especially those identified with the black rights movement, fear that feminism will split their ranks and divert public attention. Black women’s problems also differ from those of whites in other ways, mostly related to the fact that their economic position is much worse than that of either white women or black men. Moreover, blacks hesitate to join organizations they perceive as white dominated. It is argued that both black and women’s rights movements need each others’ support and that black women cannot achieve equality unless both movements succeed.

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Why are people racist?

There are many reasons why people are racist. A lot of a person’s attitudes and opinions are formed during childhood. If someone is taught to be racist from an early age by a family member, for example, these attitudes are likely to stick with the person throughout their life. Our views and beliefs develop as we grow up. If a child or young person grows up within a racist family, or has friends who are racist, they may believe that racism is normal and acceptable. Prejudice of any kind is often based on ignorance and fear of things that are different. In a racist world, the terms like black, yellow or Asian, or other ethnic born terms come into play. Children are taught these terms by parents, or other adults in their lives. Also, these terms are typically picked up on the playground or from television. No child should have to leave school because she is black and other children won’t play with her. Often, when asked, racists are unable to explain why they hate people of a different skin color, nationality or culture. Racists commonly use people of different ethnic backgrounds as ‘scapegoats’ on whom to blame their problems and make sweeping negative generalizations about these groups of people. The racist comment “they take our jobs and our homes” is one of the most frequently cited ‘justifications’ for racism. This is simply not true. Racism can also be stirred up by the media. Witness recent anti-asylum seeker campaigns run by some of the newspapers in Britain. Constantly running stories about ‘bogus’ asylum seekers and using emotive language such as a ‘flood’ of refugees helps to create an atmosphere of hostility amongst sections of the general public. Britain is in tenth place in Europe per head of population for asylum applications. The vast majority of refugees go to countries in the Middle East or Africa, often the countries that border their own. Asylum seekers in the UK receive only 70% of income support. Even though many are well educated and highly skilled and would like to contribute to society, they are not allowed to work. Unfortunately racism can exist in all races and cultures. Someone who is a racist can feel threatened by anyone who is from a different race or culture. 

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Why is racism wrong?

Racism is wrong because it judges a person and their capabilities based on a very mediocre set of categories, such as skin color or facial features. This leads to a lack of understanding and segregation of peoples and cultures. It also encourages hostility towards any person of a different background. Racism teaches people to hate each other purely on the basis of skin color, nationality or culture, even though we are all of one race – the human race. It is much better to live in a multi-cultural society: just think of the things that would be removed from or lives if we lived in a segregated society – e.g. different types of music, food and clothing.  Historically, racism has been used to separate and segregate people of different skin color, for example under the apartheid regime in South Africa, which ended in 1994 and has also formed the basis for justifying atrocious genocides such as the holocaust of World War Two. Many people’s lives are seriously affected by racism and discrimination every day and not just because of verbal or physical abuse. Many people from minority ethnic backgrounds are not getting the same opportunities as others whether it is in jobs, education or access to health services, or affordable housing. That clearly isn’t fair or right as everyone should be given the same opportunities in life.

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Why is using the words ‘Paki’ or ‘Chinky’ wrong?

Although seen by some as abbreviations for ‘Pakistani’ and ‘Chinese’, these words have often been used as terms of abuse and are often accompanied by swear words or insults. Therefore they are extremely offensive and it is not acceptable to use these terms to describe a person who is of Pakistani or Chinese origin or to describe an establishment run by a person of Pakistani or Chinese origins. Using these words suggests that a person doesn’t think about others as individuals and that they judge people on what they look like or where they come from, rather than who they are. Nobody would like people to make judgments about them just by looking at them. Also, both words tend to be used generally for Asian people, irrespective of their national origins, such as India or Bangladesh in the case of ‘Paki’, and Korea or Japan in the case of ‘Chinky’. Therefore, as well as being offensive, the terms may not even refer to the correct country.

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Benefits of racism to the favored group:

According to renowned author Miss Arthalia Cravin, racism will never end because of five particular benefits, or “favors to some ethnic or cultural group.” These benefits are 1) geographical, 2) economic, 3) political, 4) psycho-social, and 5) roll management.

1. Geographic racism benefits others because it serves to isolate “undesirable” people from the “favored members.” African Americans, as well as other minority groups, have historically been forced to live separate and apart from whites—the favored group. There is no argument that the primary purpose of segregation was to keep blacks and the “favored group” apart—in housing, in schools, in restaurants, in city parks, in swimming pools, in theaters, on buses and trains, in bedrooms. By and large, in almost every community in America, segregated housing is still the rule rather than the exception. Geographically, America is still a very segregated country. The favored group continues to derive benefits from historical underpinnings of race-based geographical segregation— the primary objective of which continues to be living apart from “the undesirable” for a host of their clearly stated reasons, i.e. better schools, better housing, safer neighborhoods, etc.

2. Economically, racism benefits the favored group in ways too obvious for much discussion. Historically African Americans were denied education for the sole purpose of ensuring an illiterate and subservient, unpaid or poorly paid, workforce for the “favored group.” This fact has remained the primary mainstay of racism today. African Americans either are not hired, or hired at lower wages in lesser positions than members of the favored group. The benefit to the favored group is obvious. When labor is free or at reduced wages, the acquisition of wealth to the favored group becomes easy. Thousands upon thousands of members of the favored group, both corporate and personally, have gotten rich off the unpaid or low paid labor of African Americans.

3. Politically, racism benefits the favored group by the systematic deprivation of “means of power for self control” to anyone but the favored group. This fact also is too obvious for much discussion. The long standing and on-going denial of the right to vote or substantial participation in the electoral process to African Americans is not by accident—it was by design. One of the initial fears—and ongoing fears—of the favored group is that if given the unfettered right to vote, African Americans could significantly impact positions of political power—from city government to the Oval Office. And, when it did happen in 2008, the direct result was a deliberate Republican orchestrated power re-grab that resulted in the enactment of a rash of voter ID laws passed across the country. Who benefits when Africans Americans are denied the right to vote?

4. Psycho-socially racism benefits the favored group through the use of brainwashing, and image manipulation that reinforces notions of racial superiority. Racism is designed to make African Americans feel inferior and therefore act inferior to the favored group. Negative stereotypes, in textbooks, in movies, in commercials, in public images, all of which distort a positive historical portrayal of African Americans are a deliberate and systematic system of brainwashing through image manipulation. It is not by accident that the continuing portrayal of black men as “dark and menacing,” effeminate, or criminally disposed, and, black women as “loose and oversexed” is part of a white supremacist ideology. It plays to the notions of “white is better than black.” To this extent, racism is not an accidental happening. Negative images and portrayals are deliberately maintained and perpetuated by the “favored groups” for their own psycho-social purposes.

5. Roll management is a nicer tern than genocide or ethnic cleansing. But one of the ultimate goals of racism is the extermination of the “less desirable” group. In the words of Sven Linquist, the ultimate purpose of racism is to “exterminate all the brutes.” Extermination, or the permanent removal of “undesirable,” can play itself out in a hundred different ways—lesser and worse healthcare treatment, medical experimentation, concentrations of peoples in ghettos that encourages violence and mutual destruction through mass infusion of drugs and alcohol, person on person crime cause by inadequate space and healthy means of human expression, poverty induced abortions, high infant and adult mortality caused by inadequate resources for healthcare, suicides, lack of healthy food resources, and a multitude of other ways of racial annihilation. At the extreme end of “roll management” is the planned and deliberate wholesale killing of the “undesirables.” Hitler acted with a deliberate “roll management” plan toward the Jews. Andrew Jackson did the same thing toward the Native Americans. As harsh is it may seem, the benefit to the “favored group” is the elimination of all the “undesirables” for reasons that range from acquisition of resources, i.e., gold in Georgia, oil in Africa, or eliminating “burdens on society.”

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Harms of racism to the disadvantaged group:

Racism has been a motivating factor in social discrimination, racial segregation, hate speech and violence (such as pogroms, genocides and ethnic cleansings). The effects of racism are seen in poor health and health services, inadequate mental health services, low wages, high unemployment and underemployment, overrepresentation in prior populations, substandard housing, high school dropout rates, decreased access to higher education opportunities, and other institutional maladies. Despite racial discrimination being illegal in many countries, the persistence of racial stereotypes, humor and epithets in much everyday language is common place. Various studies have found evidence of racial discrimination on blacks. Researchers (e.g. Feagin et. al, 1996) have shown that Black people, who live through acts of racial discrimination experience the events as painful, damaging, and distressful. People of color who experience discrimination, in laboratory and naturalistic situations have high levels of psychological distress, lower levels of life satisfaction, and poorer physical health (Lark, Anderson, Lark, & Williams, 1999). Utsey, et al (2002) found that for people of color, cultural racism as a stressor was related to lower levels of quality of life and that Blacks reported more experiences of individual and cultural race-related stress and was equal to Asians in reporting institutional race-related stress.  Perilla, et al (2002), found six months after a hurricane that Whites had the lowest rate of PTSD 15%, Latino’s who spoke Spanish the highest rate 38%, and Blacks had a rate of 23%.

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Anti-Racism:

Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. In general, it promotes an egalitarian society in which people are not discriminated against in race. By its nature, anti-racism tends to promote the view that racism in a particular society is both pernicious and socially pervasive, and that particular changes in political, economic, and/or social life are required to eliminate it. Movements such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Apartheid Movement were examples of anti-racist movements. Nonviolent resistance is sometimes an element of anti-racial movements, although this was not always the case. Hate crime laws and affirmative action are also examples of government policy designed to suppress racism.

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Affirmative action:

Affirmative action, known as positive discrimination in the United Kingdom, refers to policies that take factors including “race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin” into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group “in areas of employment, education, and business”. Affirmative action is intended to promote the opportunities of defined groups within a society. It is often instituted in government and educational settings to ensure that minority groups within a society are included in all programs. The stated justification for affirmative action by its proponents is that it helps to compensate for past discrimination, persecution or exploitation by the ruling class of a culture, and to address existing discrimination. The implementation of affirmative action, especially in the United States, is considered by its proponents to be justified by disparate impact. Law regarding quotas and affirmative action varies widely from nation to nation. Caste based quotas are used in Reservation in India (vide infra). However, they are illegal in the United States, where no employer, university, or other entity may create a set number required for each race. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination stipulates (in Article 2.2) that affirmative action programs may be required of countries that ratified the convention, in order to rectify systematic discrimination. It states, however, that such programs “shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.” The principle of affirmative action is to promote societal equality through the preferential treatment of socioeconomically disadvantaged people. Often, these people are disadvantaged for historical reasons, such as oppression or slavery. Historically and internationally, support for affirmative action has sought to achieve a range of goals: bridging inequalities in employment and pay; increasing access to education; enriching state, institutional, and professional leadership with the full spectrum of society; redressing apparent past wrongs, harms, or hindrances, in particular addressing the apparent social imbalance left in the wake of slavery and slave laws.

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Opponents of affirmative action believe that affirmative action devalues the accomplishments of people who are chosen based on the social group to which they belong rather than their qualifications, thus rendering affirmative action counterproductive. Opponents also say that affirmative action is “reverse discrimination”, further claim that affirmative action has undesirable side-effects in addition to failing to achieve its goals. They argue that it hinders reconciliation, replaces old wrongs with new wrongs, undermines the achievements of minorities, and encourages individuals to identify themselves as disadvantaged, even if they are not. It may increase racial tension and benefit the more privileged people within minority groups at the expense of the least fortunate within majority groups (such as lower-class whites).

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American economist, social and political commentator, Dr. Thomas Sowell identified some negative results of race-based affirmative action in his book, Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study. Sowell writes that affirmative action policies encourage non-preferred groups to designate themselves as members of preferred groups (i.e., primary beneficiaries of affirmative action) to take advantage of group preference policies; that they tend to benefit primarily the most fortunate among the preferred group (e.g., upper and middle class blacks), often to the detriment of the least fortunate among the non-preferred groups (e.g., poor whites or Asians); that they reduce the incentives of both the preferred and non-preferred to perform at their best – the former because doing so is unnecessary and the latter because it can prove futile – thereby resulting in net losses for society as a whole; and that they increase animosity toward preferred groups.

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Mismatching is the term given to the negative effect that affirmative action has when it places a student into a college that is too difficult for him or her. For example, according to the theory, in the absence of affirmative action, a student will be admitted to a college that matches his or her academic ability and have a good chance of graduating. However, according to the mismatching theory, affirmative action often places a student into a college that is too difficult, and this increases the student’s chance of dropping out. Thus, according to the theory, affirmative action hurts its intended beneficiaries, because it increases their dropout rate.

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Myths regarding affirmative action specifically in the U.S. but can be extrapolated worldwide:

Myth 1: The only way to create a color-blind society is to adopt color-blind policies.

Fact: Although this statement sounds intuitively plausible, the reality is that color-blind policies often put racial minorities at a disadvantage. For instance, all else being equal, color-blind seniority systems tend to protect White workers against job layoffs, because senior employees are usually White (Ezorsky, 1991). Likewise, color-blind college admissions favor White students because of their earlier educational advantages. Unless preexisting inequities are corrected or otherwise taken into account, color-blind policies do not correct racial injustice — they reinforce it.

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Myth 2: Affirmative action has not succeeded in increasing female and minority representation.

Fact: Several studies have documented important gains in racial and gender equality as a direct result of affirmative action (Bowen & Bok, 1998; Murrell & Jones, 1996). For example, according to a report from the U.S. Labor Department, affirmative action has helped 5 million minority members and 6 million white & minority women move up in the workforce. Likewise, a study sponsored by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs showed that between 1974 and 1980 federal contractors (who were required to adopt affirmative action goals) added Black and female officials and managers at twice the rate of noncontractors. There have also been a number of well-publicized cases in which large companies (e.g., AT&T, IBM) increased minority employment as a result of adopting affirmative action policies.

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Myth 3: Affirmative action may have been necessary 30 years ago, but the playing field is fairly level today.

Fact: Despite the progress that has been made, the playing field is far from level. Women continue to earn 77 cents for every male dollar (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010). Black people continue to have twice the unemployment rate of White people, twice the rate of infant mortality, and just over half the proportion of people who attend four years or more of college. In fact, without affirmative action the percentage of Black students at many selective schools would drop to only 2% of the student body (Bowen & Bok, 1998). This would effectively choke off Black access to top universities and severely restrict progress toward racial equality.

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Myth 4: The public doesn’t support affirmative action anymore.

Fact: Public opinion polls suggest that most Americans support affirmative action, especially when the polls avoid an all-or-none choice between affirmative action as it currently exists and no affirmative action whatsoever. For example, according to the Pew Research Center 2007, 70% of Americans are in favor of “affirmative action programs to help blacks, women and other minorities get better jobs and education. What the public opposes are quotas, set-asides, and reverse discrimination. For instance, when a poll asked people whether they favored programs requiring businesses to hire a specific number or quota of minorities and women, 63% opposed such a plan (Roper Center for Public Opinion, 1995a). As these results indicate, most members of the public oppose racial preferences that violate notions of procedural justice — they do not oppose affirmative action.

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Myth 5: A large percentage of White workers will lose out if affirmative action is continued.

Fact: Government statistics do not support this myth. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, there are 2.6 million unemployed Black civilians and 114 million employed White civilians (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2011). Thus, even if every unemployed Black worker in the United States were to displace a White worker, only 2% of Whites would be affected. Furthermore, affirmative action pertains only to job-qualified applicants, so the actual percentage of affected Whites would be even smaller. The main sources of job loss among White workers have to do with factory relocations and labor contracting outside the United States, computerization and automation, and corporate downsizing (Ivins, 1995).

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Myth 6: If Jewish people and Asian Americans can rapidly advance economically, African Americans should be able to do the same.

Fact: This comparison ignores the unique history of discrimination against Black people in America. Over the past four centuries, Black history has included nearly 250 years of slavery, 100 years of legalized discrimination, and only 50 years of anything else. Jews and Asians, on the other hand, are populations that immigrated to North America and included doctors, lawyers, professors, and entrepreneurs among their ranks. Moreover, European Jews are able to function as part of the White majority. To expect Blacks to show the same upward mobility as Jews and Asians is to deny the historical and social reality that Black people face.

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Myth 7: You can’t cure discrimination with discrimination.

Fact: The problem with this myth is that it uses the same word — discrimination — to describe two very different things. Job discrimination is grounded in prejudice and exclusion, whereas affirmative action is an effort to overcome prejudicial treatment through inclusion. The most effective way to cure society of exclusionary practices is to make special efforts at inclusion, which is exactly what affirmative action does. The logic of affirmative action is no different than the logic of treating a nutritional deficiency with vitamin supplements. For a healthy person, high doses of vitamin supplements may be unnecessary or even harmful, but for a person whose system is out of balance, supplements are an efficient way to restore the body’s balance.

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Myth 8: Affirmative action tends to undermine the self-esteem of women and racial minorities.

Fact: Although affirmative action may have this effect in some cases (Heilman, Simon, & Repper, 1987; Steele, 1990), interview studies and public opinion surveys suggest that such reactions are rare (Taylor, 1994). For instance, a 1995 Gallup poll asked employed Blacks and employed White women whether they had ever felt others questioned their abilities because of affirmative action (Roper Center for Public Opinion, 1995c). Nearly 90% of respondents said no (which is understandable — after all, White men, who have traditionally benefited from preferential hiring, do not feel hampered by self-doubt or a loss in self-esteem). Indeed, in many cases affirmative action may actually raise the self-esteem of women and minorities by providing them with employment and opportunities for advancement. There is also evidence that affirmative action policies increase job satisfaction and organizational commitment among beneficiaries (Graves & Powell, 1994).

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Myth 9: Support for affirmative action means support for preferential selection procedures that favor unqualified candidates over qualified candidates.

Fact: Actually, most supporters of affirmative action oppose this type of preferential selection. The selection of women and minority members among equal or roughly comparable candidates has the greatest public support, adheres most closely to popular conceptions of fairness, and reduces the chances that affirmative action beneficiaries will be perceived as unqualified or undeserving (Kravitz & Platania, 1993; Nacoste, 1985; Turner & Pratkanis, 1994). However the selection of women and minority members among unequal candidates — used routinely in college admissions — has deeply divided the nation (with the strongest opposition coming from White males and conservative voters). The selection of unqualified candidates is not permitted under federal affirmative action guidelines and should not be equated with legal forms of affirmative action.

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Affirmative action as a stopgap arrangement till the society eliminates racism in all its manifestations:

Some writers have criticized affirmative action as a superficial solution that does not address deeper societal problems by redistributing wealth and developing true educational equality. Yet affirmative action was never proposed as a cure-all solution to inequality. Rather, it was intended only to redress discrimination in hiring and academic admissions. In assessing the value of affirmative action, the central question is merely this: In the absence of sweeping societal reforms — unlikely to take place any time soon — does affirmative action help counteract the continuing injustice caused by discrimination? The research record suggests, unequivocally, that it does.  

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Civil rights movement in the United States:

The civil rights movement in the United States includes noted legislation and organized efforts to abolish public and private acts of racial discrimination of African Americans and other disadvantaged groups between 1954 to 1968, particularly in the southern United States. It is sometimes referred to as the Second Reconstruction era, echoing the unresolved issues of the Reconstruction era in the United States (1863–1877). The graph below shows amount of racism gradually decreasing in the U.S. 

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Color blindness (in sociology):

Color blindness (also called race blindness) is a sociological term referring to the disregard of racial characteristics when selecting which individuals will participate in some activity or receive some service. According to Christopher Doob in his text book Social Inequality and Social Stratification in US Society, he states that whites believe we live in a world in which “racial privilege no longer exists, but their behavior supports racialized structures and practices.” Dr. Michael Kimmel made the statement in not only his book Guyland, but in a lecture of his that “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” Those who are not discriminated against or have a racial bias put on them cannot see or comprehend exactly what this feels like, looks like or the effects that it can have. We simply believe it does not exist, because in our world it does not. Doob also mentions in his book that many times due to the prominent racism that is still evident in today’s society, minorities often do not have a choice but to participate in the racial socialization. This he states is due to the fact that it can be a daunting task to maintain a social identity in society. As described by Chief Justice Roberts, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Put into practice, color-blind operations use no racial data or profiling and make no classifications, categorizations, or distinctions based upon race. An example of this would be a college processing admissions without regard to or knowledge of the racial characteristics of applicants.  

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Racial Literacy:

Racial Literacy is a concept developed by sociologist France Winddance Twine. She describes it as “a form of racial socialization and antiracist training that…parents of African-descent children practiced in their efforts to defend their children against racism” in her research done in the United Kingdom with mixed race families. She further describes it as “cultural strategies and practices designed and employed by parents to teach children of African and Caribbean heritage to (1) detect, document, and name antiblack racist ideologies, semiotics, and practices; (2) provide discursive resources that counter racism; and (3) provide aesthetic and material resources (including art, toys, books, music) that valorize and strengthen their connections to the transatlantic culture of black people in Africa, the Caribbean and the United States”.  Twine’s concept of racial literacy is to be distinguished from the term ‘race literacy’ as conceptualized by Lani Guinier, a professor of law and critical race scholar at Harvard. The concept of racial literacy as conceptualized by Twine refers to a set of practices designed by parents and others to teach their children how to recognize, respond to and counter forms of everyday racism. The emphasis here is on teaching children as well as adults how to identify routine forms of racism and to develop strategies for countering it and coping with it. 

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Inter-racial marriage:

Interracial marriage has been legal in the U.S. since 1967. In 2008, a record 14.6% of all first marriages in the U.S. were interracial marriages. Nine percent of whites, 16% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics, and 31% of Asians married someone whose race or ethnicity was different from their own. White men/Asian women pairings are the most common form of interracial dating and marriage in the U.S. Statistics show that white wife/black husband marriages are twice as likely to end in divorce as white wife/white husband couples by the 10th year of marriage. However, a black wife/white husband marriage is 44% less likely to divorce than a white wife/white husband couple by the 10th year of marriage. Sociologists Simon Cheng and Brian Powell found that parents in biracial families typically devote more time and money to enrolling their kids in activities, such as music lessons and museum trips—not necessarily because they have more money, but most likely to compensate for their marginalized social status. 

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Racism still surrounds interracial marriages:

It was not too long ago when interracial marriages were viewed by many people as disgusting and revolting. Such things have not become a thing of the past. Such bigotry is alive and well today, whether the media or we ourselves admit it or not. There is a vicious double standard in that it is all right for white men to have relationships with women of color, but it is totally unacceptable for men of color, particularly black men, to have relationships with white women. Some leaders have said that black women are as beautiful as any other women and black men who chase only white women are not doing the black community any good. These things are perfectly true. Black men who honestly believe that white women are superior looking to black women are, like it or not, perpetuating the vile racist ideas which have wreaked untold suffering on black people for centuries. Nobody minds relationships between black men and Caucasian women, but such a relationship must take place between people who have a mutual respect for one another and who do not believe the twisted, perverse lies that racist culture promotes about the nature of such relationships. Intolerance of interracial marriages is not a thing of the past; it is a problem which must be dealt with in the future.

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White guilt:

White guilt is the individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently. The term is generally used in a pejorative way (and in a partisan fashion within American political circles). White guilt has been cited by many conservatives and libertarians as a way for liberals and others to induce white Americans to support the policies of affirmative action and redistribution of wealth. White guilt has been described as one of several psychosocial costs of racism for white individuals along with the ability to have empathic reactions towards racism, and fear of non-whites.

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What can I do about racist attitudes?

It’s important not to ignore racism (or any form of discrimination).

However, you should only challenge it by yourself if you think it’s safe to do so:

  • if someone makes racist remarks or jokes, tell them you don’t like it
  • walk away if they won’t stop or apologize
  • if someone is being racist at school, let a teacher know
  • don’t use businesses (shops, cafes etc) you think are racist.

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Racist? There’s a pill for that:

Since the1960s, propranolol has been a drug prescribed as a beta-blocker to lower blood pressure. It not only reduces your blood pressure, but it works in some areas of the brain called the amygdala, which deals with emotion processing and fear processing. Researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that fear responses are really causally relevant or crucially important for a prejudice. So researchers screened a group of 36 Caucasian volunteers for medical eligibility. They gave one half a placebo, the other half propranolol, and then had the two groups take the Implicit Association Test developed at Harvard University, which measure’s individuals’ subconscious race biases. The subtle racial bias disappeared when they took the drug. Critics states that they would prefer research funding go towards altering people’s race prejudices in a more natural manner, as racism is not an issue that should be considered solved by taking a pill. They think it’s a cultural problem, an attitude problem, and a behavior problem. Instead of working on chemicals, they would work on the patient’s attitude. Why do patients have this fear? They would prefer to see fear reduction through psychological means rather than chemical ones.

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International efforts to curb racism and discrimination:

One of the fundamental principles underlying human rights is that of equality between human beings. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) proclaims that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The corollary of the principle of equality is that of non-discrimination. Discrimination occurs when people in the same situation are treated differently for no objective reason.

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The UN does not define “racism”; however, it does define “racial discrimination”:

According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life. This definition does not make any difference between discrimination based on ethnicity and race, in part because the distinction between the two remains debatable among anthropologists. Similarly in British law the phrase racial group means “any group of people who are defined by reference to their race, color, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origin”. Distinctions made on the basis of citizenship (that is, between citizens and non-citizens) are specifically excluded from the definition, as are affirmative action policies and other measures taken to redress imbalances and promote equality. According to the United Nations convention, superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.

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International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A second-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. Controversially, the Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations. The convention was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assembly on December 21, 1965, and entered into force on January 4, 1969. As of October 2011, it has 86 signatories and 175 parties. The Convention follows the structure of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with a preamble and twenty-five articles, divided into three parts.

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The map below shows Membership for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:



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EU and racism:

In 2001, the European Union explicitly banned racism, along with many other forms of social discrimination, in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, the legal effect of which, if any, would necessarily be limited to Institutions of the European Union: “Article 21 of the charter prohibits discrimination on any ground such as race, color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, disability, age or sexual orientation and also discrimination on the grounds of nationality.”

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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

UNESCO marks March 21 as the yearly International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in memory of the events that occurred on March 21, 1960 in Sharpeville, South Africa, where police killed student demonstrators peacefully protesting against the apartheid regime.

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Harms of anti-racism:

Ironically, anti-racism has also become a political instrument of abuse. Some politicians have practiced race-baiting in an attempt to win votes. In a reversal of values, anti-racism is being propagated by despots in the service of obscurantism and the suppression of women. Philosopher Pascal Bruckner claimed that “Anti-racism in the UN has become the ideology of totalitarian regimes who use it in their own interests.”

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Race vis-à-vis caste in India:

Caste is defined as a social status or position in the Hindu society which is inherited from parents at birth and it cannot be changed or transferred. Hindu society is divided into 4 varnas or classes by Rig Veda in the year 1500-1000 BC. At the top of the hierarchy the Brahmin followed by the Kshatriya followed by the Vaishya followed by the Shudra. The last class outside the system is Avarna or Untouchables (Pariah).

 Brahmin – priestly and learned class

 Kshatriya – worriors and rulers

 Vaishya – farmers and merchants

 Shudra – peasants and labourers

 Avarna  -untouchables who clean human wastes, dead animals etc..

This caste system is inherited at birth. That means that a person born from Brahmin parents will be Brahmin and a person born from untouchable parents will be untouchable. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are Hindu Upper Caste (HUC) people; while Shudras and Avarnas are Hindu Lower Caste (HLC) people. HUC traditionally exploited, oppressed and discriminated HLC people for thousands of years. HLC were not allowed to enter in temples, not allowed to drink water from wells, not allowed to marry HUC, not allowed to eat with HUC etc etc.. Reservations in India is a form of Affirmative action whereby a percentage of seats are reserved at job opportunities, admission in educational institutions and entry in Parliament/Legislative assemblies for socially backward castes like SC,ST and OBC. This system differs from affirmative action in the U.S. by existence of quotas. When I applied for admission in medical college in Mumbai in 1978, 33% of seats in medical colleges were reserved for HLC candidates. That means those 33% seats must be filled by HLC candidate irrespective of merit. I being HUC candidate got admission with 87 % marks and many candidates with 84 % marks could not get admission. On the other hand, students belonging to HLC got admission with 45 % marks. So this is not a classical affirmative action but a type of reverse racism which India is unwilling to accept.  

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How India flip-flopped over caste and race at the UN:

The latest session of the UN Human Rights Council in 2009, which concluded on Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, has challenged India’s 13-year-old position on caste. This is because of Nepal’s unexpected endorsement of a proposal to expand the definition of descent-based discrimination to include caste. India’s predicament may be bad. But it is worsened by its shifting position on equating caste with race as a form of descent-based discrimination. India spared no effort to keep caste out of the resolution adopted at the 2001 Durban conference against racism but ultimately flip-flopped when former Supreme Court judge K Ramaswamy, himself a Dalit (HLC), dissented from the Indian government position in his speech as a member of India’s Human Rights Commission. “It is not so much the nomenclature of the form of discrimination that must engage our attention but the fact of its persistence that must cause concern,” he said. He added that “the debate on whether race and caste are co-terminus or similar forms of discrimination is not the essence of the matter.” Government representative Omar Abdullah contradicted him saying: “We are firmly of the view that the issue of caste is not an appropriate subject for discussion at this conference.”  In 2009, India’s state of self-denial suffered a body blow when the UN Human Rights Council issued draft principles and guidelines on discrimination based on work and descent and recognized caste as a factor. The draft said, “This type of discrimination is typically associated with the notion of purity & pollution and practices of untouchability, and is deeply rooted in societies and cultures where this discrimination is practiced.” This is the document that Nepal supported, putting India in a fix. But is discrimination by caste the same as racism? The Indian government says no, and has objected to its being brought up at various UN Conferences against racism. But activists and human-rights groups insist that, even if discrimination against the Dalits (HLC) is intra-racial, the effects are nevertheless the same.

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Misrepresenting caste and race in India:

Two key claims of the Government of India are that, ‘caste is not race’, and that ‘caste is not based on descent’. Indian position is that caste cannot be equated with race since ‘there is no phenotypical resemblance between members of the same castes.’ Such a view misrecognizes ‘race’ since it assumes that members of the same ‘race’ share phenotypical resemblance. However, it is now established among professional anthropologists and biologists that there is no concordance among human ‘races’, which implies that there is no single phenotypical trait that distinguishes all members of a so-called ‘race’ from members of another ‘race’. Members of any ‘race’ do not share either skin color, or eye color, or hair texture, or facial structure. Scientists agree that there is no abrupt change from one skin color to another, and instead use the notion of ‘clines’ as opposed to ‘race’ to capture human variation. As Professor Alan Goodman, a biological anthropologist says, ‘Race is not based on biology, but race is rather an idea that we ascribe to biology.’ This is why the term ‘race’ is within quotes to signify that it is a socially constructed category, instituted by law and socially reproduced by popular prejudices. Indian position seems hopelessly outdated.

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Second, India makes the startling claim that ‘caste is not about descent’ and hence cannot fall under Article 1. According to India, ‘descent means genealogical demonstrable characteristics,’ and ‘in the caste order people came of multiple descents. In fact, in the caste system people had to marry outside their lineage within the caste.’ The term ‘descent’ is at the core of anthropological studies of kinship, and is not restricted to ‘lineage’. A lineage is only one kind of descent group (the smallest) in which ancestry can be demonstrable since it spans living memory of a few generations. However, descent also includes other larger groups such as ‘clans’ (gotras in India) and ‘phratries’ in which a claim to a common ancestry is made but cannot be demonstrated. Marrying outside of one’s own lineage and clan are common practices in India and elsewhere, but caste is really about marrying within a group. Ambedkar famously wrote in 1916 that the ‘superimposition of endogamy on exogamy produces caste.’ Castes are simply ‘large-scale descent groups’ as many anthropologists have pointed out. Castes are larger than clans and hence are very much based on ‘claimed’ ancestry, usually a mythical ancestor appearing in origin stories. India’s position is not substantiated logically, conceptually or empirically in scholarship.

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Third, India cavalierly claims that ‘each caste equally discriminated against other castes.’ While this still leaves one to wonder how this distinguishes caste from race, this position neglects decades of scholarship that has distinguished between institutional casteism or racism based upon power and individual or group prejudice. While it is quite feasible to argue that in a casteist (or racist) society, everyone can be prejudiced, it is simply not true that everyone’s prejudice has equal impact. Discrimination requires attention to institutions, and not only subjective notions, thus, the evidence that ‘no caste accepted the notion that they were inferior’ is quite irrelevant since there are too many castes who not only think they are ‘superior’, but actually have the power to act upon their prejudice in systematic and violent ways. In a casteist society that stigmatizes particular castes and privileges others, the latter are raised to think that the resources of the country belong to them as a birthright and are willing to act violently to protect it.

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India a country of 50 % quota:

Excess reservation will cause reverse discrimination, cautions Indian Supreme Court. “Equality of opportunity has two different and distinct concepts. There is a conceptual distinction between a non-discrimination principle and affirmative action under which the state is obliged to provide a level playing-field to the oppressed classes,” said a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal. “It is the equality in fact which has to be decided looking at the ground reality. Balancing comes in where the question concerns the extent of reservation. If the extent of reservation goes beyond the cut-off point then it results in reverse discrimination. Anti-discrimination legislation has a tendency of pushing towards de facto reverse discrimination. Therefore, a numerical benchmark is the surest immunity against charges of discrimination.”  The Bench said, “Reservation is necessary for transcending caste and not for perpetuating it. Reservation has to be used in a limited sense; otherwise it will perpetuate casteism in the country.”  So Indian Supreme Court has arbitrarily fixed 50 % ceiling on reservation quotas. In India, among the limited positions for higher education, 50 percent are reserved for HLC. Reserved category candidates can select a position from the Open 50 percent if he or she has good merit. This results in further reverse discrimination of Open/General/Non Reserved candidates. Further, since there are no economic criteria in classifying Reservation, poorer sections of reserved class often remain poor whereas the affluent section reap benefits for successive generations.  Also, the poorer sections of Open/General Category become devoid of access to higher education for even slightly low merit on competitive exams. The difference in merit on entrance exams is often very wide between the reserved and unreserved classes.

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Genetic Evidence on the Origins of Indian Caste Populations:

Are Indian upper castes being more similar to Europeans, whereas lower castes more similar to Asians?

Some researchers from India, Europe and the U.S. claim that genetic similarities to Europeans were more common in members of the higher ranks. Their findings, published in Genome Research, claimed the idea that members of higher castes are more closely related to Europeans than are the lower castes. The origins and affinities of the ∼1.2 billion people living on the subcontinent of India have long been contested. This owes, in part, to the many different waves of immigrants that have influenced the genetic structure of India. In the most recent of these waves, Indo-European-speaking people from West Eurasia entered India from the Northwest and diffused throughout the subcontinent. They purportedly admixed with or displaced indigenous Dravidic-speaking populations. Subsequently they may have established the Hindu caste system and placed themselves primarily in castes of higher rank. To explore the impact of West Eurasians on contemporary Indian caste populations, researchers compared mtDNA (400 bp of hypervariable region 1 and 14 restriction site polymorphisms) and Y-chromosome (20 biallelic polymorphisms and 5 short tandem repeats) variation in ∼265 males from eight castes of different rank to ∼750 Africans, Asians, Europeans, and other Indians. For maternally inherited mtDNA, each caste is most similar to Asians. However, 20%–30% of Indian mtDNA haplotypes belong to West Eurasian haplogroups, and the frequency of these haplotypes is proportional to caste rank, the highest frequency of West Eurasian haplotypes being found in the upper castes. In contrast, for paternally inherited Y-chromosome variation each caste is more similar to Europeans than to Asians. Moreover, the affinity to Europeans is proportionate to caste rank, the upper castes being most similar to Europeans, particularly East Europeans. These findings are consistent with greater West Eurasian male admixture with castes of higher rank. Nevertheless, the mitochondrial genome and the Y chromosome each represents only a single haploid locus and is more susceptible to large stochastic variation, bottlenecks, and selective sweeps. Thus, to increase the power of analysis, researchers assayed 40 independent, biparentally inherited autosomal loci (1 LINE-1 and 39 Aluelements) in all of the caste and continental populations (∼600 individuals). Analysis of these data demonstrated that the upper castes have a higher affinity to Europeans than to Asians, and the upper castes are significantly more similar to Europeans than are the lower castes. Collectively, all five datasets show a trend toward upper castes being more similar to Europeans, whereas lower castes are more similar to Asians. Researchers conclude that Indian castes are most likely to be of proto-Asian origin with West Eurasian admixture resulting in rank-related and sex-specific differences in the genetic affinities of castes to Asians and Europeans.

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However, other researchers have criticized and contradicted this claim. A study by Joanna L. Mountain et al. of Stanford University had concluded that there was “no clear separation into three genetically distinct groups along caste lines”, although “an inferred tree revealed some clustering according to caste affiliation”. A 2006 study by Ismail Thanseem et al. of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (India) concluded that the “lower caste groups might have originated with the hierarchical divisions that arose within the tribal groups with the spread of Neolithic agriculturalists, much earlier than the arrival of Aryan speakers”, and “the Indo-Europeans established themselves as upper castes among this already developed caste-like class structure within the tribes.” A 2006 genetic study by the National Institute of Biologicals in India, testing a sample of men from 32 tribal and 45 caste groups, concluded that the Indians have acquired very few genes from Indo-European speakers.

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Aryan-Dravidian divide a myth: A Study:

The great Indian divide along north-south lines now stands blurred. A pathbreaking study by Harvard and indigenous researchers on ancestral Indian populations says there is a genetic relationship between all Indians and more importantly, the hitherto believed fact that Aryans and Dravidians signify the ancestry of north and south Indians might after all, be a myth. The study analyzed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from six-language families and traditionally ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ castes and tribal groups. The genetics proves that castes grew directly out of tribe-like organizations during the formation of the Indian society, the study said. It was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different. The study was conducted by CCMB scientists in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. It reveals that the present-day Indian population is a mix of ancient north and south bearing the genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations – the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indian (ASI). The initial settlement took place 65,000 years ago in the Andamans and in ancient south India around the same time, which led to population growth in this part. At a later stage, 40,000 years ago, the ancient north Indians emerged which in turn led to rise in numbers here. But at some point of time, the ancient north and the ancient south mixed, giving birth to a different set of population. And that is the population which exists now and there is a genetic relationship between the populations within India. The researchers, who were keen on exploring whether Eurasians descended from ANI, find in their study that ANIs are related to western Eurasians, while the ASIs do not share any similarity with any other population across the world. However, researchers said there was no scientific proof of whether Indians went to Europe first or the other way round. Although the country’s 1.2 billion people belong to about 4,600 religions, castes and linguistic communities, the population shares a deep genetic heritage. The findings show us that there is no need to speak separately about Aryans and Dravidians. The politically sensitive question of the country’s North-South divide has been answered through this research. ANI ancestry ranges from 39-71% in most Indian groups, and is higher in traditionally upper caste and Indo-European speakers. Groups with only ASI ancestry may no longer exist in mainland India. However, the indigenous Andaman Islanders are unique in being ASI-related groups without ANI ancestry. The Andaman finding is in keeping with the CCMB’s report in 2005 that the tribes in the island were the descendants of the first humans moving out of Africa. The study establishes, based on the impossibility of identifying any genetic indicators across caste lines, that castes in South Asia grew out of traditional tribal organizations during the formation of Indian society, and was not the product of any mythical “Aryan Invasion” and “subjugation” of Dravidian people, unlike what British racial-revanchist and revisionist claims would have one believe.

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In a nutshell, after studying all above research, I say that indeed Indian upper caste does have genetic ancestry to Europeans and Indian lower caste does have genetic ancestry to Asians. Yes, there are lots of grey areas and there is no all-or-none phenomenon, but genetic studies do prove that casteism is racism.

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Prejudice:

Where do Prejudices come from?
Prejudice is a premature judgment–a positive or a negative attitude towards a person or group of people which is not based on objective facts. These prejudgments are usually based on stereotypes which are oversimplified and overgeneralized views of groups or types of people. Or, a prejudgment may be based on an emotional experience we have had with a similar person, sort of our own personal stereotype. Stereotypes also provide us with role expectations, i.e. how we expect the other person (or group, like all Japanese) to relate to us and to other people. Our culture has hundreds of ready-made stereotypes: leaders are dominant, arrogant men; housewives are nice but empty headed; teenagers are music crazed car-fanatics; very smart people are weird, and on and on. Of course, sometimes a leader or housewife or teenager is somewhat like the stereotype but it is a gross injustice to automatically assume they all are. Prejudice, in the form of negative put-downs, justifies oppression and helps those of us “on top” feel okay about being there. Prejudice can be a hostile, resentful feeling–an unfounded dislike for someone, an unfair blaming or degradation of others. It is a degrading attitude that helps us feel superior or chauvinistic. Of course, the misjudged and oppressed person resents the unfair judgment. Discrimination (like aggression) is an act of dealing with one person or group differently than another. One may be positively or negatively biased towards a person or group; this behavior does not necessarily reflect the attitude (prejudice) one feels towards that person or group. You might recognize your prejudiced feelings are unreasonable and refuse to act in unfair ways. Common unfavorable prejudices in our country involve blacks, women, Jews, Arabs, Japanese, Germans, poor (welfare), rich, farmers, rednecks, obese, handicapped, unattractive, uneducated, elderly, Catholics, Communists, atheists, fundamentalists, homosexuals, Latinoes, Indians, and lots of others. When we are prejudiced, we violate three standards: reason, justice, and/or tolerance. We are unreasonable if we judge others negatively without evidence or in spite of positive evidence or use stereotypes without allowing for individual differences. We are unjust if we discriminate and pay men 1/3 more for the same work as women or select more men than women for leadership positions or provide more money for male extra-curricular activities in high school than for female activities. We are intolerant if we reject or dislike people because they are different, e.g. of a different religion, different socioeconomic status, or have a different set of values. We violate all three standards when we have a scapegoat, i.e. a powerless and innocent person we blame for something he/she didn’t do.

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Prejudice and racism:

The word prejudice is most often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality or other personal characteristics. It can also refer to unfounded beliefs and may include “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence.”  Gordon Allport defined prejudice as a “feeling, favorable or unfavorable, toward a person or thing, prior to, or not based on, actual experience.” The first psychological research conducted on prejudice occurred in the 1920s. This research was done to attempt to prove white supremacy. One article from 1925 reviewing 73 studies on race concluded that the “studies take all together seem to indicate the mental superiority of the white race”. This research among others led many psychologists to view prejudice as a natural response to inferior races. Racism is defined as “the belief that races exist, that physical characteristics determine cultural traits, and that racial characteristics make some groups superior. By separating people into hierarchies based upon their race, it has been argued that unequal treatment among the different groups of people is just and fair due to their genetic differences. Racism can occur amongst any group that can be identified based upon physical features or even characteristics of their culture. Though people may be lumped together and called a specific race, everyone does not fit neatly into such categories, making it hard to define and describe a race accurately. Scientific racism began to flourish in the eighteenth century and was greatly influenced by Charles Darwin’s evolutionary studies, as well as ideas taken from the writings of philosophers like Aristotle; for example, Aristotle believed in the concept of “natural slaves” (vide supra) This concept focuses on the necessity of hierarchies and how some people are bound to be on the bottom of the pyramid. Though racism has been a prominent topic in history, there is still debate over whether race actually exists, making the discussion of race a controversial topic. Even though the concept of race is still being debated, the effects of racism are apparent. Racism and other forms of prejudice can affect a person’s behavior, thoughts and feelings, and social psychologists strive to study exactly that.

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Allport’s Scale of Prejudice:

Allport’s Scale is a measure of the manifestation of prejudice in a society. It is also referred to as Allport’s Scale of Prejudice and Discrimination or Allport’s Scale of Prejudice. It was devised by psychologist Gordon Allport in 1954. Allport’s Scale of Prejudice goes from 1 – 5.

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1. Antilocution:

 Antilocution means a majority group freely makes jokes about a minority group. Speech is in terms of negative stereotypes and negative images. This is also called hate speech. It is commonly seen as harmless by the majority. Antilocution itself may not be harmful, but it sets the stage for more severe outlets for prejudice. (e.g. Ethnic jokes)

2. Avoidance:

 Members of the majority group actively avoid people in a minority group. No direct harm may be intended, but harm is done through isolation. (e.g. Social exclusion)

3. Discrimination:

Minority group is discriminated against by denying them opportunities and services and so putting prejudice into action. Behaviors have the specific goal of harming the minority group by preventing them from achieving goals, getting education or jobs, etc. The majority group is actively trying to harm the minority. (e.g. Jim Crow laws, Apartheid, Koreans in Japan)

4. Physical Attack:

The majority group vandalizes, burn or destroys minority group property and carry out violent attacks on individuals or groups. Physical harm is done to members of the minority group. Examples are lynching of blacks, pogroms against Jews in Europe and British Loyalists in the 1700s.

5. Extermination:

The majority group seeks extermination or removal of the minority group. They attempt to eliminate either the entire or a large fraction of a group of people (e.g., Indian Wars to remove Native Americans, American lynching, Final Solution to the “Jewish Question” in Germany, the Rwandan Genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia).

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Bigotry:

Bigotry is an irrational or unfounded prejudice against viewpoints that contradict one’s own, especially with regard to religion, politics or ethnicity. The connotations of bigotry tends to be stronger (and uglier) than mere prejudice, since it usually involves behavior resulting from such prejudices. Simply disliking some group or belief in and of itself is a free, private point of view, and even though it may be crippling to clear thought, is an inalienable right. When a prejudice crosses over into actions, it denies the rights of others to participate in a free society.

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Unconscious bias:

Researchers Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, at the University of Chicago and MIT found in a 2004 study that there was widespread discrimination in the workplace against job applicants whose names were merely perceived as “sounding black”. These applicants were 50% less likely than candidates perceived as having “white-sounding names” to receive callbacks for interviews. Devah Pager, a sociologist at Princeton University, sent matched pairs of applicants to apply for jobs in Milwaukee and New York City, finding that black applicants received callbacks or job offers at half the rate of equally qualified whites. In contrast, institutions and courts have upheld discrimination against whites when it is done to promote a diverse work or educational environment, even when it was shown to be to the detriment of qualified applicants. The researchers view these results as strong evidence of unconscious biases rooted in the United States’ long history of discrimination (e.g., Jim Crow laws, etc.)

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Science of prejudice:


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Scientific racism:

The modern biological definition of race developed in the 19th century with scientific racist theories. The term scientific racism refers to the use of science to justify and support racist beliefs, which goes back to the early 18th century, though it gained most of its influence in the mid-19th century, during the New Imperialism period. In the 19th century, many scientists subscribed to the simple belief that human populations are divided into separate races. This was often used to justify the belief that some races were inferior to others, and that differential treatment was consequently justified.  Such theories are generally termed scientific racism.

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Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) tried to prove in the 19th century that select “races” were superior to others by measuring the cranial capacity (brain size) of different groups (“whites,” “American Indians,” “blacks”). He also argued that there were different origins and lineages for different races (polygenism), rather than a single creation (monogenism) as found in the Bible.

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The figure above shows drawings from Josiah C. Nott and George Gliddon’s Indigenous races of the earth (1857), which suggested black people ranked between white people and chimpanzees in terms of intelligence.

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Scientific racism can be defined as the belief that the variables of phenotype, intelligence, and ability to achieve civilizationally and/or culturally are not only genetically determined, but also genetically linked (Montagu, 1997). While racism in general had its origins in the shared assumptions of racial superiority that was prevalent in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe, scientific racism was the unique creation of eighteenth and nineteenth century science. It is a fact worth remarking that throughout the nineteenth century hardly more than a handful of scientific voices were raised against the notion of a hierarchy of races. Anthropology, biology, psychology, medicine, and sociology became instruments for the ‘proof’ of the inferiority of various races as compared with the white race. The shared techniques were IQ testing, craniometry, and other anthropometric measures. The community of scientific racists was to a large degree the entire scientific community and not a mere subset of that community. Many scientists whose lifework did not allow for direct participation in scientific racism donated their brains for posthumous dissection for the express purpose of advancing the racist claim that heavier brains and larger skulls were marks of racial superiority (Gould, 1981). The eminent mathematician Karl Gaus was one of those who donated his brain for this purpose. It was the Swedish naturalist Linaeus, who elevated the popular racist sentiments of eighteenth century Europe to the level of a scientific paradigm. In his Systema Naturae (1758), Linaeus described Homo Sapiens Afer (the Black African) as ‘ruled by caprice’, while Homo Sapiens Europeanis was supposedly ‘ruled by customs’. Shortly after Lineaus, other prominent scientists also added their voices to the establishment of scientific racism. From his position as the founder of geology, Georges Cuvier pronounced that Africans are ‘the most degraded of human races, whose form approaches that of the beast and whose intelligence is nowhere great enough to arrive at regular government’ (Cuvier, 1812, p. 105). Charles Lyell, who is credited with the founding of modern geology wrote, ‘Each race of Man has its place, like the inferior animals’ (quoted in Wilson, 1970, p. 347). These racist theories put forth on scientific hypothesis were combined with unilineal theories of social progress, which postulated the superiority of the European civilization over the rest of the world. Furthermore, they frequently made use of the idea of “survival of the fittest”, a term coined by Herbert Spencer in 1864, associated with ideas of competition, which were named social Darwinism in the 1940s. Charles Darwin himself opposed the idea of rigid racial differences in The Descent of Man (1871) in which he argued that humans were all of one species, sharing common descent. He recognized racial differences as varieties of humanity, and emphasized the close similarities between people of all races in mental faculties, tastes, dispositions and habits, while still contrasting the culture of the “lowest savages” with European civilization. Charles Darwin regarded Blacks as inferior intermediates in the great chain of being and anticipated a future time when these inferior intermediates will be extinct. At that time, according to Darwin, ‘The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, then the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the Negro or Australian and the gorilla’ (Darwin, 1871, p. 201). These utterances by eminent scientists represent the genesis and firm establishment of the concept of race as a primary category of exclusion.  At the end of the 19th century, proponents of scientific racism intertwined themselves with eugenics discourses of “degeneration of the race” and “blood heredity.” Henceforth, scientific racist discourses could be defined as the combination of polygenism, unilinealism, social Darwinism and eugenism. They found their scientific legitimacy on physical anthropology, anthropometry, craniometry, phrenology, physiognomy, and others now discredited disciplines in order to formulate racist prejudices.

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In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century there were clearly two paradigms vying for dominance in the scientific discourse on race. The few scientists who argued for an egalitarian approach advanced sound scientific arguments on which they advocated what can in retrospect be called a genetic approach which called for the systematic study of the causes of the observed differences among diverse human populations. On the other hand, the advocates of scientific racism simply restated the racial prejudices of their day in the terminology of science. The flawed scientific basis of scientific racism is evident in its basic premise that the diverse morphological characters observed among humans were the result of evolutionary change in continuous genetic materials that remain unchanged except under selection pressures. It was this belief in the immutability of these physical features that led to a focus on head sizes (cranometry), brain weight (phrenology), and similar data as holding the key to determining the fixed position of the various human ‘races’ on a great hierarchical Chain of Being (Hogben, p. 122-44). The concept of race was thus based on a flawed conception of genetic materials.

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Johann Frederick Blumenbach (1775) who is regarded as the father of physical anthropology argued persuasively for the concept of one human race where none were innately superior or inferior to the other. In spite of the soundness of the arguments advanced by the egalitarians, the position of the scientific racists became the almost universally accepted paradigm of mainstream science from the late eighteenth century to the first half of the twentieth century. The pressures for the acceptance of scientific racism came largely from the wider society of eighteenth century Europe. The emerging slave trade and colonial expansion of the period necessitated the designation of ‘inferior races’ that could be enslaved and exploited with impunity. It was these extra-scientific social forces that catapulted a racist and absolutist system of metaphysical beliefs into a major scientific paradigm that held sway for well over 200 years. The scientifically untenable notion of a variety of human races soon gave rise to the theory of polygeny which asserts that the Black ‘race’ was an entirely different species that did not originate from a common stock with the White ‘race’. When anomalies were encountered in the general course of scientific racism, they were always resolved in a way that left intact the idea of the superiority of white males over all other peoples. Thus, Paul Broca, who was French, when confronted with craniometric data that suggested that Germans were relatively larger-brained – and therefore superior – then the French, corrected the data for body size and other factors that ultimately put the French craniometrically ahead of the Germans. Broca and Morton did not make any such corrections to the vast amount of data that supported the racial superiority of Whites over others. All anthropometric differences were interpreted in ways to confirm the assumed relative positions of the various peoples on the great chain of being. When Broca (1861) found that Blacks had larger cranial nerves than Whites he read this as a sign of Black inferiority on the basis that the cranial nerves were supposedly not part of the intellectual portion of the brain. All these suggests that great scientists of that era were prejudiced against blacks and whatever data they gathered, they tried to interpret in a way to show white superiority and black inferiority.

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Social Darwinism:

Social Darwinism is an ideology of society that seeks to apply biological concepts of Darwinism or of evolutionary theory to sociology and politics, often with the assumption that conflict between groups in society leads to social progress as superior groups outcompete inferior ones. Social Darwinism is generally understood to use the concepts of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest to justify social policies which make no distinction between those able to support themselves and those unable to support themselves. Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism; but the ideology has also motivated ideas of eugenics, scientific racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism and struggle between national or racial groups.

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Eugenics:

Though for much of human history, race has been considered a topic of social problems, blamed for ills ranging from crime to illegitimate birth, the argument that race represents a tangible biological divide between humans has been used as an excuse to defend both the privileged status of whites and the mistreatment of those in minority groups. About a century ago suspicions about innate differences between human races developed into a movement, known as eugenics, that spawned sweeping and destructive government policies like those implemented in Nazi Germany, during World War II. The eugenics movement, spawned by Sir Francis Galton, a 19th century scientist who conducted research aimed at the improvement of the human race through controlled breeding practices, was aimed at denying criminals, “barbarous” individuals, and those with less than ideal characteristics from reproducing. It is clear that such a movement in the guise of science would open the floodgates for racist, sexist, and other discriminatory practices. Galton himself referred to individuals with darker skin color, “negroes” as having a stubborn tendency to continue reproducing even after being exposed (through slavery) to civilized society, unlike other animals, who in captivity tend to greatly reduce their reproductive practices.  Clearly in comparing those of African descent to captive animals in a zoo, he was not so subtly revealing his concept of where such individuals were ranked in an imagined taxonomy of the human species. Indeed, Galton’s conceptual framework became a springboard for the primary movements of racial and ethnic cleansing implemented in the early twentieth century in Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States. Eugenicists identified individuals from different groups based on physical features such as skin color, nose shape, and hair texture.

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Application of scientific racism:

The Ideological applications of scientific racism include Nazism, fascism, slavery in America and apartheid in South Africa. In the United States, scientific racism justified Black African slavery to assuage moral opposition to the Atlantic slave trade. Alexander Thomas and Samuell Sillen described black men as uniquely fitted for bondage, because of their “primitive psychological organization”.  In 1851, in antebellum Louisiana, the physician Samuel A. Cartwright (1793–1863), considered slave escape attempts as “drapetomania”, a treatable mental illness, that “with proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented”. Scientific racism played a role in establishing Apartheid in South Africa. In South Africa, white scientists, like Dudly Kidd, who published The essential Kafir in 1904, sought to “understand the African mind.” They believed that the cultural differences between whites and blacks in South Africa might be caused by physiological differences in the brain. Rather than suggesting that Africans were “overgrown children,” as early white explorers had, Kidd believed that Africans were “misgrown with a vengeance.” He described Africans as at once “hopelessly deficient,” yet “very shrewd.” Although scientific racism played a role in justifying and supporting institutional racism in South Africa, it was not as important in South Africa as it has been in Europe and the United States. This was due in part to the “poor white problem”, which raised serious questions for supremacists about white racial superiority.  Since poor whites were found to be in the same situation as natives in the African environment, the idea that intrinsic white superiority could overcome any environment did not seem to hold. As such, scientific justifications for racism were not as useful in South Africa. The Nazi Party and its sympathizers published many books on scientific racism, seizing on the eugenic and anti-Semitic ideas with which they would later become associated, although these ideas had been in circulation since the 19th century. Books such as Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (“Ethnology of the German People”) by Hans F. K. Günther and Rasse und Seele (“Race and Soul”) by Dr. Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss attempted to scientifically identify differences between the German, Nordic, or Aryan people and other, supposedly inferior, groups. German schools used these books as texts during the Nazi era.

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Biological determinism:

Biological determinism is a common fallacy that implies that biology does and should completely dictate human behavior or the behavior of a certain subset of humans, such as black people or males. For example: “Women should remain in the home and raise children, not go out and work. That’s why they are the ones that can get pregnant and bear the children. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. Now get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich.” Arguments for biological determinism typically conflate the term “heritability” with genetic determination of a trait. Heritability is simply a measure of phenotypic variance within a population that is able to be explained in terms of genetic as opposed to environmental factors. This means that a heritability estimate will change when the environment is changed. Heritability estimates also apply only to a specific population in relation to its environmental context. So, for instance, if a trait is said to be 60% heritable, it means that 60% of the variance of the trait for the population measured can be explained by genetic factors in the context of the environment in which the measurement was taken. It does not mean that the trait is 60% genetically determined in all times and all places.

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In 1967 A. R. Jensen published a now-famous article, “How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?” in which he argued that black children, on the average, were genetically less able than white children to solve cognitive problems so that no attempts at compensatory education could erase the differences in social status between the races. In 1975, the evolutionist E. O. Wilson wrote in the New York Times Magazine that all societies of the future, no matter how egalitarian, would always give a disproportionate share of power to men because of unchangeable genetic differences between men and women. More recently, it has been suggested that men are biologically better able to do mathematics than women. During a period of great social unrest and uprisings of urban blacks, three neurologists, in the leading American medical journal and later in a popular book, advanced the theory that urban rioters suffered from irreversible brain disease that could be treated only by neurosurgery. At the same time large numbers of inmates of state prisons were being subjected to neurosurgery in an attempt to make them more manageable.

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The beginnings of modern biological determinism grew out of European imperialism and the slave trade. In the early 19th century, theories of racial supremacy were increasingly rationalized through “science.” Phrenology, especially the branch known as “craniology,” i.e. the measurement of skull sizes, began to be used in what came to be called “scientific racism.” (vide supra) Racist, sexist, and classist pseudoscience, however, reached its pinnacle with Francis Galton’s formulation of eugenics. Galton advanced the position known as “hereditarianism,” in which capacities such as intelligence were alleged to be entirely inherited, innate, and immutable. With the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel’s work and the growth of genetics as a field within biology, genetic determinism and eugenics became the dominant forms of biological determinism. Recent findings in a number of areas of the biological sciences have painted a picture of biology that is far more nuanced than biological determinism lets on. One area of research that has generated many new findings is evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo-devo” in geek-speak, which concentrates on individual development and phenotypic change in relation to evolution. Studies of gene regulation and expression in evo-devo conceptualize genes as “switches” that may be turned on or off at certain points in time due to environmental factors. Epigenetic factors also play a role in inheritance. Epigenetic inheritance occurs in instances where something is inherited, usually patterns of gene expression, without any change to the underlying DNA or genetic structure. Inherited changes in DNA methylation and histone modification are mechanisms by which epigenetic inheritance can occur. While the phenomenon of neuroplasticity is not a recent discovery and has been known since the first half of the 20th century, current neuroscientific and neurobiological research into this topic continues to chip away at oversimplified notions of hard genetic determination of cognitive capacities and behavioral traits, which has been dubbed “neurogenetic determinism.” The 1970s and 1980s saw a revival of a more watered-down biological determinism. Two main scientific factors in this resurgence were the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick in the 1950s and the application of ethological research to humans in the form of sociobiology starting with the 1975 publication of E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. The rightward shift in the political climate also contributed to this trend. Newer forms of biological determinism repackaged older eugenic and hereditarian ideas in newer, fancier jargon. Public debate over biological determinism erupted once again in the early 1990s with the publication of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s neo-eugenicist tract ‘The Bell Curve’. Many theories coming out of the field of behavioral genetics, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology have been accused of biological determinism. However, with the completion of the Human Genome Project in the 2000s, much speculation in this arena has been written off as “genome hype.”

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Nature v/s nurture conflict:

In terms of the nature versus nurture debate, biological determinism is approximately analogous to the “nature” argument, and social determinism is similar to the “nurture” view-point. However, the tendency to see biological determinism and social determinism as polar opposites is rather misleading. Indeed, the two theories are similar in that they postulate that behavior is, at least to some extent, pre-determined. In this sense the opposite of the biological and social determinism theories, could be said to be that of randomness i.e. the theory that there are no factors which influence behavior (c.f. free will). The key difference between the theories of biological and social determinism lies in their appraisal of the extent to which a variety of factors may influence behavior. A critique has been developed against the uncritical use of biological determinism or biology as ideology (something that has been termed “biologism”). The most famous book on the subject is Richard Lewontin’s Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA (1991). Lewontin argued that while traditional Darwinism has portrayed the organism as passive recipient of environmental influences, a correct understanding should emphasize the organism as an active constructer of its own environment. Niches are not pre-formed, empty receptacles into which organisms are inserted, but are defined and created by organisms. The organism-environment relationship is reciprocal and dialectical.

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Hereditarian scientific fallacies:

Somewhat ironically, the genetic (or ‘biological’) basis of variation in human behavioral traits and cognitive abilities has fascinated scientists since well before Mendel’s research, or even Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle. Few scientists, and even fewer lay people, are neutral on the nature versus nurture question, whether asked of variation among individuals or, more controversially, differences between groups (e.g., ‘races’) of humans. Two extreme views define a gradient of opinion on the subject. The ‘environmentalist’ feels that most of the variation in traits like IQ is caused by variation among individuals or groups of people in the environments that they have experienced. The ‘hereditarian’ argues that a substantial part of the variation in traits like IQis caused by genetic variation among individuals or groups of people. Some have recently declared that a hereditarian or more balanced approach has triumphed over environmentalism as an explanatory tool for variation in the cognitive ability and behavior of humans. However, the entire debate is constrained by several fallacies described here. Heritability of a trait does not predict the effect of environmental or genetic changes on the trait (Fallacy #1), so knowing heritability does not assist in writing prescriptions for societal ills or budget cuts. Heritability estimates themselves are inaccurate, given the potential for gene-environment covariance and interaction, as well as other non-additive effects on behavior or cognitive ability (Fallacy #2). The ‘revolution in molecular genetics’ has provided more effective tools for describing the genome, but doesn’t permit separation of gene and environmental effects on traits (Fallacy #3). If we were able to measure heritability accurately, it would give us absolutely no indication of whether or not group differences are genetically based (Fallacy #4). Finally, any proposed models of the evolutionary divergence of human groups must more adequately answer the basic questions of such a study, and are not supported by high heritability in present populations (Fallacy #5). Humans are not and should never be exposed to artificial selection and crossing experiments, so behavior geneticists will continue to be very limited in their ability to partition the effects of genes, the environment, and their covariance and interaction on human behavior and cognitive ability. The major fallacies of the hereditarian paradigm do not wish to imply support of the environmentalist hypothesis. In fact, questions of the causes of variation in human traits are largely unanswerable. Humans present a practical limitation in behavior genetics research. We can observe and measure aspects of the human phenotype, and draw together correlative evidence of either genetic or environmental factors that affect it. But we cannot carry out selection or crossing experiments with humans, two types of study necessary to test any hypothesis we might generate about the causes of variation in the phenotype. 

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Evolution vis-à-vis racism:

How Darwinian evolution supported racism:

Darwinian evolution taught that different groups or “races” of people evolved at different times and rates, so some groups are more like their apelike ancestors than others. Leading evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould claimed, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolutionary theory.” The Australian Aborigines, for instance, were considered the missing links between the apelike ancestor and the rest of mankind. This resulted in terrible prejudices and injustices towards the Australian Aborigines. Ernst Haeckel, famous for popularizing the now-discredited idea that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,” stated: At the lowest stage of human mental development are the Australians, some tribes of the Polynesians, and the Bushmen, Hottentots, and some of the Negro tribes. Nothing, however, is perhaps more remarkable in this respect, than that some of the wildest tribes in southern Asia and eastern Africa have no trace whatever of the first foundations of all human civilization, of family life, and marriage. They live together in herds, like apes. Racist attitudes fueled by evolutionary thinking were largely responsible for an African pygmy being displayed, along with an orangutan, in a cage in the Bronx zoo. Indeed, Congo pygmies were once thought to be “small apelike, elfish creatures” that “exhibit many ape-like features in their bodies.” As a result of Darwinian evolution, many people started thinking in terms of the different people groups around the world representing different “races,” but within the context of evolutionary philosophy. This has resulted in many people today, consciously or unconsciously, having ingrained prejudices against certain other groups of people.

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Racist Syphilis study:

The infamous “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male” launched by the U.S. Public Health Service in Macon County, Alabama, in 1932 was created to confirm the long held view that venereal diseases acted differently in blacks than in whites. The study is widely considered unethical, mainly because researchers knowingly did not treat patients with syphilis, even after penicillin was discovered to be an effective treatment. The study lasted 40 years, until 1972.

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Academic people’s racist views:

Owen ‘Alik Shahadah comments on racism by stating: “Historically Africans are made to sway like leaves on the wind, impervious and indifferent to any form of civilization, a people absent from scientific discovery, philosophy or the higher arts. We are left to believe that almost nothing can come out of Africa, other than raw material.” Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume said, “I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilized nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences.”  German philosopher Immanuel Kant stated: “The yellow Indians do have a meager talent. The Negroes are far below them, and at the lowest point are a part of the American people.” In the 19th century, the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, declared that “Africa is no historical part of the world.” Hegel further claimed that blacks had no “sense of personality; their spirit sleeps, remains sunk in itself, makes no advance, and thus parallels the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African continent” (On Blackness Without Blacks: Essays on the Image of the Black in Germany, Boston: C.W. Hall, 1982, p. 94). Fewer than 30 years before Nazi Germany instigated World War II, the Austrian, Otto Weininger, claimed: “A genius has perhaps scarcely ever appeared amongst the negroes, and the standard of their morality is almost universally so low that it is beginning to be acknowledged in America that their emancipation was an act of imprudence” (Sex and Character, New York: G.P. Putnam, 1906, p. 302). So many great scientific mind, anthropologists and philosophers of from 18’th to 20’th century supported racism based on science, reason and logic; is shocking. These names include Robert Boyle, Carl Linnaeus, Georges Cuvier, Blumenbach and Buffon, John Hunter, Christoph Meiners, Voltaire, John Mitchell, Samuel Stanhope Smith, Benjamin Rush, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Charles White, Franz Ignaz Pruner etc. I am amazed that how can so many scholars in various disciples be so wrong.

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Why scientists are biased?

Dr. Bruce Lahn’s research team combed newly available sets of genetic data for genes that had evolved in recent human history. Two of the genes they found were related to brain size. These two genes appeared at different frequencies across the globe. The research papers implied that these genes caused the brains of African Americans to be smaller than those of other people. Newspapers and news magazines around the nation picked up the story. Shortly thereafter, three research studies showed that the original papers’ suggestions were wrong. Dr. Lahn himself was one of the authors of these disconfirming studies. Other mathematical analyses showed that the statistical assumptions in the original papers probably also had been wrong. Unfortunately, the mass media ignored the studies that showed the original papers to be wrong. As a result, the inaccurate messages about biological differences and race continue to circulate as the truth in both scientific and popular publications. It is obvious why racists might want to ignore the disconfirming studies. But why do biologists who are not supportive of racism also continue to suggest that someday new methods really will show that some races have smarter genes than others? An analysis of these messages indicates that many scientists may believe too much in the power of genes, even in the face of their own evidence to the contrary. And also, with great reluctance I admit that many white scientists have bias against black people but they will never admit it. Theses biases make them search for genetic explanations for racial superiority of whites over blacks.

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Science against racism:

The billion dollar question: is race a biological construct or a social construct?

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Modern scientific concept:

Nowadays, most biologists, anthropologists, and sociologists reject a simple taxonomy of races in favor of more specific and/or empirically verifiable criteria, such as geography, ethnicity, or a history of endogamy. Those who subscribe to the proposition that there are inherent distinctions among people that can be ascribed to membership in a racial group (and who may use this to justify differential treatment of such groups) tend to describe themselves using the term “racialism” rather than “racism”, to avoid the negative connotations of the latter word. “Racialism” is assumed to be more value-neutral terminology, and more appropriate for (scientifically) objective communication or analysis. While humans differ genetically in some ways, such as blood group type and skin pigmentation, most anthropologists and biologists believe that categories of race are not biologically grounded because modern humans simply have not evolved into separate subspecies or races.

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Subspecies as race:

Modern biology defines geographical races as equivalent to subspecies. Subspecies are units that are intermediate to legitimate species. The characteristics attributed to subspecies generally have evolved as a result of geographical distribution or isolation. The differences between subspecies are usually less distinct than the differences between species. Individuals of different subspecies sometimes interbreed, but they produce many sterile male offspring. The biological species concept relies on whether individuals in such groups can mate and form fertile offspring. Horses and donkeys are considered legitimate species; if they are mated, mules result, but these are sterile. Also, gorilla and chimpanzees are separate species; yet within gorillas, mountain and forest gorillas might be considered subspecies, or geographical races of gorillas. No such level of genetic variation exists within anatomically modern humans. There is more genetic variation within one tribe of wild chimpanzees than has been observed within all existing humans! Any human male white or black can mate with any human female white or black to produce fertile and genetically competent offspring. There is only one human species Homo Sapiens and there are no sub-species or biological races among humans as compared to animals.

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Modern concept of race:

Modern definitions of what constitute the distinct races of humanity are still rooted in taxonomic classifications first developed in 18th and 19th century Europe, before the later availability of many tools of modern science, in particular population genetics. Part of the discussion surrounding the definition of “race” among human beings has overlapped in the past with debates regarding what constitutes a distinct species, known as the “species problem”. Since the 1960s a majority of scientists have come to understand the concept of race as a social construct mapped on to phenotypes in different culturally determined ways, and not as a biological concept. A 2000 study by Celera Genomics found that human beings largely have similar genetic input, and that citizens of any given village in the world, whether in Scotland or Tanzania, hold 90 percent of the genetic variability that humanity has to offer.

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The truth, though, is that these so-called “racial characteristics” are only minor variations among people groups. If one were to take any two people anywhere in the world, scientists of human genome project have found that the basic genetic differences between these two people would typically be around 0.1 percent—even if they came from the same people group. But these so-called “racial” characteristics that people think are major differences (skin color, eye shape, etc.) account for only 0.01 percent of human biological variation. So if you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of 0.01 percent.  In other words, the so-called “racial” differences are absolutely trivial— overall, there is more variation within any group than there is between one group and another. If a white person is looking for a tissue match for an organ transplant, for instance, the best match may come from a black person, and vice versa. Biological adaptation also plays a role in phenotype of bodily features and skin type. According to Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, “Skin color and body size are less subject to genetic influence since they are also affected by exposure to the sun and diet, but there is always a hereditary component that can be quite important.”

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Look at the figure below for few seconds and you will see changing human facial features: Only 0.01 % of human DNA is contributing to skin/iris/hair color and facial features:


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Biological Construction of race:

By . . .”biological race,” I mean the view of race espoused by Judge Tucker, and still popular today, that there exist natural, physical divisions among humans that are hereditary, reflected in morphology, and roughly but correctly captured by terms like Black, White, and Asian (or Negroid, Caucasoid, and Mongoloid). Under this view, one’s ancestors and epidermis ineluctably determine membership in a genetically defined racial group. The connection between human physiognomy and racial status is concrete; in Judge Tucker’s words, every individual’s race has been “stamped” by nature. . . .Despite the prevalent belief in biological races, overwhelming evidence proves that race is not biological. Biological races like Negroid and Caucasoid simply do not exist.  . . Newly popular argument among several scholars is that races are wholly illusory, whether as a biological or social concept. Under this thinking, if there is no natural link between faces and races, then no connection exists. There are no genetic characteristics possessed by all Blacks but not by non- Blacks; similarly, there is no gene or cluster of genes common to all Whites but not to non-Whites. One’s race is not determined by a single gene or gene cluster, as is, for example, sickle cell anemia. Nor are races marked by important differences in gene frequencies, the rates of appearance of certain gene types. The data compiled by various scientists demonstrates, contrary to popular opinion, that intra-group differences exceed inter-group differences. That is, greater genetic variation exists within the populations typically labeled Black and White than between these populations. This finding refutes the supposition that racial divisions reflect fundamental genetic differences. Notice this does not mean that individuals are genetically indistinguishable from each other, or even that small population groups cannot be genetically differentiated. Small populations, for example the Xhosa or the Basques, share similar gene frequencies. However, differentiation is a function of separation, usually geographic, and occurs in gradations rather than across fractures.. .. . . The notion that humankind can be divided along White, Black, and Yellow lines reveals the social rather than the scientific origin of race. The idea that there exist three races, and that these races are “Caucasoid,” “Negroid,” and “Mongoloid,” is rooted in the European imagination of the Middle Ages, which encompassed only Europe, Africa, and the Near East.. . Nevertheless, the history of science has long been the history of failed efforts to justify these social beliefs. Along the way, various minds tried to fashion practical human typologies along the following physical axes: skin color, hair texture, facial angle, jaw size, cranial capacity, brain mass, frontal lobe mass, brain surface fissures and convolutions, and even body lice. As one scholar notes, “the nineteenth century was a period of exhaustive and–as it turned out–futile search for criteria to define and describe race differences.”. . . Attempts to define racial categories by physical attributes ultimately failed. By 1871, some leading intellectuals had recognized that even using the word “race” “was virtually a confession of ignorance or evil intent. The genetic studies of the last few decades have only added more nails to the coffin of biological race. Evidence shows that those features usually coded to race, for example, stature, skin color, hair texture, and facial structure, do not correlate strongly with genetic variation. . . The rejection of race in science is now almost complete. In the end, we should embrace historian Barbara Fields’s succinct conclusion with respect to the plausibility of biological races: “Anyone who continues to believe in race as a physical attribute of individuals, despite the now commonplace disclaimers of biologists and geneticists, might as well also believe that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy are real, and that the earth stands still while the sun moves.”

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. . . Unfortunately, few in this society seem prepared to fully relinquish their subscription to notions of biological race including the American Congress and the Supreme Court. Congress’ anachronistic understanding of race is exemplified by a 1988 statute that explains that “the term ‘racial group’ means a set of individuals whose identity as such is distinctive in terms of physical characteristics or biological descent.” The Supreme Court, although purporting to sever race from biology, also seems incapable of doing so. In Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji, the Court determined that an Arab could recover damages for racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. 1981. . . Despite seeming rejection of biological race, Justice White stated: “The Court of Appeals was thus quite right in holding that 1981, ‘at a minimum,’ reaches discrimination against an individual ‘because he or she is genetically part of an ethnically and physiognomically distinctive subgrouping of homo sapiens.”‘ . . . By adopting the lower court’s language of genetics and distinctive subgroupings, Justice White demonstrates the Court’s continued reliance on blood as a metonym for race. . . .In Metrobroadcasting v. FCC, Justice Scalia again reveals the Court’s understanding of race as a matter of blood. During oral argument, Scalia attacked the argument that granting minorities broadcasting licenses would enhance diversity by blasting “the policy as a matter of ‘blood,’ at one point charging that the policy reduced to a question of ‘blood . . . blood, not background and environment.”‘

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Myth of homogenous race:

Aspirations to develop a homogenous “race” of people were based on the premise that there once existed a “pure race.” It was accepted that “in the beginning” people were divided regionally and each region shared similar characteristics and phenotypes. Over time regions began to dilute and interbreed with each other, and this type of “contamination” introduced variation. The quest to return to a small degree of genetic variation would be, genetically speaking, deleterious to a population. Everyone would have the same alleles at one locus. Many detrimental consequences result from genetic uniformity. For example, inbreeding increases the chance that offspring who are homogenous for certain bad recessive alleles. Moreover, decreased genetic variation in a species diminishes the potential for natural selection to act, which would compromise its ability to adapt to environmental fluctuations. From what science tells us thus far, the existence of a homogenous species is nearly impossible. Even if that goal could be reached, that species would be at a genetic disadvantage comparatively. Science has revealed that alleles exist in all populations all over the world in some frequency. As you move across a map of the world, some alleles are naturally distributed in higher concentrations in some areas than others and are gradually distributed or diluted over geographical space (Jurmain 2000:484). This trend is defined as a cline. For example, the B allele (of the ABO blood system) is found in the highest concentration in Eurasia, (central Asia, western Siberia, and central Mongolia) and the highest peak is found in the Himalayan area. Generally, the frequency of B declines in populations as you move westward of Eurasia (Jurmain 2000:484). It has also been said that 85 percent of human variation exists between individuals and the remaining exists between populations (Jurmain 2000:416). Therefore, while some characteristics are more frequent in some populations than others, it is impossible to define a population by one particular set of alleles. For this reason, it is biologically impossible to define a race. The classification system would be subjective. For example, clines show that traits are phased out so that blond hair stop being blond and start being brown as you moves from one geographic location to another. Race is a social concept disguised in the eugenics movement as a biological one.

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How racism used biology to support social inequality:

Racist ideology has always relied on the mistaken assumption that significant biologically based differences exist between various groups of humans. In particular, racist ideology has always assumed that social inequality resulted from the biological inequality of races. Thus they saw racial differences as determining an individual’s morality, character, intelligence, athleticism, and sexuality, among other features. They also thought that these features were immutable and passed directly on to offspring. Seen in this way, society would never change, and injustice could never be eliminated from it, because nature itself had created fundamental genetic differences between the races. Most nineteenth-century Americans never doubted that both God and science declared the existence of race, and that there was a hierarchical relation among the races. According to this thinking, the European stood at the pinnacle of perfection, and all other races were to be measured against him. For this reason, they thought it legitimate to declare the African slave as chattel and to deprive the American Indians of their sovereignty. Our social construction of race was contingent upon the assumption that significant biological variation between groups of human beings existed that could be used to identify and classify these same races. Scientists now know that this was a false proposition, both at the level of the physical features and of the genes that produce them. Yet most Americans still believe that there is some biological legitimacy to our socially constructed racial categories. However, our modern scientific understanding of human genetic diversity flies in the face of all of our social stereotypes.

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Social Construction of race:

You may define “race” as a vast group of people loosely bound together by historically contingent, socially significant elements of their morphology and/or ancestry. The race must be understood as a sui generis social phenomenon in which contested systems of meaning serve as the connections between physical features, races, and personal characteristics. In other words, social meanings connect our faces to our souls. Race is neither an essence nor an illusion, but rather an ongoing, contradictory, self-reinforcing process subject to the macro forces of social and political struggle and the micro effects of daily decisions. . . Referents of terms like Black, White, Asian, and Latino are social groups, not genetically distinct branches of humankind. Race is a social construct contingent on collective acceptance, agreement, and imposition. Race has always been defined by the dominant group in society and race indicates differences in status. The status indicated by which race you are, either includes or excludes one from broader social constructs, and disables or enables certain powers. So race as biology is fiction, Racism as a social problem is real. When some people use the “race” they attach a biological meaning, still others use “race” as a socially constructed concept. Now it is clear that even though race does not have a biological meaning, it does have a social meaning which has been legally constructed.

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Human evolution:

The human lineage diverged from the common ancestor with chimpanzees about 5–7 million years ago. The genus Homo evolved by about 2.3 to 2.4 million years ago from Australopithecines. Several species and subspecies of Homo evolved and are now extinct. These include Homo erectus, which inhabited Asia, and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, which inhabited West Eurasia. Archaic Homo sapiens evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago. The dominant view among scientists concerning the origin of anatomically modern humans is the “Out of Africa” or recent African origin hypothesis, which argues that Homo sapiens arose in Africa and migrated out of the continent around 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, replacing populations of Homo erectus in Asia and Homo neanderthalensis in Europe.

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The figure below shows map of early human migration:


One of the reasons of genetic variations in humans is geographical migration as seen the figure above.

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Genetic variation:

Genetic variation comes from mutations in genetic material, migration between populations (gene flow), and the reshuffling of genes through sexual reproduction. The two main mechanisms that produce evolution are natural selection and genetic drift. A special case of genetic drift is the founder effect. Epigenetic inheritance are heritable changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Many human phenotypes are polygenic, meaning that they depend on the interaction among many genes. Polygeneity makes the study of individual phenotypic differences more difficult. Additionally, phenotypes may be influenced by environment as well as by genetics. The measure of the genetic role in phenotypes is heritability. Nucleotide diversity is based on single mutations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The nucleotide diversity between humans is about 0.1%, which is 1 difference per 1,000 nucleotides between two humans chosen at random. This amounts to approximately 3 million SNPs since the human genome has about 3 billion nucleotides. It is estimated that a total of 10 million SNPs exist in the human population. Recent analysis has shown that non-SNP variation accounts for much more human genetic variation than single nucleotide diversity. This non-SNP variation includes copy number variation and results from deletions, inversions, insertions and duplications. It is estimated that approximately 0.4% of the genomes of unrelated people typically differ with respect to copy number. When copy number variation is included, human to human genetic variation is estimated to be at least 0.5%.

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R.C. Lewontin, a Harvard scientist, explains in his essay “Confusions About Human Races,” that 85% of human genetic variation occurs within any given population, such as those of European descent. About half of the remaining 15% is attributable to variation between local populations, such as the French and the Ukrainians, whereas an unclear 6-10% defines variation between the more “classically defined geographical races.” (e.g., African versus European). Lewontin maintains that the exact proportion of this variation is unclear due to the inherent problems in attributing groups to racial categories.

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Variability of humans vis-à-vis variability of genes:

Only a fraction of the genetic information contained in the human genome has ever had anything to do with creating geographic variation associated with what has been historically called race. The DNA molecule in organisms like humans is associated with a group of proteins called histones. Together these make up a structure called the chromosome. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, with one set inherited from the mother and the other from the father. Along the DNA chain we can identify specific points, called loci, that are responsible for providing the instructions for a given trait, such as eye color. Some loci, called monomorphic (or one form) loci, control traits that are so crucial for the organism’s function that no alteration of the genetic code is allowed. Loci that can allow genetic variation, usually because their functions are not as constrained as monomorphic loci, are called polymorphic (many forms). Polymorphic loci are defined by the presence of at least one rare variant, called an allele, that can be found at a frequency greater than 1 percent. A good example of a polymorphic locus is the A, B, and O blood group antigens. Polymorphisms occur when natural selection against any particular allele is weak, thus allowing all of them to persist in populations at different frequencies. We might find that a given allele is better under one set of conditions, yet others are favored if we change the conditions. For example, alleles that produce darker skin are slightly favored in the tropics, as opposed to alleles that produce lighter skin in the temperate zones. The dark skin in the tropics might give better protection against ultraviolet light (UV) damage in the skin, or against skin parasites, while lighter skin in temperate zones might help with the synthesis of vitamin D (a hormone). In such a case, as the intensity of sunlight changes, we would expect to find a continuous change in the frequency of the alleles associated with changes in skin color. That is precisely what we find when we examine alleles for vitamin D binding proteins from the tropics to the northern latitudes. However, the whole story of skin pigmentation isn’t as simple as that. Human pigmentation is genetically complex, and we can only say with certainty that variation at only one locus, the melanocrotin-1 receptor (MC1-R), can be definitely associated with physiological variation in hair and skin color. The authors of a recent study sequenced that gene from 121 individuals from different geographical regions. DNA has four nitrogenous chemical bases called nucleotides: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). These bases are aligned in various orders and constitute the chemical message of the DNA molecule that directs the synthesis of messenger RNA, and eventually the protein. Gene sequencing is the process by which geneticists determine the nucleotide structure of the DNA within a specific region of the molecule. The different nucleotide sequences are the molecular basis for what we call alleles. The authors found that there were five alleles for the MC1-R gene. The original protein sequence was observed in all of the African individuals studied, but it was also found in the other world populations at lower frequencies. We also know that skin color in sub-Saharan African populations is more variable than that found in any other of the world’s populations. This is also true of total genetic diversity and physical variables such as skull types. These observations alone shed doubt on whether we can truly divide the human species into discrete racial groups.

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Genetic Variation Within and Between Races:

There are statistical ways to summarize the similarity between human populations with regard to overall allele frequency. For example at the histocompatibility antigen A (HLA-A) locus, African-, Asian-, and European-Americans are quite similar in their allele frequencies. The HLA loci are responsible for tissue recognition and play an important role in warding off disease. We can further investigate the frequencies of alleles at other loci, and we can also statistically determine what the genetic distances are between socially constructed racial groups. This has been accomplished for modern human beings, and we have learned that there is about 8.5 times more genetic variation within the classically defined racial groups as there is between them. Another way of stating this is that 85 percent of the genetic variation within modern humans occurs at the individual level, 5 percent occurs between populations found on the same continent, and 10 percent occurs between continents. This general rule can be violated in groups that were originally generated from small groups that were themselves genetically uniform, or for cultural reasons maintained marriages amongst themselves. However, this special case does not invalidate the general principle that the majority of genetic variation in human occurs between individuals, without regard to membership in a socially constructed race. A particularly illustrative example of the fallacy of the race concept occurs when we compare socially defined human races to populations in other species that have been defined by biologists as geographical races or subspecies. The standard figure for identifying the existence of geographic races is usually about 20 percent total genetic distance between populations at polymorphic loci. This has been observed in various drosophila (fruit flies) species, but we don’t see anywhere near that much geographical variation in modern humans. The estimates we have of the amount of variation between human populations varies between 3 and 7 percent at the polymorphic loci. Again, because polymorphic loci only represent about 33 percent of the human genome, the total amount of genetic distance we observe in humans is between (0.03 x .33 = 0.0099) and (0.07 x 0.33 = 0.023). This value is ten times below the 0.20 (20 percent) figure. It is apparent that different standards of biological reasoning would have to be used to make the argument for the existence of enough genetic distance in modern humans to support the existence of biological races.

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Human DNA and human race:

According to the Human Genome Project, the most complete mapping of human DNA to date indicates that there is no clear genetic basis to racial groups. While some genes are more common in certain populations, there are no genes that exist in all members of one population and no members of any other. Most genetic variety is not between races, but rather within races. For example, two random Italians are as likely to be as genetically different as an Italian and a Chinese. The Human Genome Project, which mapped out the complete human genetic code, proved that race could not be identified in our genes. While scientists may use the idea of race to make practical distinctions among fluid sets of genetic traits, all people belong to the same hominid species, Homo sapiens (Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”). In other words, biologically, there is one human race. DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.

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In his essay, Leroi argues that collections of outward features such as hair color, skin color, and nose shape are characteristics that reflect important natural divisions between groups. Other scientists maintain that humans cannot be classified into discrete categories such as those described in Leroi’s essay—that a long history of migration and mating between groups, among other factors, has prevented this. These debates highlight the problems inherent in discussing a term that has many definitions yet no parameters. In the early 1970’s, Richard Lewontin, a Harvard geneticist, revealed that the vast majority of human genetic variation occurs within, rather than between, groups. His work and that of others have led to a general consensus among biologists that race is not a scientific concept but a social one and that efforts to include it as a meaningful category in science can be misleading. The human species is 99.9 percent the same genetically. The remaining 0.1% of variation accounts both for differences that are visible, such as eye and hair color, and those that are not seen, such as disease-risk. Yet these unseen differences are not consistently represented by an individual’s racial designation. Additionally, though a handful of diseases have been shown to occur more often in some groups than in others, these conditions are not isolated to those groups. This makes it very difficult to make accurate calculations based on an individual’s inclusion in a specific group. These data have revealed that most big changes in the genome are related to resisting viruses or to external physical traits like skin color or hair type. Most differences are also regional rather than related to the larger groups people think of as races. Thus, people who were living in dairying areas became able to drink milk, or people in regions with malaria developed resistance to the disease.

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Humans not As Genetically Identical as reported by human genome project:

What’s previously been taught is that of the 7 billion or so people on the planet, we all share 99.9% of each other’s genes and identity. These results came from the Human Genome Project 8 years ago and are now assumed to be very much wrong. New research published in the journal Nature reports that we are genetically more varied than what was once assumed. What the scientists have been doing is digging out deletions or duplications of code among relatively long sequences of individual DNA and then comparing these ‘copy number variations’ across a range of volunteers of diverse ancestry. The researchers were stunned that they were able to locate 1447 copy number variations in nearly 2900 genes, which is about one eighth of the human genetic code. Each one of us has a unique pattern of gains and losses of complete sections of DNA. One of the real surprises of these results was just how much of our DNA varies in copy number. Researchers estimate this to be at least 12% of the genome.  

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Different visible traits of humans:

The most widely used human racial categories are based on various combinations of visible traits such as skin color, eye shape and hair texture. However, some argue that many of these traits are non-concordant in that they are not necessarily expressed together. For example, skin color and hair texture vary independently. The gene that causes light skin color in Europeans (SLC24A5) is different from the gene that causes light skin color in East Asians, indicating that they evolved light skin separately. The allele associated with the light skin found in Europe originated fairly recently, approximately 6,000-10,000 years ago.

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The figure below shows how facial features vary from a Chinese face to a Caucasian face:


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Epicanthal fold are typically associated with East Asian populations but are found in populations all over the world, including many Native Americans, the Khoisan, the Sami, and even amongst some isolated groups such as the Andamanese. Lighter hair colors are typically associated with Europeans, especially Northern Europeans, but brown and blond hair is found amongst a number of the dark skinned populations of the south pacific, particularly the Indigenous Australians, and Melanesians.

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The map above shows the distribution of skin color variations of indigenous populations before colonization by Europeans. The map shows that the darkest skin color is in tropical (hot) regions and the lightest skin color is in temperate (cold) regions. This is because the dark skin in the tropics might give better protection against ultraviolet light (UV) damage in the skin, while lighter skin in temperate zones might help with the synthesis of vitamin D (a hormone).

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Skin/iris/hair color:

In fact, scientists have discovered that there is one major pigment, called melanin that produces our skin color. There are two main forms of melanin: eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow). These combine to give us the particular shade of skin that we have. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which are cells in the bottom layer of the epidermis. No matter what our shade of skin, we all have approximately the same concentration of melanocytes in our bodies. Melanocytes insert melanin into melanosomes, which transfer the melanin into other skin cells, which are capable of dividing (stem cells), primarily in the lowest layer of the epidermis. The melanosomes (tiny melanin-packaging units) are slightly larger and more numerous per cell in dark-skinned than light skinned people. They also do not degrade as readily, and disperse into adjacent skin cells to a higher degree. In the stem cells, the pigment serves its function as it forms a little dark umbrella over each nucleus. The melanin protects the epidermal cells from being damaged by sunlight. In people with lighter shades of skin, much of the pigment is lost after these cells divide and their daughter cells move up in the epidermis to form the surface dead layer—the stratum corneum. Geneticists have found that four to six genes, each with multiple alleles (or variations), control the amount and type of melanin produced. Because of this, a wide variety of skin shades exist. In fact, it is quite easy for one couple to produce a wide range of skin shades in just one generation. No one really has red, or yellow, or black skin. We all have the same basic color, just different shades of it. We all share the same pigments—our bodies just have different combinations of them. Melanin also determines eye color. If the iris of the eye has a larger amount of melanin, it will be brown. If the iris has a little melanin, the eye will be blue. (The blue color in blue eyes results from the way light scatters off the thin layer of brown-colored melanin.) Hair color is also influenced by the production of melanin. Brown to black hair results from a greater production of melanin, while lighter hair results from less melanin. Those with red hair have a mutation in one gene that causes a greater proportion of the reddish form of melanin (pheomelanin) to be produced.

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Those with darker skin tend to live in warmer climates, while those with lighter skin tend to live in colder climates. Why are certain characteristics more prominent in some areas of the world? Some of these (skin color, eye shape, and so on) became general characteristics of each particular people group through various selection pressures (environmental, sexual, etc.) and/or mutation. For example, because of the protective factor of melanin, those with darker skin would have been more likely to survive in areas where sunlight is more intense (warmer, tropical areas near the equator), as they are less likely to suffer from diseases such as skin cancer. Those with lighter skin lack the melanin needed to protect them from the harmful UV rays, and so may have been more likely to die before they were able to reproduce. UVA radiation also destroys the B vitamin folate, which is necessary for DNA synthesis in cell division. Low levels of folate in pregnant women can lead to defects in the developing baby. Again, because of this, lighter-skinned individuals may be selected against in areas of intense sunlight. On the flip side, melanin works as a natural sunblock, limiting the sunlight’s ability to stimulate the liver to produce vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium and build strong bones. Since those with darker skin need more sunlight to produce vitamin D, they may not have been as able to survive as well in areas of less sunlight (northern, colder regions) as their lighter-skinned family members, who don’t need as much sunlight to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Those lacking vitamin D are more likely to develop diseases such as rickets (which is associated with a calcium deficiency), which can cause slowed growth and bone fractures. It is known that when those with darker skin lived in England during the Industrial Revolution, they were quick to develop rickets because of the general lack of sunlight. Of course, these are generalities. Exceptions occur, such as in the case of the darker-skinned Inuit tribes living in cold northern regions. However, their diet consists of fish, the oil of which is a ready source of vitamin D, which could account for their survival in this area. Also, they receive higher levels of UVR reflected from the surface of snow and ice during the summer. Scientists believe that geography and ultraviolet rays cause variation in skin color, not race.  

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Race and ancestry:

The use of race in genetics is often stretched to areas where it does not belong. Even though there are tiny biological differences between groups, yet race is not useful as a proxy to judge these differences. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, a person’s apparent race often does not reflect the genetic diversity represented in their biology. For example, though they are of one race, many African-Americans have descendants from Europe and the Americas as well as Central and West Africa. Their “race” is considered to be African-American, but their ancestry is mixed. Ancestry refers to an individual’s line of descent that can be traced through ancestors back to a geographic region(s) of origin. A given individual may have ancestors who all originated from the same region, but this is rare. Further, each individual’s ancestry is different and it is possible for individuals from the same “race” to have very different ancestries. What you see isn’t always what you get. Second, it is possible, even likely, that a given individual will not know the extent to which they are genetically mixed. Medical advice and clinical studies based on information about “race” from self-reports or by judgments about “race” made by doctors and researchers, therefore, can only lead to erroneous conclusions.

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DNA mapping, ancestry and mixed race:

The reality is that White people statistically have not all that much black heritage… sure there are plenty who do and know they have and many others who have mixed ancestors they do not know about. But DNA tests on populations show that the mixing varied and a lot, probably the majority of Whites do not have any appreciable black ancestry if any. And yes African Americans do have more White ancestors but by no means most… even with slavery the more numerous field hands were “kept” black since their value as a slave was higher for field hands if they were darker and more “African” looking, so owners preferred to have all-African replacement generations as much as possible in general and for resale value since the belief was that they would work harder and longer in hot weather. Other slaves who were house servants were more often “mixed” and had children of their masters more often plus had valuations based on other criteria (but also their relative “Whiteness”). But in general, for slaves who were artisans or workers in other fields… crafts, manufacturing, experienced livestock handlers, women who were talented seamstresses etc, color and “African-ness” was secondary to their talents and what they could do…But beyond known family histories both White and Black, how good is DNA testing at verifying these heritages or finding unexpected ancestry? DNA testing has a harder time coming up with specific ancestry the further back an ancestor is. And determining “Race” usually requires a number of related race associated markers and over generations the matrix of determinate genes from a distant ancestor of a different race might be completely swamped by the more numerous other ancestry. And it is worth mentioning that only some markers are definitive enough by themselves to track back a long distance to a particular place and a likely ethnic group related to that…Some genes on the X and Y chromosomes are conserved over many generations but for most genes that vary in humans, as time goes by we lose more and more of the contribution of specific ancestors the expanding number of grandparents the further back they are. Each generation back doubles the number of Grandparents to the point that nobody can say for sure if say one of a person’s 4096 grandparents in the 12th generation back (in say 1650) might have been black. Over a handful of generations there would be fewer and fewer of the genes they contributed being passed on to each succeeding generation. So even people of one race who can trace back to one ancestor who was of a different race it is possible that if it was far enough back that effectively little or no genes made it into the genome of a living descendant… within a population with more shared genes the next question would be from which ancestor did a particular gene come from and the answer would be it was impossible to know… since it could have come from many. Now on the other hand if a person had several definitively “African” genes and they could trace their ancestors back with photos etc and then prior to that with reliable records and even portraits and could find no African Ancestor… then they would have to conclude that they still definitely had an African ancestor who predated the existing records… so an unnamed ancestor would be proven to be black…But again the further back we go the less actual meaning it has either way and we lose DNA links with each succeeding generation… if the ancestor was in 1650… that means they amount to 1/4096th of a present day person’s ancestry. The slave owners and slave societies had a lot of problems labeling the relative Blackness and Whiteness of their slaves and mixed freemen and had a lot of carefully but ultimately meaningless names for the degree of African… Quadroon, Octaroon… (quarter black, eighth black etc.) and in the end it was pointless since people would not be reliably blacker or whiter with each degree up or down the scale and many chose to hide their black ancestry and did so successfully. But they were and are still a minority…And in the end just how important is it to nail down the percentage of Whites who have some Black ancestry or what percentage of Blacks have White ancestry? And as we know at times some more “African looking” people are actually more White than other African Americans who appear outwardly to have more European traits… Tiger Woods for instance actually has a bit more White ancestry than Black. The really important fact is that the entire human race has less genetic diversity than even other higher primates and most other non endangered larger mammals (but even some endangered species have more genetic diversity than humans!). That is, we have far less genetic difference between us than we realize.

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Look at the photograph below of the first African-American president of the U.S. Barack Obama with his white mother:


President Obama, son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas — has long suggested that unlike most African-Americans, his roots did not include slavery. President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American because of his father’s heritage in Kenya. However, while researching his Caucasian mother Stanley Ann Dunham’s lineage, genealogists found her to have African heritage as well, which piqued the researchers’ interest and inspired further digging into Obama’s African-American roots. Mr. Obama’s mother had, in addition to her European ancestors, at least one African forebear and that the president is most likely descended from one of the first documented African slaves in the United States. This is a classical example of mixed ancestry and mixed race.

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Can Ancestry information be used to assess disease-risk and identify a criminal?  Do not confuse ancestry with race:

New York University professor T. Duster, points out in his essay, “Race and Reification in Science,” that in heart failure patients, Americans of African descent show much higher rates of hypertension than Americans of European descent. Additionally, he points out, darker skinned blacks show higher rates of hypertension than lighter skinned blacks. Databases put together by the Federal Bureau of Investigation currently match forensic DNA to samples based on race. Prosecutors attempt to determine the likelihood that a given suspect committed a crime by calculating the frequency that a particular set of markers present in the forensic sample would occur within the suspect’s assigned “racial” group. This frequency is calculated against samples catalogued in the FBI database according to “race.” There are newer methods utilizing polymorphisms, microsatellites, and chromosomal markers to identify the ancestry of a perpetrator that work in the reverse direction. Through a process called admixture mapping, scientists search for very small portions of DNA, known as “Ancestry Informative Markers” (AIMs) that vary between populations. These markers can provide a sketch of the different population percentages inherited by an individual from his or her descendants. Law enforcement officials recently used admixture mapping in 2003, to convict Louisiana serial killer, Derrick Todd Lee, a self-identified African-American truck driver from Baton Rouge. Based on eyewitness reports, police were searching for a white man in connection with the crime. When biological material collected from the crime scenes was analyzed by DNA Print Genomics Inc., they were told that their suspect was actually an individual with 85% African and 15% Native American ancestry. Based on this information, police began to look for suspects with darker skin color. Fortunately, Lee had voluntarily submitted a sample that later proved a match. Though, in this case, ancestry analysis of DNA proved a useful guidepost, it should not be confused as a proxy for identifying a perpetrator’s “race”. Though the test in this case was used to determine the suspect’s ancestry, the word “race” was used liberally in the news coverage of the case as if the two terms are interchangeable. One article included the headline, “DNA Test in Louisiana killings is said to have indicated Attacker’s Race.” Confusing the terms in this way only adds to the false notion that race is biological. Additionally, there is the possibility of making incorrect assumptions regarding physical appearance.

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Race, IQ and heritability:

Where IQ test used:

In fields such as psychology, medicine, economics, political science, criminology, and other research on group differences, intelligence is commonly measured using intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. The statement “Mainstream Science on Intelligence” argued that “IQ is strongly related, probably more so than any other single measurable human trait, to many important educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes … Whatever IQ tests measure, it is of great practical and social importance”. Most of the research on intelligence differences between racial groups is based on IQ testing. These tests are highly correlated with the psychometric variable g (for general intelligence factor).

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The most prominent finding of behavioral genetics has been summarized by the psychologist Eric Turkheimer: “The nature-nurture debate is over. . . . All human behavioral traits are heritable.” By this he meant that a substantial fraction of the variation among individuals within a culture can be linked to variation in their genes. Whether you measure intelligence or personality, religiosity or political orientation, television watching or cigarette smoking, the outcome is the same. Identical twins (who share all their genes) are more similar than fraternal twins (who share half their genes that vary among people). Biological siblings (who share half those genes too) are more similar than adopted siblings (who share no more genes than do strangers). And identical twins separated at birth and raised in different adoptive homes (who share their genes but not their environments) are uncannily similar.

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IQ heritability:

Findings from twin, adoption, and family studies are the most commonly cited forms of evidence for a biological theory of intelligence. These studies compare individuals with very similar DNA (identical twins or related family members) with biologically unrelated children growing up in the same home or with children and their adoptive parents. This method attempts to distinguish traits a person is born with from those influenced by his or her environment. Molecular biologist, Robert Plomin has utilized such studies to estimate the heritability of intelligence at around .50 (50%) of the variance. Other studies utilizing g as a cognitive measure have arrived at similar estimates. Longitudinal studies show that these effects increase with age. The heritability of g appears to rise to about .75 (75%) by late adolescence. One explanation for this shift is that family influences on cognition are deemed to diminish throughout development. Also possible, explains Plomin, is that additional gene expression delayed during childhood may be triggered as cognitive processes develop. But do these studies provide evidence that intelligence is inherited? Causation has not been determined here. There are two significant problems associated with twin/adoption and family studies. First is the assumption that genetic effects can be separated from environmental effects. This position rests on the “equal environments assumption” (EEA), which posits that the environment of individuals in the same or different homes can be controlled for in such a way that genetic effects can be separated out. There have been serious critiques levied at EEA due to the way adoptive and non-adoptive environments are appraised as being different or alike. Additionally, the idea that genetic and environmental effects are simply additive and work in isolation of one another is false. Second, a majority of these studies do not account for how IQ outcomes are affected by class differences. Eric Turkheimer, et al. utilized the twin/adoption and family method to show that socioeconomic status modifies heritability of IQ in young children. The study found that in families who subsisted on incomes at or below the poverty line, the heritabilty effects on IQ were close to zero, whereas in affluent families, these effects were quite high. They also found that parental education levels modified both the effects of heritability and environment, increasing the former and decreasing the latter as years of education increased. In cases where adequate nutrition, access to education, protection from exposure to environmental toxins, and similar issues have affected the development of individuals, heritability estimates have been shown to be expressed quite differently.

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Flynn effect:

Another phenomenon that seems to refute current heritability estimates is the “Flynn effect,” which describes a steady worldwide rise in performance since testing began. A three-point rise in IQ per decade on average has been noted, even when tests have been re-standardized to account for these gains. The reasons for this rise are not known, but one explanation involves children’s need, and the need of people in general, to adapt to the increasing complexity of modern life. Obviously the rise cannot result from genetic mutation as the time frame is too narrow. Rather, the Flynn effect may demonstrate how flexible human cognitive development really is. As successive generations take in greater, and more complex, amounts of information from shifting sources such as television and radio, they learn to process the increase. The phenomenon calls into question the extent to which g is an inborn trait. Members of the American Psychological Association task force underscored in their 1995 report that: “…heritable traits can depend on learning and they may be subject to other environmental effects as well. The value of heritability can change if the distribution of environments (or genes) in the population is substantially altered.”

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Different IQ in different races:

Ever since the amassing of data from IQ tests in the 20s and 30s, people have noticed a strong, clear difference between the scores of Caucasians and blacks. The difference is typically about 15 points, or one standard deviation. Statistically, there is absolutely no question that blacks score poorly on these tests. This has always served as an embarrassment to the designers of IQ tests, and they have made many efforts to revise the tests to diminish that difference, but despite many decades of effort, have never succeeded in this endeavor. 1994 saw the publication of The Bell Curve, which again argued that different IQ test scores demonstrated low intelligence in blacks. The authors provided more scientifically sophisticated arguments, and explained a number of other issues arising from human genetics. It generated considerable controversy.

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Heritability is measure of the proportion of the variation in a characteristic (e.g. IQ) in a particular population at a particular point in time. Most importantly (and utterly and completely crucially) a heritability value for a trait tells you nothing about the extent to which genetics plays a role in differences between two different populations. Hypothetically you could have a heritability of zero in each of two populations (no genetic variation within each population) but all the variation between populations could be due to genetics.  Or, alternatively, you could have a situation in which the trait is completely genetically determined within each population (zero environmental variation) but the difference between populations is solely due to the environment. Of course these are unlikely extremes but all these arguments about genetic differences in IQ among races are not supported by the data, even if you were to assume that a) IQ is a valid measure and b) that the heritability is accurately estimated.

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Are Group differences in IQ scores are genetic?

Within the U.S., Blacks consistently score lower on IQ tests than whites. Similarly, Africans score lower than Europeans. Despite the fact that, as noted earlier, race is not a biologically relevant category, there have been repeated claims that these differences are due to genetic differences between the relevant populations. Given the genetic heterogeneity of all these populations (because modern humans first evolved in Africa, there is in fact more genetic variation in Africa than in the rest of the world), these claims are initially highly implausible and there is no serious evidence in their favor. After a recent survey of the available research, the distinguished University of Michigan psychologist Richard Nisbett concluded, “The evidence most relevant to the question indicates that the genetic contribution to the Black-white IQ gap is nil.” On the contrary, the Black-white IQ gap in the U.S. has narrowed significantly over the past thirty years, suggesting that if environments and educational opportunities were truly equalized, it would disappear completely. One study found that Black children adopted by white families that provided more educationally stimulating environments had IQs thirteen points higher than Black children adopted by Black families. Another study of German children fathered by, respectively, Black and white American GIs during the post-1945 occupation, found that there was no significant difference between their IQs.

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As a professor used to say, bad eye sight may have a genetic component, but this does not mean we do not know how to make eyeglasses. Similarly, saying that behavioral differences are “genetic” communicates a false impression that they are immutable, or even proximal it cause by genes, neither of which are necessarily true or even likely to be true.  All it says is that two populations with different genetic makeup are different, which is a radically different statement than how people understand it.  We must be careful not to reinforce public misconceptions.  

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Environmental Effects on IQ:

A wealth of research has identified multiple environmental factors that may contribute to variation in IQ scores. Many studies have focused on variables such as nutrition, exposure to toxic chemicals, family environment, and socio-economic status, and how these might affect test scores. Quality and years of schooling have been shown to have an effect on IQ scores. For many children, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, school may be the primary transmitter of information. One study by Lee followed a group of African-American students who were moved from a poor rural school in the south to an urban school with greater resources in Philadelphia. The groups’ average IQ score increased by one-half point each year that they attended the Philadelphia school. Ceci found a positive correlation between years of school attended and IQ scores. His study found that when same-age children enter school a year apart, those with the additional year of school have higher mean scores. These results are borne out in our society. Children who attend poor schools in rural or urban areas tend to score lower on IQ tests than those that have access to a higher quality of education. A school-based program that has consistently demonstrated success in raising IQ scores is Head Start. The Department of Health and Human Services began implementing this program in 1964 in an effort to assist families with fewer economic resources by providing educational assistance to children from such families who were under the age of five years. Since its inception, Head Start has enrolled over 22 million children in its programs across the United States. Outcomes suggest that major cognitive gains, at least for the short term, result from this intervention. Follow up studies show that children who attended Head Start are less likely to need special education and more likely to finish high school than those who have not enrolled in the program. Malnutrition during childhood often results in cognitive deficits. A Guatemalan study on undernourished preschoolers showed that those who were given a protein-rich dietary supplement over a ten-year period performed much better on IQ tests than those who did not. There are obvious ethical problems involved in denying undernourished children an available nutritional supplement for the purposes of a study. Yet this data shows that, even though it is not known whether nutrition directly affects IQ, (since undernourished children tend to be less motivated and responsive to adults and therefore less active in their exploration), a child’s food intake clearly is somehow related to her or his ability to learn. The effects of toxic substances, such as lead and alcohol, on IQ test scores are well known. Children living in impoverished urban environments are at much greater risk for exposure to both. Building codes and zoning laws have reduced lead levels in recent years, but the effects of other toxic chemicals in these environments have not been well studied. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, a condition resulting from the use of alcohol during pregnancy, leads to a range of deficits in cognitive functions such as attention and memory, as well as IQ. Studies conducted on children who have been abused and neglected show that this often results in a higher than average rate of psychiatric and cognitive disorders. Even in homes with less extreme conditions, the differences in the use of language and size of vocabulary have been shown to affect scores on verbal IQ tests. Parents’ years of schooling affect the IQ scores of children, as does early exposure to concepts such as counting. Most of the evidence on environmental contributors to intelligence scores and intellectual development show a clear advantage for children who grow up in middle-class or affluent homes. This evidence should be weighted carefully in any discussion regarding between-group differences in IQ.

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Health and IQ:

Environmental factors including lead exposure, breast feeding, and nutrition can significantly affect cognitive development and functioning. For example, iodine deficiency causes a fall, on average, of 12 IQ points. Such impairments may sometimes be permanent, sometimes be partially or wholly compensated for by later growth. The first two years of life is the critical time for malnutrition, the consequences of which are often irreversible and include poor cognitive development, educability, and future economic productivity. The African American population of the United States is statistically more likely to be exposed to many detrimental environmental factors such as poorer neighborhoods, schools, nutrition, and prenatal and postnatal health care. The Copenhagen consensus in 2004 stated that lack of both iodine and iron has been implicated in impaired brain development, and this can affect enormous numbers of people: it is estimated that one-third of the total global population are affected by iodine deficiency. In developing countries, it is estimated that 40% of children aged four and under suffer from anaemia because of insufficient iron in their diets.

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Education and IQ:

Several studies have proposed that a large part of the gap can be attributed to differences in quality of education. Racial discrimination in education has been proposed as one possible cause of differences in educational quality between races. According to a paper by Hala Elhoweris, Kagendo Mutua, Negmeldin Alsheikh and Pauline Holloway, teachers’ referral decisions for students to participate in gifted and talented educational programs were influenced in part by the students’ ethnicity. The Abecedarian Early Intervention Project, an intensive early childhood education project, was also able to bring about an average IQ gain of 4.4 points at age 21 in the black children who participated in it compared to controls. Arthur Jensen agreed that the Abecedarian project demonstrates that education can have a significant effect on IQ, but also said that no educational program thus far has been able to reduce the Black-White IQ gap by more than a third, and that differences in education are thus unlikely to be its only cause. Campbell & Ramey (1994) found that at the age 12, 87% black of infants exposed to an intervention had IQs in the normal range (above 85) compared to 56% of controls, and none of the intervention-exposed children were mildly retarded compared to 7% of controls. Other early intervention programs have shown IQ effects in the range of 4–5 points, which are sustained until at least age 8–15. Effects on academic achievement can also be substantial.

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Logographic writing system and IQ:

Complex logographic writing systems have been proposed as an explanation for the higher visuospatial IQ scores of East Asians. Critics argue that the causation may be reversed with higher visuospatial ability causing the development of pictorial symbols in writing rather than alphabetic ones. Another argument is that East Asians adopted at birth also score high on IQ tests. Similar relatively higher visuospatial abilities are also found among Inuit and Native Americans whose ancestors migrated from East Asia to the Americas.

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Caste-like minorities:

A large number of studies have shown that systemically disadvantaged minorities, such as the African American minority of the United States generally perform worse in the educational system and in intelligence tests than the majority groups or less disadvantaged minorities such as immigrant or “voluntary” minorities. The explanation of these findings may be that children of caste-like minorities, due to the systemic limitations of their prospects of social advancement, do not have “effort optimism”, i.e. they do not have the confidence that acquiring the skills valued by majority society, such as those skills measured by IQ tests, is worthwhile. They may even deliberately reject certain behaviors seen as “acting white”.

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Four contemporary classifications of position regarding study of differences in IQ based on race/ethnicity are seen. The first is that these gaps reflect a real difference in average group intelligence, which is caused by a combination of environmental factors and heritable differences in brain function. A second position is that differences in average cognitive ability between races exist and are caused entirely by social and/or environmental factors. A third position holds that differences in average cognitive ability between races do not exist, and that the differences in average test scores are the result of inappropriate use of the tests themselves. Finally, a fourth position is that either or both of the concepts of race and general intelligence are poorly constructed and therefore any comparisons between races are meaningless. The American Psychological Association has said that while there are differences in average IQ between racial groups, and there is no conclusive evidence for environmental explanations, “there is certainly no direct empirical support for a genetic interpretation,” and no adequate explanation for the racial IQ gap is presently available. The position of the American Anthropological Association is that intelligence cannot be biologically determined by race. According to a 1996 statement from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, although heredity influences behavior in individuals, it does not affect the ability of a population to function in any social setting, all peoples “possess equal biological ability to assimilate any human culture” and “racist political doctrines find no foundation in scientific knowledge concerning modern or past human populations.”

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Evolution of human intelligence vis-à-vis race:

One explanation for racial IQ gaps advanced by some researchers is that they are partly the result of evolutionary pressures that varied between geographic regions. C. Loring Brace has argued that such a clinal distribution in the trait is highly improbable, because the evolution of human intelligence is founded on the development of human linguistic behavior, and intelligence is therefore of equal survival value to all human groups. On the other hand, cultural psychologist Richard Nisbett has argued that “there are a hundred ways that a genetic difference in intelligence could have arisen – either in favor of whites or in favor of blacks.”  Arthur Jensen explains in The g Factor how evolutionary factors could have potentially contributed to racial IQ gaps. J. Philippe Rushton carries this idea a step further in Race, Evolution, and Behavior, proposing that human groups differ in intelligence due to r/K selection theory, with Africans being more r-selected and Asians more K-selected. C. Loring Brace regards evolutionary explanations for racial IQ gaps as unfounded speculation.  Regarding Rushton’s application of r/K selection to human groups, Joseph L. Graves argues that not only is r/K selection theory considered to be virtually useless when applied to human life history evolution, but Rushton himself does not apply the theory correctly, and displays a lack of understanding evolution in general.

 

Gene and IQ link?

A 2005 literature review article on the links between race and intelligence in American Psychologist stated that no gene has been shown to be linked to intelligence, “so attempts to provide a compelling genetic link of race to intelligence are not feasible at this time”.  Several candidate genes have been proposed to have a relationship with intelligence. However, a review of candidate genes for intelligence published in Deary, Johnson & Houlihan (2009) failed to find evidence of an association between these genes and general intelligence, stating “there is still almost no replicated evidence concerning the individual genes, which have variants that contribute to intelligence differences”.

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Brain size and IQ:

In a study of the head growth of 633 term-born children, it was shown that prenatal growth and growth during infancy were associated with subsequent IQ. The study’s conclusion was that the brain volume a child achieves by the age of 1 year helps determine later intelligence. Within human populations, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies conducted to determine whether there is a relationship between brain size and a number of cognitive measures have “yielded inconsistent findings with correlations from 0 to 0.6, with most correlations 0.3 or 0.4. For postmortem studies the correlation is about 0.15. The difference in average brain sizes varies widely from country to country. For instance, the average brain size of the average Maasai person is larger than the average brain size of the average “Caucasoid” person in Egypt. According to Z. Z. Cernovsky Rushton’s own study shows that the average cranial capacity of North American blacks is similar to that of Caucasians from comparable climatic zones.

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Racial admixture studies challenge IQ race correlation:

Many people have an ancestry from different geographic regions. For example, African Americans typically have ancestors from both Africa and Europe, with, on average, 20% of their genome inherited from European ancestors. If racial IQ gaps have a partially genetic basis, blacks with a higher degree of European ancestry should on average have higher IQ, because the genes inherited from European ancestors would likely include some genes with a positive effect on IQ. John C. Loehlin describes several studies that have examined the relationship between ancestry levels and IQ. A 1936 study by Witty and Jenkins examined ancestry among African-Americans with very high IQ, and found that they did not have a higher degree of European ancestry than unselected African-Americans. More recent studies have compared IQ to ancestry estimates based on skin color, and found the correlation of skin color to higher IQ (0.1-0.15) to be very low. Nisbett and Jensen have both argued that skin color is a highly imprecise measure of racial ancestry. According to Loehlin, other studies comparing the IQs of mixed-race children to those two black parents or two white parents have produced similarly inconclusive results.

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In a nutshell I say that after reviewing plenty of studies, no conclusive statement can be made that blacks have lower IQ than whites due to genetic factors. On the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that historically blacks have faced discrimination socially, economically, educationally, health care wise and politically. And these adverse environmental effects could have affected their cognitive abilities. The obvious corollary is that if discrimination against blacks end, their IQ will match equally with white population.  

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Race and health:

Neil Risch states that numerous studies over past decades have documented biological differences among the races with regard to susceptibility and natural history of chronic diseases.  Genes may be under strong selection in response to local diseases. For example, people who are duffy negative tend to have higher resistance to malaria. Most Africans are duffy negative and most non-Africans are duffy positive.  A number of genetic diseases more prevalent in malaria-afflicted areas may provide some genetic resistance to malaria including sickle cell disease, thalassaemias, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, and possibly others. Cystic fibrosis is the most common life-limiting autosomal recessive disease among people of European heritage. Numerous hypotheses have suggested that it provides a heterozygote advantage by giving resistance to diseases earlier common in Europe. Information about a person’s population of origin may in some situations help making a diagnosis and adverse drug responses may vary between such groups. Because of the correlation between self-identified race and genetic clusters, medical treatments whose results are influenced by genetics often have varying rates of success between self-defined racial groups. For this reason, some doctors consider a patient’s race while attempting to identify the most effective possible treatment, and some drugs are marketed with race-specific instructions. Jorde and Wooding (2004) have argued that, because of the genetic variation within racial groups, when “it finally becomes feasible and available, individual genetic assessment of relevant genes will probably prove more useful than race in medical decision making.” Even so, race will continue to be important when looking at groups instead of individuals such as in epidemiologic research.

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Why is it that currently the average life expectancy of black Americans is 5.5 years less than that of white Americans (77.9 vs. 72.4 years), their risk of being born low birthweight is 1.9 times higher, and their mortality for all causes, heart disease, and cancer is 1.3 times higher and for diabetes 2 times higher, plus nearly 6 times higher for homicide, and 8.6 times higher for deaths due to HIV/AIDS?  Or why are American Indians and Alaska Natives and Hispanics at least 1.5 to 1.9 times more likely to die of diabetes compared to white Americans, and at twice the risk for homicide? Related, why have racial/ethnic disparities in health been so persistent, even as health in the US has overall improved during the 20th century for all racial/ethnic groups?  For the better part of US history, the conventional answer to why racial/ethnic health disparities exist has been: because the “races” are innately different—and whites are inherently superior. From this perspective, any biological differences observed between the “races”—whether in appearance or health status—necessarily reflected inborn and unalterable differences; by implication, health disparities and social inequality were a fact of nature. Thus, during the 1830s and 1840s, in a time of fast rising debates about both slavery and the removal of American Indians, leading US physicians and scientists endorsed the widespread idea that the different “races” of humanity constituted different species and argued that “racial” differences in disease rates and mortality were proof of underlying difference.

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Not that everyone agreed. Leading US abolitionists and physicians, black and white alike, including both Dr. James McCune Smith (1811-1865) and Dr. James S. Rock (1825-1866), two of the country’s first credentialed African American physicians, challenged convention by arguing that the poorer health of the black compared to white population resulted not from innate inferiority, but rather from a phenomenon rarely if ever discussed in sanctified science: that of white privilege, enforced via slavery in the South and legal racial discrimination in the North.Translated to contemporary terms, the arguments about causes of racial/ethnic health disparities have remained essentially the same, albeit updated by advances in the biological, population health, and social sciences. On the one side is the causal emphasis on genetic differences between the “races,” which are posited to be biologically distinct groups distinguished by measurable differences in gene frequency and hence genetically predisposed to differential disease risk. On the other is the causal emphasis on social inequality, whereby disparities in health status reflect the impact of past and present racial discrimination and contingent racial/ethnic disparities in socioeconomic resources, premised on the view that “races” are a social construct with real biological consequences. 

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There is a great deal of research into inequalities in health care. In some cases these inequalities are caused by income disparities that result in lack of health insurance and other barriers to receiving services. In other cases, inequalities in health care reflect a systemic bias in the way medical procedures and treatments are prescribed for different ethnic groups.

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Racism in NHS, UK:

Serious charges of racism against the National Health Service (NHS), UK have now been brought up by Indian doctors. They say that institutional racism is still rampant with “colored people” made to feel that “they are a burden in the UK” irrespective of “how bright or successful they are.” Discrimination such as patients refusing to get treated by an Indian doctor, even in an emergency room is common. Also, many international medical graduates who have been the workhorses of the NHS are over-represented in the lowest paid, least glamorous specialties in the least popular parts of the country. 

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Poverty among blacks as a risk factor for premature mortality (death before age 65):  

Using data from Massachusetts in 1989-1991, researchers found that marked socioeconomic disparities in premature mortality within each racial/ethnic-gender group, such that persons living in the most impoverished census tracts (in which 20% or more of the population lived below the US poverty line, thereby constituting a federal poverty area) compared to the least impoverished census tracts (in which less than 5% of the population lived below the poverty line) were anywhere from 1.8 to 4.3 times more likely to die prematurely. They likewise reported, for the first time for any US state, the proportion of deaths that would have been prevented if persons living in the most impoverished census tracts had the same risk of dying early as those living in the least impoverished census tracts. For the total population, this proportion equaled nearly one-quarter of all premature deaths; among women, this fraction ranged from 13% (white women) to 100% (American Indian women), and among men, from 23% (white men) to 69% (black men). Thus, a large portion of premature deaths could be averted, in every racial/ethnic group, if everyone had the same low risk of dying early as their counterparts living in the least impoverished census tracts. Their data also revealed that whereas almost half the white women and men lived in census tracts with <5% of persons below poverty, fully half the black and Hispanic population lived in census tracts with 20% or more below poverty. Adjusting for solely the single relatively crude measure of census tract poverty reduced the overall age-adjusted 2-fold black excess risk of premature mortality by 50%, down to a 40 to 50% excess, a remarkable reduction for just one “risk factor”—and not an effect that can be chalked up to “gene frequencies.” Had more detailed socioeconomic data been available, e.g., on socioeconomic position from conception to death, it is highly plausible that we could have explained even more of the excess.

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Racial discrimination harming health:

Turning then to the alternative hypothesis that racial discrimination can harm health directly, in another study researchers explicitly tested the hypothesis that self-reported experiences of racial discrimination contribute to black/white disparities in risk of low birth weight (<2500 g), chiefly through the pathway of preterm delivery (<37 weeks gestation). To date, the two-fold greater risk of low birth weight among black infants has not been explained by the major conventional risk factors—and it has only been since the early 1990s that researchers have begun to consider, explicitly, whether racial discrimination—rather than “race”—accounts for this difference, likely via the mechanism of the chronic strain of everyday racism affecting neuroendocrine function relevant to hormonal cues for the onset of delivery. Importantly, both preterm delivery and low birth weight greatly increase risk of infant mortality and adult cardiovascular disease. Among the handful of studies starting to test aspects of this hypothesis, this was the first to quantify the extent to which observed black/white birth disparities could be explained by self-reported experiences of racial discrimination. Using data from the CARDIA cohort, a national 4-city US longitudinal study of cardiovascular risk factors among young adults, along with a recently validated instrument regarding self-reports of racial discrimination,  researchers were able to show that, first, overall black women were 2.5 times more likely than white women to have a preterm delivery. If they then controlled for the self-reported experiences of racial discrimination alone, and also the other factors known to increase risk of preterm delivery (income, education, smoking, alcohol, depression) alone, each helped explain the higher risk of preterm delivery among the black women. Adding both sets of factors completely accounted for the black/white difference, and in this model, women who reported racial discrimination in 3 or more situations were at 3.1 times the risk of preterm delivery compared to women who reported no racial discrimination. Previously, myriad studies adjusting for conventional risk factors have failed to account for black/white disparities in risk of preterm delivery. By considering the impact of racial discrimination on health, we could, for the first time, account for the black excess risk for preterm delivery.

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To sum it up: Explanations of racial/ethnic disparities in health that ignore the impact of socioeconomic deprivation and racial discrimination are woefully incomplete and scientifically inadequate. Striking racial differences in health and their persistence over time are not acts of God. Neither can they be understood as simply reflecting racial differences in individual behavior or biology. Instead, considerable evidence suggests that they reflect, in large part, the successful implementation of specific policies. Racism has been responsible for the development of an organized system of policies and practices designed to create racial inequality. Social factors ultimately affect health through specific physiological mechanisms and processes. Racial differences in health importantly reflect the impact of the social environment and the cumulation of adversity across multiple domains. Efforts to improve the health of racial minority group members and reduce racial disparities in health may have to be equally comprehensive in the implementation of strategies that address the fundamental underlying causes of these disparities.

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Physiological Responses to Racism and Discrimination:

Racial discrimination, stress and poor health:

Researchers looked, for the first time, at whether there was a link between reports of racial discrimination and red blood cell oxidative stress among 629 participants enrolled. Overall, African Americans reported more racial discrimination than Whites and more oxidative stress originating from their red blood cells as measured by a novel marker. In addition, African Americans who reported suffering from racial discrimination had higher levels of oxidative stress than those who had not experienced prejudice. Discrimination was not linked to levels of oxidative stress in Whites. The consequences of psychological stress, resulting from racial discrimination, may contribute to racial health disparities in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other age-associated diseases. This is according to analyses of data from the epidemiologic study Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS), conducted by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health. The psychological stress of racial discrimination is thought to be one of the factors that explain racial health disparities, for conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular problems, poor self-reported health and premature disease-related disability. Since oxidative stress is a surrogate marker for stress and there is some evidence to show that psychological stress increases oxidative stress which is a precursor to many illnesses like diabetes, cancer, heart disease and aging itself.

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A study on Racism & stress:

A study was conducted to determine Relationships between Perceived Stress, Coping Behavior and Cortisol Secretion in Women with High and Low Levels of Internalized Racism. Chronic defeat response to social or environmental stressors increases the likelihood of dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis with dysregulation of cortisol, accumulation of abdominal fat and development of glucose intolerance. Recent studies show that African-Caribbean women who have a high level of internalized racism (INR) are at increased risk for abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance. Findings of the study support the view that high perceived stress and defeated coping style may be factors that link high INR to dysregulation of cortisol and, perhaps, also to greater risk of metabolic abnormalities.

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A growing body of research explores the impact of encounters with racism or discrimination on physiological activity. Investigators have collected these data in laboratories and in controlled clinical settings. Several but not all of the studies suggest that higher blood pressure levels are associated with the tendency not to recall or report occurrences identified as racist and discriminatory. Investigators have reported that physiological arousal is associated with laboratory analogues of ethnic discrimination and mistreatment. Evidence from survey and laboratory studies suggests that personality variables and cultural orientation moderate the impact of racial discrimination. The neural pathways that mediate these physiological reactions are not known. The evidence supports the notion that direct encounters with discriminatory events contribute to negative health outcomes.

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Racism and high blood pressure:


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Table above shows that reports of discrimination relate to blood pressure through complex interactions with coping styles. Krieger and Sidney reported support for early survey findings indicating that a passive posture and denial of discriminatory treatment were related to higher blood pressure readings. James et al. found that the “John Henryism” active coping style and unfair racial treatment were related to elevated blood pressure among successful men. Two reports related physiological reactivity to laboratory tasks to experiences with racism and discrimination. Guyll and associates found that diastolic blood pressure reactivity to a speech stressor was enhanced among individuals who had experienced discrimination. Supportive of Krieger and Sidney’s findings, Bowen-Reid and Harrell reported an inverse relationship between discrimination and cardiovascular activity; individuals who reported experiences with racism were less reactive to a mirror tracer task.

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Racial and gender discrimination: Risk factors for high blood pressure? Social Science & Medicine, Volume 30, Issue 12:

Despite controversy as to the biologic and/or social meaning of ‘race’ and ‘sex’, few public health studies have directly examined the impact of racial or gender discrimination on health. One plausible condition they might affect is hypertension, since stress and internalized anger may constitute important risk factors for this disease. The present investigation therefore sought to determine the feasibility of asking questions pertaining to race- and gender-biased treatment plus response to unfair treatment, and to assess their predictive value regarding self-reported high blood pressure. Using random-digit dialing, 51 black and 50 white women, ages 20–80, who resided in Alameda County, CA in 1987, were identified and interviewed by phone. Among black respondents, those who stated they usually accepted and kept quiet about unfair treatment were 4.4 times more likely to report hypertension than women who said they took action and talked to others (P = 0.01 for linear trend); no clear association existed among white respondents. The age-adjusted risk of high blood pressure among black respondents who recounted experiencing zero instances of race- and gender-biased treatment was 2.6 times greater than that of black women who reported one or more such instances (95% CI = 0.7, 10.5). Among white respondents, gender discrimination was not associated with hypertension. These results suggest that an internalized response to unfair treatment, plus non-reporting of race and gender discrimination, may constitute risk factors for high blood pressure among black women. They also bolster the view that subjective appraisal of stressors may be inversely associated with risk of hypertension.

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A cross-sectional study of 345 Aboriginal Australians: Self-reported racism and health and wellbeing outcomes:

A cross-sectional study of 345 Aboriginal Australians aged 16–20 years who, as participants in the prospective Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study, were recruited at birth between 1987 and 1990 and followed up between 2006 and 2008. Main outcome measures: Self-reported social and emotional wellbeing using a questionnaire validated as culturally appropriate for the study’s participants; recorded body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio. Bivariate analysis revealed a strong association between self-reported racism and anxiety (P = 0.001), depression (P = 0.001), suicide risk (P = 0.001), and overall mental health (P < 0.001), but not resilience (P = 0.32). We found that, among young Aboriginal people aged 16–20 years living in the Top End of the Northern Territory, the experience of racism was associated with anxiety, depression, suicide risk and overall poor mental health after adjusting for confounders. Evidence also indicates that the mental health difficulties that develop at this stage of life are likely to persist and adversely affect educational, social and health outcomes in subsequent years. In addition, there is substantial evidence that poor parental mental health (particularly maternal mental health) is associated with poor developmental, health and wellbeing outcomes for children. This study provides empirical support for the need to overcome racism as a contributor to existing disparities in social and emotional wellbeing outcomes experienced by young Aboriginal people.

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Internationally, an increasing body of epidemiological evidence shows strong associations between self-reported racism and poor adult health outcomes across diverse minority groups in developed countries. These associations remained after findings were adjusted for confounders, and have been reported in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies, suggesting that racism precedes poor health outcomes. Systematic reviews report links between self-reported racism and poor mental health (including depression, anxiety and psychological distress); poor physical health (including hypertension, cardiovascular reactivity and chronic health conditions); and increased substance use.

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The challenge to scientific racism and its collapse:

The challenge to the dominance of racialized science came mainly from members of population groups targeted for discrimination and marginalization by this type of science (Norman, 1998). It can be said that the motivation for countering scientific racism was essentially political. This is not to detract in any way from the scientific merit of the labors of those who took on and ultimately defeated scientific racism as a viable scientific position. Scientific racism rose from political social considerations and was sustained over 200 years as the dominant scientific paradigm, not by any scientific merit or achievement but by the sheer tenacity with which its scientific and political supporters clung to the notion of a racial hierarchy. The ‘vast and essential differences’ (Kuhn, 1970, p. 92) that Kuhn states as existing between politics and science disappear when we consider the role of science and scientists in the development of racist ideas. Racialized science was a unique part of science in that it had a devastating impact on the lives of a vast segment of humanity. In the seventeenth century, the legitimating power of science gave strong momentum to the slave trade and its attendant woes. In the early twentieth century immigration restrictions and other public policy decisions detrimental to many people, were based on ‘data’ provided by scientific racists. The Nazi’s openly embraced scientific racism and invoked it in defense of their anti-Semitism and eugenics policies and practices. Scientific racism eventually collapsed under the sheer strain of the horror it had helped unleash on literally untold millions over two centuries. While motivated by political considerations, the few scientists who assailed scientific racism proceeded to use sound and vigorous scientific methodology in their attack. Foremost among these critics of scientific racism was the eminent anthropologist Frans Boas (1931) and his student Ashley Montagu (1997). The methods of these critics of scientific racism were twofold. By a meticulous recalculation of the data collected by the scientific racists, these critics showed that even in the context of determinist assumptions, the data do not support the conclusion of a racial hierarchy. More importantly, however, through a careful application of genetic and other biological principles, these critics showed that the very theoretical basis of racialized science has no standing in science. This same approach has been followed by subsequent critics of race science such as Theodosius Dobzhansky (1955) and Stephen Jay Gould (1981). From the scientific point of view the defeat of biological determinism is as complete as possible. After all, it is rare for a scientific paradigm to be faulted within the parameters of its own assumptions. The painstaking efforts of the critics of scientific racism in recalculating practically all the data gathered over almost two centuries are also unprecedented in the annals of scientific revolutions. The handful of scientists who still advance the positions of scientific racism face opposition from within the scientific establishment. The most recent example of an attempt to revive scientific racism is the book The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray (1994). Opposition to this book came from the eminent scientific antiracists like Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (1994) and others (Kincheloe et at. 1996). In accordance with the established tradition of the antideterminists, Gould’s (1994) critique was based on a reanalysis of Murray and Herrnstein’s data and showed how these authors misapplied statistics to serve their preconceived racist conclusions. Other critics (Lane, 1994) have documented the extent to which Herrnstein and Murray have drawn on sources which are connected to Nazis, racists, and eugenicists. Of greater significance in the context of paradigm shift, however, is the position statements that scholarly organizations like the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Society adopted in opposition to the racist position of The Bell Curve.

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In any discussion on race relations, it is important that all of us know the meaning and definition of terms used. Examine the definitions, so that you can understand the significance of the words in your own lives. All human beings belong to a single species and share a common origin. They are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity. All peoples of the world possess equal faculties for attaining the highest level in intellectual, technical, social, economic, cultural and political development. The differences between the achievements of the different people are entirely attributable to geographical, historical, political, economic, social and cultural factors. Such differences can in no case serve as a pretext for any rank ordered classification of nations or peoples.

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Neuroscience and racial bias:

The cross-race effect, which is a bias or tendency for people to be more familiar with a face of the same race compared to members of another race, has been neurologically explained by there being differences in brain processing while viewing same-race and other-race faces. Studies have shown that most people have an initial racial bias, observed in the amygdala, but other parts in the brain regulate this initial negative bias. These neurological insights show that there are ways racism can be reversed through exposure to other races and changing cultural beliefs.

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There are two main theories that attempt to explain the origin of the cross-race effect: the perceptual expertise hypothesis and the social cognitive hypothesis. The perceptual expertise hypothesis states that the cross-race effect is due to lack of exposure to other cultures and is not hard-wired. Strong evidence for this hypothesis is a decreasing cross-race effect in immigrants that have assimilated to a culture for a few years. Another finding in support of this hypothesis is the reversibility of the cross-race effect in ethnic adopted children. The social cognitive hypothesis states that the cross-race effect is a result of a participants’ internal beliefs and prejudices acting on the face processing and memory functions of the brain. Evidence for this hypothesis is a higher activation of the amygdala and other areas of the brain involved with attitudes and evaluations when first viewing another-race face. The categorization-individualization model, which is a newer theory, states that the cross-race effect is due to the merging of social categorization, motivated individuation, and perceptual experience. There’s very convincing evidence that all of these factors play a role in the cross-race effect.

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Face recognition tests are the most commonly used method in studying racial interactions. These tests consist of observing own-race and other-race faces, and studying the brain’s response to the faces. There are three major neurological techniques used to measure the brain’s response to these simulated racial interactions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) measures the brain activity through measuring the blood oxygen level in the brain. This test gives insight into which regions of the brain are active during a certain event. Event-related potentials (ERPs) measure the brain’s activity through measuring electrical impulses by electrodes on the head. This test gives insight in rapid changes in the brain. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) measures the response of a region of the brain once activated through magnetism. This test gives insight into causality of occurrences and gives specific insight in what the brain regions are doing. Brain-damaged patients have also been used to study racial interactions, by studying how racial interactions are affected when specific brain regions are damaged. These studies give insight into how different brain regions are involved in racial interactions once certain regions have been damaged. An implicit association test (IAC) is often used to measure the racial bias of people in studies by testing what objects, whether positive or negative, people associate with same-race or other-race faces.

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Amygdala

The amygdala, which is the most researched brain region in racism studies, shows much greater activation while viewing other-race faces than same-race faces. This region of the brain is associated with fear conditioning, and has many connections with the cortex to control the body’s emotional response. Often, there is variation in amygdala activation due to motivation and goals. The amygdala’s activation can be changed through not focusing on race or focusing on removing the racial bias. Scientist believe that amygdala activation differences arise due to social/cultural perceptions and individual experiences.  However, it is important to note that patients with a damaged amygdala still show a racial bias, meaning that the amygdala isn’t the only region involved in activating a racial bias.

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Anterior cingulate cortex:

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is associated with detecting conflict and determining how to resolve that conflict. It is believed to play a part in the controversy in one’s mind over personal racial biases and cultural equality norms. ACC activation increases when a person has an automatic negative response to an out-group member, as shown in amygdala activation. The ACC is used to recognize the conflict between cultural expectations and the automatic negative response, and is the first step in expressing racial attitudes.

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Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex:

The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) works in conjunction with the ACC, and acts as the overseer of the reaction to the racial conflict. It is the main region activated in top-down processing. The DLPFC controls the emotional response through interactions with the amygdala connected through the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The DLPFC suppresses the amygdala activity to lower the initial racial bias and resolve the conflict. Suppression of the DLPFC through TMS techniques has made the patients increase their expression of racial bias. The DLPFC function is determined by internal beliefs and awareness of societal attitudes.

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The figure below shows brain areas involved in racial bias:


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Though there is an innate initial negative response while viewing other-race faces, the brain regions that control this response are malleable. The ACC and DLPFC both regulate the amygdala’s initial negative response. Many studies show that the initial racial bias can be changed through different situational contexts and motivations. Differences in amygdala activation have diminished when other-race faces of famous or respected people are viewed, showing that amygdala activation can be controlled through personal beliefs.  Also, increased exposure to other races and cultural ideals help suppress the racial bias within the brain circuitry. For instance, one study showed that Asian immigrants who lived in America for an extended time showed an absence of the cross-race effect to other American faces, implying that exposure to other races decreases the effects of the cross-race effect.  Current studies in positive psychology have shown that denial of racial differences leads only to further racial stereotyping. Therefore, the best way to control racism is to acknowledge racial differences, and to accept racial equality. Emotional regulation techniques are needed to overcome some racist beliefs, which involves emotionally reinterpreting events.  Behavior enhancer drugs could possibly be used in the future to modify people’s racist response, but there are ethical arguments against this.

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Brain regions that suppress racism: a study:
Interestingly, a recent study in Nature Neuroscience indicates a neural mechanism for the integration of cultures. Specifically, Jennifer Richeson et. al conducted fMRI studies that identified regions of the brain allocated to repressing racial biases and prejudices. The study consisted of two experiments conducted on 15 Caucasian, American undergraduates. The first experiment involved individuals completing a survey on racial bias, then interacting with a black individual, and then completing an unrelated Stroop-color naming test that assesses executive control. In the second experiment, these individuals were presented with pictures of unfamiliar male black faces, and fMRI imaging was used to examine the activity of brain regions implicated in executive control during and immediately after the images were presented. The fMRI imaging revealed heightened activity in the dorsolateral prefrontrol cortex (DLPFC) in individuals that exhibited racial biases. As expected, this increased activity in the DLPFC correlated to diminished performance on the Stroop-color naming test, indicating that executive control resources had been depleted following interracial contact. In contrast, there was no heightened activity in the DLPFC in controls (those who did not show racial biases on the initial survey), and these controls did not show diminished performance on the Stroop-color test. The DLPFC is believed to directly influence the engagement of inhibition responses, such as suppression of racial biases. Another area of interest, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), is believed to sense situations/circumstances when such control is necessary. While fMRI imaging revealed increased activity of the DLPFC and ACC in racially biased individuals, only DLPFC activity correlated to diminished Stroop-color test performance. This indicates that while both areas may be important in regulating racial biases, the DLPFC region more directly affects performance on executive control tasks following interracial contact.

It is surprising that regions of the brain function to repress racial biases and stereotypes.

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Perception of racism: Is Racism innate (natural) or learned (social)?

Research indicates that infants as young as six months old notice racial differences. There are two schools of thought about race. One school views race as a social construct, and that there is only one true race in humans: the human race. The other school disagrees with that idea, saying that the brain indeed reacts when it sees faces of other races, and holds that as proof that racism is innate. Those that believe in the social construct idea argue that different ethnic groups were largely separated until the era of nautical travel, and that travel did not open up to the masses until airline travel, so there would be no evolutionary reason for the biological response in humans. There’s never been good reason to believe that human beings are naturally racist. After all, in the environment of human evolution–which didn’t feature, for example, jet travel to other continents–there would have been virtually no encounters between groups that had different skin colors or other conspicuous physical differences. So it’s not as if the human lineage could have plausibly developed, by evolutionary adaptation, an instinctive reaction to members of different races. Nonetheless, people who want to argue that racism is natural have tried to buttress their position with evidence that racism is in some sense biological.  And the two groups go back and forth, with neither side changing their mind.   

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Racism is innate: A study:

Racism is hardwired into the brain and operates unconsciously because areas that detect ethnicity and control emotion are closely connected, according to scientists. Racism is ‘hardwired’ into the human brain – and people can be prejudiced without knowing it. Racism is hardwired into the brain, say scientists – and it operates unconsciously. Researchers explain that the same brain circuits that allow us to classify a person into an ethnic group overlap with other circuits that process emotion and make decisions, leading people to make unconscious decisions based on another’s race. The latest study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans revealed that interactions between people from different racial groups trigger reactions that researchers think may be completely unknown to our conscious selves. Researchers led by psychologist and neuroscientist Dr. Elizabeth Phelps of New York University reviewed past brain imaging studies showing how different social categories of race are processed, evaluated and integrated in decision-making. Past research found that the amygdala, an almond-shaped brain region located deep within the brain that processes fear and emotions, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) involved in top-down emotional control, and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) that manages conflict between intentional and unintentional tendencies, and the fusiform face area that differentiates between familiar and unfamiliar faces, were simultaneously active during tasks that engaged racial bias like having participants view black and white faces while doing different tasks. Phelps and her team said that not only are these brain areas important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes but the functional connectivity that links them together are critical for this processing. The result is that even right-thinking individuals make unconscious decisions based on a person’s race. Brain scans have proved that interactions with people of other ethnic backgrounds set off reactions that may be completely unknown to our conscious selves. The finding may force researchers to think about racism in entirely new ways. It’s possible, the researchers say, that even right-thinking, ‘egalitarian’ people could harbor racist attitudes without knowing. The chemicals involved in perceiving ethnic backgrounds overlap with those for processing emotion and making decisions, according to new research. If good people who intend well act in a manner inconsistent with their own standards of egalitarianism because of the racial groups to which ‘the other’ belongs, then the question of change takes on new and urgent meaning. This urgency requires that we attend to the evidence about how our minds work when we confront racial and other group differences.
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Research by Elizabeth Phelps and colleagues at New York University believe they have uncovered one of the brain pathway involved in determining reactions to faces of different race. This research provides some intriguing insights into our views of different racial groups. Using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), Phelps and her team have discovered a network of interconnected brain regions that are more active in the brain of white participants in response to a picture of a black face than to a white face. This circuit includes the fusiform gyrus, amygdala, ACC and the DLPFC. Activity in the fusiform gyrus is not surprising, since this region has been linked to processing of color information and facial recognition. Intuitively, this region should play a simple role in the initial recognition of a black face. The next region in this circuit is the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for processing/regulation of emotion and it is here where the circuit becomes more intriguing. A simple explanation of amygdala involvement could be that black faces evoke more emotion in white participants than white faces. Further along the circuit the roles become more complex as we move into the higher areas of the brain. The ACC and the DLPFC are regions that have both been linked to higher order processes. The ACC is commonly reported to be active in tasks that involve conflict.

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Racism is both innate and learned: A study:

In-built prejudice (racism) in amygdala response and conscious suppression of in-built prejudice by ACC and DLPFC:

A study conducted by Mahzarin Banaji and a team from Yale and Harvard Universities in the USA may explain why activity is seen in areas involved in conflict resolution and social judgment when viewing ‘outgroup’ faces. This research showed that activation of these pathways was time dependent. When images of ‘outgroup’ faces were flashed for a very short time (30 milliseconds) significant activation was seen in the fusiform gyrus and amygdala but none was observed in the ACC or DLPFC. However, when these images were shown for a longer period of time (525 milliseconds) activity in the amygdala was virtually abolished, replaced by strong activity in the ACC and DLPFC. This research yields vital insight into the role of the ACC and DLPFC and the possible presence of inbuilt prejudice. One interpretation of these findings is that after a short presentation, the ‘raw’ inbuilt activity is strong, showing unintentional emotive activity to ‘outgroup’ faces, while after the longer exposure time this activity is abolished by the influence of the ACC and the DLPFC, which provide a more rational regulation of this response. This suggests that a member of today’s society knows consciously that racial prejudice is wrong and so activity in the DLPFC could represent a conscious decision to be unbiased. The ACC activity may represent conflict between this conscious DLPFC process and the subconscious emotion seen in the amygdala activity. Obviously, a mere increase in amygdala activity does not necessarily signify negative emotion. Therefore this automatic activity may not represent inbuilt racism, instead it may simply reflect heightened awareness and deeper thought when assessing faces from another racial group. However, one thing it does highlight is the obvious differences in the processing of ‘outgroup’ faces. This research could have serious implications for our understanding of inter-race relations. Therefore, although this activity is subconscious and unlikely to be linked with conscious racial discrimination, it may still play a key role in influencing how we go about our daily lives – choosing jobs, places to live, friends and so on. However, since our brains are malleable, racial prejudice such as this can be lessened, a prime example being through inter-racial friendships and marriages. It is possible that this ingroup vs. outgroup association of race will diminish more and more as our education and upbringing continues to become more multicultural. But for now, easing these racial divides may take a lot of thought.

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Racism is learned: A study:

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The figure above shows that the reaction to African-American faces was found to be weaker in people with racially diverse peers.

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In a paper published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Eva Telzer of UCLA and three other researchers report that they’ve performed these amygdala studies–which had previously been done on adults–on children. And they found something interesting: the racial sensitivity of the amygdala doesn’t kick in until around age 14. What’s more: once it kicks in, it doesn’t kick in equally for everybody. The reaction to African-American faces was found to be weaker in people with racially diverse peers. The more racially diverse your peer group, the less strong the amygdala effect. At really high levels of diversity, the effect disappeared entirely. The authors of the study write that ”these findings suggest that neural biases to race are not innate and that race is a social construction, learned over time.” However, it’s conceivable that “the increasing amygdala response to race [with age] may be driven by intrinsic factors of the child, such as puberty, rather than exposure to cultural messages. For that matter, the correlation between peer group diversity and dampened amygdala response doesn’t mean the former causes the latter; it could work the other way around: maybe people with a mild response to racial difference wind up with more diverse peers.

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Another study showing that racism is learned:

Performance on Indirect Measures of Race Evaluation Predicts Amygdala Activation:

Researchers used fMRI to explore the neural substrates involved in the unconscious evaluation of Black and White social groups. Specifically, they focused on the amygdala, a subcortical structure known to play a role in emotional learning and evaluation. In Experiment 1, White American subjects observed faces of unfamiliar Black and White males. The strength of amygdala activation to Black-versus-White faces was correlated with two indirect (unconscious) measures of race evaluation (Implicit Association Test [IAT] and potentiated startle), but not with the direct (conscious) expression of race attitudes. In Experiment 2, these patterns were not obtained when the stimulus faces belonged to familiar and positively regarded Black and White individuals. Together, these results suggest that amygdala and behavioral responses to Black-versus-White faces in White subjects reflect cultural evaluations of social groups modified by individual experience. The amygdala’s response to African-American faces had been observed not just in European-American adults but in African-American adults–who aren’t, in this case, the “other.” Apparently whatever cultural information was inculcating a particular response to blacks in whites was having a similar effect in blacks.

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Racism learned since the age of 3 years: A study:

New research suggests prejudices may form at a much earlier age, but it also offers hope that biases can be unlearned:

For more than four decades, the notion that racism and physical prejudice don’t fully develop in humans until the teen or adult years has been at the root of research into racism. Popular scientific belief had been that children, who only develop the ability to express racial preferences at around age 3, gradually develop those preferences over time and only cement them well into their teen years. But new research by Mahzarin Banaji, a renowned Harvard University psychologist, brain researcher, and racism and physical prejudice expert, suggests that even though they may not understand the “why’’ of their feelings, children exposed to racism tend to accept and embrace it as young as age 3, and in just a matter of days. Banaji’s study, conducted with two Harvard peers, examined how children and adults identified ambiguously featured faces as happy (smiling) or angry (frowning). They showed 263 white children, between the ages of 3 and 14, a number of graphically drawn facial images in different skin tones from very light tan to brown, and asked them to describe them as happy or angry. One part of the test showed the children a set of faces that were an “inconclusive’’ light tan color that could have represented a white person or a black person. In that segment, most of the children, without prompting, described the faces as black, and also, no matter the facial expression in the drawing, as angry. Conversely, those faces the children said they believed to be white – even the faces bearing frowns – were almost exclusively described as happy. When the white children were asked to compare white faces with Asian faces, the outcome was the same: The Asian faces, and the faces that they perceived to be Asian, were described as angry. And the white faces were almost exclusively happy, the children said. A group of black children tested in the study revealed equal favorability and negativity biases, regardless of whether they perceived the test faces to be black or white. In other words, the black children showed no pro-black or pro-white bias. Will the physical prejudices young children learn early in life stick with them into adulthood? Maybe not. “As children age, let us say past 10, environment begins to play a tremendous role in how they perceive in-group and out-group people – people who look like them, and people who do not,’’ Banaji says. “So the good news is that even a child whose parents make no conscious effort to teach [him] not to be prejudiced can shed that prejudice if he finds himself in a diverse enough place and consistently observes in-group and out-group people interacting positively and as equals.’’ “The odds of aging children losing or at the very least lessening their bias against out-group people are only increased, of course, when responsible adults in their lives consciously place their children in a position to see different groups interacting as equals,’’ Banaji adds. “It is not the fault of the children that they grow up to see a majority of power and influence concentrated among one race,’’ she says. “So if we don’t act in their lives, as they age, to show context to that imbalance, they may continue to believe that one group is better or worse than the other, based on nothing more than color, features, or expressions.’’

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The neuroscience of egalitarianism: focusing on goal overrides implicit racial bias:

 How exactly does the neocortex keep our prejudices at bay? Most people would agree that non-prejudiced behavior involves treating people equally, regardless of their group membership. Indeed, what we really mean by “controlling prejudice” is sticking to one’s goal in an interaction—whether it’s asking for directions or evaluating a job candidate—without being influenced by race (or gender, or sexual orientation, etc.). While studies have shown that people are generally unable to deliberately turn down the intensity of a feeling or a stereotypic thought, people are quite effective at responding to those thoughts or feelings in a way that blocks the actual expression of bias. In other words, people can overcome racism by keeping their eyes on the prize. The brain cannot be anti-racist, per se, because it never stops spotting differences and sorting people into categories. But it is pro-goal—and if the goal is to make judgments without regard to race, the brain can do that, though it may take a bit of effort and practice. In a series of experiments, researchers studied the neural mechanisms that enable us to control behavior in the face of automatic prejudiced tendencies. In one study, they measured participants’ brain activity while they completed a computer task that required them to override stereotyped tendencies. In the task, white participants were shown pictures of various handguns and handtools. Their goal was to classify these objects as guns or tools by pressing buttons on the computer keyboard. But just before each gun or tool picture appeared, a face of either a white or black person flashed briefly on the screen. Given the stereotype that African Americans are dangerous, the momentary flash of a black face predisposes participants to expect to see a gun, rather than a tool. This speeds up their response to guns and leads to more mistakes when a tool actually appears. In order to respond accurately on the task, participants need to override the influence of racial stereotypes. By measuring electrical changes in the brain as they completed this task, using electroencephalography (EEG), they hoped to shed light on the psychological processes involved in the control of prejudice. Researchers found that participants with positive attitudes toward black people showed greater activity in the left prefrontal cortex—a region associated with greater self-control—throughout the task. More interestingly, this increase in frontal cortical activity appeared to tune other regions of the brain to perceive the black and white faces differently. Finally, this tuning of perception helped participants to respond more carefully and accurately when categorizing the target pictures (guns and tools), and as a result, their responses were less influenced by racial stereotypes triggered by the faces. In other words, low-prejudice people are more attentive to racial cues—and this helps them adjust their behaviors to respond without prejudice. These results are similar to those of a study by Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske, who used fMRI to measure activity of white participants’ amygdalas in response to black vs. white faces while those white participants completed different types of tasks. When the task was to categorize faces according to their race, the researchers observed greater amygdala activity to black faces, suggesting a stronger emotional reaction toward blacks. However, when participants had a specific goal for which race was not relevant—for example, to search for a gray dot on the picture or to try to guess what type of vegetable the person in the picture preferred—the differential amygdala response to black vs. white faces disappeared. These results provide even more support for the idea that people can override the effects of implicit racial bias by focusing their attention on their main, race-irrelevant task.

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A Study: historical knowledge predicted perception of racism for black and white students alike:

According to research published in Psychological Science, ignorance about the extent of racism in history might explain why some people perceive less racism today than others. In a survey of college students, historical knowledge predicted perception of racism for black and white students alike. In other words, this may be one area in which ignorance is bliss. To examine possible reasons why different groups see the reality of racism differently, the researchers recruited college students — 199 of European descent and 74 of African descent — to complete a true or false black history test. Some statements in the test covered well-documented, factual incidents, while other items discussed made-up but plausible events. The student participants also completed assessments their self-esteem regarding their racial identity as well as surveys to measure their view of systemic racism and isolated incidents of racism. Historical knowledge predicted racism perception for both African Americans and European Americans, the researchers found.

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Racial prejudice not evolutionarily adaptive:

Biologists John Tooby and Leda Cosmides were puzzled by the fact that race is one of the three characteristics most often used in brief descriptions of individuals (the others are age and sex). They reasoned that natural selection would not have favored the evolution of an instinct for using race as a classification, because for most of human history, humans almost never encountered members of other races. Tooby and Cosmides hypothesized that modern people use race as a proxy (rough-and-ready indicator) for coalition membership, since a better-than-random guess about “which side” another person is on will be helpful if one does not actually know in advance. In The Selfish Gene, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins writes that “Blood-feuds and inter-clan warfare are easily interpretable in terms of Hamilton’s genetic theory.” Dawkins writes that racial prejudice, while not evolutionarily adaptive, “could be interpreted as an irrational generalization of a kin-selected tendency to identify with individuals physically resembling oneself, and to be nasty to individuals different in appearance”. Simulation-based experiments in evolutionary game theory have attempted to provide an explanation for the selection of ethnocentric-strategy phenotypes.

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Here I would go by what Dawkins wrote. When a white child sees white parents caring for himself since childhood, and also sees white sibling, white relatives and white neighbors socially interacting with him; he thinks that these white people are his well wishers as they look like him. When such a child sees a black man for the first time, he considers him as alien merely because that black man looks different from what the child has seen since birth. When that child watches TV and finds that black man is killing somebody, in his mind, prejudice and fear against black man develops which later on gets reinforced repeatedly through media, peers and parental talk resulting in developing racism in his mind. The solution is exposure of child to multi-racial multi-cultural people since birth. That can be achieved only by non-racist parents.

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Associative ability and racism:

If you are persuaded by evolutionary biology, there are strong reasons why we would want to form quick associations. If you were to see one tiger in the wild, it would make sense that you would not want to have repeat encounters with tigers. The brain is very good at extrapolating and generalizing. This may have carried survival value at one point, but now we operate in a more complex world where the quick judgments that once aided us may now imperil us. The brain does have that sub-conscious mechanism, but what those associations end up being are shaped by culture, personal histories and whom we choose to associate with. However, the hidden brain doesn’t always learn what it’s taught to learn. We can consciously teach people that certain attitudes are right or wrong, but that does little to alter the hidden brain. It’s a much dumber system that learns much more through repetition and making associations. In the preceding paragraph, I discussed how a white child develops racism against black man; it is the associative ability of his brain that does it. White child sees his white parents, white siblings and white neighbors as his well wishers (helping him survive) and the black man as alien (threat to survival) and this constant associations in his brain makes him racist against the black community. 

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Racism and xenophobia linked to biological fear of outsiders in Stone Age:

Racism and xenophobia could have a deep-seated biological basis dating from our Stone Age past, explaining why people naturally tend to shun outsiders. For tens of thousands of years prior to the rise of agriculture in about 8,000BC, human societies lived in close-knit tribes of hunter-gatherers which survived best if they distrusted outsiders, according to two anthropologists. Mark Pagel of Reading University and Ruth Mace of University College London believe this aversion to strangers was more than simply protecting territory but a way of ensuring the greatest degree of altruistic co-operation within a social group. Such behavior could explain why humans are so culturally diverse, because shunning outsiders would lead to the evolution of different languages and traditions which tend to reinforce differences between tribes and ethnic groups.

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Can race be erased?  A study:

Previous studies have established that people encode the race of each individual they encounter, and do so via computational processes that appear to be both automatic and mandatory. If true, this conclusion would be important, because categorizing others by their race is a precondition for treating them differently according to race. Here researchers report experiments, using unobtrusive measures, showing that categorizing individuals by race is not inevitable, and supporting an alternative hypothesis: that encoding by race is instead a reversible byproduct of cognitive machinery that evolved to detect coalitional alliances. The results show that subjects encode coalitional affiliations as a normal part of person representation. More importantly, when cues of coalitional affiliation no longer track or correspond to race, subjects markedly reduce the extent to which they categorize others by race, and indeed may cease doing so entirely. Despite a lifetime’s experience of race as a predictor of social alliance, less than 4 min of exposure to an alternate social world was enough to deflate the tendency to categorize by race. These results suggest that racism may be a volatile and eradicable construct that persists only so long as it is actively maintained through being linked to parallel systems of social alliance.

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Exposure to racial diversity and unlearn racism:

A series of four 2009 studies found that people who watched shows that featured negative nonverbal behavior toward blacks became more prejudiced themselves, as measured by tests of implicit bias — this was especially true when viewers didn’t recognize the behavior as negative. It seems that TV can indeed subconsciously induce racism. So how can show runners correct for that? The research is overwhelmingly clear: job one is to confront the fact that racial difference exists. Colorblindness doesn’t work because we never stop spotting differences in our environment. Our brains are designed to do that for survival benefit. Refusing to accept racial differences is a “non-survival behavior,” something that belongs in the same category as smoking cigarettes and riding a motorcycle without a helmet. The antidote to subconscious bias is not political correctness but thoughtfulness, self-awareness and courageous originality. The good news is that our brains get used to difference; in most situations, exposure to people of different races reduces prejudice. That’s a good reason for TV and movies to at least make an effort to show our cities in all their diversity. But that’s not all. As researchers have developed new and creative ways to induce racial nightmares in brain scanners, they’ve found that the prefrontal cortex — that’s the newest, most human part of the brain, the one responsible for long-term planning and intentional thought — is able to tell the oldest, least human part of the brain, the amygdala, to calm down. In other words, people can outthink and unlearn subconscious prejudice. 

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Do we need to use ‘race’ in research?

For at least a century, American medical and public health researchers have used race as a marker for biology, and have documented race-associated differences in health and illness behavior. The research has often been inappropriate and has led to abuses and erroneous conclusions about the role played by race in the production of disparities in health status. Consequently, some researchers have begun to advocate the abolition of medical and public health research using race. Although the arguments against continuing to study race have some merit, more rather than fewer studies of race are needed. Researchers should be more careful in the use of race and more conscious of the limitations of the race concept.

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Behavioral biology against racism:

The view of human nature as being significantly innate and other insights of behavioral biology can support a fight against racism.

1. First, evolutionary scholars have shown that race does not explain the differences between cultures.

2. Cultures developed as better and worse ways of doing things from the standpoint of the people themselves, and they depended on variations in geography and ecology.

3. Because innovations, such as those in agriculture tended to spread along lines of similar climate, such innovations moved more easily in Eurasia because Eurasia runs from east to west in contrast to Africa and the Americas, which run north to south.

4. Similarly, in early cultures, transportation of large goods occurred over water, requiring natural harbors and navigable rivers, which Europe and parts of Asia had but Africa and Australia did not allowing innovations to spread over large distances in Eurasia.

5. Thus, “Eurasia conquered the world not because Eurasians were smarter but because they could best take advantage of the principle that many heads are better than one.”

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Under behavioral biology, all humans are moral equals. Because there are a vast number of genetic combinations, each person is unique. Thus, society should treat each person as an individual, not as a member of a group with its stereotypes. Part of our moral sense is that human beings can identify suffering in others through mirror neurons. “Individuals recognize actions made by others because the pattern of firing neurons [mirror neurons] made when observing an action is similar to the pattern produced to generate that action.”  In other words, empathy and sympathy are innate. When we feel someone else’s suffering, we want to reduce that other person’s suffering. Accordingly, individuals identify with suffering caused by racism, and they have an innate sense that they should reduce that suffering.

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Most importantly, behavioral biology has shown that from a genetic standpoint racism is unfounded. There hasn’t been enough time in the human evolutionary process for significant differences to occur among localized populations. Professor Pinker has noted that “people are qualitatively the same but may differ quantitatively. The quantitative differences are small in biological terms, and they are found to a much greater extent among the individual members of an ethnic group or race than between ethnic groups or races.”  Likewise, Professor Goldsmith has declared: “Even when different members of different human populations look different and where there are demonstrable differences in gene frequencies underlying physical characteristics, the presumption remains that cultural differences reflect alternative phenotypic expressions of a common genetic heritage.”  In sum, when one shows that the mind is the same in all humans, then unimportant biological aspects like skin color become irrelevant, and the reasons for prejudice should vanish.

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Race, culture and ethnicity:

Race is defined as “a group of people of common ancestry, distinguished from others by physical characteristics such as hair type, color of eyes and skin, stature etc”. (Collins English Dictionary) Ethnic is defined as “relating to or characteristic of a human group having racial, religious, linguistic and certain other traits in common”. (Collins English dictionary). Racism differs from ethnocentrism in that it is linked to physical and therefore immutable differences among people. Race is a form of identity that is perceived as innate and unalterable. Ethnic identity is acquired, and ethnic features are learned forms of behavior. Race and ethnicity are different entities. While both are social constructs, race is associated with the idea that there are innate biological differences and has largely been discredited. Ethnicity, on the other hand, is associated with culture, religion, language, etc 

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Blurring of distinction between race, culture and ethnicity:

In international human rights law the term race is generally used in a broader sense and often blurs with other distinctions between groups of people based on religion, ethnicity, social groupings, language and culture. The term “race” in human rights law is sometimes used to encompass groups which may not fall into distinctive biological racial groupings, for example caste systems in India and Japan. As discussed earlier, The International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (article 1) does not define “race” but it does define “racial discrimination” to mean “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” Ethnicity is explicitly subsumed under this definition by the term “race”. Most human rights treaties simply refer to “race” and do not use the terminology of “ethnicity”.

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As discussed in earlier paragraph, the concepts of race, ethnicity, and culture are sometimes used to describe the same things. Wright et al. (1983, quoted in Harry, p. 5) attempt to distinguish among these terms: “Ethnic groups will be so defined if they share a common sociohistory, have a sense of identity of themselves as a group, and have common geographical, religious, racial, and cultural roots. The central core of each ethnic group, welding it together with the thread of belief, styles of being, and adapting, is culture… Race is, at this point, a dubious biological designation” (p. 13). Tatum (1997), in supporting this last point, notes that “race is a social construction. Despite myths to the contrary, biologists tell us that the only meaningful racial categorization is that of human” (p. 16).

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It was already noted by DuBois that, in making the difference between races, it is not race that we think about, but culture: “…a common history, common laws and religion, similar habits of thought and a conscious striving together for certain ideals of life”. Late 19th century nationalists were the first to embrace contemporary discourses on “race”, ethnicity and “survival of the fittest” to shape new nationalist doctrines. Ultimately, race came to represent not only the most important traits of the human body, but was also regarded as decisively shaping the character and personality of the nation. According to this view, culture is the physical manifestation created by ethnic groupings, as such fully determined by racial characteristics. Culture and race became considered intertwined and dependent upon each other, sometimes even to the extent of including nationality or language to the set of definition. Pureness of race tended to be related to rather superficial characteristics that were easily addressed and advertised, such as blondness. Racial qualities tended to be related to nationality and language rather than the actual geographic distribution of racial characteristics. In the case of Nordicism, the denomination “Germanic” became virtually equivalent to superiority of race. Bolstered by some nationalist and ethnocentric values and achievements of choice, this concept of racial superiority evolved to distinguish from other cultures that were considered inferior or impure. This emphasis on culture corresponds to the modern mainstream definition of racism: “Racism does not originate from the existence of ‘races’. It creates them through a process of social division into categories: anybody can be racialized, independently of their somatic, cultural or religious differences.”

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Defining culture:

The term culture has been defined as “a learned system of meaning and behavior that is passed from one generation to the next” (Carter & Qureshi, 1995, p. 241), and as “all the customs, values, and traditions that are learned from one’s environment” (Sue & Sue, 1990, cited in Sodowsky, Kwan, & Pannu, 1995, p. 132). According to Sodowsky et al. (1991, cited in Sodowsky, Kwan, & Pannu, 1995) in every culture there is a “set of people who have common and shared values; customs, habits, and rituals; systems of labeling, explanations, and evaluations; social rules of behavior; perceptions regarding human nature, natural phenomena, interpersonal relationships, time, and activity; symbols, art, and artifacts; and historical developments” (p. 132). Culture, then, acts as “a unifying influence. It combines the different aspects of life into a logical whole” (p. 132).

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Cultures are constantly evolving in response to changes in the environment; as Venkatesh (1995, p. 30) notes, “no culture stands still.” Moreover, because culture is a learned phenomenon, “individuals and groups can and do change their ethnic or cultural identities and interests through such processes as migration, conversion, and assimilation or through exposure to modifying influences” (Smedley, 1993, quoted in Carter & Qureshi, 1995, p. 241). In bicultural or multicultural contexts, such as are prevalent in the United States, the interaction between cultures often acts as a modifying factor. Life events, psychological characteristics, and other factors also can mediate cultural influences. Harry (1992) argues that the most important thing to understand about culture is that “standards of social behavior are culturally derived.” She also observes that “the closer one is to one’s original culture, the harder it is to recognize the culturally specific, rather than universal, base of accepted norms for behavior” (p. 57).

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The human species consists of many “fluid bio-cultural units.” In the time we have spent criss-crossing the planet, we have created thousands of diverse cultures, each of which has adapted to, and changed with, different environmental conditions over periods of time. The effects of countless migrations due to famines, wars, weather patterns, the search for economic stability, and other motivators, has engendered a long history of mating between groups. The more recent effects of world travel, web communication and a global economy have only added to this. As a result, within the “human race,” there are no sub-species that can be ranked into taxonomies according to differences in traits and abilities. As a whole, we are far more alike than different. More and more scientists find that the differences that set us apart are cultural, not racial. Some even say that the word race should be abandoned because it’s meaningless. We accept the idea of race because it’s a convenient way of putting people into broad categories, frequently to suppress them—the most hideous example was provided by Hitler’s Germany. And racial prejudice remains common throughout the world.

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Ethnicity:

Ethnicity refers to shared cultural practices, perspectives, and distinctions that set apart one group of people from another. That is, ethnicity is a shared cultural heritage. The most common characteristics distinguishing various ethnic groups are ancestry, a sense of history, language, religion, and forms of dress. Ethnic differences are not inherited; they are learned. Most countries today consist of different ethnic groups. Ideally, countries strive for pluralism, where people of all ethnicities and races remain distinct but have social equality. As an example, the United States is exceptionally diverse, with people representing groups from all over the globe, but lacking in true pluralism. The same can be said of the ethnic diversity of the former Soviet Union with its more than 100 ethnic groups, some having more than a million members.

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Anthropological aspect of Ethnicity & Culture:

Anthropologists have an understanding of the term culture that differs from popular and other scholarly usage of the term (see Harris, 1968; Rapport & Overing, 2000). Every introductory textbook today contains the definition of culture first proposed by E. B. Tylor in 1871 or some variation of it. “Culture,” he wrote, “is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capability and habits acquired by man as a member of society” (Tylor, 1871/1958, p. 1). Today, authors substitute humankind for man and often add a significant phrase, “and based upon the human ability to symbol,” that is, the human ability to invent meanings and to act as if they are real or true (Carneiro, 2003; Harris, 1979; White, 1949; White & Dillingham, 1973). Anthropologists concur with cognitive psychologists that “symbolic representation is the principal cognitive signature of humans” (Donald, 1997, p. 737) that makes possible the enormous creativity of cultural phenomena. What is common to most anthropological conceptions of culture is the contention that culture is external, acquired, and transmissible to others. They do not treat culture as a part of the innate biological equipment of humans (Harris, 1999). Ethnicity and culture are related phenomena and bear no intrinsic connection to human biological variations or race. Ethnicity refers to clusters of people who have common culture traits that they distinguish from those of other people. People who share a common language, geographic locale or place of origin, religion, sense of history, traditions, values, beliefs, food habits, and so forth, are perceived, and view themselves as constituting, an ethnic group (see, e.g., Jones, 1997; Parrillo, 1997; A. Smedley, 1999b; Steinberg, 1989; Takaki, 1993). But ethnic groups and ethnicity are not fixed, bounded entities; they are open, flexible, and subject to change, and they are usually selfdefined (Barth, 1998). Because culture traits are learned, ethnicity or ethnic traits are transmissible to other people—sometimes easily so.

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One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term “culture” came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1897 book: “Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”  The term “civilization” later gave way to definitions by V. Gordon Childe, with culture forming an umbrella term and civilization becoming a particular kind of culture. The anthropological concept of “culture” reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between “culture” and “nature”, according to which some human beings lived in a “state of nature”. Anthropologists have argued that culture is “human nature”, and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically (i.e. in language), and teach such abstractions to others. Since humans acquire culture through the learning processes of enculturation and socialization, people living in different places or different circumstances develop different cultures. Anthropologists have also pointed out that through culture, people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures. Questions regarding which cultures were “primitive” and which were “civilized” occupied the minds of not only Marx and Freud, but many others. Colonialism and its processes increasingly brought European thinkers in contact, directly or indirectly with “primitive others.” The relative status of various humans, some of whom had modern advanced technologies that included engines and telegraphs, while others lacked anything but face-to-face communication techniques and still lived a Paleolithic lifestyle; made arbitrary distinction between ‘civilized culture’ and ‘primitive culture’. Since civilized culture was predominantly Europeans (whites) and primitive culture was predominantly African (blacks), it was natural to assume that whites were superior than blacks albeit erroneously.

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Anthropology Sociology
Definition: The study of human beings and their ancestors through time in terms of physical character, environmental and social relations and culture. The study of the development, structure, interaction and behavior of organized groups of human beings.

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A typical anthropology degree includes the study of human evolution, cross-cultural issues, rituals & myths and cultural history. Areas of specialization in anthropology include sociocultural, linguistic, physical and archaeological anthropology. Sociocultural anthropology is the study of culture, mostly based on ethnography, with a central focus on kinship and social organization. Linguistic anthropology studies the history of human communication, while physical anthropology examines the evolution of humans and other primates. Archaeological anthropology studies human history through its artifacts such as pieces of pottery and tools. Typical sociology degree includes the study of social problems, criminology, culture, race, gender and ethnicity. Areas of specialization in sociology include families, urban communities, health, aging, economics, ethnicity, sex and gender, and crime. As you can see that even though anthropology and sociology are two different domains, culture and ethnicity are the areas where both merge.

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Evolutionary biologically, culture:

Evolutionary biologically, culture is actually inextricably part of the story of human evolution in many ways as shown below.

1. In the first, and most basic sense, culture is detectable in the material record as lithic technology, that is, as stone tools, by 2.5 million years ago. With short thumbs and small brains, living apes do not make stone tools (a bonobo named Kanzi was taught to make and use them, although his ‘level of expertise is significantly below that seen in Oldowan hominids’, according to Schick & Toth, 1994, p. 139). So these implements mark a point in the evolution of our species, the origin of technology. They are shorthand for anthropologists, however, insofar as they are not so much the first tools, as the first tools identifiable as such in the archaeological record. Rope or nets, for example, which those stone tools would have been quite useful for making, would not be identifiable to archaeologists, nor would bone or wood implements. The twigs and rocks used by living chimpanzees, for example, would not be recognizable as tools, and their living spaces have only the subtlest elements of a human archaeological site (Mercader et al., 2002). The point is that we have been co-evolving with technology for over 2.5 million years; natural selection has as much adapted us to it as surely as cultural selection has adapted it to us. Our hair, for example, is distinctly different from that of the apes in several ways. Unlike the apes, the hair on our heads would be a sensory nuisance, covering our faces unless carefully tended. That tending, however, is not simply utilitarian, for in human societies generally, one’s hair and other manners of self-decoration symbolically announce aspects of one’s status. And indeed, the very first images of the human form that we have—the 25,000-year-old ‘Venus figurines’—show the hair carefully tended. That is, with Upper Palaeolithic technologies they groomed a biological feature of negative survival value, imbuing it with symbolic social meanings; and the same might well be true of the sexually dimorphic human facial hair. Its social and symbolic value must have outweighed what a pain it was to develop in the first place (for apes have neither long facial hair nor long head hair), and must have been there from the very beginning (Thierry,2005). The biological feature had to co-evolve with the cultural ability to take care of it, and to ascribe meaning to it. Culture is thus an ultimate evolutionary cause (Mayr, 1961) of the human condition.

2. The second sense in which human biology is inevitably cultural is in the sense that the environment in which any human develops it itself constituted by the local traditional economic, linguistic, dietary, behavioral and social features that constitute human ‘culture’. Animal and plant domestication, for example, lead to less exercise for the developing jaws, which in turn leads to a reduction in adult facial size. This is known as ‘developmental plasticity’ and is widely thought to involve reversible modifications to the DNA, or epigenetics (Kaplan, 1954; Bateson et al., 2004; Jablonka & Lamb, 2005). Maternal stress and diet affect the developing foetus; child-rearing practices affect children not only psychologically, but also physically, as in the skull shape associated with the practice of strapping an infant to a cradle-board. Although genetic differences among populations exist, they play a small role in explaining health-risk disparities. Rare genetic diseases, such as sickle-cell anaemia, are not a major factor in explaining the average seven-year difference in life expectancy between whites and blacks in the United States. In modern society, the major differences in health risks across populations are attributable to economic and social causes (Gravlee, 2009; Kuzawa & Sweet, 2009). The environment in which every human being develops is a cultural environment. Culture is thus also a proximate cause (Laland et al., 2011) of the human condition.

3. And the third sense in which human biology is an invariably cultural lie in the very nature of the science itself, in explaining who we are and where we came from, as any origin myth does, but with the modern cultural authority of science behind it. As a consequence, scientific narratives of human evolution share many of the features of heromyths (Landau, 1984), and of origin narratives generally (Stoczkowski, 2002). The mythmaker brings common elements in general circulation to the listener, and integrates elements that resonate meaningfully with the audience (Le´vi-Strauss, 1962). In particular, narratives of origin invariably contain political information, since origins are histories and histories are political. Archaeological work, for example, is routinely co-opted for nationalistic ends (Abu el-Haj, 2001; Meskell, 2002). Nor can one escape that situation: scientific work on human beings has always incorporated cultural values. 

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History shows very clearly the pervasive influence of cultural ideas upon scientific narratives of human evolution. This influence stems from a fairly straightforward biological fact: that we are humans, studying humans, that is, studying our own ancestry and diversity. The intellectual distance implied by classical laboratory science between the subject and object, between the observer and the observed, simply is not there. We are not humans studying flies, but humans studying ourselves. No other living species has evolved as we have, which makes it difficult to model human evolution as simply biological processes, with precedents in zoology (Pagel, 2012). The reason human evolution cannot be studied from a strictly zoological perspective is that such an endeavor begins by denying the very facts of our existence that we are trying to explain—how we came to be the creatures that we are, weak and slow-moving, unable to survive without the non-biological environment that our ancestors made, yet nevertheless overrunning the planet; genetically almost identical to chimpanzees, yet driving them and all the other apes to extinction. We did it by evolving into biocultural animals, animals who look at the things around them and ask what they can do with this stuff. While other species live in material, ecological environmental contexts, humans are shaped by their historical environment, that is, by the things our ancestors said and did, and in turn construct our present environment technologically, socially, politically, economically and linguistically. To the extent that we can find approximations of ourselves in other species, this is nevertheless what we evolved to be, and our evolution is consequently subject to rules that are not readily apparent in the evolution of other species (Sterelny, 2012). It is a deeper and broader myth, that humans are scientifically understandable independently of culture—either your own or that of your remote ancestors.

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Cultural Versus Genetic Evolution:

Most people believe that there is a direct or simple relationship between genes and culture. They also believe that the genetic composition of our species is unchanging, and many people have difficulty with accepting the fact that cultures also change. What most people consider as genetically determined, innate aspects of human behavior, particularly with regard to race, are artifacts of cultural evolution. A culture is a complex whole of the beliefs, art, morals, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of their society. All human cultures have roots in our biology. But the relationship between biology and culture is complicated. This complex interrelationship allows for seemingly broad cultural variation throughout our history. Yet this diversity is still based on biological constraints. All humans had to find a way to gather or grow food. All developed language. All had to reproduce, develop forms of marriage, and rear their children through kin networks. All developed music, art, dance, myths, and religion. Men dominate the political hierarchy of almost every human culture. The current focus on cultural diversity is laudable, but the pendulum may have swung so far that we have forgotten how fundamentally similar the world’s cultures really are. Parents give their offspring two things: its genetic material and its culture and social position. Human genes and cultures must have evolved in association, however, they evolve by slightly different rules. The small difference in mechanism is profound and this accounts for why cultures can evolve much faster than genes. Genetic evolution occurs because the genetic code DNA is replicated in each generation and passed on to offspring. It is impossible for any physical mechanism to copy anything without making mistakes. The code is resistant to change because most genetic change (mutation) is bad. What would happen if a person reached under the cabinet of their television set and switched any two parts at random? It is not likely that this would make the television work better. A mutation in DNA is like switching parts at random. The DNA code consists of four chemical nucleotides. Along a single strand of DNA, groups of three of these nucleotides spell out the code of a specific amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and these proteins carry out the business of the living cell. If the code were changed, these proteins might not function properly. For example, changing just a few nucleotides causes valine to be substituted for glutamic acid in hemoglobin. The result is that the protein changes shape and produces sickle cell anemia. Fortunately living cells actually have a complicated set of enzymes that replicate, proof-read, and repair DNA, precisely to preserve the code, but these mechanisms are not perfect and some mutations are missed.

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Revolutionary concept of enslaved DNA:

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Let me begin by quoting from my article on ‘War” posted in my website:

Gene-culture Co-evolution as a cause of multi-ethnicity:

Co-evolution is a change in the genetic composition of one species (or group) in response to a genetic change in another. More generally, the idea of some reciprocal evolutionary change in interacting species is a strict definition of co-evolution. The term co-evolution is used to describe cases where two (or more) species reciprocally affect each other’s evolution. So for example, an evolutionary change in the morphology of a plant, might affect the morphology of an herbivore that eats the plant, which in turn might affect the evolution of the plant, which might affect the evolution of the herbivore…and so on. Each party in a co-evolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution. Bumblebees and the flowers they pollinate have coevolved so that both have become dependent on each other for survival. Co-evolution is primarily a biological concept, but has been applied to other fields by analogy. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behaviour as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide “races”) adapted to local circumstances by a process known as gene-culture “co-evolution” in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. Gene–culture co-evolution theory was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to explain how human behaviour is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. One of the theory’s central claims is that culture evolves partly through a Darwinian selection process, which dual inheritance theorists often describe by analogy to genetic evolution. Genes have an impact on cultural evolution via psychological predispositions on cultural learning. Genes encode much of the information needed to form the human brain. Genes constrain the brain’s structure and, hence, the ability of the brain to acquire and store culture. Genes may also endow individuals with certain types of transmission bias. Culture can profoundly influence gene frequencies in a population. One of the best known examples is the prevalence of the genotype for adult lactose absorption in human populations, such as Northern Europeans and some African societies, with a long history of raising cattle for milk. Other societies such as East Asians and Amerindians retain the typical mammalian genotype in which the body shuts down lactase production shortly after the normal age of weaning. This implies that the cultural practice of raising cattle for milk led to selection for genetic traits for lactose digestion. Recently, analysis of natural selection on the human genome suggests that civilization has accelerated genetic change in humans over the past 10,000 years. Ethnicity is culture. If your ancestors develop a culture, it is because they adapted to it. This violates the taboo that says humans are above nature, not shaped by it. Each ethnicity has produced unique traits that are worth preserving. Different ethnicities amount to different abilities due to different traits caused by different evolutionary paths resulting in constant infighting which may ultimately lead to war. So scientifically speaking, all human beings are not same as different selection pressures in different regions of the world resulting in different process of co-evolution of different subsets of humans in whom genes and cultural elements influence each other differently resulting in ethnically different humans. My life as human experiment proves this point. Ethnically, I am a European-American Caucasian male genetically programmed to behave in a specific way, far different from Indian Caucasian human environment in which I lives, resulting in various conflicts in my life (broken marriage, conflict with regime, conflict with media etc). Had I been brought up in a country of European-American Caucasians, the clash of ethnicity would have been prevented and my life would have been peaceful. This is no longer a hypothesis but a fact of life. There is obvious dissimilarity between my personality traits and that of other humans in my environment. I would not call it a clash of civilization but indeed a mismatch. No wonder Indian media had declared a war against me. No wonder Indian regime wrote to UN that my personality is bad. Their actions were not error of judgment but evidence of ethnic divide.

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I quote myself from my article on ‘Stress” posted on my website:

Stress in biology is defined as a response to change; change could be physical, physiological, psychological or social. Genes do affect stress response and stress also affects genetic code. Stress induced changes in genetic code including the creation of novel genes, the alteration of gene expression in development, and the genesis of major genomic rearrangements are carried forward in next generation to help next generation to adapt to stress. This explains why there is a generation gap in thinking, cognition and attitudes; and also why younger generation is smarter than previous generation. This also explains why youth support me rather than their parents.

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Corollary to this logic is that biological stress response does occur due to change in culture. This cultural change can affect genetic code and similarly genes could also affect culture. However, all these have nothing to do with skin color or facial features and therefore co-evolution of genes & culture is independent of so called ‘Races, namely, Caucasian, Negroid or Oriental’.

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The concept of enslaved DNA:

Race is determined by biological characteristics and there is a difference of only 0.01 % DNA change from black race to white race. This minimal genetic difference cannot account for difference in cognition, intelligence and behaviour. However, as discussed above, ethnic culture of over several hundred years can affect DNA and genes. So a white child growing up in Brazil whose ancestors also lived in Brazil for 500 years would be ethnically Brazilian but racially white. In a same way, a Negro living in Europe whose ancestors also lived in Europe for 500 years would be ethnically European but racially black. So race and ethnicity (culture) differs and diverge. Cognition, behaviour and intelligence at the DNA level is inculcated due to cultural influence of hundreds of years and manifested in future generation irrespective of biological characteristics of races e.g. skin colour, facial features etc. Now here comes a catch 22. For instance, a black child; grown up in generations of slavery (slave culture); would show behavioural and cognitive changes of a slave due to inculcated genetic changes over hundreds of years of slavery of ancestors. This is enslaved DNA. The DNA and genetic code that was forced to live in slavery devoid of education and development for hundreds of years. Whites have dominated over blacks for hundreds of years enslaving them, and so when a black child is born in such enslaved family, he would inherit cultural characteristics of slavery genetically. So here culture and race converge. In the same way, if a white child is made to live in slavery and his ancestors were also slaves for hundreds of years, he would also carry genetic changes of slavery despite being a white child. In other words, even though race and ethnicity are different, when a group of individuals adapt to a culture of racial discrimination & exploitation for hundreds of years, it would induce genetic changes purely on the basis of that discriminating culture and not on the basis of biological differences due to race per se. The social changes of a culture evolved over hundreds of years would influence genes to adapt to that social change and future generation of that group would carry similar genetic change. So if whites enslaved blacks for hundreds of years, the new-born black child would carry genetic changes of slavery as his ancestors were slaves. So racism and racial discrimination over hundreds of years would affect genes of slave race (black race) purely due to culture of slavery of hundreds of years and not due to biological difference in skin color.

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Even though certain characteristics become more alike in identical (monozygotic) twins such as IQ and personality, they are not genetically identical. No two humans are genetically identical. Even monozygotic twins, who develop from one zygote, have frequent genetic differences due to mutations occurring during development and gene copy number variation.  Although monozygotic twins are genetically very similar, a study of 92 pairs of monozygotic twins, carried out in November  2012, has found that monozygotic twins acquire hundreds of genetic differences early in fetal development, due to mutations (or copy errors) taking place in the DNA of each twin after the splitting of the embryo. It is estimated that, on average, a set of monozygotic twins will have about 360 genetic differences that occurred early in fetal development. Another cause of difference between monozygotic twins is epigenetic modification, caused by differing environmental influences throughout their lives, which affects which genes are switched on or off. A study of 80 pairs of monozygotic twins ranging in age from 3 to 74 showed that the youngest twins have relatively few epigenetic differences. The number of epigenetic differences increases with age. Fifty-year-old twins had over three times the epigenetic difference of three-year-old twins. Twins who had spent their lives apart (such as those adopted by two different sets of parents at birth) had the greatest difference. This scientifically proves that environmental interaction changes genetic code.

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Even though the human species is 99.9 percent the same genetically according to human genome project and recent study challenged findings of human genome project and found 12 % of human DNA varies in copy number variations across a range of volunteers of diverse ancestry, our knowledge about genes, DNA and how it interact with environment to produce human behavior is only tip of the iceberg. The science of correlation between human gene-environment interaction and human behavior is in infancy. I theorize that every human, white or black; upper caste or lower caste; have different DNA. No two humans are absolutely identical genetically as well as behaviorally including identical twins. However this difference has nothing to do with difference in skin color or facial features. In other words, despite having similar DNA for same skin color, two humans can be poles apart. This is the most important point. Different humans in different cultures have different DNA due to exposure to different environment. So race (based on skin color & facial features) and culture have no correlation; white race does not become white culture when environment is same to both whites and blacks for hundreds of years. However, when discrimination (slavery, poor education, poor nutrition, poor health care, poor housing etc) sets in, DNA of that group of people (black community) changes in response to adverse environment and becomes enslaved DNA. So race becomes culture (black people develop poor cognition and poor abilities on group basis and not on individual basis).

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Genetic variability alone based on nucleotide diversity based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or non-SNP variation including copy number variation; cannot explain cognition, intelligence and behavioral variability between different humans. Computer analogy is sufficient. All basic laptops have similar hardware. Now it is up to you to install different software like internet explorer browser or Firefox browser. In the same way, your genetic code which you derived from your parents and your genetic variability SNP + non-SNP are your hardware. Your behavior, your ability, your intelligence are software developed upon hardware in conjunction with your interaction with environment. Your software is result of interaction between your hardware and your environment. [The difference between human genetic hardware and computer hardware is the malleability of human genes so that genetic code does change in response to environmental changes which is passed on to subsequent generation for better survival. But that is the difference between living and non-living matter.]  I know identical twins who have same DNA hardware, lived in same environment, having same looks, same skin color (same racial connotation) but their behavior is different. They may have same disease risk & similar IQ but their approach to life is different. One reason is genetic variability due to SNP or non-SNP variations, but most important reason is that even if they have similar environment, their interaction with environment is different. So the notion that 99.9 % DNA are same in all humans does not make all humans same. All human beings are different due to different DNA and different interaction with environment; and when their environments itself are different (different cultures), the difference between humans would be more pronounced. Different does not mean unequal. Different does not mean one is superior to another. Different means different approach to life. However, due to persistent discrimination, DNA will be prevented to express its full potential and therefore become enslaved DNA. This will happen to any human no matter white skin or black skin. So enslavement of DNA is independent of skin color but due to persistent discrimination over several generations.

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Thousands of years of discrimination of Hindu lower caste (HLC) socially, educationally and economically has created genetic changes in the DNA of HLC resulting in impaired cognition and lower intelligence of these HLC. This is enslaved DNA of HLC similar to enslaved DNA of blacks (Negros). Now, when a child is born in such HLC family would automatically inherit these characteristics of poor cognition & intelligence and poor ability. By giving such a child affirmative action by reservation, you are giving him an opportunity to improvise him and his DNA. Also, a level playing field is created when this child is competing with Hindu upper caste (HUC) child as HUC child has been growing in a culture of better socialization and better education of his ancestors and thereby gained superiorly evolved DNA. So this reservation would help child attain better education and indirectly help improvement in enslaved DNA. After several generations of affirmative action in the form of reservation, the descendant of this child would get rid of enslaved DNA. This is not a hypothesis but a bonafide fact. The study on benefits of reservation in three successive generations in south India has shown that the latest generation HLC child is having good intelligence & good ability and is at par with the child of HUC in school performances. The enslaved DNA of a child whose earlier three generation were given reservation facility has become liberated DNA. So hundreds of years of slavery and discrimination that generated enslaved DNA could be liberated by affirmative action for several generations. I have already discussed in earlier paragraphs that HUC people have common genetic ancestry with Europeans and HLC people have common genetic ancestry with Asians and yet both HUC and HLC people have similar skin color and similar facial features. This also proves that humans cannot be racially categorized based on skin color and facial features. I would like to add that affirmative action for HLC people must be based on some merit. You cannot give admission in medical college to a student of HLC having 40 % mark when a HUC student with 80 % marks is unable to get admission. Such quota system is reverse racism and would encourage creation of “enslaved DNA” in HUC people. Affirmative action must lift up HLC people but not pull down HUC people. So I suggest that HLC people must be given 10 % extra-marks when they compete with HUC people for level playing field and to liberate enslaved DNA. The reservation policy in India has a scientific basis to liberate enslaved DNA of HLC people but due to quota system, reverse racism is set up resulting in discrimination of HUC people leading to creation of enslaved DNA in HUC people. The better alternative to quota system in India would be positive affirmative action without quota system in education and such affirmative action must be allowed for few generations and not indefinitely. The present quota system in India liberates enslaved DNA of one segment of population but causes enslavement of DNA of another segment of population; the net result would be no improvement in the ability of nation, not to mention perpetuation of cateism indefinitely.

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Ethnicity and race are different or similar depends upon how a segment of population evolved over several generations. When a segment of population suffers racial discrimination for centuries, it will possess enslaved DNA thereby possess inferior abilities, and under such circumstances, race and culture would converge as that discriminated race would manifest inferior ability due to enslaved DNA thereby ensuing inferior culture. On the other hand, in the absence of discrimination and enslaved DNA, two different races would manifest two different cultures if they lived in different geographical locations facing different environments, but their abilities will be similar despite cultural differences. So race as defined by skin color & facial features and culture (ethnicity) are divergent when one race does not enslave DNA of another race and thereby intelligence, cognition and abilities of all races would be equal despite cultural differences. On the other hand, when white race does enslave DNA of black race for hundreds of years, it would create “enslaved DNA” in black race resulting in poor intelligence, poor cognition and poor abilities generating inferior culture of black race; thereby race and culture would become convergent. So the bottom line is that the term ‘race’ must be removed from all legal, social, educational, political and economic domains and racial discrimination must be abolished to liberate the “enslaved DNA”. The enslaved DNA is the result of racial discrimination and not the cause of racial discrimination.  

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The moral of the story:

1. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as superior or inferior to another race or races. It is a belief that apparent visible biological differences in different humans make them unequal in cognition & intelligence, behavior and abilities; resulting in cultivating strategy & process of social and political control which functions to exclude opportunities and benefits to certain groups and in most extreme case leads to extermination of certain group.

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2. Slavery, racism, colonization of Americas, Africa & Asia by Europeans and capitalism are all intertwined with each other and interdependent on each other.

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3. Religious fundamentalism, right-wing authoritarianism and racism are intertwined with each other.

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4. Sexism and racism go hand in hand as sexism is linked to authoritarianism, social inequality and intercultural insensitivity.

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5. The world of science ought to feel guilty for propagating scientific racism in 18’th and 19’th century that supported racism on scientific basis albeit erroneously, which ultimately led to Nazism, Fascism, slavery in America and apartheid in South Africa. Scientists of those times cannot absolve themselves of the crime of causing suffering, slavery, discrimination, and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent blacks, Jews and other disadvantaged groups. I apologize to the world on behalf of those scientists.

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6. The face of racism was largely black and white; however, in recent times racism has become multi-colored and multicultural. Racism can take place in many areas such as the job market, housing market, educational system, and health care services.

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7. The term race refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in biological traits deemed by society to be socially significant, meaning that people treat other people differently because of them. There is no scientific evidence of biological race in humans. The use of word “race” biologically is a confession of ignorance or evil intent. The Human Genome Project, which mapped out the complete human genetic code, proved that race could not be identified in our genes. In fact, all human beings on this planet belong to one species, Homo Sapiens; and there are no sub-species or races. Race is not based on biology, but race is rather an idea that we ascribe to biology.

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8. The human species is 99.9 percent the same genetically according to human genome project. The remaining 0.1% of variation accounts both for differences that are visible, such as eye, skin and hair color, and those that are not seen, such as disease-risk. Only 0.01% of genes account for a human’s external appearance. However, according to recent study, researchers found 12 % of human DNA varies in copy number variations across a range of volunteers of diverse ancestry.

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9. Genetic variation comes from mutations in genetic material, migration between populations (gene flow), and the reshuffling of genes through sexual reproduction. 85 percent of the genetic variation within modern humans occurs at the individual level, 5 percent occurs between populations found on the same continent, and 10 percent occurs between continents. The majority of genetic variation in human occurs between individuals, without regard to membership in a socially constructed race. Therefore contrary to popular opinion, intra-group differences exceed inter-group differences. That is, greater genetic variation exists within the population typically labeled Black and White, rather than between these populations. For example, two random blacks are as likely to be genetically different as a black and a white. The notion that humankind can be divided along White, Black, and Yellow lines reveals the social rather than the biologic (genetic) origin of race.

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10. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other population.

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11. Ancestry refers to an individual’s line of descent that can be traced through ancestors back to a geographic region(s) of origin. A person’s apparent race often does not reflect the genetic diversity represented in his/her biology. For example, an African-American (black) may have a European (white) ancestor in third generation but his “race” is considered to be African-American despite mixed ancestry. Hence the terms ‘race’ and ‘ancestry’ are not interchangeable.

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12. Scientific genetic studies have shown that Indian upper castes have genetic ancestry to Europeans, whereas Indian lower castes have genetic ancestry to Asians. So the great Indian pretense that casteism is not racism comes out scientifically unsound.

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13. Striking racial differences in health and their persistence over time are not due to biological racial differences but due to socioeconomic deprivation of blacks, and inequality in health care due to a systemic bias in the way medical procedures and treatments are prescribed for different ethnic groups. Also, racial discrimination itself leads to poor mental health (including depression, anxiety and psychological distress); poor physical health (including hypertension, cardiovascular reactivity and chronic health conditions); and increased substance use.

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14. The lower IQ of blacks as compared to whites is due to adverse environmental conditions generated as a result of centuries of discrimination and not due to genetic factors. Scientific studies found the correlation of skin color to higher IQ (0.1-0.15) to be very low.

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15. Brain never stops spotting differences and sorting people into categories. This instinctive random associative ability is linked to survival. Brain instinctively associate alien face with potential threat. Activation of amygdala with heightened emotional reaction after seeing alien face is innate response hardwired into brain for survival but its suppression by cerebral cortex is socially learned and goal oriented. So racial prejudice is both innate and learned. Exposure to racial diversity since childhood is the best way to unlearn racism.

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16. Affirmative action is a stopgap arrangement to create a level playing field in order to help the disadvantaged & discriminated people get equality in education and employment till the human society metamorphose into a just society where there is no racial discrimination. Quota system in India is not affirmative action in spirit but a manifestation of reverse racism and vote bank politics.

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17. The notion that 99.9 % DNA are same in all humans does not make all humans same. Even monozygotic (identical) twins acquire hundreds of genetic differences early in fetal development, due to mutations (or copy errors) taking place in the DNA of each twin after the splitting of the embryo. Also, epigenetic modification caused by differing environmental influences throughout their lives affects which genes are switched on or off. So no two humans are genetically identical. All human beings are different due to different DNA and different interaction with environment; and when their environments itself are different (different cultures), the difference between humans would be more pronounced. Different does not mean unequal. Different does not mean one is superior to another. Different means different approach to life. However, due to persistent discrimination, DNA will be prevented to express its full potential and therefore become enslaved DNA. This will happen to any human no matter white or black. So enslavement of DNA is independent of skin color but due to persistent discrimination over several generations.

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18. I propose theory of ‘enslaved DNA’. The enslaved DNA is DNA and genetic codes of people who were forced to live in slavery & discrimination for hundreds of years devoid of education and development, resulting in genetic changes which make them exhibit poor intelligence and poor abilities. Enslaved DNA is the DNA that was prevented from expressing its full potential due to discrimination for centuries. The classical example is slavery & discrimination of blacks by whites in America; and slavery & discrimination of lower castes by upper castes in India. The enslaved DNA is the result of racial or casteist discrimination and not the cause of racial or casteist discrimination. Affirmative action (without quota system) would liberate enslaved DNA. Quota system in India does liberate enslaved DNA of lower caste but at the cost of enslavement of DNA of upper caste.  

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19. Ethnicity (culture) and race are different or similar depends on whether a segment of population is enslaved & discriminated over several generations. When a segment of population suffers racial discrimination for centuries, it will possess enslaved DNA thereby possess inferior abilities, and under such circumstances, race and culture would converge as that discriminated race would manifest inferior ability due to enslaved DNA thereby ensuing inferior culture. On the other hand, in the absence of discrimination and enslaved DNA, two different races would manifest two different cultures if they lived in different geographical locations facing different environments, but their abilities will be similar despite cultural differences.  

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Dr Rajiv Desai. MD.

February 8, 2013

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Postscript:

This article is an attempt to end racism & casteism in the world and assist efforts of Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. I know how whites have thrown me out because I was non-white and how non-whites have ill-treated me as I have white ancestry. Double racism is worse than solitary racism.   

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Footnote:

Can we expand the concept of enslaved DNA to the entire heterogeneous nation rather than merely for races and castes?

In my last article ‘Freedom of Expression’, I have shown that Indians do not respect freedom of expression. Why? After being ruled by Moghuls for 200 years and British for another 200 years, they have developed a culture of slave mentality due to genetic changes produced by 400 years of slavery and occupation (slave culture and slave ethnicity). This genetic change is manifested in 2013 as lack of respect for freedom of expression. That is why freedom of expression is under attack on social media by Indian regime. That is why youth of India is opposing attack on social media as they are born in a free country and their enslaved DNA are trying to be free.   

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