Fighting racism with science.

It’s clear to see that racism is still wide spread across the world today. Why these ancient and horrid beliefs that someone is more worthy than another simply because their skin is a different colour are still seen is beyond me. I am a man of science and evolution, and from extensive research, racism does not exist in nature. Race is not defined in biology. Race has come about as a social construct. Race exists because we can perceive it.

Variation is something that defines all species. Evolution and natural selection only operate because of variation within populations. Without it, many animals today wouldn’t be the way they are. However in humans, race plays little to no part of this. Despite being segregated into categories based on the colour of our skin, variation between races are only skin deep.

We as a species share 99.9% of our DNA with eachother. We all share the same genes for hair colour and eye colour. The different alleles (or variations) of genes that are expressed allow us to have the types of colour and texture of hair we see for example.

The differences in skin colour is in part due to the adaptation to sunlight exposure. Darker skin is partially due to the skin producing more melanin to protect us from damage from intense sunlight. When you go the beach to tan (for those who can tan) and get that sun kissed skin, your body is producing more melanin. Which therefore darkens your skin colour. So if global warming continues and the suns gets more intense, white people will have to adapt and have darker skin to survive! So all you racists out there, think about that!

However as I said, sunlight is only a small factor to skin colour variation. Homo sapiens originated in Africa, but this doesn’t suggest our ancestors were darker skinned. In fact there is a wide variety of skin types within Africa today and is greater than elsewhere in the world. Factors like diet and disease might also be explanations to the palette of skin colours we see.

There is also an innumerable amount of evidence to suggest that within “races” there is far more genetic variation than between them. A 2002 study found that 93-95 percent of the genetic variation occurs within rather than between geographically distinct populations. Yet we still define people from African countries as “black”. Society has also created these racial stereotypes that unjustly define someone to a certain race.

Thinking that a certain trait or characteristic defines or is only seen in one group is stupid. The thought that those from African American or Caribbean backgrounds are better at running, or higher intellect comes from an Asian decent are embedded from racism. If this were to be true, then there would be genetic evidence for this. “Trademark” alleles or genetic characteristics that are only seen within one location and in none others.

But one study found that out of over 4000 alleles only 7.4% of were specific to one geographical region. Even when region-specific alleles did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region. So there is no genetic evidence to suggest that so called “races” have a unifying, distinguished genetic identities.

In regards to genetic diversity, the notion that one “should go back to where they came from” is an interesting concept. Saying that “England should be for the English” or that there should be a travel ban of people from the Middle East coming into America is the stuff of nonsense!

Human have been moving around the world ever since we first emerged 200,000 years ago, and we have not stopped. Numerous migrations, invasions and colonisation events have occurred over that time. So where you might be told to go back too is so much more complicated.

Let’s look at the current supposed “leader of the free world” president Trump. He told four US congress women to “go back to where they came from” in 2019. He himself has a Scottish born mother and grandparents who were immigrants from Germany. His current wife is Slovenian, his first wife was Czech. Apparently this comment doesn’t mean anything if you’re white.

Those white people thinking that they are “pure blood” are simply wrong too. Every single human being is related. We all have ancestors from Africa. You are not, no matter how many generations you think were white, pure white in any way shape or form. Our ancient ancestry is still hard to define. You may not have known them, and those online DNA kits may not show them, but we are all, regardless of the colour of skin, related.

If race does not exist in evolution, then why does science say that one race may be more susceptible to a certain disease? Why is that more people from BAME backgrounds are dying of coronavirus? Why are black Americans more at risk of high blood pressure?

Race related research can often come from an underlying form of racism. Again, the notion that we must find reasons that one race is inferior to another. And medical research on the correlation between disease and race susceptibility are not as robust as people may think. Some forward thinkers suggest that these supposed increase in risk of disease, may have been because of inferior social conditions in the past that have remained in the genome. Essentially, racism throughout history might have led non white people being more prone to certain diseases!

Once again, if race is not part of science, then why are people with certain skin types being discriminated against? All of this is because of political and colonial history. Slavery, colonisation and slaughter have all laid the foundations for racism throughout the world.

Going all the way back to when taxonomy started, racism has been seen. Early classifications of Humans were based on skin colour. Carl Linnaeus (who founded the whole classification system we use on species today) noted people of East Asians as “ruled by opinion” and haughty. While philosopher Voltaire thought black people were a different species.

The so called Age of Enlightenment accelerated the notion that race is a measure to classify people by. White, male Europeans used race science to justify the conquest, enslavement and exploitation of non-white people. These would be embodied in ideologies such as social Darwinism and eugenics.

You’d think in the 21st century we would have moved on from these views. Yet as we can see from recent events involving the death of George Floyd and many others, racism is still present. White supremacy has not gone away.

Action is needed to hold those accountable for their wrong doings. Action needs to be taken so that those feeling repressed can finally be heard. Action needs to be taken to allow those of colour to feel safe in their community. And action is being taken. Protests are at the forefront of change. By making a stand, change will come. If not, well as seen through history, rebellions form. And a rebellion has begun.

Race should not matter in the world today. But it does. And that’s because of racism. We are all human. No matter how different we look, we are all brothers and sisters of the earth. We need to save the world not only from environmental damage, but from racism, sexism, homophobia and all other prejudices that exist. Then and only then, will we have truly saved the world.

I recently re-watched The Lorax, and it ended on a quote from Dr Seuss. Since then it is all I can think about. It is so relevant for what is going on today. And so I will leave you to ponder over it. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

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