Wednesday, March 17, 2010

end of races

The widely held belief is that races began to diverge following our ancestors' exit from Africa. Coyne writes that races were formed because different populations "were genetically isolated until recent decades" (214). The last part of this quote raises some questions about races as we know them today: has modern transportation stopped the separation of races? In fact, is there any evidence that, because populations are so integrated worldwide now, races may no longer exist in the future?


  1. Races are ending, but not yet in a biological sense.

    The first support for this assertion is a quote from an article called "The End of Race?".
    Here it is:
    "Racial differences are illusory.
    For many Americans, this is pretty radical stuff."
    For most Americans in our generation, this is not at all radical stuff. We are fine accepting the fact that something as nominal as skin color does not determine behavior, social status, intelligence, talent, etc. As the generations go on, people continue to be more and more integrated and to be more and more accepting of other "races".

    Races, according to Coyne, exist within other animals, but "from the beginning of modern biology, racial classification has gone hand in hand with racial prejudice" (212). Races, in biology, "are simply populations of a species that are both geographically separated and differ genetically in one or more traits" (212-3). Humans fit the bill. We live all around the globe and are geographically separated from others, and thus our genes are different.
    But, as it turns out, "Most variation is within, not between, 'races.'" (The End of Race). Also, "many of our 'phenotypic' characteristics, like skin color, evolved recently, after we left Africa. But traits like intelligence, musical ability, and physical aptitude are of a more ancient genetic vintage and thus are common to all populations." This makes sense, because humans would not have any need to change their skin's melanin until after they had left the hot continent of Africa. But the need for intelligence, strength, etc. were very useful even before we diverged in appearance.

    Now that globalization has taken hold, we have the ability to fly wherever we want and mate with whomever we want. The fact that any two humans can reproduce and still form viable offspring shows that there are indeed races, since "our populations were geographically separated long enough to allow some genetic divergence to occur" (213), but this divergence has not caused speciation.
    As interracial marriages become more common, people's 'racial' characteristics will become blended and humans will become more homogeneous. But this will not be the end of biological races. Humans will still settle in one place, and over time, even with a lot of intermarrying, physical traits will diverge (for example, natural selection will still favor darker skin in Southern areas, and perhaps some lighter skinned people will get skin cancer and will not be able to pass on their genes, thereby making the population in the area more dark-skinned regardless of 'original race').

    The article I read concludes that "racial inequality will remain a feature of this nation's social structures until we seriously address the legacy of past discrimination and confront the historical meaning of race." But I disagree. Racial prejudice, and 'race' in a societal sense, is ending, mostly because of young people. Very few people associate race with intelligence or social standing anymore. Humans are humans, regardless of physical features. What will it matter in fifty years if today's old people are racist? Young people are using newfound humanity to treat everyone as an equal. Of course, education is vital, and of course, there will always be people that fit their stereotype. But educated people will look past the meaningless phenotypic differences of biological race and will embrace their fellow human beings and eventually reproduce with them, increasing homogeneity and even somewhat minimizing biological race.

  2. All the races of humanity share in common the same primary vital interest –preservation, the continuation of their racial existence. Their preservation or continuation is dependent upon the same condition as their creation -- reproductive isolation, the only effective preventative of their intermixture with other races. This is ultimately true for all races, and most immediately true for those whose relatively recessive genetic traits make them more vulnerable to the racially destructive effects of intermixture. In racial preservationist terms the loss or absence of reproductive isolation creates the most severe form of racial problem –a problem that threatens the very survival and continued existence of the race, a problem that must inevitably result in the destruction or nonexistence of the race, a problem that is nothing less than a racial crisis. The Nordish (Northern European) race is now threatened by such a crisis –a racial problem that has grown and developed over the past four centuries to the point where it is now causing the destruction of the Nordish race.
    The peopling of the earth was achieved by many migrations by many different peoples. In this long series of human movements many lands have been occupied in succession by diverse peoples, the newcomers often replacing or displacing the previous inhabitants. This process is both ancient, in fact older than humanity, and recent, in fact still continuing. Likewise, recent improvements in transportation and immigration of people have led to greater interbreeding of different races of people once genetically isolated from each other.
    A recent article called “The New Face of America” has a picture of a woman’s face, generated by a computer using numerous key features from thousands of different faces in America. The face generated by the computer estimated that 23% of traits normally found in Americans would be lost within the next decade due to interbreeding of different races. This leads to the idea of “extinction through intermixture,” in which the consistent intermixture of races will lead to the eradication of certain recessive traits, and lead to a race generally similar through dominant traits pulled out of a variety of races.