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Does Race Exist?

Recent events in the United States have sparked renewed global awareness on race as a new movement has surfaced to fight against the inequalities faced by minority groups in the country. The same inequalities occur in many other countries and millions of people worldwide stand in solidarity with the cause. It also sparks the age-old question: Why can’t we all get along?

What is race?

The term “race” used in modern times is essentially referring to human variation based on geographical locations, skin color and other physical attributes. People are categorized by ‘racial grouping’ due to their similarities in these attributes.

Is there a biological basis for ‘race’?

We have established that there is human variation in the world. How is race defined by biological standards? Of course, there are certain physical features that are found in some humans and not in others. For example, where the sun exposure is higher, the humans that originated from such climates naturally have darker skin tones and tolerate the UV exposure better than someone from a colder region with less sun impact.

This is largely factored by the origins of human kind, the places and climates they have evolved from and the way they have adapted to their environment over thousands of years. Many studies of ancient skeletal remains have contributed to this theory.

 However, blood analysis or blood factor analysis, shows many traits that “cut across racial boundaries in a purely clinal fashion with very few if any "breaks" along racial boundaries.” In other words, you can’t actually determine someone’s ‘race’ as being specific to a certain blood group. For example, even though Europeans and Chinese differ from each other in terms of skin tone, hair texture and other physical attributes they are closer to each other than either is to equatorial Africans. If you test the distribution of the ABO blood group system, Europeans and Africans are closer to each other than either is to Chinese.  There is no one defining factor that says each group has a certain gene that sets them apart. Even within racial groups there is variation.

“If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

Why is the topic of race so controversial?

While many anthropologists have tried to make studying and discussing human variation an open forum, sometimes it does more harm than good. The topic of race is more socially influenced and often distorted. Some groups claim to be superior to others due to their physical attributes. But the question is, who made this assumption especially if there is no ‘superior’ gene found in any group? There are a lot of social and even political factors involved in this imbalance over hundreds of years. It is however more acceptable today for bi racial race couples to pair up and produce mixed race children, which is in itself a whole new scope of variation. But the fact remains, we are all the same species of the human race.

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