Theories of Race and Ethnicity Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1251 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Race

¶ … Scientific American by Michael J. Bamshad and Steve E. Olson ("Does Race Exist") brings the reader information that is understandably a bit heavy on the science end but helpful in a social context. And the article is helpful for the investigative young mind because after all, present day Western society is one of impressive human diversity. More than a mere "melting pot," America is a nation of many nations, many cultures and numerous immigrant groups of wildly diverse ethnicities. The point being, it is far too easy - and socially impolite - for a person to identify individuals strictly by "race." A person from Korea, for example, should not be referred to as "Oriental" (as that is vague as well as a racial slap in the face); but rather, that individual should be respected as an "Asian" whose ancestry is Korean.

And of the several questions posed at the start of the article, the question most germane to the racial / ethnic issues at hand is, "...how valid is the concept of race from a biological standpoint?" The answer is, on one level at least, that the concept of race is not valid from a biological point-of-view, due to what has been discovered through DNA research.

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And while the authors dig deeper into the issue of ethnicity - through their discussion of DNA and "millions of polymorphisms" - interestingly, their research verifies that in some cases "...genetic analyses can distinguish groups of people according to their geographic origin." This would appear to be the most powerful revelation of this article. Additionally, it is eye opening to learn that for the average African-American (my friend in a History class, the running back for the San Diego Chargers - LaDainian Tomlinson - and our apartment neighbors who say "good morning" every day) only about 80% of his genes are directly connected to West Africa.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Theories of Race and Ethnicity Assignment

Finally, this article delves briefly into the unfair, unpleasant "big brother" aspect of our government; the writers note that the FDA has continued "historical abuses associated with categorizing people by race." Indeed, the FDA authorizes the gathering of race and ethnic data from patients during clinical trials, and because the differences between groups are so miniscule and yet the abuses so vicious, this policy should be shot down.

Meanwhile, Sally Satel's article ("Medicine's Race Problem") in the Hoover Institution's Policy Review begins by flatly stating that the idea of "race" has been declared defunct. Satel alludes to the Clinton Administration's announcement in the year 2,000 that the human genome had been "sequenced," and that 99.9% of that genome "...is the same regardless of race." This much-heralded proclamation of course led to President Bill Clinton's widely quoted assertion that "...The most important fact of life on this earth is our common ancestry"; Clinton made sturdy attempts to reduce the tension between African-Americans and Caucasians during his presidency, and the human genome revelation played perfectly into his values.

The author states that today, even the verbalized suggestion that "race has biological meaning" is something akin to "professional suicide." This is a time when there are such huge divisions in America (a polarized nation we are for sure) that being politically correct is often the substitute to scientific and sociological honesty.

That said, the issue is more complicated than merely saying that race and biology are now officially divorced, and that is simply because medicine is involved. And in the past, when medicine became intertwined with race, ethnic peoples of color and biology, a reader learns to his utter horror, shame and brutally callus disregard for human life, is sometimes not far behind. For example, Satel explains that when the "Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment" was conducted (hundreds of sharecroppers - African-Americans - were part of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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