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Race and Biology

Updated October 5, 2021
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Race and Biology essay

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White supremacists are drinking milk to prove that a unique gene, which allows people to consume milk in adulthood, is more prominent in people who are of European descent. “‘Enter the Milk Zone,’” an account on social media, posted a scientific article that states that five thousand years ago, Europeans went through a genetic mutation which resulted in the lactase-persistence gene. Furthermore, the post contained hate speech against African Americans which stated that they have to leave if they are unable to consume milk. Even though it may be true that this gene is more prominent in people of European descent, recent studies show that a similar genetic mutation has also occurred in other populations, including African Americans (Harmon, 2018).

Therefore, the fact that other populations might also possess the same or a similar gene shows that biology does not support distinct racial lineages. Originally, biologists were not aware that some African Americans also possess the lactase-persistence gene. However, in a study conducted in 2007 which involved people from various African populations, scientists realized that Africans did indeed go through a mutation that allowed some of them to have the lactase-persistence gene today. In addition, scientists were able to determine that it was because of the habit of consuming milk as adults and domesticating animals which resulted in this mutation (Tishkoff et al., 2006).

Since Africans also went through a similar evolution as Europeans many years ago, it demonstrates that we humans are very similar genetically. In a more recent study published in 2014, scientists believed that selection was a major factor in determining the lactase-persistent gene in populations that raise livestock. The data they collected from the study indicates that regardless of race, descendants of people who raise livestock are more likely to have the lactase-persistence gene (Ranciaro et al., 2014). Therefore, the lactase-persistence gene is not limited to people of European descent.

When considering the ongoing racist debate on which race is considered superior, instances where white supremacists rely on scientific research to support their claim is not uncommon. In regards to claiming African Americans are inferior to other races due to their presumed genetic defaults, the case of sickle-cell anemia is often cited. When talking about this disease, most people think that people of African descent are the only race affected. Although it is true that this disease usually affects people of African descent, studies show that the origin of the disease was caused by natural selection.

According to Allison (2002), there were five patterns correlated with the sickle-cell mutation, four of which were noted in Africa and one in India and Arabia. From this, scientists assumed that the sickle-cell mutation occurred due to independent selection among certain populations. Thus, sickle-cell anemia does not affect a particular race. Rather, people contract the disease because of natural selection and it gets passed on to the next generations (Allison, 2002). This indicates that anyone in any race may contract this disease. In the article that discussed white supremacists drinking milk, the white supremacists stated that the lactase-persistence gene is more prominent in white people (Harmon, 2018).

When they say white people, they are referring to their own race. Throughout all of history, society has always associated skin color with race. People were deemed African Americans if they have dark skin, Caucasian if they have white skin, and so on. Knowing this, some people may argue that they are more genetically similar to someone who has the same skin color as them than someone who has a different skin color. Although this argument makes logical sense, it is actually invalid. Studies have shown that the environment played a major role in the evolution of human skin color. When ancestors of modern humans were living in Africa, their skin color was dark. According to the vitamin D-folate hypothesis, the reason why our skin color evolved was to protect our bodies from UVR or ultraviolet radiation. When UVR touches the skin, it produces vitamin D and it may cause the folate in our body to decline.

Ergo, the hypothesis theorizes that our ancestors had dark skin in order to prevent the folate in our body to decline. Once human ancestors migrated outside of Africa, their skin color evolved to become lighter so that our body can produce more vitamin D through UVR exposure (Jones et al., 2018). As one can infer from this biological evidence, there is no connection saying that people who have the same skin color as them are more genetically similar to them than those who have a different skin color. The main reason as to why humans have different or similar skin colors is because the human body needed to adapt to the environment. As a result, it is false to think that skin colors determines whether or not someone is genetically similar to you.

In conclusion, from these biological evidences, it is clear that biology does not support the idea of distinct racial lineages because anyone can possess the lactase-persistence gene, contract sickle cell anemia, and have the same or different skin color regardless of race. For that reason, humans are more closely related to one another than we think and race does not matter in a biological sense. Furthermore, it would be best if society as a whole could understand this so that any racist debates regarding which race is considered superior would finally come to an end.

Race and Biology essay

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