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Race and the Genetic RevolutionScience, Myth, and Culture$
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Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156974

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156974.001.0001

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The Elusive Variability of Race

The Elusive Variability of Race

(p.241) 11 The Elusive Variability of Race
Race and the Genetic Revolution

Patricia J. Williams

Columbia University Press

This chapter stipulates that race is not a “scientific” or biologically coherent category, emphasizing the notion that there is no allele for race. It considers race as a hierarchical social construct that assigns human value and group power. Throughout the ages, the concept of race developed to the point that it has underlying consequences for biological functions, including gene expression. The notion affects material conditions of survival, such as relative respect and privilege, education, and medical and dental care. However, the absence of an allele, such as skin color, proves that race has no scientific basis. As a sociological matter, skin color is a presumptive indicator but historically it is not the exclusive marker. And as a biological matter, melanin concentration merely reveals how one's ancestors adapted to more or less sunny climates—and dark skin is more or less distributed around the equator, no matter which continent.

Keywords:   race, allele, social construct, human value, group power, biological functions, gene expression, skin color, melanin concentration

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