Susan Luzzaro 7:30 a.m., Feb. 1
- Community Blog
- Earth, Fire, and Water
“Race” is a dying concept. Among disciplined thinkers such as scientists, it is dead. Since it was first “invented” (it is, after all, an entirely arbitrary concept, borne out of an attempt to classify humans’ and other organisms’ observable variations in “type” (phenotype or ecotype).
Unfortunately, “race” is far from dead among many who prefer believing what they have been carefully taught to "think." Thinking people should never use the term—it is worse than the “N” word, actually, because it covers more people. Even more unfortunately, “race” continues to be used widely in the public media, by so-called “racial” groups, and even in scholarly work, including science and medicine.
Color is another story—apart from race. Color is an objective, quantifiable phenomenon of reality, not an arbitrary, invented concept like race. But there is no such thing as a “black” race. Color and other objective measurements can be used to show relationships, and genetics is rapidly becoming the most objective of all.
When it comes to humans and color, the relationship of skin color is greatly influenced by sun exposure—vitamin D, for example, can prevent rickets (vitamin D deficiency) and is produced in the human body primarily through sun exposure. Sun exposure is greater nearer the equator than nearer to the poles and it has been hypothesized that lighter skin came about in human populations as humans migrated from their areas of origin nearer the equator to more northern latitudes. Darker skin = lowered vitamin D (deficiency) = brittle bones = increased infant and mother mortality = lighter skin = higher infant and mother survival at and, to some extent, after birth.
If this is true, skin color is and has been more of a function of physiology than inheritance alone—with respect to populations, not to individuals.
So put race into the dustbin of cultural history where it belongs—we were ALL black “in the beginning.”