• Valarie Jean Anderson

There is no such thing as "race."

Below is a commentary that I wrote for the Bend Bulletin about the concept of race. I received some great feedback, encouragement, and thanks from readers. Some took the time to go to my website to find my email address. I can't thank them enough. Please feel free to share it. If we change just one person's perception, we've done a good job.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to an article that appeared on 7 March 2021 titled, “Lawmakers mull bill to put race on voter registration.” I’m distressed that racial thinking divides this nation and that our legislators continue to fan the flames of racism. I’m appalled that the very legislators, who were outraged at Trump because he ignored science regarding Covid-19, are now considering asking people to indicate their race, ethnicity, and language preference on their voter registration form. Are they unaware of the scientific evidence that there is no such thing as race, or are they using this concept to further their own agendas?

Racist thinking has caused my countrymen to act like Nazis by banning books and attempting to blot out our history. We should, instead, use these books and our history as opportunities to teach our children the truth based upon science and reality without whitewashing it with ethnocentric bias. We need to teach and embrace the fact that there is no such thing as race.

Understanding Physical Anthropology and Archaeology by Lewis et al. demonstrates that race is not a valid concept because genetic variations within groups of people from the same geographical region exceed the differences between groups from other locales. The Human Genome Project in 2003 proved that people are 99.9% genetically the same. The .01 % difference relates to blood pressure variations and the propensity for certain diseases, not skin color or kinky hair or thin lips and straight noses.

The concept of race morphed out man’s need to organize and categorize complex phenomena. In the 1500s, the term “race” defined species, the human race vs. the canine race. By the 1600s, the term was used to describe culturally similar groups of people based upon their nationality or religious identity, e. g. the English race, the Japanese race, the Jewish race, etc. In the twentieth century, people generally accepted that human observable differences only roughly corresponded to geographical locations because genes exhibit a continuous range of expressions. Twenty-first-century science proved that it is impossible to draw a line between populations because human variation studies are based on genetics. Google it.

Try lining up people in a continuum of color and see if you can find a dividing line. Is a blond-haired, green-eyed, dark-skinned Costa Rican white or brown? Is a white-skinned, kinky-haired Bohemian white or black because of hair type? How about a red-haired, fair-skinned Aboriginal from Australia-black, white or brown? Where would you fall in this line-up? I’m supposed to be white, but I tan so dark, a tourist in Texas once complimented me on my English because she thought I was Hispanic. I’d be into the brown tones in the line-up, yet my ancestors are northern European.

If we are citizens of this country, we are Americans, not blacks, whites, and browns. It is our responsibility to adapt, follow the rules, and learn the language. And it is our right to vote if we want to implement change. We have no right to force our mistaken opinions on others. We should not feel guilty or hampered, or disadvantaged because of the color of our skin.

If each of us would let go of sixteenth-century culturally taught concepts of race and accept people for who they are, rather than what they look like, we’d go a long way in eliminating strife. Our elected representatives should stop ignoring science by categorizing people into meaningless statistics. They could start to heal our divided nation by removing the question about race and ethnicity from government forms. It is meaningless, ignores science, and encourages racist thinking. Personally, I will check the race/ethnicity box marked “Other” on those ill-informed forms, and write in “none,” for that is the truth based on science. Maybe, just maybe, that will ignite the paradigm shift that will result in parity for all.

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A Follow up

Ronald M. Smith published a response to my commentary in the Bend Bulleting today. He dove deeper into the science of race than I did. France is doing it right! Here is a link to his article: https:/