Imagine a scenario where a college student walked into your office and proposed teaching you and your people a “theory” that he came up with about Witches? “Critical Witch Theory” he’d explain, has three central tenants: 1) Witchcraft and sorcery are central components of American life. 2) To end witchcraft we must segregate all people as either witches or non-witches. 3) Since all witches are inherently evil we should categorize all people based on whether they are evil or non-evil.” What do you think?
Albert Einstein taught us that a theory can never be proven, only dis-proven. A theory stands until proven false which is why the Theory of Relativity still stands today. What about ‘Critical Witch Theory”?
With Einstein’s words of wisdom top of mind most of us wouldn’t bother asking for examples that prove witchcraft and sorcery are central to American life, nor would we bother asking what kind of biologic criteria he will invent to categorize every human on the face of the earth as either evil or non-evil. Instead we’d go right to the foundational knowledge upon which the theory stands “Witch’s,” and explain that: no Witch DNA has ever been described, discovered, or identified; no empirical examples of “Witchcraft or Sorcery” have ever been witnessed, recorded, or validated, and although it’s been over 300 years since the Salem Witch Trials, they serve as a cautionary reminder of the way fear-driven false accusations can manipulate the way people think and act toward each other (Note: between 1692 and 1693, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—”the Devil’s magic”—and 20 innocent people were executed ).
Now imagine a slightly different scenario. This time the college student walks into your office and proposes teaching your people a “theory” he came up in school about “Races”. “Critical Race Theory” he’d explain, has three central tenants: 1) Race and racism are central components of American life. 2) To end racism we must categorize and segregate everyone by race. 3) Race is defined by skin color so we should categorize every human on the face of the earth by the color of their skin instead of the content of their character. What do you think?
Like our response to “Critical Witch Theory” most of us wouldn’t bother asking what process he would use to measure and categorize the 6 + billion differences in human skin color (melanin levels), or how any man-made-up category could accurately define the genetic make-up of any group of human beings who have ever walked the Earth. Instead we’d go right to the foundation of the theory “Race” and explain: “The Human Genome Project” (2000) confirmed that our Homo Sapiens DNA is 99.5% the same; We are one species. There is no genetic basis of race. It’s a biologic and evolutionary fact. What follows is the “Logic of Why” it makes sense.
Carl Sagan wrote in 1995, in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as our Candle in the Dark: “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
We’ve been lead to believe that the concepts of race, religion, and nationality are solidly grounded in present-day biology and evolutionary fact. Yet if we brought together 500 of the world’s most esteemed geneticists they would unanimously explain to all of us that human DNA is on average 99.5% the same. Of that tiny 0.5% difference, 94% of the variation is among individuals in the same populations (e.g. same race, religion, and nationality). To the extent that there is genetic variation among humans most of it is between individual people, not populations of people.
This is not to say that we are all cookie cutter the same. There are approximately seven billion humans alive today and no two of us share the exact same physical characteristics (facial features, body shape, hair and skin color, etc.). As Charles Darwin was first to illuminate with the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, diversity and mutation are the evolutionary spice of life. Without that tiny 0.5% pinch of difference our species would be incapable of adapting to the changes that life continuously throws our way (such as disease, weather, natural disasters, etc.) The survival of our species depends on that 0.5% difference. Where did all these differences come from?
Our Homo sapiens species evolved in what biologists refer to as “genetic clusters .” Each genetic cluster consisted of various sized populations of people who were separated from other populations of people by mountains, rivers, oceans, continents, and sheer distance. Over hundreds of thousands of years these genetic clusters and their offspring lived together, adapted to their local environments together, mated together, and sometimes moved on together. Today when genetic testing companies tell someone their DNA is “48.3% North African, 27.2% Eastern European, 11.6% Asian, 9.2% Native American, and 3.7% Western European,” they are referring to the location on the globe where some of our ancestors lived during different periods of time in different genetic clusters.
If there’s no such thing as races how do we explain the physical differences in our appearances? As Spencer Wells who heads the joint National Geographic-IBM Genographic Project explains: “the kinds of differences that people notice such as skin pigmentation, hair color, limb length, and eye shape, are basically “surface features” that have been naturally selected based on the specific environments in which our ancient ancestors lived during different periods of evolutionary time” (e.g. lots of sun vs. little sun, high temperature vs. low, abundance of plants, animals, fish vs. few, etc.).
According to Wells, “when geneticists peer beneath the surface at the underlying level of genetic variation between people they discover we humans are all much more similar than we appear to be. There are no clear, sharp delineations.” If we asked our 500 esteemed geneticists to give us a genetic definition of race, they wouldn’t be able to do it. Our genes are 99.5% the same. There is no genetic basis of race, religion, or nationality. Is this biologic fact the result of some recent scientific breakthrough?
Astoundingly it is not. As far back as 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that “all humans belong to the same species and that concepts such as ‘race’ are not a biological reality but a myth.” The UNESCO statement was based on a summary of the findings from an international panel of anthropologists, geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists. Since that time enormous amounts of scientific evidence has reinforced their findings culminating with the successful sequencing and verification of the human genome in the year 2000.
The Human Genome Project revealed there is no genetic pattern in our DNA that “makes sense” of human racial categories. The common/matching patterns of our genetic code is what makes us a species. We now have physical proof that “human races” are not natural genetic groups; instead they are culturally constructed, “man-made-up” “categories.”
Modern scholarship overwhelming regards race as a “social construct” or “idea” through which social categorization is achieved. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, the construct of “race” is not an inherent physical or biological quality. Like the “constructs” of “religion,” and “nationality,” the construct of “race” only exists as concepts inside our heads. Where did the concept of “race” come from?
Etymologists tell us the concept of “race” was first used to refer to people who spoke “different languages” (e.g. Greek was a race). As humans continued to explore the continents and conquer the oceans they encountered populations of people who possessed distinctively different “surface features” (e.g. color of skin, eyes, and hair; shape of nose, eyes and heads, etc.). Somewhere around the 17th century people began using the concept of “race” to refer to differences in the way other people looked, sounded, and behaved (phenotypes). Over time and across generations, the language that our 18th, 19th, and 20th century ancestors used to describe each other (e.g. White, Black, Asian, Muslim, etc.) became part of theirs, and eventually our, cultures.
How does culture influence “the way” we think about each other? Culture is a complex concept with many different components. Essentially, it is a pattern of learned beliefs, language, and behaviors that are shared and passed on by clusters of humans (e.g. Ethnic groups, Nations, Religions, Families, Friends, Communities, Teammates, etc.) This includes habits and routines (aka patterns of behavior) such as how they greet each other, how they dress, and the way they think about and describe the world around them (their worldview).
In a “Harvard Magazine” article titled: “Race in a Genetic World,” author Duanna Fullwiley, who is a Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University describes how culture influences different people’s perception of her “race” as she flies around the world to do fieldwork. “I am African American,” says Duana Fullwiley, “I take a plane to France, a seven- to eight-hour ride. My race changes as I cross the Atlantic. There, I say, ‘Je suis noire,’ and they say, ‘Oh, okay—métisse—you are mixed.’ Then I fly another six to seven hours to Senegal, and I am white. In the space of a day, I can change from African American, to métisse (mixed), to tubaab (white/European).”
“It’s not color of skin, its culture.” Denzel Washington
Today we live in an interconnected and interbred “Global” society that enables us to expose the man-made illusion of “surface features” as indicators of “race” in a matter of decades instead of millenniums. The examples are all around us. At the time of this writing there is a world famous athlete whose father was of “African-American” descent and whose mother was of Asian descent. The world famous athlete (and son of these parents) married a woman of “Nordic/European” descent who gave birth to two beautiful children of all of the above descents. What “race” would you call the children? How would you categorize their surface features? White? Black? Asian? Nordic? All of the above? How about “none of the above”?
As children all around the world enable us to “see” with our own eyes, and as scholars across the globe continue to confirm with their research: There is no genetic basis of race, religion, or nationality. Humans are humans. We are one.
When I first read the research papers from the authors and scholars referenced above I wondered why I’d never heard any of this before. Shouldn’t this knowledge be taught at every level of our school systems and shouldn’t it be considered “foundational knowledge” for our civil, legal, economic, and political systems? Critically, if there is no genetic basis of race, religion, and nationality how do we get people to stop perpetuating the myth of race and its nefarious offspring “racism”?
“You want to know how to end racism in America? Stop talking about it.” Morgan Freeman
Ground-breaking research conducted by Zach Goldberg of Georgia State University underscores the validity of the “Freeman Principle.” Using a massive data base of media records compiled over the last 50 years, Goldbergs research provides evidence that shifts in racial attitudes follow shifts in race-related news content.
Goldberg research revealed that between the years 2011 and 2021 the use of the terms “race” and “racism” by the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times increased by over 800%*. The meteoric increase in the use and misuse of these terms coincided with an equally meteoric rise in the number of their readers who believed “racism” was a problem in the United States. In 2011, just 35% of white liberals thought racism in the United States was “a big problem.”*. By 2017 this figure had more than doubled to 77%. During this same time period the number or white conservatives who thought racism in the U.S. was “a big problem” remained steady while the number of “Black” and “Hispanic” Democrats who thought racism was “a big problem” actually went down.
As Goldberg summarizes:; “Intentionally or not, by labeling events and behaviors with a common set of key words such as ‘racism’ and ‘racist’ and then constantly repeating the label over time, the main-stream media have helped normalize among their readership the belief that “color” of one’s skin/race is the defining attribute of all human beings and all human behavior.
Shared knowledge that there is no genetic basis of race, religion, or nationality is the first step toward getting people to stop “talking about” it. We are one. “Say it out loud” so others can begin to see. Once we humans stop talking about the myth of “race” we can begin listening to what our children have been showing and telling us all along: when we view the world through the unfiltered biologic lens of common sense we are blind to skin color, eye shape, religion, and nationality. Conscious awareness that there is no genetic basis of race reveals there is no genetic basis of racism either.
To see for yourself, imagine you and your loved ones are stranded high on Mt. Everest with no ropes, no supplies, and no knowledge of how to get down. The last words you heard on your radio before the batteries ran out were the words of the rescue team leader who said, “We’re on our way.” As you huddle together holding your loved ones for warmth and what may be your final embrace, you understand with crystal clarity that time, temperature, and altitude are all working against you. All you have left is hope. Hope that the members of the rescue team are up to the challenge. Take a moment to think about your rescue team and make a mental list of the character and characteristics you are hoping they possess?
Was anyone hoping for a team of handsome men or beautiful women? How about whether they are tall or small? Black, Brown, or White? Rich, poor or related to royalty? What about whether or not they went to your alma mater? When our lives and the lives of those we lead are on the line it’s not the surface features or man-made categories that matters, it’s the character and characteristics such as competence, courage, compassion, and common sense.
What do all of the above characteristics have in common? Just like “race” and “racism” they are all learned. Character is an autobiography of the characteristics we learn from our life experiences. We humans aren’t born with competence, we learn it through practice and feedback. We aren’t born brave, we learn to overcome our fears with logic and experience. We aren’t born with compassion, parents teach their children to share, to help others, to say I’m sorry, and to do unto others as we’d want them to do unto ourselves.
Whether waiting on top of a frozen mountain for the people who will rescue you, or waiting in an office for the doctor who will diagnose and treat you, or waiting to interview the job applicant who may work with or for you, it’s the character and characteristics of the person not the criteria that matters most.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Martin Luther King Jr.
If we spread the word and stop talking about the concepts of “race” and “racism” they will gradually fade into irrelevancy in much the same way as the concept of “Witches” and “Royalty” has. Those who choose to continue perpetuating the man made-up concept of “Race” should be thought of the same way as those who continue to perpetuate the man made-up concepts of “Witches” and “Royalty”, Senseless.
You can’t be racist if you don’t believe in races.
What’s the benefit for Leaders? To select the best people and build the best teams the first thing common sense leaders must do is teach their people how to see themselves and those around them through the common lens and language of common sense/knowledge of patterns. Don’t allow yourself or your people to be duped by man-made-up categories such as: status, rank, title; race, creed, degree; politics, pedigree, and/or similar to me. It’s not the man-made-up categories that matter. As Martin Luther King teaches and our 99.5% the same DNA proves, it’s the character and characteristics we’ve learned from our life experiences that matter most (e.g. competence, communication, courage, compassion, and common sense, etc.). It’s what’s inside our heads. There is no genetic basis of race, we are one. It makes sense.
On June 26, 2000, Francis Collins and Craig Venter of the Human Genome Project jointly announced at the White House that human beings are 99.5 percent identical genetically.
Rosenberg, N. Pritchard, J.K. Weber, J.L. Cann, H.M. Kidd, K.K. Zhivotovsky, Z.V. Feldman, m.w. (2002) “Genetic Structure of Human Populations,” Science 298: 2381–2385.
All DNA analysis vendors struggle to separate ethnicity clusters within continents, in particular, within Europe. Which is why ethnicity estimates are generally only accurate to the continent level.
Andreasen, R.O. (2000). Race, Biologic Reality or Social Construct? Philosophy of Science, 76, 653–665
Mevorach, Katya Gibel (2007). “Race, racism, and academic complicity”. American Ethnologist. 34 (2): 238–41. doi:10.1525/ae.2007.34.2.238
Marks, Jonathan (1996). Science and Race. American Behavioral Scientist. 40, 123–133
“Unraveling the Human Genome: Six Molecular Milestones,” Stephanie Pappas January 23, 2013, Live Science.
Gordon, M. M. (1964). Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-500896-8.
Barnshaw, John (2008). “Race”. In Schaefer, Richard T. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society, Volume 1. SAGE Publications. pp. 1091–3. ISBN 978-1-45-226586-5.
The Invention of Race: Scientific and Popular Representations (Routledge Studies in Cultural History) 1st Edition. Bancel, Nicolas; David, Thomas; Thomas, Dominic, eds. Page 11, 23 May 2019. The epistemological moment where the modern concept of race was invented and rationalized is believed to lie somewhere between 1730 and 1790.
Harvard Magazine, May-June 2008. Race in a Genetic World, by Duanna Fullwiley. https://harvardmagazine.com/2008/05/race-in-a-genetic-world-html
Morgan Freeman is an American actor, director and narrator.