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Race Is Only Skin Deep

By Justlacy Mar 15, 2015 407 Words
Vanessa Hanashey-Kinzel
Race is only skin deep

The video, “Race, the Power of Illusion” approaches the common theory that there is genetic difference among the DNA of different races. For two hundred years, scientists poked and prodded, measured and mapped the human body searching for a biological basis to race. You can still find articles in medical literature looking for some organ that might be so fundamentally different that it would set the races apart. When genetically, we are the most similar of all species. Allegedly, the purpose in setting the races apart, was an excuse for justifying the social differences of the time period. Traits such as athletic ability, musical aptitude and intelligence have all been falsely been linked to specific races throughout history, in turn, providing us with a certain stigma between people today. A group of students participated in an mtDNA workshop and studied the differences (and similarities) between them and other students of different races. Step one was comparing and grouping themselves by skin color. The students hypothesized that they would be more genetically similar to the students who are of the same decent as them. They then took a blood sample and swabbed cells from the inside of their mouths to extract a small portion of their DNA to study. Surprisingly enough, after comparing and contrasting their data, the student’s mtDNA showed that they were no more likely to be similar to people of the same race as them than they were to be similar to a different race. The video expressed the common misconception that race can be separated by groups; they would be more appropriately represented are on a spectrum. Dark melanin levels in the skin are found in the areas of the Earth where sunlight is intense (near the equator). In contrast, Lighter melanin is found in areas where sunlight is less intense (further from the equator). It was mentioned in the film that if you were fly from the Tropics to Norway you world come to the conclusion that there is a group of people with dark skin and a group of people with light skin. However, if you were to walk from the Tropics to Norway you would see a continuous change in skin tone and at no point along that trip would you be able to say that “This is the place it changes from the dark race to the light race”.

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