One Species – June 3, 2020


We live in trying and challenging times. Over the last decade, there had been glimmers of hope that the US had become a post-racial society, free of prejudice and discrimination. However, recent tragic events reveal that race remains an incendiary issue. Somehow we have lost sight that we are all family. As a species, we have been estimated to share 99.9% of our DNA with each other. The few differences that do exist reflect differences in environments, not core biology.

A landmark 2002 study by Stanford scientists examined the question of human diversity by looking at the distribution of thousands of alleles across 7 major geographical regions. Alleles can be considered as different “flavors” of a gene. For example, all humans have the same genes that code for hair: but the different alleles are why hair comes in all types of colors and textures.

The study found that nearly 95% alleles were present in two or more regions, with almost half present in all seven major geographical regions. If separate racial or ethnic groups did indeed exist, we would expect to find “trademark” alleles that were characteristic of a single group and not present in any others. However, the Stanford study found that less than 10% of over 4000 alleles were specific to one geographical region. Even when region-specific ones did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region—hardly enough to be any kind of trademark. Thus, there is NO evidence that the groups we commonly call “races” have distinct, unifying genetic identities.

In the biological and social sciences, it is clear: race is a social construct, not a biological attribute. The billions of people living on this planet belong to ONE species: Homo sapiens. It is time to socially evolve and treat each other more kindly – with more humanity.

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