race, undefined term

Allen Smith allens at yang.earlham.edu
Tue Apr 28 20:34:07 EST 1992


In article <1992Apr17.735.2288 at channel1>, eliot.gelwan at channel1.com (eliot gelwa
   n) writes:
> On 04-17-92 REBEL wrote:
>
> RNot to be picky or anything....but I do believe that genes code for what
> Rcolor your skin is and therefore do indirectly determine the "race" of
> Rthe people. I think what you are trying to say is that the labelling and
> Rsegregation of people into certain "racial" categories based on some
> Rsubjective opinion of skin color is purely cultural. I agree with
> Rthis...two people of different "races" as judged by society do not differ
> Rbiologically accept for skin color, making the taboo against interracial
> Rsex silly.
>
> I don't think the writer to whom REBEL responds was ignorant of
> the fact that genes code for skin color. Indeed, skin color is
> *not* the only genetically-coded difference between members of
> different "races." People we call "Asian" or "African" or
> "Caucasian" or "Native American" tend to have different
> genetically-determined aspects of facial physiognomy and a number
> of enzymatic metabolic differences. HLA-types occur at different
> frequencies in the various "races." I think what the writer was
> saying is that there is a continuum of variation across these
> characteristics, but we arbitrarily set a cut-off in designating
> a certain part of the range as defining a given "race" -- or as
> you say, we do it on "purely cultural" terms. Seems to me to be
> very akin to the American Kennel Assn's definition of purebreeds
> of dogs. Me, I like the hybrids better.
>
        There's also the problem that human races aren't nearly as far
apart, genetically or (despite various claims by racist "scientists")
otherwise, as normally definable subspecies.
        -Allen



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