The Science of Race

“We use these terms — white, black, Indian, Latino — and they don’t really mean what we think they mean,” saidClaudio Saunt, a historian at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the study.

NY Times: White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier

Often, what we really mean has to do with ethnicity, culture, religion, socio-economic class – or some combination thereof. If we want to solve the problems that lead to humans dying, grieving, protesting in NY and elsewhere, understanding what we mean might help. We can’t transform the language we use overnight but we can plant thought seeds …


there are averages of genetic profiles of people from certain populations, but even those aren’t very illuminating for individuals. “I could tell you what the average Mexican would be — 50 percent European, 45 percent Native American and 5 percent African, but it’s a very broad spread,” he said. That makeup might vary wildly from person to person. The “typical” ethnic ancestry for a Mexican is very different from that of someone who is Dominican — or, say, a Filipino person whose DNA comes mostly from East Asia — but all might be lumped under the same racial umbrella and deemed to look “Latino.”

The racial profiles we assign ourselves — I’m black, I’m Asian, I’m white — remain overly simplistic

How Can A White Supremacist Be 14 Percent Sub-Saharan African?


Those who identify as primarily white can have African ancestry. 23andMepublished a study (pdf) based on its own dataset that concluded that approximately 3 to 4 percent of their customers who identified as being of primarily European descent had at least one ancestor in the last 10 generations who could be traced back to Africa.

Do Most Whites Have Traces of African DNA, as I Do?


When modern humans migrated out of Africa some 60,000 years ago, they found the Eurasian continent already inhabited by brawny, big-browed Neanderthals. We know that at least some encounters between the two kinds of human produced offspring, because the genomes of people living outside Africa today are composed of some 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.

Surprise! 20 Percent of Neanderthal Genome Lives On in Modern Humans, Scientists Find