Critical Thinking on Race and Biology

3 pages
641 words
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Critical thinking
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Race is the classification of human beings based on genetics, ancestry, physical traits or social relations, and historically, the aspect of race has been used to separate people socially by linking some physical traits to a specific population group (Goodman et al., 2012). The most common physical traits used were the color of the skin and the shape of the eyes. Biologically, race can be defined as a geographically isolated population that shares some common characteristics due to inbreeding (AAA, 1998). Most scientist anthropologists believe that race is a social construct that has no scientific backing. They acknowledge that the meaning of race has been more than the physical qualities attributed to a specific population of people. Race has often been used socially as an ideology to legitimize discrimination and inequalities of oppressed people.

The race ideology was used to differentiate between Europeans, Asians, and Africans when Europeans conquered America with superior attributes being linked to Europeans and the undesired ones being attributed to Africans (AAA, 1998). This ideology ultimately spread all over the world and was used to divide people. In the contemporary world, people have stereotyped races as the natural divisions in human beings characterized by differences in physique yet biologically, all human beings belong to one species, Homo sapiens (Goodman et al, 2012)). After vast research, it is clear that differences in physical traits do not clearly demarcate distinct biological populations. Evidence from genetics shows that most variations in human beings (about 94%) lie within the same racial group; thus, the conventional races have only a 6% variation in genes (Goodman et al., 2012). In neighboring populations, the genetic traits between the races overlap and this is shown by the physical traits of people in these areas. These traits tend to change gradually over a geographical area. These physical traits are inherited independently of each other, and thus the change also occurs independently.

Genetic variations arise from mutations, migration, and reshuffling of genes through sexual reproduction. Gene mutations involve permanent alterations to genetic sequence of a person. Gene migration is described as the transfer of genes from one population to another. Gene reshuffling involves the creation of new gene combinations through reproduction. Genetic variations are influenced by natural selection; hence, the environment greatly influences genetic traits in human beings (Goodman et al., 2012). Through genetic variations, an allele or a gene can become universal in a population or even disappear. When an interbreeding population is isolated, genetic variations happen independently. However, it can take thousands of years for recognizable genetic populations to rise.

The scientific research in differences between races is controversial. There are fears that this research will reveal disparities in mental and moral capabilities between human beings (Riese, 2005). These fears are unfounded as human morality does not need to be proven scientifically. Some scientists, especially in the medical field, argue that this research is vital. Susceptibility to diseases such as Downs syndrome and response to treatments can vary with the patients. Opponents of racial classification between humans argue that susceptibility to these diseases is not due to a persons race but hereditary and environmental factors.

Generally, scientists cannot fail to acknowledge the slight biological differences between races no matter how minute they are. These differences can be attributed to hereditary factors and the influence of social as well as the natural environment on humans as can be demonstrated by physical traits. Human beings belong to one diverse biological species with a common ancestry. Thus, biologically, race cannot sufficiently classify human beings.



AAA. (1998). AAA Statement on Race - Connect with AAA. Retrieved 8 July, 2017 from

Goodman, A., Moses, Y., & Jones, J. (2012). Race: Are we so Different?. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Riese, M. (2005). The Biological Meaning of Race. Santa Cruz. Retrieved 8 July, 2017 from


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