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img054 - The Only Certain Race is the Human Race...

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Unformatted text preview: The Only , _ Certain Race is the Human Race ”Biologically speaking, human races do not exist.” ”A person’s race is one of the most si nificant influences on that person’s sacral Interactions In mo em American soriety. ” ' hile the two statements above may appear to be mutually incompati- ble, I am firmly convinced of the accuracy of each. That a presumably logical person can simultaneously hold what seem to be incompatible views on ”race” points out the ambiguity of the term ”race," as applied to human beings. What does ”race” mean to a biologist? How might its meaning differ according to who is using the term or the context in which it is being used? Does the term ”race” have any validity; if so, does that validity depend on the context? What do biolo- gists think about ”race”? The understanding of the general pub- lic about human races would probably be that a race is a large, major subdivision of By Theodore E. Burk, Ph.D. Professor and Chairperson Department of Biology the human species; that races are distinct and easy to distinguish (members of a race are very similar to each other, but quite different from members of other races); and that the number of races is Race is not one of the Linneaus categories of biological diversity; biologists equate race with “subspecies,” a subdivision ' small — perhaps as few as three or as many as seven, but not as many as dozens or hundreds. Not every identifiable group of people would constitute a different race; while one might hear talk of a White or Caucasian ”race,” one wouldn't nor- mally hear talk of a German ”race," an English ”race," a Scottish ”race," a Danish "race," etc. — those identifiable. popula- tions would probably be labelled as ethnic groups instead of races. But is this what the term ”race” would mean in biology? Most WINDOW readers, when they were either in high school or college, had to learn at some point the different taxonomic categories introduced by linneaus in the 17005 to make sense of biological diversity: kingdom, phylum, etc., on down to genus and species. ”Race” is not one of those categories; to the extent that biologists use the term, it is synonymous with the category ”subspecies,” a subdivision of a species. Where such subspecies are recognized, a ...
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