Whenever I look into science, I’m always amazed both by how much we know, and by how much we don’t know and then even more at how the people that know the least seem to grab on to a few facts to argue their point the hardest.

I think everyone has wondered why some races perform better in certain athletic events, but as discussed in a 2012 Salon post by Amy Bass, “Slave Genes” myth must die, the crude racial divisions we have been taught to use – black, white, latino, asian – do not even begin to represent the wide range of DNA inside the person that just ran, swam, threw or shot so well.

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Anthony Ervin changed what an elite U.S. swimmer was supposed to look like. Heralded as the first swimmer of African descent to make the U.S. team, Ervin’s family background, with ties to Jewish, Native American and African-American lineages, exemplifies why it is so difficult to make racial assumptions. Just as journalists scrambled to find a language with which to describe Tiger Woods’ decidedly “mixed” parental heritage in 1997 when he won the Masters, Ervin eschewed being pigeonholed as a “first” anything. But in the United States, race is generally dealt with in a binary of black and white, regardless of the multiplicities of “color.” Thus, if one is not white, which neither Ervin nor Woods is, one is black.

A few weeks ago I ran across a Science Blogs post, The HBD Delusion, in which it seems that people are clinging to the idea that race is an accurate reflection of one’s biodiversity:

Oh, a hot tip: these new racists really hate being called racists, so they’ve been struggling for years to come up with a new label. “Scientific Racism” and “Academic Racism” didn’t test well; they’ve still got “racism” in the name. For a long time they called themselves “Race Realists”, which I always read as “really racist”. That’s gone by the wayside now, mostly. The term of art you’re looking for now is “Human Biodiversity”, or “hbd” for short. Notice — “race” isn’t in the label any more. But don’t be fooled, hbd really is just the slick new marketing term for modern racism.


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  1. The Fault in Our HBD | Donal - July 14, 2014
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