Race and Genetics

Next Thursday, I’ll be mediating a discussion at school between a group of scholarship recipients and Dr. Dorothy Roberts. Dr. Roberts is the author of a book on race called “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century“. Her major thesis in the book is that there is no such thing as “race” as we know it in the United States right now. There is no “Black” and “White” and “Hispanic” and “Asian” and such. She uses history and science to explain how race came into being as more of a social construct — a way of splitting people apart and keeping the undesirables away — than anything that is real. In short, race should not be treated as a biological trait.

As an epidemiologist and medical technologist, I’m very much aware of the different risks associated with being in different races. For example, Blacks in the United States are more likely to represent people with high blood pressure. In fact, the recommendation on sodium (salt) intake is different for Blacks than for Whites:

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