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As a social fact, race is real. What race we’re seen as makes an enormous difference to how we’re treated, our odds of being in poverty, and a ton of other factors.
But as biology, race is a fiction – or, rather, it’s an incredibly crude proxy for geographic ancestry. But the proxy is so crude that it has little correspondence to actual genetic diversity.
Vivian Chou writes:
A landmark 2002 study by Stanford scientists examined the question of human diversity by looking at the distribution across seven major geographical regions of 4,000 alleles. Alleles are the different “flavors” of a gene. For instance, all humans have the same genes that code for hair: the different alleles are why hair comes in all types of colors and textures.
In the Stanford study, over 92% of alleles were found in two or more regions, and almost half of the alleles studied were present in all seven major geographical regions. The observation that the vast majority of the alleles were shared over multiple regions, or even throughout the entire world, points to the fundamental similarity of all people around the world—an idea that has been supported by many other studies.
If separate racial or ethnic groups actually existed, we would expect to find “trademark” alleles and other genetic features that are characteristic of a single group but not present in any others. However, the 2002 Stanford study found that only 7.4% of over 4000 alleles were specific to one geographical region. Furthermore, even when region-specific alleles did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region—hardly enough to be any kind of trademark. Thus, there is no evidence that the groups we commonly call “races” have distinct, unifying genetic identities. In fact, there is ample variation within races.
Ultimately, there is so much ambiguity between the races, and so much variation within them, that two people of European descent may be more genetically similar to an Asian person than they are to each other.
The sentence “Stop cancel culturing me!” made me laugh aloud when I thought of it. It’s always nice when that happens.
Regarding panel six: Anytime you have to draw people clustered together in a cartoon, height differences are your friend.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has six panels, plus an additional tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the cartoon. The first five panels all show the same person, a white man wearing a light yellow polo shirt; he has glasses and a “van dyke” beard and mustache. He’s standing in front of a blank background.
The man seems to speak directly to the reader, looking annoyed, holding up a forefinger in a “let me just make this one point” gesture.
WHITE MAN : It’s not fair to say I’m racist just because I’m being scientific!
The man looks a bit hurt and shrugs.
WHITE MAN: Just because I say certain races (like mine) are inherently more intelligent than certain other races (like Blacks)…
Now he looks thoughtful, looking up into the air and placing a hand over his chin.
WHITE MAN: And just because I say high I.Q. people deserve all the best jobs and we should pay them (us) more and let them run everything…
He folds his arms and looks, frankly, quite snotty.
WHITE MAN: And just because I ignore when “scientists” say society’s racial categories don’t really correspond to actual human genetic groupings…
The “camera” has rotated around the man, but he hasn’t turned to remain facing towards us. Instead, he now seems to be speaking to someone off-panel. He’s looking worried and is holding the fingertips of a hand to his chest, indicating himself.
WHITE MAN: Just because of all of that, is it fair to call me a racist?
The “camera” has zoomed out, and we can now see that he’s talking to three people. All three people are people of color (in my interpretation, two are African-American and one is Indian-American). All three are looking annoyed as they speak. The white man is angry and frustrated as he yells at them.
Instead of a blank background, we can now see that all four characters are standing on a city sidewalk, with closely-packed houses and a utility pole in the background.
TALL BLACK MAN WEARING A TIE: Yes.
SHORT BLACK WOMAN WITH A STRIPED SHIRT AND A GREEEN SKIRT: Definitely fair.
INDIAN WOMAN WITH GLASSES AND A SHORT FASHIONABLY CHOPPY HAIRCUT: Yup yup.
WHITE MAN (yelling): STOP CANCEL CULTURING ME!
TINY “KICKER” PANEL UNDER THE BOTTOM OF THE STRIP
The short Black woman from panel 6 is talking to the white guy. He looks calm now but still a bit annoyed.
SHORT WOMAN: So who do you think it’s fair to call racist?
WHITE MAN: The guy who made this cartoon.