Re: [xmca] Ziba Kashef: Race and DNA

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at>
Date: Tue Oct 23 2007 - 14:16:16 PDT


  Thanks for that connection. The article used superb examples to illustrate the hegemonic powers of the genetic paradigm and provide a case for vigorously critiquing its application at every level.
  For example, even in public health issues, the causal relation between health and genetic composition is flawed without contextualizing it within a social framework, as illustrated by the controversial race drug BiDil.
  “Developed to address the greater mortality from heart failure among African Americans, the drug has been met with both celebration and skepticism. While it is true that Blacks ages 45 to 64 are more than twice as likely to die from heart failure than whites, Duster points out that the disparity narrows after age 65. The disparity may have less to do with biology and race than other documented factors in heart disease, such as diet, stress and lifestyle.”
  I though it especially hilarious that “media mogul Oprah Winfrey declared that a DNA test had shown that she was Zulu.” Notice that she didn't say "descended from".
  History shows that people can learn to control the dangers of new technologies. For example, during the 1950s lots of people wore watches containing radium painted hands and numbers that glowed in the dark. I can't remember when they stopped being produced. It didn't take long I as I remember . But to my mind, the dangers radium-painted watches seem to pale in comparison to those that could arise from the non-critical application of genetics to explain social phenomena with reasoning that would never be accepted in the labs where the "normal science" of genetics is practiced. Ziba Kashev's example of the Global Genome Mapping projects attempt to trace early human migration patternscuts to the heart of matter :
  “the project's methodology is no more precise than other ancestry testing services. It also uses proprietary computer programs to trace either paternal or maternal lines, leaving a majority of an individual's ancestors out of the analysis.”
  I wonder if Oprah realizes that her standards for identifying her race are more selective, at a probable 5 generation’s 1/32 , than those used to keep Plessy and all other Americans with 1/16 "negro" ancestry riding in the "Negros Only" car from the 1890s through the 1960s.
  Thanks for that link.

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Received on Tue Oct 23 14:18 PDT 2007

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