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Is race blood?

Question: Is race blood?

Harris-Lacewell: The thing about Skip, when I think about Skip Gates . . .  And I like Skip _________.  I’m working with him on a new project that he’s doing.  But what Skip Gates is brilliant at is Skip Gates is the Booker T. Washington of his time.  And I mean that in the most positive way that I can, which is to say that he knows how to choose a set of intellectual and policy questions that are out there on the planet, attach himself and the study of African-Americans to those central projects, and bring in tremendous resources from the study of them.  So when the world started moving towards genes as a way of understanding everything from breast cancer, to fertility treatments, to you know . . .  I mean genes are the most in vogue thing going on.  Skip said alright, let’s get African-American studies onto that bandwagon, right?  I’m not suggesting that he’s completely an intellectual prostitute.  I suspect he has actual interest in these areas, but that fundamentally what Skip does is pick the big ideas and then attach African-American studies to them.  Now usually that is sort of a value-free kind of thing, right?  We are as well studied in English as in sociology, as in history.  I mean there are many things we could study Black folks on.  But I am very nervous about the introduction of the study of race in genetics because this is the history of 20th century racism – has been genetics-based, or biology-based arguments around race.  I mean if we can go back to the 18th century even and see Thomas Jefferson, our great, you know, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness guy framing in notes on the state of Virginia a biological explanation for the enslavement of Black people, right; that there are these sort of biological differences which constitute different races.  Now I suspect what Skip is up to from the work I’ve seen him doing in trying to undermine that by showing just how much most of our genetic patterns and biological heredity is more mixed than singular, right?  So he keeps finding that you’re as likely to have blood from Iceland, and from Africa, and from . . .  But, right, anytime we start making claims on our ability to understand who we are in the present based on genetic encoding and biological encoding from the past that is related to racialized ideas, I think we open up very quickly several centuries that have always been used against the interest of African-Americans.  I’m simply not convinced that he can . . .  Or that this work, not just him . . . but that this work can provide a space that actually intervenes on behalf of African-American interests.  My feeling is that it will continue to re-inscribe the idea that race is real and different in a biological and genetic way that makes it okay to circumscribe some communities to lower life opportunities overall, because it is the extent of what they are genetically capable of doing.  And so it makes me . . .  It makes me very, very nervous.

Lacewell talks about the study of race and genetics and the threat of biology-based racism.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
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Has science made religion useless?

Placing science and religion at opposite ends of the belief spectrum is to ignore their unique purposes.

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  • This video features religious scholars, a primatologist, a neuroendocrinologist, a comedian, and other brilliant minds considering, among other things, the evolutionary function that religion serves, the power of symbols, and the human need to learn, explore, and know the world around us so that it becomes a less scary place.
  • "I think most people are actually kind of comfortable with the idea that science is a reliable way to learn about nature, but it's not the whole story and there's a place also for religion, for faith, for theology, for philosophy," says Francis Collins, American geneticist and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "But that harmony perspective doesn't get as much attention. Nobody is as interested in harmony as they are in conflict."

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Ezra Acayan/Getty Images
Coronavirus
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Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
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Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
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