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Ms. Bowles
Posts: 10

Questions to Consider:

Please use the following quote and questions as a guide for your post. You can choose to focus on two of the question sets, or to incorporate several of them into your response. Please be sure to include a response to question set 3 though.

1. Why might the ideas of race ‘science’ have been appealing to so many Europeans and Americans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? What did it do for them? What are some of the related socio-psychological ideas that can help to explain its appeal?

2. Once the pseudo-scientific ideas of race crept into policies and laws in the United States, what was the impact? How and where do these impacts still reverberate today?

3. Are the pervasive ideas of race ‘science’ and racial differences still with us in society, even though we know the methods and the findings used to prove these differences were so incredibly flawed? Why and how do these ideas still persist? What can be done to counter this ‘new’ racist ideology?

Word Count Requirement: 500-750 words

Sources to Reference:

Please refer to the ideas, either using a quote or paraphrasing, from at least one of the sources in your response. You should also refer directly to your peers’ projects on the impact of race ‘science’ on US laws and policies.

Is Race Science Making a Comeback?

The Unwelcome Revival of Race Science

The Disturbing Resilience of Scientific Racism

Rubrics to Review:

LTQ Rubric

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 8

The fundamental basis of race ‘science’ is the desire of Europeans and Americans to feel innately superior, no matter their socioeconomic status. This desire was exploited by rich lawmakers in an attempt to gain control over the vast population of poor white people, as a system to ensure they would support policies backed by racist ideologies that would provide little to no benefit for anyone other than the upper class. By adopting these ideologies, lower class white people were able to gain an air of superiority over another group, separating them from other groups of oppressed people, preventing them from rising up against the powers that be. This not only helped to calm the mass of poor white people, but also allowed them to find an easy support of colonial practices. While the benefit of colonialism to the upper class was obvious, the accumulation of wealth and an easily exploitable labor force, the benefit was barely seen by the average citizen. These pseudo-scientific theories allowed poor white people to see the imaginary benefit: caring for a group of people too unsophisticated to care for themselves. These theories also helped rectify the cognitive dissonance from the soldiers doing the work of conquering these people, causing them to see it not only as something that was necessary, but actually beneficial to the conquered people. Race ‘science’ is not used only as a justification to commit these acts, but a reason to.

When it comes to the idea of race ‘science’ as a fundamentally flawed and incorrect science, the issue with debunking it is that the current believers are unwilling to do their own research, or unwilling to listen to scientists. As said in the article by The Guardian, “‘That attack on my book was purely political,” Wade told Stefan Molyneux, one of the most popular promoters of the alt-right’s new scientific racism. They were speaking a month after Trump’s election on Molyneux’s YouTube show, whose episodes have been viewed tens of millions of times. Wade continued: “It had no scientific basis whatever and it showed the more ridiculous side of this herd belief.’”, the basis upon which most perpetrators of scientific racism stand on is that anyone who disagrees with their theories is simply doing so as a result of trying to be “politically correct”, not of science. The perpetuation of this belief allows followers of the ideology to easily discount the ideas of anyone who disagrees, without any thought to the point they’re making. The book that Wade is referring to was debunked by groups of geneticists, who accused him of misrepresenting their field of research. The narrative that he is pushing, that his ideas are being debunked on a social basis as opposed to a scientific one, gives him and those who agree with him a feeling of moral superiority over those who disagree with him. This is exacerbated by the fact that at the moment, theories of race ‘science’ are simply fringe theories, giving those who follow them a false sense of prosecution, making them more and more sure of their ideals each time they are questioned, because they feel able to simply dismiss it as another instance of them being silenced. These ideas persist largely because those who believe in them are so stuck in their convictions that any criticism only serves to egg them on, and they then in turn pass these ideologies onto their children. Theories of race ‘science’ are appealing to people who feel like they have been mislead by the system, so instead of taking it out on the powers that be, they take it out on people who are different than themselves, feeling like they deserved what these other people got for the simple virtue of being white. Race ‘science’ allows them to feel superior, no matter if that means putting other people down in the process. These theories can best be counteracted by more widely available resources to debunk these ideologies so that the average person can protect themself from proponents of these theories. It could be especially useful to teach in more common classes, such as US history, since those classes, as mandatory courses, would stop these ideologies from spreading to the younger generations. Education is the only method to end the perpetuation of racist ideologies, and making this sort of education more commonly available would lessen the commonality of these ideologies.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

The ideas taught through race ‘science’ are so appealing to Europeans and Americans as they put them up on a pedestal and are opinions that are easy for them to fall into. These same ideas also cause Europeans and Americans to reaffirm the way that they already defined themselves from other races, although now with ‘science’ confirming it to be fact. In many experiments done by scientists to prove the natural difference between races, such as Samuel Morton, various measurements would be done on human skulls to show how you can determine many characteristics of a person and their entire race based on the sizes of their features. The difference that they would find in peoples features would help them to explain their ideas by making claims such as African people being less intelligent because of what they had seen in their research that were mostly focused on male white skulls against female skulls of other races that would naturally be smaller. As a result these scientists' research was mostly inaccurate. However it was still widely accepted and taught to others. These ideas that Europeans and Americams were better than others also helped to lower any dissonance or poor feelings that they had for taking over the land or severely mistreating people of a different race as they were “less than them” and didn’t deserve anything more. This additional factor of accepting the race ‘science’ to be true, made it that much more popular and attractive to people. As a direct result of how popular these ideas were, many scientists and professors would turn their work towards it to gain wealth and make a name for themselves that directly caused the spread in race ‘science’.

As these pseudo-scientific ideas made their way over to the United States and it spread throughout America as it did Europe, it was also widely accepted for the same reasons as it had before. There was a diverse population in America of many different races and cultures from people who had come to the county. The white population in America had a history of thinking they were more deserving in ways such as pushing the Indigenous population out for years and years and taking their land thinking that it was necessary and they deserved it. As well as separating themselves from African Americans and participating in slavery just like many other places in the world. The white people of America continued to use race ‘science’ to justify their past actions and ones that they would continue to make, like the separation of white people and African Americans with many “white only” places that had an even greater effect on agreeing with the consensus that other races were different species and should be treated differently than Europeans and Americans. The impacts of racial injustices such as these are still prominent today as many people in America will have less opportunities, be treated unfairly, and in some cases forever seen as different by some just because of their race.

Posts: 6

Scientific Racism unfolded from 19th-century Europeans' and Americans' desire to justify colonialism and the persecution of non-whites. Humans feel the need to preserve a stable and positive self-image, and ‘race science’ helped reduce their cognitive dissonance by justifying their actions. The new ‘science’ coincided with European expansion and colonization, and provided a perfect excuse for slavery, colonialism, segregation, genocide, and land acquisition. The idea of polygenism perpetuated the theory that humans were different species, and had biological differences in intelligence, morality, and so forth. Tajfel’s social identity theory explains the innate desire to categorize people---this is the desire that race scientists capitalized on to perpetuate their theories. It is important to note, however, that race is nothing more than a skin-deep phenomenon that white men morphed into a cruel lie that reinforced social hierarchies with them at the top. In their post, Gaius wrote, “Race ‘science’ is not used only as a justification to commit these acts, but a reason to.” This illustrates the change of race from justification to "The White Man's Burden,” the idea that white men being in power was not only beneficial but actually the morally correct action to civilize “savages.”

Pseudo-scientific ideas deeply influenced American policy and led to legislation that discriminated against racial groups. The Mexican Repatriation and Chinese Exclusion Act led to the current view towards Chinese and Mexican immigrants. The Mexican repatriation deported ~1.8 Mexicans from the US, regardless of their citizenship status, and the Chinese Exclusion Act blocked an entire ethnic group from entering the country. They set a precedent that these people were coming to “steal jobs,” and did not deserve to belong in the country. Impacts still reverberate today, as high-profile political figures such as former president Donald Trump go as far as to cite these acts to authorize restrictions on immigration to the US. To this day, the federal government has issued no national apology for the racist actions taken against Mexican and Chinese people, and it is doubtful that they ever will. The Indian Residential School System, Annexation of Puerto Rico, and Jim Crow laws set up Black people, Indigenous Americans, and the people of Puerto Rico to experience systemic inequalities. Indigenous Americans had their land, livelihood, and culture brutally ripped away from them. Puerto Rican people do not have federal voting rights and very weak support from the government---the same government that took over and made them dependent on the US economy. Black Americans were subject to enforced racial segregation, voter restriction, and violence. So many people experience inequalities in healthcare, housing, education, and more. Race science goes beyond simple theory, as it institutionally created and reinforced privilege for whites over anyone else.

America must acknowledge and learn from history, not celebrate it. The pervasive ideas of race ‘science’ and racial differences are still with us in society, even though we know the methods and the findings used to prove these differences were so incredibly flawed. This is especially evident in far-right groups, although not limited to them. In mid-2016, Donald Trump’s future chief strategist “wrote an article in which he suggested that some black people who had been shot by the police might have deserved it,” stating his opinion that “there are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent” (Evans 1). This cites the false and damaging opinion perpetuated by scientific racism that Black people are genetically predisposed to violence. The conservative-liberal divide has grown, exacerbated by people---especially right-wing supporters--- who deny the truth simply because others are not part of their “ingroup.” The social scientist Jonathan Haidt said liberals “reject the truth of inherited IQ difference between groups because of a misguided commitment to the idea that social outcomes depend entirely on nurture, and are therefore mutable, ” and political scientist Charles Murry claimed that liberal academic critics of his book “lied without any apparent shadow of guilt because…in their own minds, they thought they were doing the Lord’s work.” (Evans 2). Haidt’s actions mirror leading race scientists like Louis Aggasiz who believed that intelligence was inherited and that white people were naturally more intelligent. Both men help spotlight the problem that the United States is facing right now, not only regarding race. People in power do not listen to each other, and misinformation is rampant. In order to counter the legacy of racist ideology and persistent ideas of it, there must be open acknowledgment, communication, and discussion of the past and what the future will bring.

Posts: 6

Race 'Science'

Some of the presentations revealed that oppressive policies throughout the US have harmed the long term mental health and potential of many groups. These policies were designed to keep minorities down, and unfortunately they have been largely successful even after having been repealed. Take Residential Schools for example. The school system only gave its students a 5th grade level education. Education is closely tied to income in modern society, so less education means less potential to make a sustainable amount of money. The Indian Termination Act also prevented Native Americans from being economically stable as the act made them pay taxes, which they couldn’t afford because they didn’t have jobs. Another long term effect is the physical health of people who were harmed under these oppressive policies. Again looking at residential schools, people contracted diseases in the schools and then spread them to their community when they got home. This can also be seen in the Indian Removal Act. Native Americans were forced to migrate to new areas and the new environmental conditions and diseases present in the area. This caused many people to pass away as well as starvation during the journey and affected the long term health of many Native tribes. The ideas of race ‘science’ were so appealing to Europeans and Americans because it allowed them to justify their treatment of non-white people. This kept white people at the top of the social hierarchy and preserved the oppressive way of life that was being challenged by the oppressed (keep the rebellious poor in every meaning of the word so it’s harder for them to rebel). This connects to cognitive dissonance and lessening it because people, especially white people, knew that the way that countless groups were being treated was not right and was oppressive, yet they didn’t want to give up their benefits like being rich etc that came with oppressing others. Thus race ‘science’ provided these people who felt guilty about their treatment of others with a solution backed by some of the world’s most renowned scientists: the people they were oppressing were ‘less than’ and did not deserve the proper treatment those in power felt guilty for not giving them. This can still be seen in modern society in groups such as Neo-Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan. These groups believe (even in 2023) that Jewish people or African Americans are not as good as white people. In the case of these two groups, they even go so far as to kill members of non-white communities. The ideas of race ‘science’ still exists for the same reason it was so popular in the first place: it keeps white people in charge and is often used to violently squash any threats against their power. In order to counter this ‘new’ racist ideology, we need to work harder to educate people that differences in race are skin deep and created by our environment. A lot of people think the way they do because of their education level. More educated people tend to support the betterment of society while less educated people often target hate at other groups. This is not always the case as there will always be educated people who don’t want to lose their power so they join the hateful group, but on the whole education is the answer. Angela Salini said it best in Jesse Kung’s article “Is ‘Race Science’ Making a Comeback”: we need to be careful of how we use the term ‘race’. She uses the sickle cell trait in North and West Africa as an example saying that “We know that the sickle cell trait exists in those regions of the world where cases of malaria are high, and that is because, as devastating as it is to have sickle cell anemia, having the trait provides some resistance to malaria. So in the regions where it exists, it is beneficial to the people who have it, because one risk outweighs the other. And this means it's geographical — it's not racial” (Salini quoted by Kung 15). Going back to education, if we educate ourselves on issues like the sickle cell trait and use terms like ‘race’ properly, we can mitigate racism and its impact and better understand our world.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 8

The persuasive ideas of race ‘science’ and racial differences are still very prevalent in society today. While in the past there might have been more specific and obvious policies against groups of people based on their race, the core of the ideas still stand today. No matter the number of people who recognize how flawed the methods and findings used to prove these differences, there will always be people who don’t see it. Racism has been ingrained into society for hundreds of years, and at this point, it would be almost impossible for it to be completely eradicated. To counteract this ‘new’ racist ideology, many steps would have to be taken, but no amount of pushing from the government or society can change what some people think, and their opinions may never change. A quote from The Smithsonian, The Disturbing Resilience of Scientific Racism, by Ramin Skibba, connects to the point that racism and racist ideas will never completely go away. Terms, policies, and the ways of discrimination can all change in their own ways, but at its core, racism will always be part of society. “They simply used different terms, Saini points out, as some continued with race-focused research while referring to ‘populations’ and ‘human variation’ rather than ‘races’ and ‘racial differences’ ” (Skibba). We can try to avoid using the wrong language to talk about things, however, nothing is perfect and it probably won’t ever be.

The impact of race ‘science’ ideas in the United States is very obvious within states, but also more generally in the whole country. Probably the most important and serious example of this happening is the ratio of people of color compared to white people who get arrested. As shown in one of the presentations, 1 in 3 black men get arrested, which is 2 or 3 times more compared to white men. This makes it very hard for people of color, especially men, to go about their lives without discrimination. They have more trouble getting jobs, being trusted, and generally just living. Another example is how hard it is for people to buy property. This has been an issue for hundreds of years, where people of color have an incredibly hard time getting loans and then buying houses. People of black neighborhoods of low income would be denied a loan that a white person of low income would be given. Over generations, this has forced people of color to live in more dangerous places with more pollution and poor conditions.

No matter how many people can recognize the flaws of race ‘science,’ it is almost impossible to completely eradicate racism and discrimination from society today.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 7

“Race is a social construct.” said during the end of lunch. “No it isn’t, do you see the difference in how I look compared to you.” Race Science, a term used so often, has been rooted in society ever since people wanted to prove that they were more supreme. Genetically, there is no indicator to determine someone’s race. However, people rely on race as a huge indicator on who they are as a person. During the 1900s, race science had become such a great phenomenon because it was “scientifically” confirmed the white race was the best. Race science raised white supremacy, and justified many racist policies and laws Europeans and Americans had enacted. During 1883-1996, Indian Residential Schools were created to “change” Native Americans correctly. America had believed that dismissing Native American land and culture would be the correct path for many of them because it was the correct path of an American. However, in those residential schools, none of them were able to practice thor culture and dealt with a lot of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Americans believed that because they were above other races, it was their duty to convert into their ways. Forcing individuals to conform to European and American ways generated this idea that society was getting better because of their actions. The Us vs. Them theory is greatly shown in race science. The idea that the “Us” needs to help these poor souls of people who are no way similar to them is super beneficial to the “Them” who are just so barbaric and uncivilized.

During the experiments of race science, scientists had categorized people into groups, such as Mongolian, Malay, Caucasian, Ethiopian, and American. These groups determined one’s characteristics and features. Even though the present society does not use these names, we categorize people into groups, without realizing. The words are just replaced with Black, Hispanic, Latino, Native American, Asian, and White. They both represent the same thing, just less controversial. Although people use these words as a huge part of their identity, features will always be the main identity for race. I know someone who is mixed, and when asked about his race, he usually only says he is black, even though he is also white. For many mixed people, it is hard for them to define what race they are, because society is continuously telling someone that because they look a certain way they are a certain race. Jubilee, a youtube channel, makes videos about people blindfolded to guess the mole in the group based on their answers. They had done this video where black men needed to guess who was not black in the group. They picked almost every black man, and did not catch the white person. It was soon found out that the white man was raised by a black mom. Reflecting on this video, I realized that it was solely based on the stereotypes and how one should act based on their race. Stereotypes are a checklist of how much of a race you are. Due to race science, many people define themselves with these stereotypes to prove how much they are of this race. Race science has made “ us believe that identity is biological, when identity is cultural.” It is inevitable to combat race as a defining factor of who one is, but ethnicity can define who someone truly is and the culture they have within.

Posts: 6

The ideas of race “science” stemmed from a need to justify the political movements occurring in the world at that time. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Europeans and their descendants (ie. Americans) engaged in colonization, taking over many parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In order to create a basis for their expansion, they had to come up with valid reasons for why they even had the right in the first place to take over the land of other groups and then oppress those said groups. The solution that these colonizers came up with was to create a factual basis for a concept that had existed for centuries: racism. By claiming that their prejudice against “others,” meaning peoples and cultures from other places in the world that they were unfamiliar with, was undeniable and simply biological, these colonizers declared that they and their descendants had been chosen to rule over the non-white world. White people were then able to weaponize this “science” since, as stated by rica.junction, it “provided a perfect excuse for slavery, colonialism, segregation, genocide, and land acquisition.”

The need to justify their horrifying treatment of people of color largely stemmed from the socio-psychological ideas of cognitive dissonance, Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory, and Latane and Darley’s Bystander Effect. Cognitive dissonance essentially comes from a person’s need to maintain a positive self-image, and when someone does something bad or immoral, contradicting their positive self-image, they try in any way possible to justify their actions and maintain their belief that they are a good person. In the case of colonialism, white people needed to justify their violence and oppression towards people of color, and they did so by claiming that people of color were either below them on a racial hierarchy or not even people at all, but animals, and that they were not, therefore, deserving of rights such as liberty and body autonomy. Additionally, Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory explains how humans develop a sense of membership tied to the group(s) that they are a part of and that they have a natural tendency to categorize people based on their group(s), thereby creating an “us versus them” mentality. This played into race “science” as these scientists took advantage of this concept and essentially created numerous divisions among humanity based on race, claiming that people of different races were entirely different “species” or “breeds” of humans. However, as NPR’s interview with Angela Saini explains, this is an extremely inaccurate way to describe humanity as the racial divisions that race “scientists” conjured up were often proxies for other characteristics, such as geographical location. Nevertheless, these concepts are still deeply ingrained in our society, and people will likely say how they feel they can relate more to or understand better members of their own race (or people who appear to be of their own race) when, in fact, these connections are based on other factors such as culture, language, or religion. Finally, Latane and Darley’s Bystander Effect can be seen in the lack of action taken by ordinary white people during the age of colonialism. Many working-class Europeans and Americans likely fell prey to the propaganda being used at the time, which justified the actions of colonizers. The influx of “science” and racist discourse coupled with Social Identity Theory resulted in many white people, even if they did not believe that their governments’ treatment of people of color was, being reluctant to speak out against it, maybe out of ignorance (ie. they did not know the full extent of how their governments were oppressing and murdering people of color), out of fear (ie. social pressure, could be reprimanded by their governments), or out of greed (ie. white people, at least indirectly, benefitted from the oppression of people of color).

Ways in which we can now work to counter racist ideology is to speak of it more. By this, I mean that it is important to acknowledge the racist ideology that is still extremely pervasive in society, despite our reluctance to admit it, since that is the first step in speaking out against it. In acknowledging racism it is also important for people who have benefitted from these oppressive systems, at least indirectly, meaning white people or multiracial people, to recognize that they have in fact benefited from them. However, this does not mean that they need to feel guilty for these systems, as they are not the ones who created them, but they must recognize that they have a responsibility to amend them and work in solidarity with people of color to create a better, more harmonious society.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 5

The ideas expressed through race science were appealing to so many Europeans and Americans because it justified the acquisition of land and resources that were for their personal gain. For example the Philippines was under Spanish and American control which could only be explained by personal interests within these countries. The Philippines was under the control of European originating countries so what was the reason for the conflict? If the mission of the race ‘science’ was to civilize the uncivilized then the Philippines shouldn’t have been the main concern of the United States. It is pretty evident that race ‘science’ was a way that people justified the seizure of non-white owned resources in order to make a profit. When it came to a feud between two majority white countries there would be other factors determined through propaganda that would be influential in the inequitable acquisition of lands. In order to justify feud between two white countries, theories like the Social Identity Theory and the Mob Mentality arise. With the continued use of the Philippines example, the Social Identity Theory is prominent in the annexation process from Spanish Control to American control. American propaganda would depict the Spanish as unethical while depicting themselves through a progressive lens. The land of the free would be best suited to control the Philippines in the eyes of their civilians because they understand what civilization should look like. Stemming from this would be other methods of integration of non-white people to white culture like the Residential Schools that aimed to civilize Native Americans. Even with the understanding that there is not a pure race, eugenicists “sought to prevent their supposedly superior race from being overrun by immigration, miscegenation and higher birth rates among other ethnicities” (Smithsonian Article). The lasting impact of race ‘science’ although not direct, led to most of the racist ideology expressed in World War II and even today. Overall when it comes to personal interest in the late 19th century and early 20th century, at the root of all of this evil is the so-called Race ‘Science’ that had become the consensus of social policy.

In terms of lasting impact as a result of the race ‘science’ theories there is unfortunately a lot of struggle within indigenous tribes. In Hawaii, indigenous tribes have lost most of their land to the greed of foreigners. Their old stomping grounds are now used as resorts or excessive wealth estates that deprive the lasting Native Land from thriving. Instead of prioritizing the history of the island and its people, there is a major focus on the tourism industry. Although we are far removed from the race science ideology, it is important to note that racist sentiment from today is directly correlated back to the influence of these pathetic ‘scientists’. As far as something that can be done to prevent similar ideology from developing in the 21st century, it is important that people are informed that these ideas have no validity to them. Racism is something that must be embraced as something that is a part of our past however it cannot be a part of our future. If these teachings were to be hidden from the general public, it is possible that similar theories might arise and so it is important to expose people to these ideas in order to make sure that people understand that this is in no way a way to feud one another.

vetoed UN resolution
Posts: 6

Once the theories of race science had became widespread and crept into the laws and policies of the United States, it gave a newfound justification to racist acts and litigations of the American Government that wasn’t necessarily or inherently political. Any rational argument against a racially motivated policy that provides real reason for why doing away with it would be in the national interest and for the good of the nation’s people could now be shut down with some sort of faux scientific word jumble about how we shan’t cede any power or rights to ‘inferior’ races or ethnic groups. Another real substantial impact of this shift towards race science is that it seeped into the minds of everyday people who one would initially judge to be not all that interested in social science. It seeped into stereotypes, the kind of stereotypes mocking physical traits/stature especially. But, it should also be noted that Race Scientists, what with their often prolific use of cranial measurements and invocation of ‘IQ test results’ also acted as a sort of band of twisted pioneers in stereotypes about mental capacity too, giving rise to everything from the portrayal of afro-americans in Minstrel Shows during the 20th century to the ‘Model Minority’ stereotype surrounding Asian American and Pacific Islander people today. Race Scientists perforated beyond the field of fringe science and radical elements of the body of politic, and into daily exchanges of racially-motivated language.

While the elements just listed show the continued prevalence in the modern day of old race science, this doesn’t mean that race science itself is going to make a comeback, at least, not any kind of growth beyond its current impact. Despite what the articles say, if one observes enough rhetoric from modern racists on the alt-right, they’d find that their racism is rooted more in emotional, base human instinct-type negative reactions when approached by what is perceived as alien or foreign, combined with some faint attempt to use political or social rationalization as an accoutrement to their argument. Oftentimes, for example, racists will bring up crime statistics as an attempt to defame Afro-Americans for being ‘a race of criminals’ etc etc etc, but it’s not necessarily common for them to then go on into the realm of pseudo-scientific rationalization to back up their argument. They just hope that their initially misguided invocation of some document of FBI crime statistics will speak for itself and fuel racist sentiment. Another reason why actual race science is most likely not set for a comeback makes itself shown as the alt-right of the 21st century makes itself out to be more ‘grassroots’ and explicitly anti-intellectual.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

The biggest appeal of race ‘science’ seems to have been its ability to explain and justify the oppression of others. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were people who questioned the social constructs around them. By making divisions racial, and therefore ‘scientific’, the perpetrators of these inequities were able to quiet any potential dissenters. This ability to convince oneself that something deemed wrong is actually not is deeply rooted in human psychology. People are able to address this Cognitive Dissonance in a variety of ways. In the instance of race ‘science’, the so-called science was used as an additional thought to justify people's behavior. Additionally, this idea of race would have been only natural to humans, who are biologically predisposed to categorize people and things, and distinguish between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. Propaganda then contributed to the spread of ideas that some people were inferior to others and helped to create an emotional correlation. If enough people could convince themselves that race was indeed a marker of superiority, then the majority of the remaining would conform to this social norm.

Pseudo-scientific ideas were then used to justify laws that solidified social constructs. For instance, Jim Crow laws used polygenism, the idea that there were many species (races) of humans, to justify it. This allowed the white people in power, after slavery had ended, to create laws that made it possible for African Americans, who according to the ideas of polygenism were intellectually inferior, to be treated as subhuman and second-class citizens. Jim Crow laws fed the newly developed Convict Lease System. Combined, this helped to perpetuate the growing disparities between races; especially in education and wealth. These systems have also helped paint the common picture, that has become ingrained in our society, of African Americans as being evil and scary. This in turn has contributed to current issues, such as police brutality. Furthermore, there are other laws and policies, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, that are still part of our legislation, here, in the US.

While its race ‘science’ has been disproved and is widely considered not to be no more than a hoax, the ideas remain, both actively and passively, in our society and everyday life. This passive race ‘science’ is often unconscious. “…well-meaning epidemiological scientists … use race as a crude proxy for myriad social and environmental factors … These many forms of inequality and structural racism … were swept under the rug in favor of a race variable that led to findings that could be easily misinterpreted.” Race and other scientific things that have formed from the social construct of race are often used interchangeably, which perpetuates the idea that races are, in fact, genetically different. Sometimes, however, these race ‘science’ ideas are more active and upfront. “In July 2016 … Steve Bannon, who … would go on to be Donald Trump’s chief strategist, wrote an article in which he suggested that some black people who had been shot by the police might have deserved it.” This idea that black people are predisposed to violence is fully the result of pseudoscientific ideas. These pseudoscientific ideas continue to exist because they are convenient. They help to explain and support the way American society has been constructed. These ideas are taught to children from a very young age, making it exceedingly difficult to resist. In order to counter this ‘new’ racist ideology, it is important that people stay informed and are taught, from a young age, both the origin of them and the actual science that counters it.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 6

Learn to Question Post 3: Impacts of Race 'Science' in the United States Then and Now

Race science is an ideology that still affects all colored people of America today. It may no longer be recognized as real science because it has been debunked but the laws and policies that were made due to it from many years ago still have many harsh effects on the colored people of today all over the world. The one most people are aware of but choose to ignore is the issue closest to us Americans today, which would be the native americans on the reservations. Back in the 1900s they were even used as entertainment in “museums” just to show how “savage” they were or how “uneducated” they were and how through brutal force whites could educate them. These museums were well known and a big part of history yet nobody acknowledges them and moves past as though it didn’t happen. As seen through the physical appearance of native americans they have a darker complexion than whites and this is what race science stems off of. The darker complexioned races are always seen as less human. This then starts the whole “white man's burden” of them feeling like they need to “civilize” these people of color. This kicked off the horrific boarding school that native kids were sent to in order to be made more American. In these schools they were hit with long thick rulers on their hands, they weren't even allowed to speak their own language, and had many severe punishments for acting out of line. It’s not just natives that have suffered through this but latinos, blacks, asians and other poc identifiers because race science still has its after effects in modern days through racism, mass killings and xenophobia. Just like how the article Is 'Race Science' Making A Comeback? It states, “The thing is, race is real in society. It's real in politics. It's real in the ways that we treat each other. It's visceral because we have made it visceral in our everyday lives, and it has a biological impact because of that. Racism impacts people's bodies. It impacts people's minds. It affects how they live and how they grow.” Due to the aftermath of white people thinking they are superior to all colored races the people have now had to make movements such as Black Lives Matter, Hear Latino voices and Stop Asian Hate just to spread awareness of their racial injustice. These movements came when lives were lost due to these racially targeted crimes. Even schooling and work fields are divided by race. Schools in white dominated neighborhoods get better funding, education and opportunities unlike the schools in redlining areas that are dominated by black and latinos. Even in the workforce higher paying jobs are given to the people who have opportunities. People of color need to work even harder for the high positions they get and sometimes they aren't paid the same. Of course things like affirmative action or reserved spots for people of color have tried to change the statistics of colored people in the workforce but it hasn't been a permanent solution, the only permanent solution would be to end racism. White supremacists still exist because their ancestors truly believe in race science that it made their race the better one. Race science over time has been used to justify the colonization, racism, and torture methods of europeans but despite it being science of the past it still has its after effects even years later.
Posts: 6

Lasting Impacts of Race 'Science' in the United States

The idea of race ‘science’ was the exact ‘revelation’ that Europeans and Americans needed to further their development of imperialism, racism, and slavery. It convinced the general public about the necessity of race ‘science’ and its validity, which garnered massive amounts of support for these actions against other countries and races with little to no opposition. This can be compared to the propaganda used during the Holocaust and other race-based crimes to manipulate the public opinion while ‘justifying’ the choices made by those in power. A quote from the Smithonian Magazine supports this analysis: “Geneticist James Watson… has frequently been the subject of withering criticism for voicing racist beliefs, including that differences on tests of intelligence have a racial component, and arguing that Indians are servile and that Chinese people have somehow become genetically conformist” (Skibba). The presentations presented in class and discussed by many all mention the use of race ‘science’ in this way, most notably the Dred Scott decision and the Indian Termination Act where the federal government gentrified native territories and assimilation Native Americans into white society simply because they were viewed as ‘inferior’ and ‘savages’.

The impact of race ‘science’ in U.S law and government has lasted through the foundation of the country until now. As mentioned before, one of the most influential impacts of race ‘science’ was the Dred Scott decision, which hastened the civil war between states on the stance of slavery in the nation, leading to systematic discrimination and lack of action in some states towards blacks. However, these injustices have yet to be resolved after the thirteenth amendment because the U.S government implemented a system that continues indentured servitude in the form of the convict lease system that forced prisoners to labor. This is a clear sign of how race ‘science’ has not only remained, but is on the edge of rebirth through legal loopholes and racial discrimination as the people who are most subject to things similar to the convict lease system are minorities. Especially those of a darker complexion for no reason at all.

To answer whether or not if racial ‘sciences’ and differences are still apparent today, an article from The Guardian is needed. In his article, Gavin speaks on the fact that public discourse and political discourse has centered on the topic of race for centuries, never seeming to cease despite the work of countless. The reason that scientific racism hasn’t been completely removed from the field of science despite being proven wrong is that it’s a social construct that provides some with a sense of superiority and power over others that they don’t want to dismiss regardless of the lack of evidence. The quote, “It was a prime example of the rhetoric of race science, whose proponents love to claim that they are honouring the data, not political commitments” (Evans) sums up this explanation perfectly. The lengths that proponents argue over the use of these sciences are extensive, as they claim that it is only used for discussion without also mentioning the very apparent use of it in politics that decide on the wellbeing of citizens. Unfortunately, while there are no certain methods to combat the use and injustices caused by race ‘sciences’, the spread of awareness on the issue and the development of social justice actively contribute to the dissolution of this problem in our society.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 4

Lasting Impacts of Race "Science"

The ideas of race ‘science’ appealed to so many Europeans and Americans because it provided European justification for the actions of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery. It also “reinforced the racial status quo that benefited those in power”. Many powerful white figures at the time believed it was their duty to civilize those who were considered “inferior” to them, hence creating the idea of the “white man’s burden”. They believed non-whites to be subhuman in comparison to them solely based on physical features, which has popularly been disproven ever since. Race “scientists” would compare skull sizes, and falsely conclude that smaller skull size equaled lower intelligence. Many people at the time had no reason to disbelieve these false ideas because the scientists’ so-called "evidence” seemed credible and the label of these white men being “scientists” added to this false credibility. By separating different races into dehumanizing categories, it emphasized an “Us vs. Them” mindset, where non-whites weren’t seen as man or human. As mentioned by a peer about the connection of race ‘science’ within the Indian Termination Policy, the issues of Native Amercians being exterminated from their native lands was able to persist for several years due to a lack of emotional connection between whites and Native Americans. There was a great difference between cultures and languages, so whites felt less guilty as they couldn’t see themselves as Native Americans, despite both being humans which was all that should have mattered.

The pervasive ideas of race ‘science’ and racial differences still exist in modern society, as seen through policies forbiding immigration and mass lynchings of a specifc race. It is impossible to live in a perfect society or world where racism or discrimation doesn’t exist, despite methods and findings that have proven these differences were so incredibly flawed. We like to believe that we have learned from our past mistakes so history doesn’t repeat itself, but everyday we, as a society, manage to disprove this. An example of this is how even though the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943, there were reports of mass lynchings of Chinese immigrants in western Massachusetts not too long ago and the revival of the “Stop AAPI Hate” movement. Genocide, which is the ultimate end-point of race ‘science’, is still ongoing in many areas of the world, and does not only mean being physically killed. Cultural genocide occurred in the Indian Termination Policy during the mid-1940s, and is currently happening to the Uyghurs in China. The idea that nonwhites are “inferior” because of previous false “scientific” ideas still exists today because when a belief as flawed as this becomes prominent during a time of slavery and colonialism, it becomes like a disease that is too widespread to kill. There is a significant imbalance between the mortality rates of whites and blacks in the US due to differences of income and access to healthcare. This disparity was not sudden and was, and continues to be, caused by racist obstacles in society. It has been shown every year that blacks receive the lowest income in comparison to other races. This is mainly due to discrimation in the workforce and application processes. A superiority complex still exists in many whites today, who also believe one’s race correlates with their level of intelligence. As explained in a NPR, it is perverse to say blacks are genetically disavantaged as the cause of their higher mortialty rates are due to lack of access to healthcare and these life expectancy gaps in the US are “treated as racial because socioeconomic circumstances run along racial lines” (Kung). We can counter this “new” racist ideology by educating ourselves and others on the countered evidence of race “science”. Race simply cannot be disregarded because it can be an important part of one’s identity and is what makes humans unique, but in a beautiful way where we can expose ourselves to different cultures and languages.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 5

Lasting Impacts of Race "Science" in the United States

The ideas of race science were so appealing to Europeans and European Americans because they confirmed the sense of supremacy and superiority that they held over people of color. Race science told white people that they were biologically and historically better than people of any other culture, no matter how biased and untrue the research that was presented to them to back this theory up was. The idea that having a larger skull meant that white people were smarter and more intelligent than say Africans made white people feel a sense of responsibility to literally claim ownership over these people, as they were seen as lesser than and unable to care for themselves and others. Plus, the history of the world that was known by the researchers making these claims, at that time, was only the point of view of the Europeans. So, the Europeans thought that they were the oldest and most advanced societies in the world, which just added on to the feeling of supremacy that they held over other peoples. The Europeans also invaded many lands and caused many mass killings, so the history of other people were erased by the Europeans themselves.

Once pseudo-scientific ideals of race were integrated into laws and policies in the United States government, there was extreme violence and discrimination against non-white people. Society was physically and mentally segregated between white people and people of color, Mexicans, Chinese, and many other races were deported illegally and treated awfully. Propaganda against entire races was spread widely in the mainstream media, which perpetuated extreme acts of violence and hatred against them. White people felt the responsibility to almost “cleanse” the United States, to the point where it was unsafe to be a person of color living within the country. The impact of these laws and policies are seen in the extreme racism and xenophobia that are prevalent in our country today. When the coronavirus pandemic began, there was an extreme and saddening spike in violent attacks against Asian Americans, because the thought that the virus originated in China translated to a global hatred of all Asian people, even though they hold no responsibility for the pandemic at all. In 2020, there was a huge media spotlight on racist attacks by the police force in America. The brutal and violent murders of innocent black citizens were recorded and blasted all over social media, but little consequences were received by the racist and bloodthirsty police officers . The laws in place to protect police officers in this country end up with the officers having to take no responsibility for their actions, as they will be automatically protected by the federal government. Justice for these innocent individuals whose lives were taken for absolutely no reason has still not been achieved, and most likely never will.

The basic ideas of race science, like the biological ideas that different measurements of body parts mean different things may not still be prevalent in our society today, but the ideals perpetuated from that racist research are definitely still present today. The existence of white supremacy groups, and even just the racial wage gap, are all things that stem from race science. The idea that the white man is intellectually, physically, and biologically superior to the black man are all ideas that, although not outwardly accepted, are still ingrained in the way our society and even us as individuals function day to day. The small stereotypes that we keep inside our heads were perpetuated by race science, as much as someone being outwardly racist and even violent is perpetuated by race science. The way to counteract these ideals, though a lengthy process, is to start in education. Unlearning starts within the school system, and the idea that everyone can be the same, no matter their race or their biological makeup, needs to start being taught in kindergarten. The only way to create a big racist generation, is to educate a not racist generation.

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