Steve Russell: The broken myths of race and racial supremacy

How many white Americans have Native American ancestry? The answer can be found on The Root

Judge and professor Steve Russell challenges the notion of race:
The belief in white supremacy is a real thing that kills people every day. White supremacy is one notch goofier than vanilla racism, because to get there you have to believe both that there are races, and that “white” is one. (If “white” is a race, it should be capitalized, so I tip my hand when I write in lower-case or, in Cherokee, yonega, and still lower-case.) “Race” as a meaningful category of human beings and defining race by color are two notches up the crazy tree you have to climb before you even get near the topmost crazy that is both white and supreme.

Race used to be a big part of the mainstream scientific narrative about how human existence was ordered. Physical anthropology in particular engaged in such arguments from the time the discipline stood apart from cultural anthropology. How many races are there? How did they come to be? Most important, if there are races, is there racial superiority?

Science and logic are perpetually at war with religious orthodoxy because reality described by science is a moving target and the reality described by religion is fixed in place forever. After generations of dispute about the number of “races” and how to describe them, mainstream physical anthropology now punts the question to cultural anthropology, which is where the study of myth finds a home.

A statement published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 1996 that goes into the issue at length concludes, “Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past.”

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Racism Built on Stupid Myth: The Broken DNA of White Supremacy (Indian Country Today 4/20)

Join the Conversation