Book Review

For the longest, I’ve heard liberals say that “there’s only one race, the human race.” And after hearing Dr. Joy DeGruy regurgitate that sentiment in an interview with Nick Cannon, I knew I needed to do further research. This led me to A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.

In the course of adaptation, different variations of a species will emerge in conditions where the species faces different challenges. These variations, or races, are fluid, not fixed. If the selective pressure that brought them into being should disappear, they will merge back into the general gene pool. Or, if a race should cease to interbreed with its neighbors through the emergence of some barrier to reproduction, it may eventually become a separate species.

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Written by Nicholas Wade, The New York Times science reporter, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History uncovers human evolution that gave rise to the various racial groups we see today. Wade argues that race is not a social construct, and through evolution, environmental changes, history, and genetic admixture, different groups were created. Human social behaviors that are tied to ancestral DNA and culture were also addressed. Despite the fear that many scholars have when discussing race, Wade believes that all races were created equally but with genetic differences.

I’m glad that I found this book, especially during this time when race relations has become a trending topic. Many pseudoscientists and liberal scholars have been extremely pretentious with the topic of race, which is understandable since everything is considered racists. But it was refreshing to come across a researcher, like Wade, who cited history, science, and geographic location as the main causes of the breakup of the original human species. We’re not all the same, and that’s due to a variety of factors.

Some of the points that I took from the book are as follows:

  • Genome is defined as a complete set of genes or genetic material in a cell or organism. New findings from the genome prove that human evolution and history are intertwined, and humans are still evolving.
  • The different racial groups exist because once humans spread across the globe, the various groups took different evolutionary paths.
  • Humans and chimpanzees split apart 5 to 6.5 million years ago.
    • A fierce drought gripped Africa, shrinking the forests, and created the open woodland or savannah. This event split the population into two groups, chimps and humans. Apes, the head of the human lineage, abandoned the group and ventured out into the open savannas of Africa. By finding new sources of food on the ground instead of trees, this group became the ancestors of the human lineage.
  • The first modern humans dispersed from Northeast Africa 50,000 years ago. Since then, the population on each continent evolved, adapting to their regional environment.
  • There are three main racial groups: Africans, East Asians, and Caucasians.
    • Africans are those south of the Sahara Desert; East Asians include Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans; Caucasians consists of Europeans and the Near East and Indian subcontinent.
    • North and South American Indians and Aboriginal Australians were also anchored through the separation.
  • Social scientists argue that race is a human invention that’s tied to culture and not biology. Nicholas Wade argues that there is a biological reality to race that stems from evolution, interbreeding, and regional location.
  • Carl Linnaeus classified four races, based on geographic locations and skin color.
    • Homo americanus (Native Americans), Homo europaeus (Europeans), Homo asiaticus (East Asians), and Homo afer (Africans).
  • Physical anthropologists (scientists who study human bones) have found that human skulls fall into three distinctive shapes, reflecting the three main races: Caucasian, East Asian, and African.
  • All human races have the same set of genes, but each gene comes in different alternative forms, known as alleles.
  • The driving force of evolution is mutation. Mutation generates novelty on the sequence of DNA units that comprise of hereditary information.
    • Your father and mother each have two copies of every gene, and each parent passes down one of their two copies to you.
  • Evolutionary psychologists advise that the human mind adapts to the conditions of the environment.
  • Social behaviors and cultures evolved with the conditions of an environment.
    • For example, Social Darwinism: the fittest survive and the weak are pushed to the wall.

This book is one of many that I’m now invested in reading. I wholeheartedly agree with Wade’s assessment of the differences of the human species (because we’re not one race), and I encourage everyone to do their own independent study. Who knows, we might actually start getting along.

If you’d like to discuss any of the information given, feel free to comment below.

Until Next Time…

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