|Check out the story behind these|
cool twins HERE
Let's Play a Game
I found this really fun game on PBS's website. There are 4 categories of race (White, Black, Native American, Hispanic/Latino) and you take 16 people and place them in the race category that you most think they look like. I did really well on Asians....... but not so much on anyone else (I didn't get a single White one right). After you play the game, go ahead and check out the other links, especially the timeline on race. Can you imagine a time when race wasn't a category to put people into? Well, there was a time just like that.
Of course, humans love labelling things, especially other people. The problem with generic labels is that it never really fits what you're trying to label. Most race categories we think of today were made to better define humans for a census (i.e. "Hispanic"). Caucasian really means people from the Caucasus mountain region, but has morphed to mean "White" in common use. There are three basic class distinctions for forensic anthropology: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid. Because of negative connotations for the last two, many people have automatic stereotypes as to what these classifications mean based on skin colour (which is not at all part of the consideration). And because they are so general, many people don't fit one or the other which has led to some experts dividing them even more (i.e. Mongoloid has been divided from Australoid to mark the very distinct differences in Australia's Aborigines; Negroid has been divided into Congoid and Capoid for West Africa and South Africa respectively). In reality, no matter how you divide it, humans don't have any populations that are isolated enough to create a truly different genetic makeup. I could say that a Caucasian/European/Caucasoid has a long narrow face, cheekbones that don't protrude, and a narrow nose with a high bridge; a Negroid/African has a wide nose, rounded forehead, and protruding lower portion of the face; a Mongoloid has a moon shaped face, prominent cheekbones, and "shovel shaped" teeth. I could say these things. But the problems are myriad with these generalisations.
The picture below was made by taking several photos of different women from the same country or region and making a composite average. I'll refer to this photo while we discuss the problems with generalising (note that this composite doesn't take into account mixed races).
|Couldn't find who originally posted this, but found a good blog while I was at it!|
Special Fun With the Census!
The US census currently divides humans into the races of White, Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander. It wasn't always that way. From 1790-1810 asked for Whites and Slaves. 1830 asked for White, Black, or Mulatto. The 1870 census was the first time East Asians were listed (all as Chinese) as well as American Indians. 1890 got crazy with it: White, Black, Quadroon (1/4 African ancestry), Octoroon (1/8 African ancestry), Chinese, Japanese and Indian. 1910 added an "other race" category for anyone that didn't fit anywhere else to write in their affiliation. The 1920 census finally recognised that Koreans, Filipinos and Hindus (Indians) were separate from Chinese or Japanese people but still Asians.
1930 saw a few wild changes. They removed Mulatto and decided that anyone with any African ancestry or mixed Black/Native Americans with no official tribal affiliation were to be listed along with full blood Blacks as "Negro". A mixed White/Native American was to be Indian if they had a tribal affiliation, White if they were accepted in White society. "Mexican" became a category if a person or their parents were born in Mexico. In 1940, Mexicans went back to being categorised as White. In 1950, Hindu and Korean were removed. 1960, Indian was changed to American Indian and Hawaiian, part-Hawaiian, Aleut, and Eskimo were added. The "other" category was also removed. 1970 changed "Negro" to "Negro or Black" and added Korean and "other" back in. 1980 added in Indian, (East) Guamanian, Vietnamese and Samoan.
Add into this the recent confusion of adding "Hispanic" in 2000. The Census Bureau defines "Hispanic or Latino" as "a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race." So on the census, every person answers whether they have Hispanic ancestry or not regardless of what category (White, Black, Asian, Indian) they would place their race. So the woman in the above photo from Mexico would be Hispanic and White or American Indian depending on her family history and if she has tribal affiliation. With that said, I know a man from Spain who could say he's Hispanic by that definition (having a Spanish culture), but mistakenly regards it as a race of peoples from Central and South America that are Native Americans mixed with other races. And what about my niece? Her father is from Puerto Rico, her mother Indiana...... Does her father's influence give her enough cultural knowledge to be Hispanic? Or would she say she isn't Hispanic as she is growing up in a more Midwest American culture? Well, there's talk of allowing people to check both "Hispanic" and "Not Hispanic" on a census....... then what's the point of asking the question??? Which brings me too....
General Genetic Confusion
|From the Human Race Machine this is one woman's face in 6 skin shades|
Now, my good friend Loretta's blog "Barking Up the Wrong Tree" covered some interesting responses to Ancestry.com's posts regarding it's new autosomal DNA test. What it proves is that many people don't understand what genes are about. I'll have to make a post (or ten) just on genealogy and genetics, but today I'm going to give you a rough outline to explain ethnicity markers and why your identified race/ethnicity isn't what you'll always see in your DNA. So a bit of the basics on DNA: your DNA is made up of 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. One pair is well known as it determines your sex: you'll be a female if you are XX, male if you are XY. The rest of the 22 pairs determines most everything else about you (there are some specific mutations found on the sex chromosomes for some characteristics, but again, this is a broad stroke today).
Chromosomes are made up of genes. Genes are strings of molecules that are basically instructions for our cells on how to do whatever it is they do. An allele is what we call different forms of genes. For example, the gene for number of fingers has two alleles: the dominant 6-fingered option and the recessive 5-fingered one. If I wanted to trace the history of the recessive mutation, I would look for the earliest concentrated occurrence of that allele. Since there is no gene shouting "I AM WEST AFRICAN!", scientists need to look for alleles that are commonly found in West Africans. If an allele is almost exclusive to, say, Indonesians, then that mutation can be used to map migration of the Indonesians to neighboring islands. I just read a great book "Guns, Germs and Steel" which, while a little repetitive on the conclusions, explains how genetics, language, food production, etc. can be traced from a concentrated "start point" to other areas by conquering civilisations. If you want a really detailed explanation, though, I would recommend the read.
|Please read Ancestry.com's blog post HERE for their explanation|