For the 2014 World Cup, Let's Abandon the Unscientific Concept of Race

For the 2014 World Cup, Let's Abandon the Unscientific Concept of Race
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Tomorrow, teams from 32 nations will congregate in Brazil, brought together by a mutual love for a simple game. When it kicks off, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will glowingly exhibit much of the world's diversity during a riveting display of sport. Ghanaians will play Germans; Greeks will face Colombians; Britons will battle Costa Ricans. With any luck, as 22 players -- 11 from each team -- sprint and suffuse about the pitch, all displaying their nation's colors proudly, spectators will gaze upon the athletes and gain perspective. We are, truly, a single species, undivided by race. The walls we build are of our own making; they are not foundational.

This is something that a great many scientists have recognized for decades. In fact, it is the position of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) that "present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances." In other words, race does not exist, at least in the biological sense.

Evidence from the analysis of genetics indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them.

White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian, the unnoticed traits that unite us are for more prevalent than the outward traits that discriminate us. Skin color fluctuates thanks to a handful of genes that number less than the fingers on your two hands, and yet it's been used to justify a great many unconscionable practices in human history.

Moreover, the concept of race formed in what can politely be described as an unenlightened time. According to Silviene F. Oliveira, a geneticist at the University of Brazil, "It is important to remember that the concept of race emerged in a time when it was believed that the World was constant and unchangeable since the moment of its creation. That beings did not modify or evolve."

Yet we now know that have humans have indeed evolved over tens of thousands of years, flourishing in all corners of our immense planet. As a result of this diverse upbringing, we look very different. Now that humans can easily intermix, we will further change in appearance, as genetic alleles that have been separated for millennia get tossed back into the burgeoning melting pot. Yet the concept of race is stagnant. According to the AAA, it constitutes "a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior."

Cultural, that's all race is. Born out of an innate social desire to classify and conform. And all race really does is distort, driving a superficial wedge between individuals who are far more similar than they are different.

"Biological theory does not force the concept of 'race' upon us," Oregon State's Jonathan Kaplan, a philosopher of science, writes. "Our social discourse, social ontology, and social expectations do. We become prisoners of our abstractions at our own hands, and at our own expense."

As creators of our own culture, can consciously decide to ignore its unscientific influence in regards to race, and reshape our world into a globalized, colorblind society.

What better time to practice than at the World Cup? A world of one united species: let's make that our goal.

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