Book Review: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, And Big Business Re-Create Race In The Twenty-First Century
Publication Date: Jul 05, 2011
List Price: $29.95 (store prices may vary)
Page Count: 400
Imprint: The New Press
Publisher: The New Press
Parent Company: The New Press
Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
"Race is an invented political system, not a natural biological division. The Human Genome Project has confirmed that the human species cannot be divided into genetically distinguishable races. Race is a political grouping created to support slavery and colonialism, and its boundary lines have shifted over time and across nations to suit political ends…
For the last three centuries, science… has been instrumental in justifying the concept of biological races—and this century's genomic science is no different… Despite the scientific and political evidence, some scientists are attempting to modernize the myth that race is a biological category... What's new is that today's racial science claims to divide human beings into natural groups with more accurate precision and without the taint of racism."
--Excerpted from Part I (pgs. 20-27)
The mapping of the human gene has established, scientifically, that there
is only one race, the human race. So, one might naturally expect any
arbitrary groupings by experts of individuals along color lines to cease.
Think again. Regrettably, this is not the case, according to Professor
Dorothy Roberts of Northwestern Law School.
She is the author of Fatal Invention, a cautionary examination of the current state of affairs in terms of the intersection of ethnicity and bioethics. In the book, she issues a dire warning that researchers are repackaging outmoded notions of race by hiding behind benign-sounding euphemisms like "geographic ancestry" when they should really be disposing of such baseless categorizations entirely.
For example, you may be familiar with television commercials being run by ancestry-testing companies offering to determine what percent white, black, Asian and Native-American you are based on a DNA sample. However, the perspicacious Professor Roberts warns that these ads erroneously "reinforce the myth that human beings were originally divided into pure races that exist in our genes."
Perhaps more problematic, she suggests, is the way in which the medical community seems to be "searching for genes to explain racial disparities in health care that are actually caused by social inequities." In this regard, Roberts indicates that "In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first race-specific drug, a heart failure therapy that was targeted to black patients for marketing reasons."
A seminal appeal for the findings of the Genome Project to be applied not in service of separation and exploitation but to promote the ideals of inclusion and equality among all members of the human family.