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AIBU - confused about race and want to be enlightened.

(88 Posts)

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noOrdinaryPen Thu 11-Jan-18 16:28:07

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goose1964 Thu 11-Jan-18 16:38:41

We never were monkeys,we share a common ancestor,gradually over time minute changes to the DNA eventually led to the separation of the species ,area years ago they found that common ancestor which had signs of being part lemur, part monkey and part ape.

noOrdinaryPen Thu 11-Jan-18 16:42:40

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goose1964 Thu 11-Jan-18 16:44:17

And race is caused by adaptions to the environment , blue eyes developed because the blue eye mutation meant that people with it did better in the north and people with brown eyes did better in the south ,as people with dark skin didn't burn so thrived in the sun,in the north it meant that we couldn't absorb the light to make vitamin D so they couldn't thrive there.I believe races stagnated when their adaptation was completed

ChristmasFluff Thu 11-Jan-18 16:46:25

If I understand it right, we (homo sapiens) all began as black Africans, and through migration and natural selection, the different 'races' came about. But we are all still human. Think of it as like breeds of dog, maybe. So yes, if different 'breeds' (chihauha and collie?) produce children, hidden in the genetics many generations later, you might get another chihauha, even if you've been breeding those offspring with collies ever since. But most dogs in the world are a proper mishmash of all sorts, with some common features that lump them in as 'gun dogs' or 'lap dogs' or whatever - like race with humans.

ShimmeringIce Thu 11-Jan-18 16:52:20

Ooh I hope this turns into a sensible thread, I would love to know how this all happened and what race actually means!

DID we all come from one pair of apes? Would there not have been a community living together and breeding for a while? Small mutations/differences wouldn't be obvious for a while. I read somewhere that different species can’t reproduce to create viable offspring, but obviously this doesn’t help on an individual basis (DH and I couldn’t reproduce without help from the NHS but I’m pretty sure we’re both Homo sapiens grin)

Race is a whole other level of ignorance for me. If we share about 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees (and 90% with bananas - I may have invented that fact) then is there a criterium for different races?

Were the books you mentioned worth a look, OP?

bialystockandbloom Thu 11-Jan-18 16:54:29

I may have misunderstood your op but race isn't connected to species, so the common ancestry bit wrt monkeys etc isn't relevant - we're all Homo sapiens. And I think the theory that we all evolved from a single group in Southern Africa isn't quite that simple either - homo sapien (and other homo types) remains have been found in other parts of the world dating from roughly similar times, so different groups of modern humans may have begun to evolve separately in different places round the world. So if that's true, 'race' (characteristics like skin colour etc) would have been a result of that.

ButFirstTea Thu 11-Jan-18 17:01:17

I don't know about the physical side of it in terms of our DNA as a percentage of ethnic origins but our conception of how to categorise people as 'white' 'black' 'native' 'asian' etc definitely stems from colonialism.

Plexie Thu 11-Jan-18 17:02:35

My understanding is that we are one 'race' - the Human race - and differences between groups of humans is 'ethnicity'.

LEMtheoriginal Thu 11-Jan-18 17:04:03

I think I'd like to do one of these - my nan was a Spanish gypsy on my mum's side and my dad's family were practically aristocrats according to a lovely lady who did their family tree. My nan on that side fell on hard times and was disowned andassuch homeless with my dad and brothers. Apparently one of my ancestors was a major player in the anti slavery movement - I am ridiculously proud of that.

Anyway never really think of it as race but I'd like to know where in the world my ancestors are from. Totally useless information but interesting.

I can't help but read things like this andthinkbid live for Nigel farage to do a test grin

LEMtheoriginal Thu 11-Jan-18 17:04:44

Plexie - that's a good point!

LEMtheoriginal Thu 11-Jan-18 17:07:13

Obviously with world travel being what it is the human race will be pretty homogeneous going forward.

I wonder if we would be seeing more marked differences if we were less mobile.

Interesting thread OP

rockshandy Thu 11-Jan-18 17:08:11

There is a YouTube channel called "It's Okay to be smart" if you search that and put human on the end you will find a series of videos on this topic which are really interesting and explain it well.

noOrdinaryPen Thu 11-Jan-18 17:21:31

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starfro Thu 11-Jan-18 17:25:20

We didn't all come from the same breeding pair of apes. All humans have a common female and male ancestor, but they were thousands of years apart:

Race is very slight genetic differences within a species, caused by natural selection evolutionary processes. Humans that are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and pass on their genes, for example whiter skin humans surviving in colder climates as they are better suited to it (vitamin D).

To answer the question of whether we'll all end up mixed race, it's probably best to point out that most of us have a big mix of genetics anyway. Africans are the most racially diverse, in that an African from one part of Africa will have more similar genetics to a white European, compared to an African from another part of Africa. That's part of the reason we can tell that we all originated from there - the genetic diversity.

Plexie Thu 11-Jan-18 17:31:01

Also (caveat: my understanding, I'm not an expert) I learned recently that although we get 50% of our genes from each parent, it's incorrect to extrapolate that backwards and think we're made of 25% of each grandparent's genes, 12.5% of each great-grandparent's genes, etc etc.

We get 50% from each parent but the 50% we pass on to our offspring is a random mix. Think of putting 100 red balls and 100 blue balls in a big bag, shaking it up and then taking out half of them to pass on. It's unlikely that the balls you take out would be a precise even split between red and blue (and factor in dominant and recessive genes).

So if you know you had an ancestor who was Spanish/Japanese/native American/whatever, their genes might not show up in your genetic profile in the way you expect.

donquixotedelamancha Thu 11-Jan-18 17:31:34

When does race disappear?

It would have to appear first. Race does not exist (in scientific terms) in humans. There simply aren't enough genetic differences between distinct populations. We are all one race.

You can apply those criteria to other organisms- breeds of dog and cultivars of brassica (I think, I'm not a geneticist) are races in scientific terms, but not to humans.

Race as a non-scientific concept is just a classification of groups by appearance and culture. It's an unhelpful word for people who look and act different to each other.

Randomlywondering Thu 11-Jan-18 17:31:47

I'm interested in when mixed race ends. My children and my sister's children both have one grandparent of a different race. It's visible that our husband's are mixed race but not our children. I'm never sure how to classify their race when asked.

AStarCalledAeryn Thu 11-Jan-18 17:34:03

Dr Alice Roberts has done some very good documentaries on this sort of thing. I think from my understanding, bialystockandbloom, you might not be quite right about homo sapiens evolving in lots of places. I believe the current understanding is that homo erectus evolved in Africa and spread out via the levant to Europe/Asia. Some of those evolved into further species such as Neanderthals and Denisovans (both being better adapted to a cold climate). Meanwhile, in East Africa, some of those left behind evolved into homo sapiens, who then left Africa (current thinking is via the southern side of the Arabian peninsula, when the sea levels were lower), bumping into (and interbreeding with a little) the other species in Europe and Asia that had evolved from the previous homo erectus exodus.

Most racial features are a continuum, and there's been plenty of mixing already, and plenty more to come. I did read somewhere that mixed race people tend to be 'stronger' genetically - more likely to be symmetrical bodily, and often particularly beautiful. The researchers attributed this to outcrossing being good genetically, basically.

HildaZelda Thu 11-Jan-18 17:35:36

Ah it's all down to Adam & Eve doncha know grin

IsaSchmisa Thu 11-Jan-18 17:38:40

The Alice Roberts documentaries, the Incredible Human Journey, are indeed incredible but I believe our understanding has moved on from then. They're from 2009. Haven't we found Neanderthal traces in some of us since then?

Randomly that depends a lot in what society you're in too.

Badeyes77 Thu 11-Jan-18 17:42:16

I get very confused about what race means. I had to fill out a form recently and it asked for my nationality, race and ethnic group. It was open ended, so nothing to choose from. I googled it all but was left more confused than when I started. I am autistic and I thought that might be why I found it such a hard concept to grasp but it seems that everyone does.

Is the issue is that the idea of race is a man-made concept that has been influenced by racism and colonialism so is biased? And also that there does not seem to be a standard definition of what it means?

relaxitllbeok Thu 11-Jan-18 17:44:32

"Race" is a social concept. Indeed in different contexts, the same two people can be read as having the same or different races. (Try England, the US, South Africa and Nigeria, say, for various pairs.)

Coffeeandcrochet Thu 11-Jan-18 17:44:32

As others have said, race in a scientific/genetics sense doesn't really exist. In my opinion it's rather unfortunate for human history that a very few, very small set of genetic differences are so visible and vary geographically. It allows for such easy prejudice hmm

By saying that it doesn't exist scientifically I don't mean race isn't important and that we can all just be 'colour blind' - race still exists culturally and socialogically, has an impact on people's lives and as such those experiences should not be marginalised.

nakedscientist Thu 11-Jan-18 17:45:52

‘Race’ simply describes an ancestral family. There is no meaningful beginning an end to it. It is an outdated term replaced by ‘ethnicity’ in science journals.
We share more or fewer similarities and are all one species.

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