People have varying opinions about the existence of race and its influence on how people treat each other. There is a need to determine whether race has a scientific background, or it is only a skin-deep concept aimed at differentiating people based on their ancestral origins. Dr. George W. Gill, a forensic anthropologist, and Dr. C. Loring Brace, a biological anthropology curator, offer different perceptions of race.
Dr. George Gill explains that serologists rejected the biological characterization of race based on the distribution of types of blood groups among people from different racial backgrounds. According to him, serologists believed that race is only a concept of skin color and did not have any scientific basis. He introduces the idea of racial taxonomy as being similar to other taxonomical classification categories used by anthropologists, and believes that the skeleton reflects a person’s race, although serologists who cannot determine a person’s race by assessing their blood think race is only a social concept (Gill 171-172). As a forensic anthropologist, he states that it is easy to identify a person’s ancestral origin and race by studying their skeleton than it is by looking directly at a person.
Dr. C. Loring Brace, on the other hand, states that biological entities are not determinants of race. He views the differences in skin color as based on a latitudinal variation in the intensity of the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Research conducted on ABO blood groups among people from different races showed that Europeans had a closer connection with Africans, than people from China. Dr Brace is opposed to this view. And European antecedents appear to be closer to the Chinese if based on physical appearance and skin color. Brace states that based on the distribution of characteristics possessing a survival value that is greater among people living in specific geographical regions, traits such as the form of the nose, teeth size, and leg length were distributed based on specific controlling forces and views these as clines and not racial differences (Brace 173-174).
When comparing the views of these two anthropologists and the lessons in class, I think race is a valid scientific concept. I agree with Dr. Gill on his idea about forensic anthropology and the use of skeletons to determine people’s ancestry and race. While blood groups may not differentiate Blacks from Whites, skeletons offer more details about an individual’s ancestral origin. Based on early settlements and the adaptation of people to their surroundings, these skeletons can be used to determine the background of a person.
I disagree with Dr. Brace based on his beliefs that similar features among people living in the same geographical regions cannot be used to determine their racial background as they are only clines. Survival features such as the shape of teeth, structure of the nose, and leg length develop over a long period based on the environmental conditions. Therefore, despite his next-door concept that assumes that such people share similar characteristics because they intermarry and transfer these traits to their offspring, the use of skeletons is significant in determining racial backgrounds. Although the argument on the nature of human variation and the gradual biological differences seen among people living in different geographical regions aims to support the ideology of clines, considering that forensic science can be used to differentiate these people based on their skeletal structure supports the belief that race is a science.
Race, therefore, is a valid scientific concept. The existence of scientific approaches that can be used to study the variations seen between people from different races only serves to prove that it is a valid scientific concept. Aside from that, the use of skeletons to determine a person’s racial and ancestral background also confirms the existence of race in scientific studies.
Brace, C. Loring. Does Race Exist? An Antagonist’s Perspective. 12 October 2000. Web. 17 October 2018.
Gill, George W. Does Race Exist? A Proponent’s Perspective. 12 October 2000. Web. 17 October 2018.