Any species capable of a thing called cold hate might be a species beyond help, but scientists are hopeful we can change. One way might be to begin to embrace what anthropologists already know, which is that race, at least as we think we understand it, doesn’t even exist. The physical traits that seem to distinguish races so profoundly are based on only a tiny handful of unremarkable genetic sequences that tell you little of any value about the people carrying them. Judging by current U.S. trends, people may be accepting this newer view of things intuitively, if not scientifically.
In 2003, Phelan co-authored an admittedly controversial study in which he measured the ankles, fingers, feet, ears and wrists of biracial students and found them to be more symmetrical than those of monoracial students. What’s more, other subjects, shown pictures of mixed-race and single-race people, consistently found the mixed-race pictures more attractive. In a culture that prizes prettiness, Phelan believes this is one small sign that the walls dividing us are collapsing.
Even now, that collapse may be accelerating. The global giddiness that greeted the election of Obama was certainly not shared by everyone. Tens of millions of people voted against him—most for political and policy reasons, some certainly for racial ones. But every single one of the people whose vote was based on race has now been bathed in images of an African-American man as the most powerful person in the world, his African American wife as head of the nation’s First Family, and their African-American daughters as symbols of the country’s children. The brain habituates to anything over time. And the next black presidential candidate will not be nearly as much of a jolt.
It is surely too much to hope for a truly color blind species—or for a single election to erase the meaning of race in even a single country. But it’s not too much to hope that humanity’s long, ragged march is slowly taking us in that direction.
There is nothing more for me to say that hasn’t already been said – I am sharing instead. All information, from pages 2-11, was taken from the special edition of TIME Your Brain: A User’s Guide. I bought the magazine back in ~ 2011. All articles are great but these two are especially relevant for me right now; What Makes Us Moral? and Race and the Raging Brain.Sam
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