The Biology of Race : A Myth

Did you know race was a science? I don’t mean race as in a competitive challenge of athletic abilities or vehicle control. I mean race, the thing that divides people based on distinct physical characteristics. Yes, there is science in the melanin of skin and the origin of where certain people get their features from, DNA and all that, but race science went on to declare that certain races were inferior to others based on categorizing by German scientist, Johann Blumenbach in the late 1700s.

You may recall the scene in the 2012 movie, Django Unchained, where Leonardo DeCaprio’s character presents the skull of a deceased slave to Jamie Foxx’s character. He explains that the key to understanding how they are two different species is in phrenology, determining mental characteristics by looking at skull shape. Though this science behind inferiority and superiority were proven untrue, for a while the people of America bought into it.

The truth is, race is not real though, the way people are treated because of ideas of race is real. The concept of race and its implications are discussed in depth in Raleigh’s Museum of Natural Sciences’ exhibit, “RACE: Are We So Different?” Based on the book by Alan H. Goodman, Yolanda T. Moses, and Joseph L. Jones, this national exhibit is the first to tell stories of race from the biological, cultural and historical points of view.

From the science perspective, human beings are more alike than different and there is nothing in our DNA that supports the idea of race. This exhibit brings to the attention that race is about culture and NOT biology. It also points out how “race is a recent human intervention” that has become “embedded in our institutions and everyday life.”

“RACE: Are We So Different?” has four inviting components to it. It will feature artwork by photographer Wing Young Huie, that highlights ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in the communities of Minnesota. It will also host 90-minute guided discussions about race experiences called Cultural Conversations. This portion is free and open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from April 22 to September 3, but do require registration. The exhibit even has a speaking series as well as a special event on June 10th called “Rhythm of Race: A Celebration of Music, Dance and Spoken Word.” This event aims to use artistic expression to reiterate the messages within the exhibit and to “build bridges among people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.”

“RACE: Are We So Different?” is an exhibit that most definitely melds technical intelligence with creative genius, which is what STEMedia is all about! Go check it out for yourself! Hear the stories, see the stories, speak your story. For more information about the exhibit’s activities and dates, go to To get a glimpse of what the exhibit is concerning, see the video below.

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Cynthia Sharpe