op-ed

The Idea Of Race Is An Outdated, Invalid Scientific Concept. Let’s Discard It

It is time to take the last step, the final step in the journey of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr. and literally hundreds of thousands of other brave souls. This final step is to at last accept the truth; there is no such thing as race. It is a failed scientific theory from hundreds of years ago. It is a false concept that is only kept alive by our keeping it alive. There is no race gene. There is no White race. No Black race. Asian, Hispanic, all an illusion.

In the year 2000, when the scientists at the National Institutes of Health announced that they had put together a draft of the entire sequence of the human genome, the researchers unanimously declared that there is only one race — the human race.

So also say the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and the vast majority of experts in the field. To quote the 1998 American Anthropological Association’s¬†statement on “race”:

Today scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century…

From its inception, this modern concept of “race” was modeled after an ancient theorem of the Great Chain of Being, which posited natural categories on a hierarchy established by God or nature.

“Race” thus evolved as a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior. Racial beliefs constitute myths about the diversity in the human species and about the abilities and behavior of people homogenized into “racial” categories. The myths fused behavior and physical features together in the public mind…

A “social mechanism invented”? A “hierarchy established by God or nature”? “Myths”? Why do we continue to pay homage to an idea that is clearly not true in any scientific manner?

Let’s treat the idea of race like any other scientific concept; old, invalid thinking must be discarded when new discoveries are made. Often this demands a profound shift in thinking. Copernicus’s discovery that the earth is not the center of the universe is an example of a similar realization that demanded this type of profound shift.

In the 18th century, Goethe captured this reality when discussing the profound impact of Copernicus’s discoveries:

“Of all discoveries and opinions, none may have exerted a greater effect on the human spirit than the doctrine of Copernicus. The world had scarcely become known as round and complete in itself when it was asked to waive the tremendous privilege of being the center of the universe. Never, perhaps, was a greater demand made on mankind – for by this admission so many things vanished in mist and smoke! What became of our Eden, our world of innocence, piety and poetry; the testimony of the senses; the conviction of a poetic – religious faith? No wonder his contemporaries did not wish to let all this go and offered every possible resistance to a doctrine which in its converts authorized and demanded a freedom of view and greatness of thought so far unknown, indeed not even dreamed of.”

The false concept of race is treated much the same. Ridding ourselves of this cruel fantasy is fought by those on all sides. Ridding ourselves of this failed theory strikes at the heart of many deeply held beliefs. Ridding ourselves of this obscenity opens us all to knowledge “which in its converts authorized and demanded a freedom of view and greatness of thought so far unknown, indeed not even dreamed of.” Free your mind to the truth. There are only individuals and they are not defined by their skin color.

I don’t minimize the incredible and deep re-framing I am asking from all individuals, but especially those who have been classified by this fiction since their birth. I am asking for a profound change that many will not be able or willing to do. For many this racist thinking is in their minds as a defining part of who they are. It is completely understandable. How could you not think in racist terms if since your birth you’ve been classified by this falsehood? How could these thoughts not be seared into your being by rampant racism? And an oppressed group of individuals will of course band together and form their own special ways of being, it must be done. But instead of freeing oneself this only chains the individual to this falsehood. Worse yet, this has the perverse result of only spreading racism. This is a door that swings both ways.

The past is the past. It cannot be changed. Often the only way to address the future is to cut the past loose. Let us all forever put the obscenity called race behind us. It can start today and it can start with each and every one of us.

For those who refuse I ask how is focusing on the fiction of race supposed to fix the problem of racism? It is insane. Under this crazed form of thinking, the absolute best that can be hoped for is that at some point in the future we can all say that “they” are not so different from “us.” This is at best only benignly racist. This is the goal? The finish line?

The only way to end racism is to not take the first step; the classification of individuals based on certain physical traits. This is within our power to do. We only need to begin to do it.

Let us cast aside the old beliefs and accept the truth; physical traits have no relationship to the individual. Let us begin to see individuals as just that, individuals. This requires a significant paradigm shift. Often accepting the truth does. Let us do it. It is time to take the final step.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.