chapter  3
18 Pages

Phenotypes and Ideas of Race

We saw in chapter 2 that the contemporary account of human geographical migration begins from the assumption that there now exist groups whose ancestral migrations can be tracked. These groups may roughly correspond to common sense races, but the genetic material used to track group ancestry is not the genetic material responsible for those traits considered racial. The ancestral tracking genetic material has no effect on phenotypes, or biological traits of organisms, which would include the traits deemed racial, because the ancestral tracking genetic material plays no role in the production of protein-it is not the kind of material that "codes" for pro­ tein production. Neither is there any known mechanism whereby the tracking genetic material causes the racial traits of a person who has dis­ tinctive genetic tracking material and distinctive racial traits. Without evi­ dence of any connection between racial traits and genetic tracking material, there is no evidence that populations with the same tracking material, for example, a present population and its ancestral population, have or had the same racial traits. Thus, in itself, the ancestral tracking genetic material is irrelevant to scientific racial identification, definition, or taxonomy, although it is, of course, highly useful for reconstructing the migrational histories of groups.