From a medical point of view, racism doesn’t exist.
How can this be? There can be no racism if there are no races. Scientifically speaking, there is only one human race.
When we speak of the various human races, what we are referring to is a set of outward appearances (the phenotypical expression of the genotype). These traits have accumulated within certain niches of the population as people mate with each other.
Skin color is the easiest to understand. The more melanin in the skin, the darker the color. Discriminating on skin color is as silly as discrimination based on hair color. In certain populations other physical traits cluster with skin color: shape of the nose or eyes, hair color or texture, height, weight, body shape, muscle mass, etc. People tend to favor the physical appearance with which they are most familiar or comfortable, an emotional response.
Similarly, some people like dachsunds, others favor poodles. In many ways the physical differences in humans are analogous to the differences in dogs. If dachsunds are bred to dachsunds, their offspring will generally have short legs and long bodies. If dachsunds are bred to poodles, a variety of body types will result, yet they will certainly all be dogs.
Genetically speaking, medium skin color in humans should be the most common. Very light skin or very dark skin would be equally rare in a genetically mixed population.
The real fear on which discrimination is based is cultural. When people don’t understand each other’s language, beliefs, and traditions, fear results. That which clues us to differences between human beings begins with outward appearances and behavior.
My outward appearance would be described as Caucasian, though with brown eyes and hair, I might be presumed to have Italian ancestry – or German, or Spanish, or Eastern European, or Russian. If fact, I’m a mix (like my dogs), and therefore have no particular allegiance to a distant country of origin. However, I would be much more comfortable with peaceable citizens of darker skin than gang members of my own color.
One answer might be to homogenize the population, but this should be unnecessary. There is beauty in all varieties of the human form. What we need to do is open our eyes to the real issues of cultural misunderstanding. Though this would require overcoming barriers of language, geography, and tradition, loving our neighbor as ourselves is the ultimate solution to ending discrimination.
Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.