Mass-produced genealogical research
In this paper, I will explore whether the advent and availability of mass-produced genealogical research and classification tools through utilized of at home DNA kits will redefine race and thus redefine cultural assimilation within America. I propose to accomplish this task through the analyzation of the definition of race throughout history. Race will then be analyzed from the perspective of DNA composition thus stipulating what can and cannot be determined via the examination of genetic material. Finally, I will apply this research, to include how the definition of race evolved and expanded beyond the dichotomous white versus black as growing diversity within American society became evident, to hypothesize whether acculturation will transform as the conceptualization of race changes.In this paper, I will explore whether the advent and availability of mass-produced genealogical research and classification tools through utilized of at home DNA kits will redefine race and thus redefine cultural assimilation within America. I propose to accomplish this task through the analyzation of the definition of race throughout history. Race will then be analyzed from the perspective of DNA composition thus stipulating what can and cannot be determined via the examination of genetic material. Finally, I will apply this research, to include how the definition of race evolved and expanded beyond the dichotomous white versus black as growing diversity within American society became evident, to hypothesize whether acculturation will transform as the conceptualization of race changes. Any internet search for ‘at home DNA test’ will return with a plethora of companies that promise to reveal an individual’s ancestry, family history, related community, and possible health risks via the examination of submitted DNA, atypically via buccal swabs or saliva collection, for a nominal fee. The industry of genealogy dissection available to the general public is a booming business and has become ubiquitous with the improvement of sequencing technology. Osagie Obasogie quoted Bolick within his article “The Return of Biological Race? Regulating Innovations In Race And Genetics Through Administrative Agency Race Impact Assessments” that there are more than two dozen companies that market genetic ancestry test with more than 460,000 people who have purchased these type of tests within the last six years. (Obasogie, 2012, p. 51) The individual desire to connect with places, ethnicities, cultural traditions and customs; to seek what is individual and unique and connects us to people like ourselves while breaking from the homogeneous experience of the cosmopolitanism experience of today’s society has become a fundamental drive within some Americans. In the first chapter of Healey and Stepnick’s book Diversity & Society: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender, Healy and Stepnick provide a phenomenological experience of three people regarding their experience within American society in relation to race and the importance of their genealogical composition. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p3) The context of these individual’s experiences provides an individualized micro purview of the American experience and how individuals interpret their place within society by ascribing importance to their ancestry. In the annual of review of Sociology, George M. Fredrickson defined race as “consciousness of status and identity based on ancestry and color”. (Lee & Bean, 2004) Lowe explained in his article Understanding Race: The Evolution of the Meaning of Race in American Law and the Impact of DNA Technology on its Meaning in the Future that distinct racial categories developed under the guise of biological race theory from the nineteenth century until the latter half of the twentieth century. Lowe expanded by stipulating that under this theory, racial categories were predicated by skin color, facial features, the underlying skeleton, and the shape and size of the head and body. (Lowe, 2009, p. 1116) Healey and Stepnick asserted that skin color is the most visual characteristic indicative of race. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 20) Race has been a defining characteristic in colonial America as a way to subjugate specific groups of individuals, frequently determined by skin color and association, thus objectifying these individuals. Consequently, these excuses via rationalization of this systematic pervasiveness of discriminatory practices has been established and perpetuated throughout American history. Historically, stereotypical attitudes and mythical perceptions were assigned to minority ‘races’ such as: African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish, and other minority immigrants. Systematic extermination, enslavement, and maltreatment of these minority groups were predicated under the assumption of the majority race, Anglo European, being superior to all other races. The conceptualization of race permitted the overt subjugation which is adequately described by Karl Marx when he theorized that societies evolved as a result of class struggle between the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, and the working class, the proletariat. Marx believed the greatest source of inequality is a result from economic production which is created by the many but controlled by the few. This theory was expanded by Max Weber who introduced the theory of social stratification which was further expanded by Gerhard Lenski’s theory of stratification by analyzation through the lens of societal evolution or the level of development of a specific society emphasizing pre and post industrialized societies. Patricia Hill Collins approached the theory of social inequality that emphasized the multiplicity of systems of inequality and privilege. Thus, stipulating the definition of race was predetermining factor that precluded an individual’s position within society which was further incorporated and explained within the Noel Hypothesis which provided a model for the establishment of minority group status. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 15-18, p. 110) The Blauner hypothesis addresses racial difference within social stratification by identifying two different types of minority groups: the colonized group and the immigration group. Blauner’s hypothesis dictates that the minority group created by colonization will experience more intense prejudice, racism, and discrimination than those created by immigration. Blauner’s hypothesis also stipulates that the disadvantaged status of the colonized minority group will persist longer and be harder to overcome than the disadvantages faced by the immigration minority. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 15-18) The cumulative dimensions of racial prejudice are thus apparent in the apparent exclusion and racial aversions that are evident within social and institutional covert forms of discriminatory practices that still persist within American Society. The broader macro implication incurred by social stratification via the definition of race was evident in WWII when German dictator Adolf Hitler advocated for the supremacy and dominance of Germany by the ‘superior’ white Arian race while systematically exterminating Jewish people, homosexuals, mentally ill individuals, and political enemies. Germany followed the lead of American eugenic programs which had begun in Indiana in 1907 through the sterilization of minority groups which occupied the lower social stratifications of society. (Obasogie, 2012, p. 17) Obasogie cited Harriet Washington when she commented that the Eugenic Commission of North Carolina, in the 1930s, sterilized 8,000 mentally handicapped individuals with 5,000 of those individuals being African American. (Obasogie, 2012, p. 18) Furthermore, Obasogie notated that sterilization of African Americans was so rampant within southern communities, that they were colloquially labeled as “Mississippi appendectomies”. (Obasogie, 2012, p. 18) The macro ramification resulting from this determinism stipulating the existence and superseding hierarchy of race resulted in the exploration of the existence or non-existence of ‘biological race’. The impact of WWII holocaust served as a catalyst so that in 1950 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tasked scientist to define race. (Obasogie, 2012, p. 20) Consequently, race was determined to be a myth; a social construct utilized to facilitate a system of inequality perpetuated by the ‘bourgeoisie’ of society. (Obasogie, 2012, p. & Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 23, p. 16) Studies within the field of genetic diversity have revealed that individuals do not fall in ‘classical’ racial groups. (M’Charek, 2008)Humans are 99.9% genetically similar to other humans with a very little variance which is represented by .1% within every individual’s DNA. (Lowe, 2012, p. 26) Furthermore, science has come to understand that there is a 94% variation within so-called ‘racial groups’ which is far greater that the variation percentage between different racial groups. (Lowe, 2012, p. 26) Thus, the hierarchy of social stratification based on racial classification is a social construct utilized to maintain power over minority groups regardless of whether the minority group was a colonized group or immigrant group. Science has yet to discover specific differences within the human race that would justify the classification of people into subspecies beyond the human race since there is too little variance for humans to be considered fundamentally and genetically different to merit the classification of separate races. Therefore, the question remains: if race is a social construct predicated to seize and maintain control by the white majority to the great determent of minority groups and race has been further invalidated by scientific discoveries afforded by the examination of DNA and genetics, then how would at home DNA tests change the definition of race and subsequently alter acculturation of minority groups within American? This question can be addressed through the analyzation of current demographics. Lee cites the U.S. Bureau of Census which reported that 2002, the number of foreign born people residing in the US exceed 34.2 million people, with 31.5 million people being accounted as second generation immigrants, thereby constituting 23% of the American population. (Lee, 2004, p. 221) While immigration is increasing, American ethnic diversity is also increasing via the rates of racial/ethnic intermarriage with substantial increases in the past four decades with intermarriage between whites and Asians as well as white and Latinos. (Lee, 2004, p. 222) These statistics are predicted to continue and as Healey and Stepnick stipulate the new contemporary stream of immigrants s are extremely diverse and incorporate people from the most sophisticated and urbane as well as from the most desperate and despairing. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 414) The increase of immigration and the degree of acculturation via racial/ethnic intermarriage which has already occurred and has infiltrated the once impenetrable color line and transformed the demographics of America. The once overt and obvious dichotomy of American population consisting of white versus black has transformed as minority groups are becoming the majority population as ethnicities multiply. Furthermore, acculturation is also evolving as immigration after 1960’s is becoming continuous with greater availability to communication and travel to their country of origin and new immigrants replacing them to revitalize ethnic culture and languages, as described by sociologist Douglas Massey. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 428) These changing patterns supplemented by increased complexity and diversity of the American populations along will more advanced technologies will ensure a new system of acculturation and pluralism that will no longer follow the traditional views of assimilation. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 448) In conclusion, DNA examination provides individuals with a tool to discover and contextualize their own personal history as defined by their genetic composition as we have become a society with blurred cultural distinctiveness. As public exposure to the definitions of race and the realities of genetics increase, lay opinion will be changed and therefore dismantle a social construct by defining new normative roles. As noted by Healey and Stepnick, group competition creates discrimination which will outlive the conditions of its creation. (Healey & Stepnick, 2017, p. 31) Access and understanding of this knowledge would have the power to transcend the past articulations of biological race and racial subordination. When race is obliterated from the conversation then acculturation will change since race has, heretofore, defined the process of acculturation. Though, it is of note, that although ancestry plays an obvious role in the contemporary conceptualization of race, they should not be viewed by the lay as interchangeable or equivalent categories. (Lowe, 2009, p. 1139) As Soren Kierkegaard stipulated, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.