A Biological Answer to Racism

“In Common” Race is a societal invention; racism is a societal cataclysm. It has come to a general scientific consensus that people have more in common between races than within races. This is not perspective; this not subjective opinion: this is phylogenetics at its finest. Genetics has proven two things. 1. Race is not a biological phenomenon. 2. Racism is not biologically plausible. Take Thomas Nagel’s philosophical paper “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”. The heated stabs at the reductionist, physicalist theories on consciousness are insightful. However, from a humanitarian perspective, we need to take this question at face value. In today’s dystopian society, only two words would suffice as a perfect answer. Not racist. I do not know many bats personally. However, zoological intuition serves me right by telling me that they do not engage in racism. Humans are a social species as chemically depicted by their raging levels of oxytocin. And yet, we are the sole species which have racism rife throughout all strata of our vulnerable society. Man likes to think he is above all other animals. Philosophers claim that only man emanates rationality. But if we claim that we are rational, and yet continue to live in an anti-utopia where racism is commonplace, then neurobiologists must redefine rationality. Rationality and racism are mutually exclusive events. They cannot coexist. Different races, however, can. Richard Dawkins illustrates in “The Selfish Gene” how we are survival machines: mere vehicles built through natural selection to propagate our DNA. This Darwinian distortion of our optimistic outlook on life proposes an innate individualistic view to life. And as many racists idealise their race as part of themselves, it is not too difficult to envisage how they could twist this view into racist ideology. However, Dawkins brilliantly pointed out that we can fight off the control our DNA has on us by using contraception. Thus, if we can avoid DNA controlling our lives through this simple conception, then imagine how simple it must be to prevent racism from ruling our society. Daniel Dennett discusses in his speech “Dangerous Memes” a way of dealing with detrimental ideologies. A meme is “an information packet with attitude”. A philosopher of memetics would reach common ground with a biologist with a virologist as a translator. After all, the biological equivalent of a dangerous meme would be a virus: it infiltrates the individual just as racist ideas are indoctrinated into certain people, and proliferates throughout their body destroying their somatic cells just as racism destroys all goodness with its avarice for insanity. We need to promote immunity against racism, just as vaccines promote immunity against viruses. We will never eliminate racism just as we will never eliminate pathogens from our environment. What we can do is encourage avirulence—a utopia where racism can no longer hurt us. What is our panacea to the noxious notion of racism? Again, two words. In common. Let us celebrate our similarities. Our race. The human race.

by Shanker Narayan, Age 17

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