Since the late 1800s, scientists have tackled the topic of human migrations out of Africa and around the world. The consensus is clear thanks to biological and social sciences.
Race defined by skin color is a human-created construct and is not a biological one.
Scientists today prefer to use the term “ancestry” to describe the diversity of the human collective. There is no denying human ancestry is reflected in the look of modern humans and that human variations do have a connection to the geographical origins of our ancestors.
Human Migration out of Africa
It has now been proven the cradle of all humankind was in Africa. That has since been narrowed down to a paleoanthropological site about 50 km (31 mi) northwest of Johannesburg in South Africa. The site currently occupies approximately 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi) and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. It contains a complex of limestone caves where the fossilized remains of many early human species have been discovered.
The first human-ape, Sahelanthropus, and the chimpanzee diverged around 7 million years ago and new research seems to indicate the two species continued to mate for a long time after. As anyone who has been to a zoo or viewed wildlife programs on television, it is very obvious that chimpanzees are not pale-skinned. Neither were their divergent cousins. Nor were any of the other bands of humans that emerged and eventually became extinct. Over thousands of generations and millions of years, many groups of humans continued to migrate out of Africa. However, the word “migrate” is a little misleading. All these early human migrations were comprised of small groups of foragers wandering from areas where food was becoming scarce or where there was too much competition for scarce resources from other wandering groups. Therefore, unlike migration today where people leave their home country due to poor economic conditions created by war, famine, or corrupt governments, these early migrants were more like itinerant wanderers.
The “out of Africa” theory is supported by a huge amount of indisputable data. A thousand kilometers of moving over a thousand years and many generations is hardly movement at all by today’s standards. However, the evidence these migrations took place has been fully proven with the discovery of fossilized remains of humans from most parts of the world that have given up DNA that is now being sequenced.
With enough information about a person’s DNA, scientists can make a reasonable assessment of their ancestry. However, unlike the term “race,” it focuses on understanding less how they fit into one social construct and more about personal family ancestry and its origins. For example, scientists can now state with certainty diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis are common to people of sub-Saharan African or Northern European descent, rather than in those who have black or brown skin. Most importantly, the evolution of skin color occurred independently of any other genetic changes derived through evolution and did not influence other traits such as intelligence quota, mental abilities, or human behavior.
Climate change has played an important role in human evolution. The earth has undergone numerous ice ages since the appearance of the first bipedal ape. During warming periods, humans gravitated north and then had to adapt to colder temperatures as ice ages occurred. Humans who settled in the far north suffered from a lack of Vitamin D due to less sunlight and the resulting decreased levels of ultraviolet B (UVB). Based on gene research, it appears a lactose tolerant gene made an appearance around 10,000 years ago. This gene provided an evolutionary advantage in allowing people to digest cow’s milk, rich in vitamin D, to compensate for the lack of sunlight, particularly in the winter months. Around this time, the gene instrumental in creating lighter skin in northern tribes made its first appearance.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen traced a genetic mutation that took place around 7,000 to 10,000 years ago and has now determined it was the cause of change of eye pigmentation. The latest research now indicates people with blue eyes originate from one common ancestor.
Skin Color is only Skin Deep
Years of scientific research have yet to find evidence of any genetic differences in intelligence between the planet’s populations when graded by skin color. Ultimately, while there certainly are some biological differences between populations, these differences are few and superficial. The traits that we do share are far more profound than the ones we don’t.
The reasoning of people who insist skin color defines IQ is that “white people” look very different from people from Asia or Africa. Therefore, an Asian or African person looks different from a white-skinned person: how can they not be a different race? Such racial dogma chooses to ignore the absolute scientific findings of DNA research. The only reason racial profiling exists is as a social and political concept used by demagogues, charlatans, and dictators with a personal agenda to gain power and money.
The popular classification by racists of certain populations being inferior because of their skin color, their difference in height, (pygmies for example), the color of eyes and hair just does not stand up under scientific scrutiny. Though these physical differences may appear to be very dramatic on the outside, on the inside they are very superficial and are determined by only a very tiny portion of the human genome. It is estimated that we as a species share 99.9% of our DNA with each other. Therefore, the few differences that do exist between humans more reflect differences in our living and social environments than core biology.
The words of Martin Luther King ring as true today as when they were spoken back in 1963: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
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