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Don’t be Colorblind, Embrace Race.

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by Ian Huyett (website)

In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, humanity has washed away its differences and enacted “Sameness”. Drugs have removed our ability to feel hate and, perhaps inadvertently, most other emotions. Race and family can no longer divide us because they no longer exist. Everyone is colorblind.

Despite being one of the most censored books of its decade, Lowry’s eerie novel has ironically remained on the reading lists of many public school students.

The Giver’s dazzling relevance struck me when a critic of my blog suggested that the natural tendency to identify with one’s ethnic group should be engineered out of existence. Like Lowry’s dystopian architects, he’d realized that this is the only way humans will ever cease to recognize biological differences.

What would happen then, if, tomorrow, the world woke up colorblind? What if humanity’s many unique eye colors, skin tones, and hair textures became suddenly indiscernible and, as many would certainly like, we truly ordained “Sameness”?

First, and most noticeably, a lot of organ recipients would die. Studies cited by the Donor Alliance and Science Daily show that receiving an organ from a member of your ethnic group significantly lowers the chances that it will fail.

Next, millions of sick people would receive the wrong prescriptions. A Nature Genetics study that concluded “It is inaccurate to state that race is ‘biologically meaningless’” emphasized that “Ignorance of the shared nature of population variation can lead to diagnostic errors”, including “inappropriate treatment or drug prescription.”

Third, a number of murderers and rapists would needlessly get away with their crimes. Setting aside the fact that certain ethnic groups commit these crimes at disproportionate rates, ethnic differences help physical anthropologists identify human remains, and the single nucleotide polymorphisms of crime scene DNA can narrow the search for suspects along ethnic lines.

Finally, people would be less happy. According to the New York Times, the hormone responsible for kindness, love, monogamous commitment, and trust also causes organisms to identify with their ethnic group. This may explain why infants prefer to associate with genetically similar infants. A study in the National Library of Medicine concluded that acculturation stress is a cause of suicide.

Why, with such important evidence to the contrary, do we often hear that ethnic differences do not exist? Many academics deny the biological reality of race because they fear its implications. Jared Diamond, for example, has said that “Even if one could classify humans into races, one should not”. Similarly, Richard Lewontin attacked E.O. Wilson’s research into the heritability of behavior on the grounds that it would lead to “Nazi gas chambers” and “genocide”.

Ironically, 1800s anthropologists like James Prichard, who would today be abhorred by Diamond and Lewontin for their extensive study of ethnic differences, were at the forefront of the movements to end slavery and colonialism. Like Prichard, it’s time for us to embrace reality. Unlike Diamond and Lewontin, there isn’t a truth I’d wish unknown to the world; especially one with so much to offer us.