DNA Does Not Explain Racism

But a will to power certainly goes a long way to an explanation.

I believe in the validity of the science of epigenetics – so much so, I based two novels on the subject.

Epigenetics is the concept that certain traits are heritable, that they have been passed to us via our ancestor’s DNA and we subsequently pass them on to our descendants. It is not a genetic change, our DNA is not altered, the thinking is that it is more of a way we read the genetic code already there – there are huge amounts of information encoded in our genetic data banks – most of it we cannot access.

Epigenetics explain how animals (including the human animal) immediately possess survival instincts at birth (fight or flight), how animals know how, when, and where to migrate without being trained to do so and explain why we often present characteristics of our forebears (how you walk, talk, or behave like some relative you have never met).

But none of this means that all behaviors are predictable or inevitable. Logically, if certain behaviors are genetically encoded, others are not and it seems scientifically probable that as cultural behaviors change, what gets stored and what we can access also changes. Scientists do think that there are two common factors that likely prompt storage and access of genetic information – either long term exposure to a general environment or a specific trauma.

The allegation that whites are genetically predisposed to being racists begins to get into the realm of epigenetics – what began as a working theory on the left has been repeated enough over the past years to now become conventional wisdom, sort of accepted fact. Whites, especially those of northern European ancestry, supposedly have racism encoded within their DNA and are irredeemably racist. That encoded information prevents them from understanding how racist they are because being racist is just who they are. They cannot see it.

I would propose the movement in Western civilization and culture that lead to the ending of slavery, especially the end of it in America in 1865 (with the ratification of the 13th Amendment) is evidence of change that was incorporated in the DNA of Western civilization.

Epigenetic memory is not specific to any race, it is an aspect of being human. Other than certain information common to all humans (like the primeval survival instinct), other aspects of genetic memory are a result of repetitive exposure the various (repetitive) cultural forces.

Considering that science theorizes that trauma and cultural change can be encoded in human genetic memory, the totality of our history gives rise to significant and important questions.

  • Since white Americans have been accused of being racists at the DNA level and simply cannot change, what genetic information do other races possess that might explain certain behaviors and traits they express today?
  • Could certain heritable traits rooted in cultural encoding explain why there are statistical disparities between racial groups in America today?
  • If we assume racism is encoded in the DNA of white people, how does that explain racial conflicts between Asians and black Americans?
  • How does that explain the tribal conflicts – like that between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda where between 500,000 and 800,000 Tutsis were exterminated over a 100-day period in 1994?

One also wonders what information is encoded in the DNA of people from Asia, Africa, China, and other racially/culturally homogeneous areas from around the world.

I address the next paragraphs, not from the aspect of racism, only to make a historical point. Since the race-based assumptions about white Americans inevitably leads to the examination of the history of Western civilization, it would seem appropriate, since so many American blacks claim African heritage (or at least an alliance with it), to examine the conditions in Africa, past and present.

Africa is one, if not the, most resource rich continent in the world – and yet, it has not found a way to either unity or prosperity without the assistance of the Western world. While it is conventional wisdom within the faculty lounges, leftist coffee shops and the Democrat Party that a lack of diversity is the greatest danger to American democracy, the prevalence of ethnic diversity in Africa is not the challenge to democracy in Africa, tribalism is. Many African countries have reverted to tribal identities as foundations for political competition and their leaders often exploit tribal loyalty to advance personal gain, parochial interests, patronage, and cronyism. Tribalism has a significant impact on elections where voting favors the largest tribe, rather than sharing power with the minority losers. Tribalism is also the cause for the failed attempts at ethnic cleansing, authoritarian regimes, and political corruption. Tribes divide Africans and are used to stay in power.

If racism is genetically encoded in white Americans, is it not plausible that tribalism is encoded in the DNA of black Americans?

According to the 1619 Project, America’s history of racism began in Jamestown when the first African slaves to our shores, having been stolen from a Portuguese vessel bound for Mexico. America as a nation would not be founded for another 157 years, but this event is cited as the beginning of a racist foundation of our nation (it ignores the fact that the primary drivers of the slave trade to the Western Hemisphere were the Spanish, the Portuguese, and the English).

My point is not that slavery was not part of our pre-colonial, colonial and early national history, it is to recognize that slavery existed all over the world. From the Mesopotamians enslavement of defeated enemies as early as 6800 B.C., slavery has been among the most ubiquitous of all human institutions, across time, place, and race, some would argue to the present day.  It is a historical fact that slavery was not exclusively perpetrated on peoples from Africa. Thomas Sowell has advanced the idea, and convincingly so, that the Atlantic slave trade was not primarily racially based, it was economically based – there was a rapidly expanding demand for labor, slavery was common to the times, and Africans were an available supply.

The demand of which Sowell speaks was created with the exploitation of the vast natural resources found in the Western Hemisphere as the superior technologies of a more modernized Europe and England overtook indigenous people, tribes and cultures seen as inferior to the order and prosperity that existed in England and Europe of the time.

What we understand as racism today began as members of Western civilization measured all other races against other cultures and assumed that any race that did not possess the same characteristics were somehow inferior.  I believe the cultures of non-whites, especially those of Africa of the period, be seen as savage as compared to the ordered and educated nature of Western society. It seems reasonable (because it happens today), that if you were part of a civilization that had explored and conquered the world, you would have reason to assume your culture was superior to those your nation or culture defeated. Whether that was good or evil, beneficial, or not, what is not arguable is that every culture that overcomes another assumes a position of superiority. 

I would argue that the concept of race was more a means of cultural classification and was not, as Ibram Kendi and other prophets of Critical Race Theory propose, a concept created by white men over the course of centuries for the purpose of dehumanizing and maintaining power over groups of people by placing them in generalized, inferior groups.

I would argue that the creation of Critical Race Theory, a subset of Critical Theory invented by the Frankfurt School, has little to do with cultural classification or racism and is simply a means to dehumanize and achieve power.

Even if our DNA is encoded with certain aspects, history proves those aspects, good or bad, can be overcome. That is the opportunity to which America has always aspired, to make out of many, one – E Pluribus Unum – one nation under God, neither red, yellow, brown, black or white but one people united in a love for individual liberty.

May God damn those who seek to destroy her and the opportunities for freedom she still offers to all people.

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