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Letter: Race is not a valid genetic category

To the Editor:

Because these letters are usually short, I will focus on just one part of the generally incoherent opinions column in Monday’s Herald (“Maier ’17: The white privilege of cows,” Oct. 5). Before that, I would like to acknowledge my position as a middle-class cisgender white male, and that I am in no way an expert on the history of race formation or privilege.

This opinions column contains this paragraph: “Thus, whenever I see a white college student, reeking of privilege, I recall the coincidence (or causal relationship) between white physical features and animal agriculture. It is still a question whether or not evolution endowed Eurasians with skills utilized to capitalize on the good luck of livestock animals, or whether Eurasian features just happen to be a poor man’s clue to agricultural history.” I have read this part of the column multiple times, and I cannot find a hint of irony. This statement is incredibly irresponsible and runs counter to scientific consensus. I do not believe the writer truly understands the implications of the statement: that it is open to debate whether white people are or were ever genetically superior to or different from other races. (If white people were better at domesticating animals, could they also be better at managing people? Maybe they’re better leaders. Maybe they’re just smarter.)

I would ask anyone who considers race to be a valid genetic category to read the overwhelming criticism directed at “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.” I write this letter not out of condescension, but concern for what I hope is simply unclear writing. I am open to criticism and further discussion.

Jake Gogats ’18


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