Thoughts On ‘Race’


I very much appreciated the column by Joshua Hammerman concerning the nature of “race” (“We’re All People Of Color,” Opinion, Dec. 16).

It should be noted that Hammerman’s explanation for why northern people are light-skinned and southern people are dark-skinned (exposure to ultra-violet light darkens the skin) does not match the Darwinian explanation. The Darwinian argument explains that Vitamin D is synthesized among people who do not eat foods rich in Vitamin D by exposure to sunlight.

North-dwelling people are deficient in Vitamin D if they have too much melanin in their skins; South-dwellers are prone to skin cancer if they do not have enough melanin.

Calculations indicate that only a few generations are needed to cause southern people to be mostly dark-skinned and northern people mostly light-skinned in the absence of modern medical care.

There are implications about discussions on “race” if the term is removed from our vocabulary. If it is agreed that there are no “races,” then the label “racism” is not applicable. People can be called “racist” only if they claim that groups differ because of some biological characteristic which modern science does not find.

The elimination of “race” as a parameter does not mean that there are no differences between groups. They can be identified as ethnic, cultural and religious. They are probably more persistent than skin color among populations.