Genetics, Human Migration, and the Sociology of Race

Genetics, Human Migration, and the Sociology of Race


In today’s polyglot society, with so many ethnic groups intermixing, we need to make students realize that there is only one Human Race. When we encourage students to start thinking of themselves as one, all related, they can recognize and overcome discrimination and view each other as equals, respectfully.

This lesson combines several online resources and some literature to help explore this topic. Students should come to understand their own preconceptions about themselves and others.

There are several parts to teaching this lesson. You will need specific background information and scientific concepts, including the benchmarks, to adequately teach the content area and foster discussion.

First you will need genetic information about the Human Genome Project. Focus on the purpose of mapping genes—to see where we came from, who we are, and where we are going as the Human Race. There is also the positive aspect that may come out of genetics, classifying and looking at medical issues. Race may be imperfect, but sometimes it can come in handy when it comes to your health.

Human Migration
For middle-school students, the relevant concept students need to learn, understand, and transfer is that race is a part of an on-going, evolutionary adaptation. Theories of this are based on scientific findings. There seems to be two separate issues in fundamental understanding:

Science of Race
Through the process of natural selection, variations in skin color and other physical characteristics developed in the human family, depending on where humans lived. So, for example, it could be that those with darker skin may have had an advantage over those with lighter skin in a particular environment, allowing them to survive better and reproduce more people with darker skin. Race is fluid—not a fixed identification. Skin color, hair color, and facial features are only a small marker in our own DNA.

Socialization: The Sociology of Race
Human beings use categorizing in all kinds of ways to interpret their environments. Categorizing by race is one way in which humans can use discrimination for interpreting others, claiming power over others, and subjugating other humans.

This teacher sheet is a part of the The Illusion of Race lesson.

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