The Illusion of Race

The Illusion of Race


In this lesson, you will investigate both genetic and societal consequences of the often-artificial and evolving classifications of humans into different groups. You will examine the long-term repercussions of these classifications that have resulted in racism, wars, and genocide.

Use the resources on The Illusion of Race student esheet to answer the questions on this sheet.

Human Diversity—Go Deeper
What do we each think of when we say the word “race”?



What race/races do we identify with?



What if you were told that you were actually a different race or had racial characteristics that matched another group than your own?



What identifies us scientifically as being of a specific race?



Why can’t we map one gene trait or characteristic that tells us how to recognize one member of a race from another?



Why have other animal species been able to accumulate more genetic variations than human beings?



How long do you think it takes to accumulate gene variants?



Why do we talk in terms of ancestry instead of race when we discuss genetic differences in humans?



Can you name any possible biological consequences of the social reality of race?



Human Diversity: How Different Are We?
Scientists have found through the study of population genetics that human populations are different from one another in very small ways determined by the amounts or proportions of alleles, or genetic components in their DNA, not the overall kinds. This means that we are really only slightly different from one another, but in what ways? Why do we think these differences are so important?



Are we more alike or different? What other kinds of findings are there as we study genetics and DNA?



What are the markers for skin color, hair color and type, and eye color? Can this change through generations?



Can you have a lot of genetic markers in common with the person sitting next to you even though you may be unrelated in any way? What is your genetic family history?



Race is an illusion, say researchers
What did the researchers in Brazil use to do their research?



What were the researchers trying to establish or find out in their study?



Why did the researcher, Dr. Peen, and his colleagues choose to study the population in Brazil?



What did they hope to find out about race?



What did they find out about the concept of race—classifying humans into groups based on their physical characteristics and genetic ancestry?



If you were heading up a research team, what would you investigate about race and what people would you study?



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