loudandloveit asked: Hey there! How do you feel about the National Geographic article on how the average American will look like by 2050. Do you think it is accurate ? In addition to this, I read several comments stating that the white race is recessive and everyone will be of African descent again... (Comments were a bit more racist in tone...I cleaned it up). Thoughts ? Cheers! Christina
Wow, so I hadn’t seen this before, but a bit of Tumblr digging points me to this post (which has 250,000+ notes as of this writing, so someone should check the reality filter, I think it’s broken). Short answer: The photo is real, but the caption is complete BS. Longer answer … here we go:
The photo in the Tumblr post is certifiably printed within the pages of the October 2013 issue of National Geographic, but that “Americans in 2050” business is not anything close what the actual piece is about. By the way, October 2013 is the 125th anniversary special photo issue, and I highly recommend picking up if you have the means. Choice snaps from the history of NatGeo. I happen to be at my parents’ house right now, and they had the issue sitting on the coffee table. Pics or it didn’t happen, of course:
The actual article is called “The Changing Face of America,” accompanied by the beautiful portrait work of Martin Schoeller. The article itself, by Lise Funderburg, deals with the changing idea of race over the years, from the erroneous early 20th century notion that some races were genetically superior to others, to its more modern but equally inadequate identity as a social construct which seems to exist more for Census Bureau purposes than any real human or moral utility (not to mention all of the attendant violence, hatred, and injury that comes along with said inadequate social construct, which my passing mention does little justice to). The portraits, all of mixed-race Americans, serve to underscore the inadequacy of our culture’s racial labeling system for both the describer and the describee. Meanwhile, the article reminds us that eliminating the vocabulary of race doesn’t eliminate the sins of the past or present, nor does it stop us from subconsciously identifying race in less than a tenth of a second, an odd habit that a University of Colorado brain imaging study showed that we do, in fact, do.
So, no, the thing you asked about is not accurate. This kind of viral misinformation happens all the time on Tumblr, and elsewhere on the internet. Esquire has a great article about that epidemic, you should read it.
On race and genetics in general… Geneticists have determined that human beings, no matter what they call each other, differ by as little as 0.1% (and no more than 0.4%) on a DNA level. I mean, of course someone that we call “white” is genetically different than someone we call “black”, hence the different deposition of melanin pigments in their skin, but that’s so obviously a dumb way to differentiate people that I don’t think I need to say any more about it.
On the idea that the “white race” is recessive… While also wrong, here’s the logical hopscotch behind it, as well as I can tell: Human ancestors originated in Africa. Most modern humans native to Africa have brown skin of some hue, so maybe our African human ancestors did too? People of European descent have paler skin, which means that somewhere along their migration out of Africa a series of genetic mutations led to having less pigment, at least for the specific lineage of humans who became Europeans. This helped them make more vitamin D in the less-intense sunshine of northern latitudes. The idea that it’s “recessive,” since white/_____ mixed race children aren’t completely white, is … well, at best that’s a misuse of vocabulary, and at worst it’s genetic racism. Being of African descent again? When did we stop being of African descent? Homo sapiens all hail from the same home.
Oh, and that girl in the photo? Her name is Jordan Spencer, and she’s from Grand Prairie, TX. If she represents the future of America, then the future is going to be a gorgeous and mixed up place that our 20th century ideas about race simply won’t be equipped to describe. Maybe new and better ideas will take their place. You know, ideas about people instead of races.
The real article ends with a fitting thought, thanks to Walt Whitman, who I hear was pretty good with words:
“I am large, I contain multitudes.”
Slayer of B.S. science, the wonderful Joe Hanson PhD
There’s nothing theoretical about breathing, so when you think about your in-breath and your out-breath, by definition you must be in the present.”
The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD- Herschfield(via joshbcooley)