The other day one of my students came by my office to ask about his essay. He’d found a book that suggested that the human species was split into 3 races (black, white, & oriental, in case you’re wondering), & that these races differed in things like fecundity and birth rate. Should he include this information in his essay?
I advised him to do a bit more reading on the subject – modern genetics suggests that there’s very little to support the old concept of ‘race’. And in any case, it’s always a good idea, before you cite a single source, to read around & see how well-supported that particular viewpoint is.
And then this morning I found Darwin’s own take on the issue of human ‘race’ – I’ve pasted it here below for you to read & think about.
“But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having intercrossed. Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory de St-Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.” (C. Darwin, (1871), The Descent of Man)