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Which race do i truly belong to?

  1. Jul 15, 2003 #1
    At first glance, this seems extremely obvious. It says "chinese" on my birth certificate. My "ancestors" moved from China to Singapore. And other features like my "yellow" skin, black hair and black pupils all seem to support this.

    But if my grasp of scientific theories is correct, the most probable theory which explains where we evolved from is the "Out of Africa" theory, which says that we(homo sapiens) first evolved in Africa, then spread all around the globe from there.

    In that case, if my race is decided by my ancestors, shouldn't my race be "african"?

    In case you are wondering, i'm asking this question because i've been constantly hearing from "rooted" people, adults and some of my friends alike, that i am chinese, so i must follow chinese culture, traditions and other what-nots.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2003 #2


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    The issue of race is controversial, it is true that everyone person in the world can supposedly be traced back to one of 4 or 7 ancestral mothers, called eves, the last thing I heard is that they traces the dna elements of the currently alive most 'authentic' person somewhere in the middle east, who was said to be a direct decendent of the ancestral father. I would take all that with a spoon of salt though.

    Another fact is true, although we all seem to have origined from Africa, humans spread and became isolated for a relatively long time and diverted. Geographically speaking this was only a snap shot in time, which prevented us from evolving into a different species (meaning: we can still make babies across races).

    The question is: how much did we divert? Did our genes become different in that period, do different races have novel genes, miss genes? Much research went into that, especially during the years of segregation, when scientist were trying to prove that blacks were different from whites, mainly, trying to prove that they were inferior. They thought their theory was correct since blacks lived such short lives etc. But that turned out to be nurture instead of nature.

    So I think that we are still all the same, the only difference is that we have different alleles of the same genes. Some might be detrimental alleles, but the percentage per population won't deviate the average. But that is just what I think.

    There ARE certain elements in our DNA that can tell from which races (racES) you descended. Where they can actually calculate which percentage Irish, Hispanic and Chinese one is (for instance).

    So I don't think that race is all that important, but what is really important is ethnicity. The environment that you grew up in and the culture to which you adapted will determine your being the person you are, not your genes. So you are neither chinese or african, you are malasian :)
  4. Jul 15, 2003 #3


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    Well said, Monique.

    "Race" is a generalization with lots of gray areas...especially in the modern world where people travel the globe so easily and so readily mix with other races. Supposedly there is more genetic variation within a race than between the races.

    American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race"...

    And your point about distant ancestors is well taken. But hey, you can take that ancestry to an ever further extreme (pre-human, pre-homonoid, and even pre-Africa). (Side note - - there's still a big debate over the "Out of Africa" hypothesis/theory, but yes, that does seem to be the prevailing explanation so far.)

    Tell those rooted people (politely) that you can do whatever you want with your life. If you like Chinese culture, then great, go with it. If you want to explore other cultures, then do it. Your genes gave you your potential. Mold that potential as you see fit.

    In general people probably feel more comfortable fitting in with a culture where people "look alike". And certainly parents/families tend to want their kids to be like them (adopt the same cultures/values/etc.).
  5. Jul 15, 2003 #4
    Kingdom = Animalia
    Phylum = Chordata
    Class = Mammalia
    Order = Primates
    Superfamily = Hominoidea
    Family = Pongidae
    Genus = Homo
    Species = Homo Sapiens

    You belong to the human race. That is all that matters.

  6. Jul 15, 2003 #5
    Re: Re: Which race do i truly belong to?

    Sub-species: Homo Sapiens Sapiens :wink:
  7. Jul 15, 2003 #6
    Good points made about the "race" issue.
    Plague: Your cultural background is what makes you Chinese, not your generalized "Chinese" looks.

    Lastly, I am curious as the Irish DNA stuff: Do Y'all have any more info on that? How can they tell you are irish?
  8. Jul 16, 2003 #7
    Sounds pretty interesting. What are the elements? Mind expanding more on that?

    That's what i tell people. Then i get
    1. Ridiculous looks.
    2. Comments on my mental health.
    3. Snide remarks about purposely being rebellious.
  9. Jul 16, 2003 #8

    Another God

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    Yeah, so you are a human, which comes from mammalia, which comes from reptilia, which comes from fish, which come from bacteria...so really, you're just a collection of atoms.

    So if we have to follow the tradition of our ancestors (as far back as we wish to trace anyway), then I suggest we all just stand around and vibrate ceaselessly for several billion years.


    Do what you want.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2003
  10. Jul 16, 2003 #9


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    Ajjj, how I hate to loose a message I just wrote..

    Well, in short, the technique was applied in a criminal case where they were initially looking for a white guy and the dna had them reconsider. I can't find the exact lab or a good publication right now, the technique is still controversial. This will get you started on the debate: http://newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/mole00/mole00404.htm

    It basically depends on SNPs which we have 1.6 million of in our genome and are very stable mutations. The idea is that a different population will have a different combination of SNPs and with a lot of mathematics you can figure out the percentages.
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