The Biological Reality of Race
by Glayde Whitney
RACE IS A fascinating scientific subject. Unfortunately, for more than half of this century there has been a huge propaganda campaign to drive it completely out of the sciences. And even though most of the race-deniers’ claims are nonsense or wildly spun half-truths, the vast majority of serious scientists have been taught their lesson. For a youngster, to deal with race from a scientific perspective and risk the label “scientific racist” could be career suicide. Most of my scientific colleagues leave race alone, at least in public.
These days, in the genetic and biological sciences there are so many things that are unknown, and so many new and exciting techniques, that a scientist can easily have a productive career without ever mentioning race. But one of the consequences of the absence of work in this field is that there is a gold mine of data about the biological realities of race. Actually a gold mine is probably the wrong image because it implies one must dig and work to collect the prize. It’s really more like a riverbed strewn with gold nuggets. Race biology data have accumulated all around us and are lying there waiting to be picked up and publicized.
This article introduces a few of the many nuggets of information about the biological reality of race. I will not cover intelligence differences — everyone knows about that. But from bone thickness to brain size, there are many biological realities of race besides differences in intelligence.
I should first explain my definition of “race.” In biological tradition the word race is simply synonymous with the terms “subspecies” or “variety.” The basic unit of classification in modern taxonomy is the species. A species is usually said to consist of a set of individuals capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. If the offspring are not healthy and fertile, then the parent types are considered separate species. Mules are usually sterile so horses and donkeys are thought to be separate species.
However, in biology things are often fuzzy around the edges, and so it is with species. Sometimes what are considered to be separate species in nature can and will freely interbreed when brought together by man. Sometimes their hybrid offspring are partially or fully fertile. As one example of the fuzziness of species, consider Canis familiaris, the common dog, and Canis lupus, the Eurasian wolf. They are considered to be separate species because their habitats and life-styles are different. Within the dog species itself there are many varieties that are quite different in physiology and behavior. The tiny Mexican Chihuahua, would have a hard time mating with an Irish Wolfhound, but they are considered to be of the same species.
When wolves encounter dogs, they usually eat them. But sometimes they mate with them. When they mate it is almost always the male wolf with the female dog. The reverse is rare — male dogs are almost never able to mate with female wolves. The hybrid puppies are usually fully fertile, so by this definition Canis lupus and Canis familiaris are not different species. The point is that species and races are concepts of classification that often blur around the edges. This is because of the very nature of biological reality.
These days humans are thought to constitute one species — Homo sapiens. Humans are in many respects typical of geographically widespread mammalian species in that we are polymorphic (meaning we have “many forms”). This is what appears to us as individual differences. The bell-curve distribution of so many traits — height, weight, strength, intelligence, and the like — illustrates polymorphic traits. We are also typical among widespread mammals in being a polytypic species. Polytypic means “many types;” it is simply a fact of biological reality that not all different groups of humans are the same. Naturally occurring polytypic groups within a species are called varieties, subspecies, or races.
Starting With the Genes
Nowadays biological reality starts with genes, so that is what we will consider first. Genetic surveys have been done that identify many genes for many human populations all around the world. Some surveys have tried to concentrate on so-called “native populations,” that is, people who today are still living where their ancestors were before 1500 AD — before Columbus and the age of European expansion around the globe. When worldwide gene surveys are done of native populations, the results in broad outline are clear and consistent and can be replicated from one study to the next.
The most solid and remarkable finding is that genetically, the people from Sub-Saharan Africa are the most different from all other living humans. I will therefore concentrate mainly on Africans, but will quickly consider the rest of the world.
The illustration on this page shows the results from one large genetic survey with the lengths of the lines indicating the degrees of genetic difference between groups. Please note that Africans are far different from everybody else.
After Africans-versus-everybody-else, the next most different racial grouping is Australian Aborigines and similar peoples in New Guinea and surrounding areas. The famous anthropologist William Howells described them as follows:
“Australian aboriginals proper, [are] primitive men with a primitive hunting culture, lacking even the bows and arrows of the Negritos of other parts. They are dark skinned but hairy, with thick, ridged, poorly filled skulls and heavy, though fully sapiens, brow ridges; and with broad noses, short projecting faces, large teeth and receding chins. In every way they conform to a picture of Homo sapiens at his most backward, before racial specialization and before a final lightening of brows, reduction of teeth, and expansion of brain.” (W. Howells, Mankind in the Making, 1959, p. 326.)
If we return to the illustration on this page we see that the other major racial groupings are Caucasians, South Asians, and a cluster containing Northern Mongoloids and American Indians. About the only surprise from this worldwide gene survey is the degree of difference between Northeast and Southeast Asia. Even within China there are substantial average genetic differences between north and south. The racial/genetic differentiation within China is a fascinating topic for another day.
Let me turn now to the largest of genetic differences among humans, that between Africans and everyone else. Some people in the scientific literature argue that it is a vast oversimplification to think of “Africans” as a single race — they emphasize that there is tremendous genetic differentiation, and resultant biological differences, among the native inhabitants of Africa. And that is correct, up to a point. After all, the continent of Africa is a big place; it is the second-largest continent, with much environmental variation. It contains some of the driest and some of the most humid habitats on earth. Also some of the hottest. It has lowlands and highlands, sea level jungles and snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro. So it should come as no surprise that largely primitive people, still divided into tribes, show lots of genetic differentiation. This is a typically primitive condition of humanity. Thousands of years ago when Europeans were still largely tribal breeding groups there was also more genetic difference between different groups — though the different races of European Caucasians are still evident to some extent. The fact remains that although there is genetic difference among Africans, as a group they hang together and are relatively very different from everyone else.
It is useful, however, to separate North Africa from what is usually called Sub-Saharan Africa. The Sahara desert is a serious geographical barrier. North of the desert, all across the southern shore of the Mediterranean, the inhabitants are largely Caucasian. In the main we know where they came from, and often we know when. For instance the Phoenicians, ancestors of modern Lebanese, colonized sections of the coast. Later, Germanic tribes from Europe invaded and settled. The Arabs swept through. So today a hybrid, largely Caucasian population with some Negroid admixture, inhabits North Africa. The illustration on the previous page that shows the large split between Africans and all other groups is based on Sub-Saharan Africans.
Let us now look at genetic distances within the African cluster, which is shown in a slightly different perspective in the illustration below. Here again, the lengths of the lines indicate relative genetic distance. The top four groups — labeled Pygmy, W. African, Bantu, and Elongate (also known as Nilotic) are the Negro race of traditional anthropology and are referred to below as Blacks. There is substantial gene flow among them but also racial differentiation as indicated by the genetic distances.
Somewhat different from the Blacks are the Ethiopian and Hottentot peoples. They are more brownish and yellow than black in skin color and are thought by some to be remnants of an ancient pre-Negroid population. The recent expansion of Blacks, mostly Bantus and Elongates, has exterminated most of these people. Their genes remain concentrated in the Horn of Africa — Ethiopia and Somalia, and as a dwindling remnant in Southern Africa. The Ethiopians are today a hybrid population, with substantial Negroid and Semitic gene admixture.
What I have here labeled Hottentot are often referred to as the Khoids, or Khoisanids, which means Hottentots and Bushman. The remaining Bushman are desert gleaners while the Hottentots herd cattle. The Hottentot race is almost all gone today, replaced and exterminated in recent times by the invading Blacks. There was some intermating, however; enough so that even in America you can sometimes see the results of Hottentot genes.
In many characteristics Hottentots are biologically specialized for life in a hot and dry climate. One of these distinctive adaptations is steatopygia, which literally means “fat buttocks.” This is a solution to the problem of how to store fat in preparation for times of little food and still be able to shed body heat in a hot climate. Most of the fat is bundled in one place — the buttocks — leaving the rest of the body lean so as to make it easy to lose heat. It is the human equivalent of the camel’s hump. By contrast, Eurasian women put on a layer of subcutaneous fat all over the body. It is better than a fur coat in providing insulation against the arctic cold but makes it harder to lose heat in a hot climate. These differences in fat storage strategies are biological realities of race. Another biological peculiarity of the Hottentots is what is delicately called the “Hottentot apron” — four-and-a-half inches of dangling labia. This, too, is a biological reality.
A related biological reality is the difference in resting metabolic rate between Black women and White women, which has been found in America. A lower metabolism generates less body heat, which is a useful trait in a hot climate. However, it means that in a place like America, which has a plentiful food supply, Blacks are more likely to become obese.
Mating between Hottentots and Negroid Blacks generally followed a pattern that is worth noting. Even though it was unusual, most of the crosses were of Hottentot women with Black men. The hybrid children were raised as Blacks, so most of the gene flow was from Hottentot to Blacks. This pattern is common among humans and among mammals generally, like the wolves and dogs mentioned earlier: When populations mix, it is usually males of the dominant group that take up with women from the subordinate group. Women are attracted to socially dominant males. In this instance, the dominant Blacks have been acquiring the land, the property, and the women of the Hottentot race that they are replacing.
As an aside, one might note that by many traditional anthropological criteria African-Americans are now one of the dominant social groups in America — at least they are clearly dominant over Whites. There is a tremendous and continuing transfer of property, land, and women from the subordinate race to the dominant race. When it comes to personal property, Blacks have a tendency to take what they want. The July issue of AR points out that Blacks commit robbery at a rate nine or ten times higher than Whites and that they are about 50 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a White than vice versa. In many cases, what they do not take themselves, the government takes and redistributes for them. As for land, Blacks have literally forced Whites out of many of our major cities, the crown jewels of any civilization.
At the same time, there are four times as many marriages between Black men and White women than between White men and Black women. Like any conquering group, the winners are taking the property, the land, and the women. But perhaps the most incontrovertible evidence of dominance is the fact that Blacks can work openly for Black empowerment. They can complain about Whites and get a sympathetic reception. Whites, on the other hand, are not permitted to discuss their own dispossession.
To return to the four African sub-races that are members of the Black Negro race, this group contains the tallest and the shortest of all humans. The shortest are the Pygmies of the African Forests. Adult males of some tribes average about 4-3/4 feet in height. There are many biological reasons for small size; one is a poorly-understood substance called Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). In Pygmies the genetic control of IGF-1 is different from that of other groups. Pygmies were kept as pets by some ancient Egyptian Pharaohs — they were prized for their size and rhythmic dancing ability.
Small size in humans, as in other mammalian species like the tiny deer found in the south of Florida, is thought to be an adaptation to hot, humid climates. Small size also helps in moving through the thick jungles where Pygmies hunt and collect food. To this day the Pygmies have not taken well to agriculture. Some work as irregular and unreliable laborers for their Black masters. There is also some intermating, again mostly subordinate pygmy women being taken as wives by the dominant Blacks.
Rates of Maturation
On the subject of size, it is widely know that Black babies tend to be born smaller than White babies but that Black babies develop more rapidly in coordination and motor skills. Pygmies have been reported to mature especially quickly; babies sometimes walk and even run at six months of age, a developmental milestone reached on average by Caucasians at age 12 months. Our nearest non-human relatives, the apes, mature in motor skills considerably more quickly than any human group.
The next three groups, the West African, the Bantu, and the Elongate sub-populations are actually quite close genetically. The term Bantu originally referred to a group of closely related languages. The many different Bantu-speaking tribes are mainly the ones that in recent centuries greatly increased their range, invading East and South Africa. The Bantus and the West African groups were mostly planters, practicing primitive slash-and-burn agriculture.
The Elongates, on the other hand, were mostly pastoralists, herders of cattle. Because they had no horses, they herded cattle on foot. Among the Elongates are found the tallest humans. Height can be thought of as an evolutionary pre-adaptation for the modern American game of basketball.
The Elongate physique, slim and long, is thought to be an adaptation for survival in hot and dry climates. A popular theory is that the Elongates evolved in the Sahara region during the thousands of years the Sahara was slowly changing from a grassland to dry desert.
The historically pastoral Elongate tribes now live among the historically agricultural W. African and Bantu tribes. Usually the Elongates have been warrior rulers over the Bantus, though sometimes the Bantus revolt against their Elongate rulers. For example, the Hutu are a Bantu race while the Tutsi (Watusi) are Elongates. Their genocidal conflicts are well known. Much of the warfare currently ravaging Africa is conflict between genetically different groups.
Another interesting biological reality involves long-distance running. At the present time long-distance men’s running events are dominated by Blacks from the Elongate groups. This may not be so difficult to understand, since their ancestors have been tending cattle on foot for thousands of years. Kenyans dominate long-distance events, and about three quarters of Kenya’s top runners come from just one tribe, the Kalenjin, who are only about ten percent of the population of Kenya. About 40 percent of the top runners in men’s medium and long-distance events come from just this one tribe.
Why are the Kalenjin such exceptional runners? There is some speculation that it may be because the tribe specialized in cattle thievery. Anyone who can run a great distance and get away with the stolen cattle will have enough wealth to meet the high bride price of a good spouse. Because the Kalenjin were polygamous, a really successful cattle thief could afford to buy many wives and make many little runners. This is a good story, anyway, and it might even be true. Of course, racial biology is a taboo subject, even when differences in athletic ability could not be clearer. There is a book being written about race and sports. It’s working title is simply Taboo.
Many of these race differences are particularly clear in a multi-racial country like the United States. Compared to Whites, African-Americans are born earlier and smaller, but they mature more quickly. Their bones are denser, and have a higher mineral content. Denser bones are found even in fetuses before birth, and this difference in density continues throughout life. For this reason osteoporosis among the elderly is less common in Blacks than in Whites.
Blacks have more lean body mass than Whites, and they soon grow taller and heavier than Whites. Black children begin their growth spurts two to as much as five years earlier than White children. Young Black males outpace Whites in muscle mass by age seven. By about age 12, when White boys are beginning their growth spurt, Black boys are already much more physically developed. For girls, the growth spurt begins about age six for Black girls but not until age eight or nine for White girls. Also Black children mature sexually about three years sooner than White children.
There are differences in hormones, body composition, bones, brains, developmental rates, and these differences persist in adulthood. These are all biological realities of race that have many consequences for society.
Let us consider a completely different biological reality: bullet holes. The figures below are based on hospitalizations for gunshot wounds in California. There is a substantial race difference in these data. As expected, the rate for young males is much higher than for older folks. However, the more significant variable is race rather than age. Notice that the rate for the oldest age range of Blacks is still as high as the most dangerous range for Whites.
|Over Age 55||25||5|
There are many other physical and social variables that differ substantially between Whites and Blacks. The recent excellent books by Phil Rushton and Michael Levin present hundreds of pages of differences and discussion.
If we turn now to the Eurasian land mass, the various human tribes and races on that continent have been traveling and mixing for a long time. Recent finds have added to the evidence that there were Nordic Caucasians in Bronze-age China, at the very beginning of Chinese civilization. At the same time there have been repeated incursions of Mongols into Europe. These people in their travels and conquests may not have always intermated, but often they did, and genetic crosses between closely related races can lead to improvement of populations. Everyone has heard of hybrid vigor.
Madison Grant thought that hybrid vigor played an important role in the development of European civilization. He points out that the Golden Age of ancient Greece was just a few generations after the invasion and mixing of Germanic tribes. (For a full discussion of Madison Grant, see AR, Dec., 1997.) Others have suggested that much of the miracle of American development was the result of hybrid vigor resulting from the melting pot of previously more separated European populations. There is modern evidence of hybrid vigor for intelligence among the children of marriages between Whites and East Asians in Hawaii.
While hybrid vigor is a biological reality, so are hybrid incompatibilities. Some crosses, particularly between genetically distant races, can lead to mixes that don’t work very well. Until quite recently there was much scientific concern over hybrid incompatibilities between Blacks and Whites, and remember from recent evidence the Africans are genetically most different from all others. Before about 1950 the scientific literature openly discussed the problem of what Madison Grant called “disharmonious combinations”. After the 1950s, concern over miscegenation almost completely disappeared from mainstream scientific literature. The only thing that had changed was the politics, not the data.
I would like to suggest that modern data, those gold nuggets laying about, contain much that is suggestive of hybrid incompatibilities between Blacks and Whites. For example, according to the so-called “one drop” rule, hybrids are almost always classified as Blacks, so almost all Blacks have some White genes. And one of the best reported phenomena in present-day America is that the African-American population suffers a very wide range of health problems. Blacks tend to die sooner and younger from almost every cause but osteoporosis. There are reports that even after all known causes are accounted for there is still “unexplained” poor health among Blacks.
This difference is often ascribed to the stresses of “racism,” but this is not a very convincing explanation. Recently, Surgeon General David Satcher appeared on television to point out that in America, Black babies are 2½ times more likely than Whites to die in the first year of life. It is not clear how infants suffer from the stresses of “racism.” It may simply be that just as Blacks mature more rapidly than Whites, they succumb to disease more easily and die at younger ages. On the other hand, if there are no inherent racial differences in longevity and resistance to disease, the poor health could be caused by one of the greatest taboos of all: biological, genetic hybrid incompatibility.
Needless to say, there is no research now being done in this field. So long as our rulers refuse even to consider the biological reality of race, this question and many others will remain unanswered.
* * *
Source: American Renaissance, October 1999