Race continues to concern humanity


My family has always been proud of our Irish heritage. I’ve often bragged about being 100 percent Irish. Last year, just for fun, I took a DNA test. Well, I’m 79 percent Irish. Pretty Irish, but I also have Scottish, English, Western European, Scandinavian, and – to my great surprise – Native American and South Asian DNA.

The latter two are trace amounts, not enough to be sure, but I like the idea of being part Indian, and part Indian.

DNA technology has revolutionized our under-standing of what it means to be human. Most importantly this: there is no such thing as race. Differences in traits among all human beings are attributable to a 0.1 per-cent variation in our DNA. I have blue eyes and used to have blonde hair. My DNA is 99.9 percent the same as my friends with dark skin, brown eyes and black hair. The differences really are only superficial.

We should know this. St. Paul once said, “(God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

The idea of multiple and distinct races is ingrained in world history and culture, and not without consequence. Discrimination, slavery and caste systems are all based the idea that “we” are superior to “they.”

This has led to substantial differences in tradition and culture among groups of people, some of which have made the human experience richer, much has been tragic. Without a doubt injustice exists to this day. Many attitudes have changed. Many wrongs still need to be righted.

There are some who keep the idea of race alive because they benefit from it. Supremacists play on fear to exert power. Others exploit a victim mentality within minority groups for personal gain.

The Bible traces us all back to the first parents, Adam and Eve. Science traces our DNA back to one African woman, Mitochondrial Eve, who lived more than 50,000 years ago. Science and faith lead us to only one conclusion. There is no “they.”

Bill Reagan is executive director of Loaves & Fishes of the Rio Grande Valley.