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Excerpt from Clinical Practice Today (February 2014)
Below is an excerpt from a recent "Clinical Practice Today" article. NASW Members can view the full article by clicking here (you must be logged in). Not a member? Join NASW

Accelerating Abandonment of the Concept of ‘Race’

Bet MacArthur, LICSW

Genomic science has documented that all human beings are biologically identical, that our species has one of the lowest rates of genetic variation known to science. We now know that superficial variations which we believed defined groups of people are biologically irrelevant – – ancient adaptations to our climates of origin, and nothing more.

The sense that regional groupings of people who share some common surface traits comprise a ‘race’ is an illusion – – there is no ‘pure type’, of any ‘racial group’, and no single characteristic or group of characteristics is present in every member of populations who have been falsely classified as ‘racial groups’.

Note also that the concept of ‘race’ does not refer simply to visible differences between people – instead, it references an alleged link between surface variations and complex internal traits – abilities, vulnerabilities, tendencies and talents.

The tragic fiction of such a link was conceived by 17th-century Europeans as justification for 400 ensuing years of crimes against humanity, continuing into the present. Two hundred and fifty years of European science strove to document the alleged link, and failed. Twenty-five years ago, the same culture’s science proved such a link is biologically impossible. 1

Every February, this column addresses clinicians’ self-awareness and beliefs about human diversity. We invite readers to interrogate the fictions of racialism and the obsolescent Euro-centrism through which Americans of all backgrounds experience themselves and others.

There is an accelerating social evolution challenging ‘race’ and Euro-centrism worldwide. Below are some new resources to familiarize practitioners with this evolving global perspective; we encourage every reader to devote some time to these fascinating new tools...


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