Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice

By Catherine Bliss | Go to book overview

7 The Enduring Trouble with Race

IN LITTLE MORE THAN A DECADE, genomics abruptly about-faced into a proactive, race-positive science. As we have seen, in the early years of the Human Genome Project, genomics largely ignored race. Researchers across the field deemed race a social matter, a clinical hazard, and a scientific fallacy that genomics had little to do with. Though the field responded rapidly to accommodate the policy shifts that commenced in the mid-1990s, conceptual and practical adjustments were less instantaneous. It was not until the publication of the human genome that scientists began making authoritative statements about the social meaning of race and seeing the field as a major contributor to public health. Similarly, at the dawn of the government’s policy break toward health disparities research, most scientists were still responding to ethical quandaries like individual privacy and education about genetic risk management. Yet by middecade scientists had embraced the role of arbiter of racial knowledge. Though contention rose as to how scientists should implement inclusionary policy and a minority justice ethic, the field was unified in its approach to race as a problem for genomics to solve. Scientists with a variety of explanations for race, motivated by a keen interest in minority justice, made getting race “right” a central aim of genomics, thus bringing the field to where we are today.

This shift has depended on the transfer of racial paradigms between the broader society and genomic expertise. Genomics moved away from colorblind science just as colorblind politics became untenable in the general public. The

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Race Decoded: The Genomic Fight for Social Justice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1- Introduction 1
  • 1- The New Science of Race 19
  • 2- Making Science Racial 38
  • 3- The Sociogenomic Paradigm 70
  • 4- Making Sense of Race with Values 100
  • 5- Everyday Race-Positive 135
  • 6- Activism and Expertise 166
  • 7- The Enduring Trouble with Race 192
  • Notes 207
  • Index 257
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