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It has been 15 years since then President Bill Clinton and leading scientists of the Human Genome Project made their highly-acclaimed proclamations that race at the genetic level does not exist. At the time this supported the long-held narrative of scholars that the once prominent beliefs in biological determinism (race as a genetic reality) and racial essentialism (human behavior is anchored in group-based biological differences) had been all but completely laid to rest in the archives of history. However, these beliefs in race and genetics may be making a comeback as genetic and genomic research gains in popularity and media visibility. As sociologist Lawrence Bobo and colleagues recently note in their analysis of survey data, there is a recent uptick the last decade in the belief that there are innate (i.e., biological or genetic) racial differences that drive racial inequality.
In survey data from a nationally-representative sample of over 2,200 whites across the U.S. to identify how they view blacks and other whites on traits such as intelligence, athletic ability, temperament, and obesity, we found that whites generally believed that traits and behaviors for whites and blacks were more influenced by environmental factors than genetics. However, whites did not agree that all human traits and behavior are a result of environmental factors. They saw genetics playing a slightly greater role in the traits and behaviors of blacks compared to whites. These findings were stronger for stereotypically “racialized” traits, such as intelligence and athletic ability.
Read full, original post: How beliefs in biological differences can undergird racial and policy attitudes