White supremacists, milk and an ‘inconvenient truth’ about genetics

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Image credit: Mic

Nowhere on the agenda of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, being held in San Diego…is a topic plaguing many of its members: the recurring appropriation of the field’s research in the name of white supremacy.

Instead of long-discounted proxies like skull circumference and family pedigrees, according to experts who track the far-right, today’s proponents of racial hierarchy are making their case by misinterpreting research on the human genome itself.

One slide [biologist John] Novembre has folded into his recent talks depicts a group of white nationalists chugging milk at a 2017 gathering to draw attention to a genetic trait known to be more common in white people than others — the ability to digest lactose as adults.

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In the post, the link is accompanied by a snippet of hate speech urging individuals of African ancestry to leave America. “If you can’t drink milk,” it says in part, “you have to go back.”

In an inconvenient truth for white supremacists, a similar bit of evolution turns out to have occurred among cattle breeders in East Africa. Scientists need to be more aware of the racial lens through which some of their basic findings are being filtered, Dr. Novembre says, and do a better job at pointing out how they can be twisted.

Read full, original post: Why White Supremacists Are Chugging Milk (and Why Geneticists Are Alarmed)

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