Tuesday, April 19, 2005

DNA--Undercutting Prejudice?

The New York Times reports on a program of DNA testing at Penn State.
"When Don R. Harrison Jr. was growing up in Philadelphia, neighborhood children would tease him and call him 'white boy,' because his skin was lighter than theirs. But Mr. Harrison, a 'proud black man,' was still unprepared for the results of a DNA test, taken as part of a class at Pennsylvania State University, to determine his genetic ancestry.

'I figured it would be interesting. I'm light-skinned and I wanted to know my whole makeup,' said Mr. Harrison, a 20-year-old sociology major. But he was shocked by results showing him to be 52 percent African and 48 percent European: 'which I had no clue about, considering both my parents are black,' said Mr. Harrison. 'So I'm half white.'"
The rest of the article is interesting, suggesting to me that if such testing spreads widely, given $99 per test and human curiousity it should, maybe it will undermine remaining prejudices. When it's no longer a binary, white/black issue, but a spectrum, and when there's surprises (suppose George Wallace had turned out 5 percent black) prejudice at the intimate level will be difficult.

1 comment:

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