IMW 300 Racial Fictions - Natural/Physical Sciences

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Process Post 2

At the beginning, our group research was on multiple different topics. Now, since we are at the end of our research, it is obvious that our group has began to narrow our topics into three different sections. When searching for topics, we still refer to the Olins Library database and Google scholar. Now looking at our research page, it is evident that there are two main subjects for our research such as:    . Unfortunately, our group had a lot of trouble meeting with our science librarian Patti due to schedule conflicts. One member of the group was able to reach her via email, so Taylor and the librarian talked back an forth about furthering her research. The librarian still told us to narrow our topics and to use the same sources that are relevant to the natural sciences. As stated in our last process post, she told us to visit Academic Database Premier, Science Direct College edition, JSTOR, and web of science. We did take her advice and narrowed our topics. As well, we also typed in different key words to help find more research on our certain topics. One of the main things that we found in our group was the overall progression of science from the early twentieth century to present day. Scientists, physicians and researchers had very different opinions about race and biology in the twentieth century when compared to today. This will be a main point that we will discuss in our group class presentation Our group has done a great job collecting, analyzing, and interpreting all of the research. Fingers crossed for our presentations next week!

Permanent Sterility: Eugenical Sterilization

Oswald, Frances. “Eugenical Sterilization in the United States”. American Journal of Sociology, vol. 36, no. 1, 1930, pp.65-73. JSTOR. Accessed 29 March 2017.

This article is great research for my specific topic because it was written in 1930. It provides evidence of the actual time period and what doctors, psychologists and legislators were thinking about American health standards at the time this was written. The article explains how the process of eugenical sterilization was taken into a lot of consideration from many physicians and legislators. Another great aspect of this article is it discusses the types of “permanent sterility” that some of thee unfit population would have to go through. There were two different procedures such as: vasectomy for males and a salpingectomy for females. The Buck v Bell case is also another court case that allowed for the sterilization law to be constitutional in Virginia. As Justice Holmes says, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” (68). One of the factors that makes this article different than other articles is that it discusses the three main obstacles that were in the path of eugenical sterilization. The three obstacles included: the intricacies of the law, the antagonism of the church, and the conservatism of American public opinion (68). The Catholic church was very against the practices of eugenical sterilization. Sadly, a lot of people did believe that sterilization was the best process to keep imbeciles, the insane, and many other people to stop from breeding. One last thing that I thought that made this article different from other was that it discusses how sterilization was a type of “freedom” for some people. Oswald says, “Patients have no fear of the operation; they regard it as a step toward normalcy and freedom” (72). Overall, this article gave me some new insights on eugenical sterilization.

Harry Laughlin’s Eugenic Crusade

Wilson, Philip K. “Harry Laughlin’s eugenic crusade to control the ‘socially inadequate’ in Progressive Era America”. Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 36, no. 1, 2010, pp. 49-67. Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group. Accessed 29 March 2017.

This article not only discusses multiple components of the Eugenical Sterilization process, but how Harry Laughlin controlled a large part of the eugenical cleanse. Recently, I have been focusing a lot of my own independent research on the eugenics movement that occurred in the United States during the Progressive Era. This article is useful to my research because it goes into more detail about the man behind a lot of the laws and processes that occurred within this cleanse. It starts with how Laughlin gets his foot in the door and ends with him being completely jobless due to the outcome of World War II. At first, the article explains Laughlin’s background as a science professor and how he was interested in the study of genetics and breeding. Laughlin eventually becomes the supervisor for the Eugenics Record Office, the ERO, and is in charge of facilitating multiple missions. As more social awareness was brought to eugenics, there was also an increase internationally and also an appreciation for Social Darwinism. In 1923, Laughlin visited Europe to investigate emigrant-exporting nations. When he returned to the United States, he contacted the House Committee to discuss the new immigration law that would be enacted in 1924. Laughlin was also given an honorary doctorate award from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, but this was eventually frowned upon by many people. Towards the end of the article, it explains that the ERO is closed down because the Nazi regime adopted the American eugenic sterilization process from Laughlin and others. The end of the article discusses how a form of eugenics is still used today, but it is not as intense as the process found in the beginning of the twentieth century. Overall, this article supports all of my other research that I have found. Even though this article was not very detailed on the actual processes of eugenical sterilization it still is a great article to help further my research.

Reflection 2

Our wide range of research was eventually narrowed to a few themes that we noticed as our research progressed which also lead us to focus on different areas in order to get a general picture of what we would like to share. The scientific discipline is very focused on proving theories with actual hard data through experiments and research. We have looked at how the scientific community has dealt with race from as early as the 19th century. The Eugenics Movement and its relation to the United States has been proven to be quite interesting. We have explored how the Nazi government was influenced by the Eugenics Movement in the United  States, to promote its racial hygiene movement. The Nazi government promoted the thought that the whole was more important than the parts. Therefore, it was important for them to preserve the nation by getting rid of those that were unfit. This resulted in the mass genocide of Jews and other minorities. As we’ve noted, race played an integral part in the atrocities that happened in the past.

As the years progressed, the violations committed by the scientific community due to racism have not been overt, however, the effects are often just the same. The methodology of the scientific discipline demands an objective view of the hard data collected. While this methodology may often be violated because the persons carrying out the research are human after all; the same methodology can rectify the mistakes of others. This was observed in the critique of Samuel Morton’s cranial capacity research. Morton carried into his research, his own preconceptions  and tried to get the data to fit his preconceived notions, however, using the scientific method, Steven Gould could discover the faults present within the research.

When used correctly, the scientific method has proven and disproved many hypotheses, such as in The Human Genome Project. In our previous reflection we talked about how  scientists sought to prove that there are genetic differences between the various races but the opposite was actually found. Once this discovery was made, it disrupted many long held beliefs which resulted in many scientists trying to find a way to incorporate race into science and medicine. One such way found was personalized medicine. Pharmaceutical companies and other corporations seem to seek profit from targeting a specific subgroup by claiming that certain groups are more susceptible to certain diseases.

We have also linked the theme Implicit Bias with race within the medical field. Implicit bias is the unconscious associations we make about different racial groups. All humans are susceptible to this even doctors; they are humans after all.  However, while the scientific community has acknowledged that there seems to be a racial disparity in the health care community, no one wished to claim individual responsibility. Instead, the narrative is framed in such a way as to say the disparity is an overall activity and refraining from calling out specific physicians or even hospitals for their prejudice. Even when potential healthcare physicians perform questionable acts, there is no debate about whether or not these persons are suitable to be treating minorities in the future. So, the physicians carry their prejudice with them without having been questioned or doubted for it which then results in minorities suffering on a large scale and no takes responsibility.

The Use of Race in Medicine as a Proxy for Genetic Differences

Root, Michael. “The Use of Race in Medicine as a Proxy for Genetic Differences”. Philosophy of Science, Vol. 70, No. 5, 2002, pp. 1173-1183. Accessed 30 March 2017.

Race is a prominent category in medicine. Doctors often consider the race of patients when deciding whether or not to test for a particular illness, or what drug to use and epidemiologists often use race to describe the varying rates of morbidity and mortality. However, while this is present, many other critics say that race is false and it is only an illusion or scientifically meaningless. This paper seeks to explain how race is used in medicine and that proper understanding of this term may call into question long held practices of using race as marker of any medically relevant genetic trait..

Race is like marital status; no one would be married or single if matrimony had not been invented; however, given that we did, we now divide ourselves along discernible boundaries and treat each other differently depending on which of these categories we belong to. So with race; we assign each other a race and treat each other differently depending on that race. As a result, epidemiologists can discover that the rates of mortality or morbidity are different for one race than another even though race is not biological just as they can discover that health risks vary with marital status even though marital status is not in our genes. Therefore, race can mark the risk of a biological condition, even though race is not itself a biological condition but a social status.

“Though both blacks and whites carry the sickle-cell gene, when tests developed to identify carriers of the gene, many states in the United States targeted blacks for screening because health officials continued to treat the sickle gene as a black gene and used race as a proxy for the disease.” Though race is still used in the United States as a proxy for sickle-cell anemia, the author believes that they are are good reasons not to. First, race over-estimates the sickle-cell trait in black people and under-estimates the trait in white individuals. Also, to use race as a proxy for a genetic trait encourages the belief that race is a genetic category, for many people assume that if a disease is genetic and it is much prevalent in one race than another, then race must be a genetic. As a result, using race as a proxy for the sickle-cell trait or disease helps to sustain the assumption that people of different races differ in their genetic makeup and that there are more genetic differences between than among black and white people in the U.S. Finally, to use race as a proxy for a genetic trait distributes the risk of genetic discrimination unequally between black and white. Firms unable to practice racial discrimination, because of the civil rights laws, are able to use the results of the sickle-cell test to deny black individuals employment. If black people are targeted for testing and individuals who test positive are denied jobs, then black people are at greater risks than white individuals of suffering genetic discrimination. Race-conscious screening has a disparate impact on black people in employment, especially whenever an employer has access to genetic information about job applicants.

The author argues that race, should not be used in medical practice as a proxy for a disease or for a response to a medical treatment. To stratify health statistics by race is reasonable, as long as employment, housing, income, education, or healthcare are stratified by race; but to use race as a proxy for a gene is: 1) bad science, because race and genes vary independently, and 2) bad policy, because the practice helps to sustain a harmful racial ideology.

Now Everyone Looks the Same: Alcohol Intoxication Reduces the Own-Race Bias in Face Recognition

This article adds onto the idea of implicit bias and a slightly different spin on it with the concept of “the own race bias”. An underlying theory about this bias is usually the fact that there is usually a lower level of contact with other races compared to same race individuals. There was a second study done that reversed this result however, showing that even when an individual came in contact with a high level of other races there still seemed to be a lot of bias. This article then examines how the possibility of consuming alcohol and intoxication can affect how we see our own race bias and how we interpret others. It was hoped that by testing this concept it would be possible to we might be able to determine driving forces in what causes biases in people. The results of the test did prove that there was no significant proportion of the variance in the test participants that really proved that alcohol consumption had any affect on how their own race bias was interpreted.


Hilliar, Kirin F., et al. “Now Everyone Looks the Same: Alcohol Intoxication Reduces the Own-Race Bias in Face Recognition.” Law and Human Behavior, vol. 34, no. 5, 2010, pp. 367–378.,

Forgotten Racial Equality: Implicit Bias and Decision Making

This article argues with the idea of implicit bias and decision making and these implicit racial biases affect the way that jurors, and judges interpret, remember, and store information in different cases that are presented. This brings in a worrying idea and raises concerns about the legal system and the ability of the system to achieve fair social justice. The article then elaborates on this claim stating that in a lot of cases we don’t intentionally mis-remember or interpret information a certain way. This way by giving the judge and jurors all the decision making ability we are making the assumption that the judges and jurors can make unbiased cognitive decisions that in a lot of cases can vastly affect someones life. Given that implicit bias is a psychological concept that we usually can’t control this always leaves us with a grey area on how we are supposed to successfully interpret the information we are given. In a scholarly sense however, there has not been a ton of research in determining how we misremember information and if people do it in racially biased ways or the reasoning behind it.


Levinson, Justin D. “Forgotten Racial Equality: Implicit Bias, Decisionmaking, and Misremembering.” Duke Law Journal, vol. 57, no. 2, 2007, pp. 345–424.,

Medical Racism and the Rhetoric of Exculpation: How Do Physicians Think about Race?

Hoberman John. “Medical Racism and the Rhetoric of Exculpation: How Do Physicians Think about Race?” New Literary History, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2007, pp. 505-525. Accessed 29 March 2017.

Over the course of the last 2 decades, medical literature has published  hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that point to racially motivated decisions by physicians either to deny appropriate care to black patients or to inflict on them extreme procedures that many non-black patients would have been spared. Dr. H. Jack Geiger, in 1996, asked, “How are we to explain, let alone justify, such broad evidence of racial disparity in a health care system committed in principle to providing care to all patients?”. Dr. Geiger did his study but could not bring himself to categorize the documented behavior of his colleagues as racist. He further stated that if racism was involved, it is unlikely to be overt or even conscious. The fact that this medical racism could imply individual culpability was an avenue that he could not even see.

The methodology of this paper is based on the supposition that significant aspects of the medical racial folklore of the pre-Civil Rights period have persisted and adapted to modern circumstances to a greater extent than most of us would have assumed.There is, in fact, no reason to assume that medical students and doctors are less likely to absorb and act upon the racial narratives within society. The paper further mentions three medical students who dressed up in Blackface for Halloween and the only result was a demand for a public apology and racial sensitivity training. The author questions why this action did not result in the question of whether these students were fit to serve the potential African Americans who would consult them for medical treatment.

American medicine has reacted ambivalently to the more than 600 studies that have documented racial disparities in health care.  Medical journals publish the hundreds of papers that confirm the disparities, however, medical authors have developed a rhetoric and a vocabulary that allow them to denounce racial health and treatment disparities without ever taking any real responsibility for them.  As the authors of the Institute of Medicine report put it: “Survey research suggests that among white Americans, prejudicial attitudes toward minorities remain more common than not, as over half to three-quarters believe that relative to whites, minorities, particularly African Americans, are less intelligent, more prone to violence, and prefer to live off of welfare. It is reasonable to assume, however, that the vast majority of health care providers find prejudice morally abhorrent and at odds with their professional values. But healthcare providers, like other members of society, may not recognize manifestations of prejudice in their own behavior.” This portrait of the physician’s vulnerability to “prejudice” effectively exonerates them of responsibility, since denigrating or hostile motives are assumed to be absent.

The authors argument is that “… anyone who regards the past twenty years of self-exonerating publications as evidence of “serious reform” will be unable to imagine the “broader view of the problem” that might force the medical profession to reform”.

Race, Science, and the Legitimization of White Supremacy in South Africa, 1902-1940

Rich, Paul. “Race, Science, and the Legitimization of White Supremacy in South Africa, 1902-1940.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, 1990, pp. 665–686., Accessed 20 Feb 2017.

Segregation was a sought after end point in South Africa during the 20th century. There was a clear desire to incorporate modern and ‘scientific’ modes of discourse within the segregationist views. This paper attempts to show how this discourse was an important part of the South African debate on race before the emergence of apartheid.  There were rapidly growing connections in the inter-national scientific community so therefore, this way of thinking appealed to the those who supported segregation. They began to search for ways to differentiate human beings based on their race; emphasizing aspects of human difference rather than similarity. They assumed that there was a human hierarchy where the Anglo-Saxon race sat on the top. The ‘scientific’ evidence found though was very open-ended because it could be used to support a variety of predictions regarding the future. Although, the belief of Anglo-Saxon superiority was prevalent, no one really believed that Africans would die out in the face of advancing white colonial settlement which was in contrast to the views held by many others. Overall, the racism in South Africa sought significantly less ‘scientific’ experts than in the United States during the same period.


Racial Capitalism

Racial Capitalism is the concept of deriving social or economic value from the racial identity of another person. This is an extremely negative problem when it comes to race because it relies on reinforcing stereotypes and broadcasting these stereotypes to the majority of the population and is detrimental to both individuals and societies as a whole. Racial capitalism can then cause a lot of resentment from non-white people towards white people for exploiting these stereotypes. With all the issues with race in this country racial capitalism causes a lot of problems and really makes it more difficult for race relations to improve. This article then proves how how society sees whiteness. For example, back in history people would describe white people as acting “black” when they did something bad or to be derogatory. The article then discusses how “whiteness” is the key to everything good while “non-whiteness” is used as the justification for many issues one of the oldest being slavery. Recently however, “non-whiteness” has reversed and has been a source of value and now racial capitalism has occurred because of people wanting to exploit this new perceived value.


Leong, Nancy. “Racial Capitalism.” Jstor. Harvard Law Review Association, June 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

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