May 29, 2014

The biological construct of race in America

We are often told that in America white and black are "folk" categories that don't match up with underlying scientific genetic reality. But, the rise of genome testing offers a new perspective on that. 

I've thought of another way to phrase the data I brought up in this week's Taki's article.

According to a recent Stanford study of 23andMe genomic data, the average self-identifying African-American is about 80% black by genes and ancestry, while the average self-identifying white American (non-Hispanic) is about 0.05% black. 

So, the average African-American is roughly 1,600 times blacker genetically than the average white American.
       
Score +1 for folk anthropology, score -99 for academic cultural anthropology.
       

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

the average self-identifying white American is about 0.05% black.


And 99.05% white?

dearieme said...

"score -99 for academic cultural anthropology": that's assuming that the purpose of academic cultural anthropology is scientific accuracy. But you know better, don'cha?

Anonymous said...

the average self-identifying white American is about 0.05% black

This seems implausibly low. In any case, it is pretty telling that an average average self-identifying white American is much more Neanderthal than black.

Anonymous said...

There is no way the average white American is *that* white, even when you exclude 3rd+ generation Hispanics who figure they're "white enough", like Cubans.

Ultra-pure whites are mostly going to be in Ireland or the Baltic states. Everywhere else has had a bit of race mixing from somewhere.

Anonymous said...

"There is no way the average white American is *that* white, even when you exclude 3rd+ generation Hispanics who figure they're "white enough", like Cubans.

Ultra-pure whites are mostly going to be in Ireland or the Baltic states. Everywhere else has had a bit of race mixing from somewhere." - the conventional wisdom is oversold.

Jefferson said...

"the average self-identifying white American is about 0.05% black

This seems implausibly low."

Were you expecting Non Hispanic White Americans to be Octoroons or Quadroons ?

Karl said...

Assume similar scoreboard between folk medicine and patent medicine and apply Saileran filter.

In the few fields I know well the ancestral knowledge base more than holds its own.

Anonymous said...

>>Jefferson said...
""""""""""""""the average self-identifying white American is about 0.05% black

This seems implausibly low."""""""""""""""


No, that actually sounds a bit too high.

One prominent example: Iceland. No inter race mixing and it's been around almost 1300yrs. Swedes and Norwegians, perhaps a bit of Danes and that's been about it.

Stop falling for the myth that only Nordics or Albinos are pure white.

Kibernetika said...

Got neanderthalian privilege? I do!

23andMe has me at 99.7 Euro, 0 anything else identifiable, the .3 considered "unassigned."

This is a great time to be alive. On the one hand, we have fantastic leaps forward in genomics, sequencing of historical populations, etc., while popular academic theory continues to swim upstream against the increasing evidence that biology is real.

Average Hombre Blanco said...

here is no way the average white American is *that* white, even when you exclude 3rd+ generation Hispanics who figure they're "white enough", like Cubans.

Ultra-pure whites are mostly going to be in Ireland or the Baltic states. Everywhere else has had a bit of race mixing from somewhere.


Huh? I can trace all my ancestors back to Scotland, Ireland and England. Maybe there were some interlopers back there in the distant past, but I suspect they all came from Germany or Scandinavia. Maybe throw in a Roman or two.

Sounds 100% white to me, and I imagine the same is true of most US whites of European extraction.

Anonymous said...

No surprise that relatively elevated levels of black ancestry are found in white Southerners, for obvious historical reasons. Anecdotally, I have had more than a few white Southerners tell me that there was oral history of black ancestry in their families. I've heard this so many times that I'm sure it's far from rare, at least where I live in northern Alabama.

I wonder if Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock, both of whom have Southern roots and have adopted black children, were aware of such oral history in their own families.

Discovering that there is black ancestry in their genome seems to have a profound psychological effect on white Americans.

mutt said...

The longer your ancestors were here the more American-mutt you are, I reckon, and the greater the chance of being mixed with non-white. One of my ancestors was from a Frenchman and an Indian woman (that's a humble brag - pioneer ancestors!). I should get checked out on 23andme or the like; I've been waiting for whole-genome to get cheaper though.

Anonymous said...

No surprise that relatively elevated levels of black ancestry are found in white Southerners, for obvious historical reasons.

One of those historical reasons is that many Northerners have only been Americans for about 100 years. Hell, I have a single ancestor who lived longer than that.

Anonymous said...

about 0.05% black
This seems implausibly low."""""""""""""""

No, that actually sounds a bit too high.


Come on, folks, have a little common sense. 0.05% = 100/(2^11) - at that level, half the Europe should have black ancestry! E.g., this guy, who in theory could have sat on English throne, had 0.2% traceable through Pushkin's line to Hannibal.

ben tillman said...

There is no way the average white American is *that* white, even when you exclude 3rd+ generation Hispanics who figure they're "white enough", like Cubans.

"That white"? Steve's article said nothing about the Whiteness of White Americans. He talked about their non-Blackness. White Americans have Amerindian ancestry that greatly exceeds their Black ancestry.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "And 99.05% white?"

You fail at simple arithmetic.

Another Anonymous said: "This seems implausibly low."

How do you manage to rationalize that statement? Implausibly high, perhaps, but certainly not implausibly low.

How many Africans or African-Americans are in the last 9 or 10 generations of your family?

You seriously think that it's normal for most white people in this country to have a post-revolutionary inter-racial marriage to an African or AA in their family tree?

Or do you think that medieval England was such a hotbed of Moorish intermarriage that most white people in the anglosphere are still swapping back and forth wide swaths of African DNA? Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, medieval England isn't exactly the place you'd want to go if you wanted to get your ebony fix satisfied.

Now, I don't know about your ancestors, but I highly suspect my plantation-dwelling ancestors here in the colonies would not have been particularly well-inclined to support an interracial marriage with a black person - I'm left with the impression that such behavior was likely to get one removed from polite society.

As for my ancestors outside of the slave-holding areas, from census data and other historical research I'm left with the impression that many of them would have had to do some considerable legwork to even get the chance to SEE a black person, let alone walk down the aisle with one.

As far as rape and cuckoldry go, the product of such an encounter is not by any stretch of the imagination going to slip by unnoticed - so non-paternity events of that sort are a non-starter.

Ahh! Are you perhaps one of those odd people that subscribe to the utterly irrational belief that sub-Saharan Africans are an unchanged, unchanging, archaic ancestral population from which all others sprang? You see, as a very rough rule, Africans are about as distant from humanity's common ancestors as any other population on the face of the Earth. Humanity has had a long time to diverge, both outside of Africa as well as inside, and divergence is accelerated by natural and artificial selection, as well as population replacements. That's pulling in all directions, not just the one our ancestors took.

To illustrate that last point, consider how different ANY organism might look like after, say, 2,500 to 7,500 generations. Wolves to chihuahuas perhaps? That's just one line of descent, consider that other human populations have had that same period of time to diverge in their own ways.

To assume that modern-day Africans are the primal mold from which all humans were cast, that we're all really "Africans", is an amazingly stupid as well as amazingly racist view to take - such a view is necessarily based on the assumption that Africans must have been too stupid, lazy, and sheltered to have evolved at all biologically, changed socially, or advanced technologically since our ancestors left the area - that the only forces that caused "change" in human populations were applied strictly outside of Africa.

Anonymous said...

I am a white American who is about 3% Sub Saharan African per 23andme. Which means that in the 1800s, a great-great-great grandparent of mine was black.

My family never knew about this until I did 23andme. We always believed we were part Native American, which isnt true. There was even an elaborate gneology provided with a town and Native American tribe for our false ancestor...

Justin said...

I think most White americans with ancestry that goes way back to the colonial/settler era have some family legend of an Indian ancestor.

My mother told me that her grandmother had told her she had an Indian ancestor. Based on my 23 and Me results, that was just a legend. I supposedly have some Finnish ancestry, but no Amerind.

Anonymous said...

I would wager that large portions of the South, especially near the mountains, have decent percentages of American Indian in their genetics. Has this been tested anywhere?

dearieme said...

There's too much make-up-your-own-facts around here.

For example: "...Iceland. ...Swedes and Norwegians, perhaps a bit of Danes and that's been about it." Oh balls, the DNA says otherwise.

Or "E.g., this guy, who in theory could have sat on English throne, had 0.2% traceable through Pushkin's line to Hannibal." Are we supposed to pretend that Hannibal was a negro, for heaven's sake?

And anyway is it a good idea to be all-white if this is true: "Ultra-pure whites are mostly going to be in Ireland..."?

Anonymous said...

I would wager that large portions of the South, especially near the mountains, have decent percentages of American Indian in their genetics. Has this been tested anywhere?



Elizabeth Warren is a hillbilly now?

Anonymous said...

@dearieme,

Perhaps the commenter was referring to Pushkin's ancestor, who really was a Negro:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abram_Gannibal

(Note, he was enslaved by Muslims, from whom the Russians acquired him)

If he was referring to the Carthaginian general, yes, it's a common mistake in the US to think of him as a Negro, if you know of him at all. He's a great African general, hence, Negro. We really are that stupefied. This country is so over. You should be happy. It seems the UK is getting its act together while the Great Satan is losing it. Take advantage.

Anonymous said...

Are we supposed to pretend that Hannibal was a negro, for heaven's sake?

Yes. This Hannibal:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abram_Petrovich_Gannibal

Anonymous said...

Cheaper? You mean, like 5 dollars for state of the art technology? Not to mention the informatics.

Uh, I'll take fries with that, please

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

If he was referring to the Carthaginian general, yes, it's a common mistake in the US to think of him as a Negro, if you know of him at all. He's a great African general, hence, Negro."

Indeed, young people nowadays are strikingly ignorant about history. Africa does not equal black. Hannibal, as a Carthaginian, i.e., a trasplanted Phoenician, had ancestory more in common with people of modern Lebanon than he would have with blacks

The very notion that race is socially constructed itself betrays a stunning learned stupidity in those people who subscribe to it.

dearieme said...

"It seems the UK is getting its act together": nah, it'll soon be the Neo-Dark Ages here, with the British desperately hanging on in Wales, Scotland and Cornwall. And the Lake District.

Anonymous said...

The birth ra te fo r unma rrie d wo me n in 2013 (44.8 births per 1,000 unmarried
women aged 15-44) declined 1% compared with 2012 (45.3). The rate has dropped
for 5 consecutive years and was 14% lower than the all-time peak in 2007-2008
(51.8) [2]. The rate had risen 19% from 2002 (43.6) to 2007 (51.8). The 2013

preliminary rate was the lowest since 2003 (44.7).
Proof that illegal immigration was about 500,000 to a million more under George W Bush, since the birth rates peak during the housing bubble.

ben tillman said...

"It seems the UK is getting its act together": nah, it'll soon be the Neo-Dark Ages here, with the British desperately hanging on in Wales, Scotland and Cornwall. And the Lake District.

The Dark Ages were the time when Europeans were most free of outsiders and outside influence. You've got it exactly backward.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the single Indian ancestor and the disappointment many white people have when 23andMe shows no evidence do simple math. A grandparent contributed 25% of your genes ON AVERAGE, great 12.5...GG 6.25...GX3.12...Gx4 1.5


Just from drift you can quite literally not have any genetic relation to a relatively recent historical ancestor.

For whites with detected African ancestry I would have to think it is a recent ancestor, a stretch of DNA that by chance was preserved and detected or from a populated that has many individuals with a fixed percentage of ancestry like Mexican mestizos who almost all are a tiny percentage African

dcite said...

Anonymous said...
"There is no way the average white American is *that* white, even when you exclude 3rd+ generation Hispanics who figure they're "white enough", like Cubans.

Ultra-pure whites are mostly going to be in Ireland or the Baltic states. Everywhere else has had a bit of race mixing from somewhere." - the conventional wisdom is oversold."

Bullshit. Countless people trace their ancestry to recent European immigrants (Irish, Italian, Slavic, etc.); countless others have lived for generations in places that only people with similar ancestry lived--New England is full of them. So is the mid-west.
I know it's hard for "the race does not exist" crowd to admit that most white people are just not "mixed." They keep putting up those hypothetical situations.
The genetic baggage that we carry is pretty decipherable these days, and the .05 (or was it .5) average sounds about right. Meaning that in some parts of the country, among some social strata, you may find as much as 3%-5%, while in other parts you find none. That averages to .05%. Sounds about right. And I speak as one who know s people as white as can be who have black ancestry. When one of them sent his saliva for genetic testing it came back 99% European and 1% American Indian. Yet he knows who the black ancestors are and figured his descent to be about 3-6 %.
This last may be either an argument in favor or against, I'm not sure. But I am sure that the black element among whites who identify as white, is negliable to nil. The claims of universal black ancestry sounded like some sort of propaganda by the usual suspects.