Classifications have been around forever. In science, in information management, in the grocery store aisles and in society. This interesting topic came to us from The Guardian in their article, “How to fight racism using science.”

Racism is a prejudice that has a longstanding relationship with science. Looking back, the invention of race occurred when men of the emerging discipline of science classified the people of the world, mostly from a remote place of comfort and privilege.

Carl Linnaeus, the father of biological taxonomy, invented the system that we use today. He was also a central figure in the emergence of scientific racism, alongside Kant, Voltaire and a plethora of other European men. Those classifications were based primarily on skin color, skull measurements, and questionable value judgments. All of these taxonomies were inherently hierarchical, with white Europeans always on top.

Modern genetics shows that the way we define race does not align with the biology that underpins human variation. Instead, race is a cultural taxonomy.

Melody K. Smith

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