How Can You Possibly Say There’s No Scientific Basis for Race?

Race Manners: Read the answers to this and other questions that Reddit users didn’t want to ask in public.

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Related: Something you can read a lot about on The Root is ancestry. A DNA test can give your information about where your ancestors might have lived, but knowing that is not the same thing as having proof of your membership in any one of the made-up-by-humans racial groups. Because of the nature of the groups, that kind of proof simply can’t exist.

Redditor: Why is it socially acceptable for black people to use racial slurs against white people in public or in the news?

JDH: Is it? I don’t really know what slurs you’re talking about, but it’s hard for me to imagine 1) rude or insulting comments about any group of people being “socially acceptable” under any circumstances and 2) any type of slurs being used “in the news.”

Maybe what you’re asking is why we take the word “nigger” more seriously than insults directed at white people. I don’t mean to be flip, but the short answer is: history.


JDH: Are you a person who struggles with punctuation and is committed to proving the ongoing need for this column?

Redditor: What are some of the most outrageous things you’ve heard from people?

JDH: See previous question.

The Root’s senior staff writer, Jenée Desmond-Harris, covers the intersection of race with news, politics and culture. She wants to talk about the complicated ways in which ethnicity, color and identity arise in your personal life—and provide perspective on the ethics and etiquette surrounding race in a changing America. Follow her on Twitter.