By Jim Whitt
We’ve been barraged with news about Trayvon Martin who was allegedly shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
I’ve seen photos of Martin and Zimmerman. I’ve read media accounts that describe Martin as an African American and Zimmerman as both Hispanic and a “white” Hispanic. President Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” I can understand Mr. Obama identifying with the parents of Trayvon Martin. There are other parents who might look at a photo of George Zimmerman and say the same about him.
Since race seems to be the focal point for much of the media in this case I did some research to find out how race is defined by our government. Here are the definitions of race categories used in the 2010 Census:
“White” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
“Black or African American” refers to a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
“American Indian or Alaska Native” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.
“Asian” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
“Some Other Race” includes all other responses not included in the White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander race categories described above. Respondents reporting entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial, or a Hispanic or Latino group (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Spanish) in response to the race question are included in this category.
So, how much genetic variance is there between these racial categories as defined by the U.S. government? When we mapped the human genome we discovered 99% of the genetic code mapped on the 23 chromosomes in each of our cells — regardless of race, color or gender — is identical.
Genetically, the difference between you, me or anyone else is only one percent. People are people.