Survival of the Whitest

by Philip Lacasse on Octobre 16, 2015 - 12:28am

In “Twist on evolutionary theory could help explain racism and other forms of prejudice” (Science Daily, April 29, 2015), the authors explain that a new research model developed by DB Krupp and Peter Taylor of Queen's University and the One Earth Future Foundation found that people who visually differ from the norm of their society become selfless and caring towards those who are similar to them and only slightly malicious towards those who are unlike them. On the other hand, people who are visually similar to the norm of their society become only slightly selfless and caring towards those who are similar to them and very malicious towards those who are unlike them. They may even go to extreme measures to abuse them. According to Krupp, people who are physically similar to their group discriminate against people who are different from the group due to an evolutionary need to increase the amount of similar genes in the next generation. The research model reveals that racism and prejudice in humans is supported by evolutionary behaviour that is meant to increase reproductive success of those who conform to the visual norms of society and decrease the reproductive success of those who stand out. 

In my opinion, there definitely are some natural evolutionary reasons for discrimination and racism such as the need to maximize reproductive success. However, I feel as though it is a weak excuse for racism and I think people should know better than to blindly say that racism is caused by evolution. I feel bad even saying that I agree with the article because I feel as though it is simply giving people an excuse or justification for being racist while passing the blame on reasons that are out of their control. That being said, Krupp and Taylor do not explain the scientific process or reasoning for why they came to the conclusion that they did about their evolutionary findings. They almost expect the reader to simply take their word for it. Despite their lack of explanation, Krupp and Taylor’s work is supported by the 2012 CNN report that we watched in class titled “Kids on Race”. The report revealed that when presented with ambiguous pictures of interracial activity between two children, 70% of white children saw something negative as opposed to only 38% of black children. This supports Krupp and Taylor’s claim that people who are visually similar to the norm of their society tend to have more malicious opinions of minorities than minorities have towards people with the common appearance by showing how negatively they perceive ambiguous interaction between the “races”. It also supports that it is an evolutionary characteristic by showing how this behaviour starts almost naturally from such a young age. Overall, although I believe their claim to an extent, I think someone’s character and upbringing is ultimately much more of a determining factor for their racial prejudice than any evolutionary characteristic.