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Divided by race
Date:7/28/2011

ision," said Roberts, who also is a faculty fellow at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research. "Instead of searching for racial differences in our genes, we should affirm our common humanity. It is critical that we end the unjust social divisions that separate us."

When BiDil was developed, the drug was not targeted at any one race, but it was billed as a race-specific drug to help the inventor get an extension of his patent, Roberts said.

Regardless of the motivation for developing race-specific technologies, Roberts said their underlying biological definition fuels inequalities based on race.

"It allows people to be apathetic and even comfortable about racial inequality without assuming any responsibility at all for racism in our society," she said. "It supports the notion that differences in welfare, health, education and other aspects of social status stem from natural differences rather than systemic inequality."

Roberts emphasized that today the financial incentive to maintain a belief in race as a biological distinction is strong. "Gene-based products can be developed and marketed according to race if people believe that race is biological," Roberts said.

Roberts sees this book as a continuation of her previous research on race in America.

"Beginning with my book 'Killing the Black Body' (Pantheon, 1997), I've looked at how inequality fundamentally and profoundly shapes the way in which ethical principles are applied to medical and health issues," Roberts said. "I see this book as an extension of that research because the erroneous understanding of race as a biological grouping instead of a political one profoundly affects race relations and race policy generally."


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Contact: Hilary Hurd Anyaso
h-anyaso@northwestern.edu
847-491-4887
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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