TROY DUSTER: THINKING ABOUT GENES
Race doesn't exist, the mantra went. The DNA inside people with different complexions and hair textures is 99.9 percent alike, so the notion of race had no meaning in science. At a National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) meeting five years ago, geneticists were all nodding in agreement. Then sociologist Troy Duster pulled a forensics paper out of his briefcase. It claimed that criminologists could find out whether a suspect was Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean or Asian Indian merely by analyzing three sections of DNA.
"It was chilling," recalls Francis S. Collins, director of the institute. He had not been aware of DNA sequences that could identify race, and it shocked him that the information can be used to investigate crimes. "It stopped the conversation in its tracks."
This article was originally published with the title The Reality of Race.