Let me say that again: Race is a Social Construct.
Here's the science backing that up. Note that the science doesn't itself says that race is a social construct. What it does say, however, is key:
One's ethnicity/race is, at best, a probabilistic guess at one's true genetic makeup.If genetics doesn't straightforwardly match up with race, what can cause similar medical conditions occurring in people of similar racial identities?
For example, the higher incidence of hypertension in African Americans has been linked to darker skin color, but this may be due instead to socioeconomic status and higher levels of stress rather than to genetics... Knowing that socioeconomic status is related to hypertension allows us to identify individuals at risk regardless of race.The paper itself doesn't say that race is a social construct, but it does an awful lot to put the idea of race as clear, genetic division to rest. And it shows that social effects of that genetic division can cause health problems in similarly-disenfranchised people. This isn't proof, but it's everything just shy of proof.
Edit 8/26/2008: In the comments, Juxatposer says this:
The American Anthropological Association's 1998 "Statement on 'Race'" says that DNA analysis shows that there is more variation within the groups than between them. This organization has developed a traveling exhibit and associated website called "RACE: Are We So Different?" Both allow the visitor to examine the history of the idea of race in the US, the nature of human variation associated with race, and lived experience of race, and support the idea that race is a social construct.Firstly, that's a great comment (thanks Juxtaposer!). More relevantly, this is a good point. The statement cited is a decade old, and was made using genetic evidence.
Also relevant is this post found at Strange Maps. The map matches physical location of DNA samples taken with genetic markers, and shows interesting elements of overlap and separation. My favorite piece of it is that the genetic markers for Ireland and the United Kingdom overlap almost completely, making British and Irish an incredibly minimal genetic distinction. Of course, that contrasts with a long history of race distinction having been made important. And that's the point - race is made, not inherent.