But the consequences of “race” are real

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Studies show racial differences in the incidence of many diseases. The African American infant mortality rate, for example, is twice that of whites. Native Americans, overall, have high rates of diabetes. Genes may play a part. But when we use race to explain illness, we miss the environmental factors that may also be in play and lose focus on the individual. You can’t determine a person’s genetic make-up by examining their skin color; genes don’t sort themselves according to the racial categories we’ve created.

Goodman says, “Maybe the difference between black and white [infant mortality] is really prenatal nutrition? Maybe it’s something to do with medical care? Focusing on genetics, when we know there is no white or black race, diverts attention from the sociopolitical origins of inequalities.

"We all live in a racialized society. And individuals of color are exposed to it more obviously, with more virulence, more force, than others. Racism rests in part on the idea that race is biology. Then biology becomes an excuse for social differences—differences played out in forensics laboratories, law and housing offices, medical schools and dentists' offices. The social differences become naturalized in biology."