He reads our lives in our bones and teeth

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Alan Goodman, a biological anthropologist, is a professor at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He’s also the president of the American Anthropological Association and a core advisor to the RACE project.

“I argue that race is no longer the right way to describe biological variation in humans. But it’s also not just a social construct—as a lived experience, race and racism have devastatingly real effects.”

Biological anthropologists like Goodman study human variation and adaptation in both the past and present. And they find that biological changes are frequently coupled with cultural changes. Goodman studies tooth structures and chemistry to reveal dietary changes, environmental conditions, and pollution experienced during people’s early lives. And he’s especially interested in the scientific utility of the idea of race: he believes scientists cannot use race as shorthand for genetic variation. It’s inaccurate, and it also prevents us from seeing the consequences of living in a racist society.