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Would 'race' disappear if the United States officially stopped measuring it?

WASHINGTON, DC -- What if the U.S. government stopped measuring race? Would the results be positive, negative, or indifferent? Under what conditions does the classification of people by race for the purpose of scientific inquiry promote racial division, and when does it aid in the achievement of justice and equality?

Some scholarly and civic leaders believe that the very idea of "race" has the effect of promoting social division and they have proposed that the government stop collecting these data altogether. Respected voices from the fields of human molecular biology and physical anthropology (supported by research from the Human Genome Project) assert that the concept of race has no validity in their respective fields. Growing numbers of humanist scholars, social anthropologists, and political commentators have joined the chorus in urging the nation to rid itself of the concept of race.

At its press conference today, the American Sociological Association (ASA), a scholarly organization of 13,000 academic and research sociologists, asserts in an official statement that it is imperative to support the continued collection and scholarly analysis of data on racial taxonomies.

"Why should we continue to measure race?" asked ASA spokesperson Troy Duster, summarizing the ASA statement. "If biological research now questions the utility of the concept for scientific work in this field, how, then, can racial categories be the subject of valid scientific investigation at the social level?"

"The answer," explained Duster, who chaired the ASA task force that drafted the race measurement statement, "is that our social and economic lives are integrally organized around race as a social construct. The ASA statement explains how race has been a sorting mechanism for friendship, mating, and marriage; a basis for the distribution of social privileges and resources; and a reason to organize social movements to preserve or challenge the status quo
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Contact: Johanna Ebner
pubinfor@asanet.org
202-383-9005 x332
American Sociological Association
19-Aug-2002


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