Dr Adam Rutherford lecture

Geneticist, author and broadcaster Dr Adam Rutherford was welcomed with a full audience for his talk on his newest book, How to Argue with a Racist.

Dr Rutherford’s insightful talk highlighted an increasing willingness to talk about racism – though he pointed out that this did not necessarily mean racism was on the rise – and its historical development. He brought to light the fact that all white supremacists descend from Africans, and many neo-Nazis have Jewish ancestry. Even by showing us his ‘genetic makeup’ from an ancestry test, one could see that race is not a word that can be defined easily, when so many people from different cultures share the same DNA.

History plays a large role within racism but it is a relatively recent social construct. Dr Rutherford pointed out that Greek and Roman literature refers to skin pigmentation, but this was not used to classify people. This only started with the taxonomy of the enlightenment; Dr Rutherford showed Linnaeus’s now shocking, risible classification of humans by race.

With the help of Dr Rutherford's book, and increasing awareness of this issue, one would hope that racism can begin to be overcome.

Jemima Alston, Lower Sixth

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