While race is not biology, racism can certainly affect our biology. Racial social structures, from access to health care to one’s own racialized self-image, can impact the ways our bodies and immune systems develop. This means that race, while not a biological unit, can have important biological implications and significant societal impacts. So what do we know about human biological diversity?
There is substantial biological variation within and between the thousands of human populations on the planet, but population ≠ race. These patterns of variation are shaped by culture, language, ecology, history, and geography. The vast majority of social and biological scientists recognize that race is not an accurate or productive way to describe modern human biological variation. However, race in the USA is a cultural construct that affects our social realities, and racial inequality (racism) can affect individuals’ biology.