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Women in Astronomy

Genetics, Race, and White Privilege

4 Jan 2016, 20:00 UTC
Genetics, Race, and White Privilege
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Stephanie Gogarten has a PhD in Astronomy but currently works as a staff scientist in the Department of Biostatistics at the University of Washington. She lives on an island near Seattle with her wife and three young children.I recently read the book Seeing White, recommended by John Johnson. As an astronomer turned statistical geneticist (Career profile), I spend a fair amount of time at work thinking about genetic ancestry and how that relates to the social construct of race. As a person with some African-American heritage who looks white, I have also struggled with how to define my own race: other people see me as white, but how do I see myself?In reading the book, I was especially struck by the stories of people whose identities cross the boundary between white and non-white. In particular, I was interested in the story of Gregory Williams, author of Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black. I still remember the dinner table conversation when I was a young child in which my parents explained to me that although my family appeared white, my father's identity was mixed race European American, African American, and ...

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