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When studying bias, look to skin color, not “race”


We've had conversations on this program about race and racial tensions many times. But one scholar said we've got it all wrong. He said we shouldn't be talking about race; that's relatively meaningless. He wants to shift the conversation about bias from "race" to skin color.

Ron Hall is a professor of social work at Michigan State University. He joined Stateside today to explain.

"Race is merely a proxy for skin color," Hall said. "'Skin color' we can define and we can measure. Race is just a political and social construct that we've used since the Antebellum [pre-Civil War period]. More and more, as we get closer to the next century ... we're going to come to a time when you won't be able to look at individuals and differentiate their so-called 'race' based on their hair texture, eye color, skin color ... racial miscegenation will be the norm at that point."  

Hall published an articlein The Conversation about how skin color, or the amount of melanin, is an issue within the African-American community.

"The lighter complected you are, the less threatening you are to mainstream society," Hall said. "Therefore, you're likely to earn more money, get better jobs and likely to aspire to a higher rate of education."

Listen above for more, including how Barack Obama's complexion helped him become the the country's 44th president.

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