NEWT Book Club to Become Better Environmentalists

NEWT Book Club Continues for Two More Terms

After five books and one article, the inaugural academic NEWT Book Club year has officially ended! We read “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century” for our final book. This term’s book club group unanimously agreed that this was our favorite book of the year. Fatal Invention provided the most comprehensive summary about why the United States continues to suffer from systemic racism despite all humans being biologically one race. Thanks to recent technological advancements in the last two decades since the Human Genome Project concluded, science and biotechnology are still being used to evolve the way we delineate the mutable and socially defined political division (i.e., race). However, there are more genetic similarities with people from different “races” than among the same ones, yet there does not seem to be an end to using race to divide us. Leading legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts exposes how race undermines our communities and prevents equity in all aspects of society. This book is a call for us to end social inequality caused by the political system of race. 

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century by Dorothy Roberts

{Comments to the author}

Group’s favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Race is not a biological category that is politically charged. It is a political category that has been disguised as a biological one.” pg. 4
  • “Another reason why human genetic difference defies racial classification is that there are no genetic boundary lines that mark off a handful of large, discrete groups.” pg. 53
  • “Michael Byrd began, ‘So, to understand African American health, you’ve got to know something about slave health.’” pg. 98
  • “Slavery established the way we do business in health care in the United States. It might be a reason that we are the last Western industrialized country not to have a universal system of health care.” pg. 98
  • “‘The biology is a fall-back black box that many researchers use when they find racial differences,’ says Harvard sociologist David Williams, a leading expert on health disparities. ‘It is a knee-jerk reaction.  It is not based on science, but on a deeply held, cultural belief about race that the medical field has a hard time giving up.’ Leaping to genetic conclusions after failing to account for the impact of racism on health is fundamentally unscientific.” p. 119
  • “Racism is not just a matter of wounded feelings or an uneven playing field: it determines the life and health of whole populations.” pg. 128
  • “Race is a political category that has staggering biological consequences because of the impact of social inequality on people’s health.” pg. 129
  • “The prominence of race in the new biocitizenship promotes mutually supporting trends toward neoliberalism and racial apathy by making racial inequities seem like biological rather than social problems.” pg. 302
  • “The political context of the new racial science actually involves coercion, surveillance, restraint, and brutality inflicted on minority populations. The reconfiguration of race in genetic terms provides a modern mechanism for legitimating this oppressive politics of race at a time when the United States claims to have repudiated the violence enforcement of a racial caste system” pg. 308

NEWT hopes our book club has inspired you to become better scientists, engineers, researchers, and fellow humans by educating yourself on the ways our society is riddled with inequities so we can actively work to make the world better for everyone. NEWT’s DEI Co-chairs are prolonging the NEWT Book Club for the 2022-2023 academic year with three new books. We hope you continue to follow our book club updates and learn alongside us!