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A Statement from the AAAG Executive Committee

Members of the AAAG, a society devoted to the study of human genetic variation, are deeply concerned by recent and ongoing police violence against the Black community. This violence, along with other systemic social, economic, and health disparities, is rooted in structural racism within the United States.

As an organization we endorse and co-sign the open letter published by the AABA, committing ourselves alongside our sister organization to dismantling the systems of inequality that our discipline has shamefully helped establish.

In particular, genetics and human variation have historically been used to establish and rank racial categories. Human geneticists have done harmful work in the past in providing explicit support for eugenic policies and in framing research studies in typological ways. We have an obligation to recognize this history and to actively engage in work that seeks to address and correct its long-standing impacts. When we carelessly deploy tools and data without contextualization, or when we fail to speak out against the use of our research by white nationalists, we continue to support the goals of white supremacy.

To this end, we emphasize that genetic data reveal that patterns of human variation do not show any “natural” subdivision of people into racial groups, nor lend support to culturally constructed racial taxonomies. We do see, however, pernicious biological effects of racism, colonialism, and discrimination on human health.

We urge our members to read and put into practice the “Ways to Engage in Action” offered by the AABA. Further, we encourage our members to be proactive about engagement with the public on issues regarding genetic variation and to be deliberate in their scholarly practices, including centering the scholarship of Black, Indigenous, and other scholars of color in the classroom and in our work.

We stand with those individuals and organizations protesting inequality and seeking justice and equity for all. The AAAG commits itself to advocate for and enact structural change within our organization, the academy, and society. The Executive Committee will be in dialogue with our membership about specific steps we intend to take in the coming months. To facilitate these discussions, we ask you to share your thoughts about specific next steps here.

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