Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag tells The Local why he plans to remove the term “race” from all Swedish law, how he responds to his critics, and why Sweden must steer clear of xenophobia.
The decision has been more than 20 years in the making, Ullenhag said, and has been discussed extensively on both parliamentary and international levels.
“I think we should have done it before,” Ullenhag told The Local. “But at least we’re doing it now.”
The suggestion received unanimous support from the governing alliance of Sweden. On Thursday an investigation was launched into how best to implement the decision…
…In 1999 researchers with the Human Genome Project (HGP) determined that the idea of race has no roots in genetics.
“The concept of race disappeared from scientific discourse more than a decade ago,” Juha Kere, Professor of Molecular Genetics at Karolinska Institute, confirmed for The Local on Friday. “It is the broadly accepted conclusion based on worldwide genetic studies that the concept is unfounded.”
Professors across the globe have come to the same conclusion, with American anthropologist Loring Brace writing that, while there are genetic differences across the world, there is no visible line, no clear-cut categories.
“As a rule, the boy marries the girl next door throughout the whole world, but next door goes on without stop from one region to another.”
Kere explained that, while there are differences between populations, the genetic variation within each population is greater than the variation between different populations…
…But while there may be scientific consensus that “race” is indeed an outdated concept, there are those who say that the term still fills a vital function.
The National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvensarnas Riksförbund, ASR) has been particularly critical.
“Race may be a social construct, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a reality,” ASR spokesman Kitwamba Sabuni told The Local. “For us, this is just trying to take away the possibility to even talk about it. It’s critical.”
Zakarias Zouhir, chairman of the ASR, agreed.
“This path worries me,” Zouhir told Sveriges Television on Thursday. “It’s just sweeping it under the blue and yellow rug and pretending there is no racism in society.”…