The racial differences among humans are really quite interesting and rather unusual as are many other aspects of human biology. For example it is rare to find any other species exhibiting such great differences in coloration while maintaining the same gross morphology. The origins of the human races is typically one that no one dares touch, especially biologists who should be working overtime to explain this very interesting phenomenon but who instead often claim that it doesn't even exist, or if it does is of little scientific interest. Though this is certainly one of the most interesting of all questions regarding the origin and development of the human species, it is one that has really not been touched by modern anthropology due to its perceived 'political incorrectness'.
Though not certain, it seems highly likely that the original migrations out of Africa were of black skinned peoples. The established route of the original migrations along the southern shore of Asian through Southern India on to Australia has left dark skinned remnants of that migration still today. Thus we must assume that skin coloration and other racial differences evolved outside of Africa in other areas locally to yellow-skinned Orientals in Asia and lighter-skinned peoples in the middle east. There seems to be perhaps a little evidence for the development of lighter skinned people developing in N. Africa in the ancient fertile Sahara region and perhaps migrating in a second wave to populate the ancient Middle East. There seems to be zero reason to believe that Oriental peoples ever inhabited Africa. However the Bushmen do exhibit some somewhat Oriental characteristics and since it is believed that the original migrants out of Africa were genetically similar to Bushmen (based on genetic similarities with Australian aborigines) it is quite likely that those traits were selectively enhanced in central Asia and resulted in the development of the Oriental race.
NEANDERTHAL SKIN COLORATION:
There are many interesting questions for which the answers are not as yet clear. One is what skin color were the Neanderthals? One would suspect they well could have been black skinned though there is some genetic evidence they might have had reddish hair. In any case this should be a question that can be definitively answered as the Neanderthal genome is sequenced. I once many years ago saw a Neanderthal woman on the New York subway and she did had black skin. This is not intended as a joke or racial slur, I just report what I saw. She was a strikingly exact copy of the best modern Neaderthal representations with massive brow ridge, wide flat nose, heavy but receding chin, and a short but very stocky heavy boned build, very unlike the typical human of any race. I've often wished I had had a camera to document that. And one can occasionally see Neanderthal characteristics such as very heavy brow ridges and stocky heavy boned body structure in humans of both white and black races to varying degrees. This could be extreme morphological variation in H. sapiens or it might well be due to incorporation of Neanderthal genes into the H. sapiens genome.
Though it is highly politically incorrect to even speak about, there are obvious racial differences besides skin color.
There are well documented differences in build, features, psysiology, suseptibility to diseases, body odor, skin texture, and psychology and intelligence. This is precisely what one would expect from groups of organisms with different average genetic makeup and we ignore such differences at the peril of the truth. Though no compassionate person would use the differences between the races to support racial prejudice, a proper study and understanding of these differences should be used to inform a saner and more effective social policy.
For example blacks on average score more poorly on standard intelligence tests proportionally to the degree of Negroid ancestry. (But see my discussion of IQ and intelligence throwing doubt on such standard measures of intelligence.)
Blacks also tend to disproportionally live in poverty, be convicted of criminal offenses, and, at least in the US, be unable to form stable family groups. On the other hand blacks are disproportionately better at athletic performance.
Of course, political correctness would have us believe this is all due to their lack of opportunity and slave origins, and there is no doubt there is truth to the notion that cultural memes tend to propagate themselves. On the other hand the cultural development of Africa is notable for its backwardness relative to other areas of the world which provides evidence of a genetic component though there are good arguments such as the ones of 'Guns, Germs and Steel' that suggest other explanations for this backwardness. I don't believe this question has really been settled and in the absence of conclusive evidence one suspects that the truth is a mix of factors, the influence of each to be determined by further and hopefully objective study.
ARE 'BLACK' PEOPLE REALLY BLACK?
One of the confusing factors in such questions is how dysfunctionally the races are defined. In many cultures anyone with any negroid ancestry is considered 'black', even by themselves. In fact most American 'blacks' are actually mixed race persons, and in many cases have only a minority percentage of Negroid ancestry and would properly be considered 'white' if one insisted on assigning them to a particular race. Obviously any objective study of racial characteristics must take this into consideration.
Just think what a sea change it would be if such people began considering themselves white instead of black! If everyone did many so called 'blacks' would immediately escape the oppresive sterotypes and self image that so limit their opportunities for success. Of course the truth is that these people are mixed race and if current trends continue it is likely that nearly everyone will be mixed race in the future.
Though there are certainly genetic differences between the races the average racial difference is much less than the variation among members of the same race. Thus it is unreasonable to use race as a criterion for decision making in almost all cases. Essentially racism is an example of the primitive human tribal mentality of identification with one's own group and considering other groups as potential adversaries. More on this in the blog on ethnicity etc. It should be noted that true racism, in addition to discrimination based on racial prejudice, includes the pervasive false blindness to actual racial differences, as well as reverse discrimination. We should be intelligent and compassionate enough to recognize the actual differences between the races while not discriminating on the basis of race.
GREAT APES AND MEN COME IN 3 COLORS:
There is a fascinating and unexplained correspondence between the three major species of great apes and the three major races of humanity that has always intrigued me.
Orangs live in Asia and are yellow skinned and tend toward more docile temperament as Oriental peoples do, Gorillas are larger and more muscular and black-skinned like black people and both come from Africa, chimps are white-skinned and more aggressively clever and somewhat more intelligent as white people are.
Now these are some obvious and very approximate stereotypes, but nevertheless it does seem possible there may be something interesting hidden here. Otherwise it would be quite a coincidence....
THE 'N' WORD AND RACIAL HUMOR:
It is interesting and hypocritical that whites are not allowed to use the word 'nigger' in publicly acceptable conversation when blacks use it all the time. Likewise it's fine for a black to tell a black joke, but never for a white. And to some lesser extent the reverse is also true. We have to get over such hypocrisy if we are truly to escape racism. Such hypocrisy is actually a form of reverse racism. Everyone needs to be able to laugh at themselves a little more. It is whether such speech is uttered with hostile hate filled intent or not that is important, not the words that are used. Restricting such speech among whites but not blacks actually widens and reinforces the gap between the races. As a young (white) man I spent a summer surveying in Yosemite. There were a couple of black guys on the team and we spent the evenings rolling on our tent floor in uncontrollable laughter telling each other racial jokes. It was a great bonding experience and we became great friends with a lot of respect for each other because of that. That's the way it should be in my opinion ....
OJ: An excellent example of the pernicious and pervasive impact of PC is the current OJ mess. The facts are not completely public but everyone agrees he went to the dealer's hotel room for the purpose of retrieving objects that had been stolen from him. No one has disputed that these objects in fact belonged to OJ. At the worst he retrieved his own stolen property through intimidation, a misdemeanor perhaps. However the fact that many believe him guilty of murder and that he still deserves to be punished for that even though he was acquitted results in 11 felony charges for this quite trivial act. Armed robbery? Can you steal what everyone acknowledges is yours? Kidnapping because he said 'don't let nobody leave the room' for a minute or so? Total PC nonsense, and the height of PC abuse of the legal system. Now the PC fascists howl and leap to pillory him and recommend he be burned at the PC stake. Just watch, they will most likely succeed at this 'legal' lynching.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY? The idea that there should be numeric parity of men and women, or whites and blacks in any particular field is dangerous and dysfunctional nonsense. It is as stupid as insisting that whites should outnumber blacks proportional to the population at large on every basketball team. Different people have different interests and capabilities. Equal opportunity, rather than numeric parity, is all that is needed. That allows people to better rise according to their abilities - not beyond their abilities.