(A manifesto by anti-racist scientists)
These were the words of scientist Rita Levi Montalcini (also attributed to Gandhi and Satyendranath).
My English translation from the Spanish:
I. Human races do not exist. The existence of human races is an abstraction that has come about from a false interpretation of the small physical differences that we feel we perceive. It comes from mistaken “psychological” associations: differences interpreted from a basis of secular prejudice. These abstract subdivisions are founded on an idea that humans are made up of groups that are, biologically and hereditarily, greatly varied.
This is pure invention that has always used arbitrary classification between men and women as better and worse and in this way discriminates against those at the extreme (always the weakest) after having blamed them for being the key to all evil in every moment of crisis.
II. Humanity is not made up of large and small breeds. It is above all a network of connected persons. Certainly, human beings come together in groups of individuals, communities, ethnic groups, nations and civilizations. But this does not happen because we have the same genes but because we share life stories, ideas and religions, customs and behaviour, lifestyles and cultures.
These groupings are never established from the same DNA; in fact they are subject to profound historical changes. They are formed, changed, mixed, fragmented and dissolved with a speed that is incompatible with the lengths of times required by the processes of genetic selection.
III. The concept of race has no biological meaning for the human species. Analysis of DNA has shown that genetic variation in our species – less than that of our ‘cousins’ the chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans – is represented above all by differences between people from the same population, whereas they are less than the differences between populations and different continents.
The genes of two individuals of the same population are, on average, slightly more similar than those of people who live in different continents. Precisely because of these small differences between populations even racist scientists never defined how many races make up the human species. They made estimates ranging between two and two hundred races.
IV. There is a fake and deadly myth that has already been forged: the identification of the “Aryan race” with the image of a warlike people, the winners, ‘pure’ and ‘noble.’ Along with this, there is the theory that much of Europe, India and central Asia is the homeland of the basis of Ind-European languages.
History makes it apparent that it is extremely difficult to identify Aryans as a people in addition to the notion of an Indo-European language that stems from conventional classification. But on the other hand, modern archaeological data indicates that Europe was inhabited in the Palaeolithic era by a population of African origin and in Neolithic times other immigrants came over from the Middle East.
The foundation of present-day Italians is from the same southern African immigrants who today constitute the enduring fabric of life in Europe. Despite the dramatic originality of fascist racism the Italians allied themselves with the Nazi’s due to their identification with “Aryans.”
V. It is a legend that sixty million of today’s Italians are descended from families that lived in Italy a millennium ago. These same Romans built their empire by welcoming people from diverse backgrounds, giving them the status of Roman cives.
The phenomena of social and cultural mixing, which marked the history of the entire peninsula – also including Greeks, Jews, Africans, Hispanics and those seen as "barbarians" – produced the hybrid we call Italian culture. Even though they were dispersed throughout the world and living in small Italian states, Italians continued to be identified with this culture that was global, varied, humanistic and scientific.
VI. There is no Italian race; there is only one Italian people. Italy was only unified as a nation in 1860. Many millions of Italian emigrants in the past often concentrated in foreigner areas. They were considered as, and are, Italian. One of our greatest assets is being mixed with so many people and our exchanges that "cross" physically and culturally.
"Purity of blood" and the "nobility" of the "Nation" have been ascribed to a country that has never existed. It has meant reducing the homogeneity of an alleged biological element in addition to the current populace of Italy’s thousand years of heritage and spreading of cultures.
VII. Racism is at the same time both homicidal and suicidal. Empires became empires due to the coexistence of diverse peoples and cultures, and collapsed when fragmented. That has happened and is still happening in nations with civil wars. To cope with this crisis, they used minorities as scapegoats.
Racism is suicidal not only because it hits those belonging to different peoples but because it also strikes the same people who practice it. The trend of indiscriminate hatred that fuels racism is spreading infectious ideas about any “foreignness” or strange “otherness.” This comes from an increasingly narrow definition of "normalcy".
There are those that do not match up to standard human types. They are "out of line", the "mad", the "weak spirited," gays and lesbians, poets, artists, and alternative writers. All of them are attacked, though it is they who are actually allowed to live and incessantly transform mankind. Every living system is capable of continuing only if it is capable of change, and we, human beings, change with fewer genes and always more with the inventions of our generously disordered brains.
VIII. Racism discriminates, denies relationships, and it introduces fear into various thoughts and behaviours. To defenders of the Italian race, Africa appears as a terrifying threat. The Mediterranean Sea simultaneously separates and unites. From this, the racists claim that there is no "common Mediterranean race."
To reject Africa even further, racist scientists put up a barrier against "Semitic" and "North Africans/Berbers/Egyptians". Science indicated that there is a clear distinction between the genetics of Mediterranean Europe (occidentals) and on the other side, Oriental and African. From the paleontological and genetic point of view the theory that earth’s people originate from Africa is absolutely proven: we are all together in a single race.
IX. Italian Jews are both Jews and Italians. Like all migrant peoples (nobody migrates from free choice, but many do so from necessity) Jews have been spread across the World and have been part of diverse cultures. At the same time they have still retained their people’s identity and religion.
So as in the cases of the Armenians, or the same Italian immigrants: the same thing is happening with migrants from now: African, Filipino, Chinese, Arabs from various countries, peoples belonging to Eastern Europe or South America, and so on. All these people had the painful need to emigrate, but also the luck in the best cases, of enriching themselves by combining their culture with those who gave them hospitality. All were equally enhanced, and where possible, neither one nor the other cancelled out each other.
X. The ideology of the racist bigot is based on fear of "disruption" of their own race. This is totally blind to the fact that many societies recognize that getting married outside their community, even with their own enemies, is fine because they know that partnerships are more valuable than barriers. In addition, human physical characteristics are altered a great deal by the particular living conditions, just as the psychological characteristics of peoples and individuals are not written in their genes.
Cultural mixing is the foundation and basis of hope for progress stemming from the European Union constitution. A racist Italy fragmented into "ethnic" separation, as has happened in the former Yugoslavia, would be devastating now and in the future.
The consequences of racism are the loss of culture and self-expression, homicide and suicide, fragmentation and implosion. These end results are uncontrollable because they are caused by an indiscriminate revulsion towards those who are considered the "other" and not "us".
Enrico Allevi, Professor of Ethics, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Rome
Guido Barbujani, Professor of Genetics of Populations, University Ferrara
Marcello Buiatti, Professor of Genetics, University of Florence
Lauradalle Ragione, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Perugia
Elena Gagliasso, Professor of Philosophy and Science of Living, University La Sapienza, Rome
Massimo Livi Bacci, Professor of Demography, University of Florence
Alberto Piazza, Professor of Human Genetics, University of Torino
Augustine Pirella, Psychiatrist, Co-founder of Democratic Psychiatry, Torino
Francesco Remotti, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, University of Torino
Philip Temple, Professor of Physiology, University of Torino
Flavia Zucco, Director of Research, Association President of Women in Science, Institute of Molecular Medicine, CNR, Rome
Original version of the Manifesto in Italian.