Jefferson M. Fish, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at St. John's University, New York City, where he served as department chair and also as director of the PhD Program in clinical psychology. He is the author or editor of twelve books dealing with race, culture, therapy, and drug policy.
Dr. Fish's most recent book, The Myth of Race, draws on scientific knowledge to debunk a series of myths that pass as facts, correct false assumptions, and clarify cultural misunderstandings about the highly charged topic of race. Praise for The Myth of Race comes from former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and from anthropologist Audrey Smedley, author of Race in North America. Secretary Cohen said, "Writing with stunning clarity, Dr. Fish poses profound and perturbing questions about race...The Myth of Race is must reading."
Here are some of the myths dealt with in the book:
* The myth that humans are divided into Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid races
* The myth that people cannot change their race
* The myth of the tragic mulatto
* The myth of biologically based differences in intelligence among the races
The Myth of Race demonstrates that the apparently straightforward concept of race is actually a confused mixture of two different concepts; and the confusion often leads to miscommunication. The first concept, biological race, simply doesn't exist in the human species. Instead, what exists is gradual variation in what people look like (e.g., skin color and facial features) and in their genes, as you travel around the planet--with more distant populations appearing more different than closer ones. If you travel in different directions, the populations look different in different ways. The second concept, social race, is a set of cultural categories for labeling people based on how their ancestors were classified, selected aspects of what they look like, or various combinations of both. These sets of categories vary widely from one culture to another.
Dr. Fish's personal background includes marriage to an African American anthropologist who studies the Krikati and related tribes of Brazilian Indians, two years as a visiting professor in Brazil (including a month with the Krikati), and, with his wife, raising a daughter in both the United States and Brazil. These experiences led him to an appreciation of human behavior as more varied than it may appear to psychologists who know only the United States.
Dr. Fish's website is www.jeffersonfish.com, and his Psychology Today blog is Looking in the Cultural Mirror, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/looking-in-the-cultural-mirror.