The idea that there are human “races” is an illusion. There is only one human race, and we are among the most genetically similar of all species. The obvious surface-level differences we observe are literally only skin deep. 85% of all human variation exists within, not between, “races” or any local population.

Race is a biological fiction; yet it is a social fact with very real social consequences. Race as a plurality, and a social construction, was learned; we can unlearn this and replace it with the reality that race, too, is a unified whole.

With the help of science, and especially the relatively recent discovery of DNA, our consciousness has expanded and shifted once again. Today, we understand that a concept that once separated us, “race” no longer needs to keep us apart.

At a moment when it appeared otherwise, in the wake of widespread racially-charged violence around the country, at a memorial service in Dallas for five slain police officers, President Barack Obama assured Americans that, “Although…we wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged…I’m here to insist that we’re not as divided as we seem…I know we’ll make it because of what I’ve experienced in my own life…” As this nation’s first African-American president, his optimistic view of race relations in America gives us reason to believe that the false constructs promulgated by incomplete notions of race will be dismantled and replaced by true civil rights and lasting social justice.

Our understanding of the biological truth of our unity as a human race has evolved in the 20th and 21st century. The human spirit has evolved through the Women’s Rights Movement, the League of Nations, the United Nations and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Civil Rights Movement, and many other human rights initiatives creating a growing commitment to these altruistic concerns.

In the past decade alone, each natural disaster has seen a greater outpouring of compassion, altruism, and humanitarian aid, from New Orleans to New Zealand to Haiti and Japan. Once again, at a press conference immediately following the 2011 earthquake in Japan, President Obama noted, “For all our differences in culture or language or religion, ultimately, humanity is one.”