In the comments Fly states:
Within the next two decades it will become easy to modify skin color and hair characteristics. A person’s skin color may be a fashion statement much as a woman’s hair color is today. Rather than most people being brown, I expect some will opt for attention garnering colors more commonly seen in fruits.
I’m hopeful that racial group identifiers that energize identity politics will disappear.
Hopeful is a good word to describe how I feel, I do think that within a few decades racial identity will be far more malleable than it is today. In particular, I believe the one organ that is going to be easily altered first will be th tone the skin, perhaps the most visible racial characteristic. Judging by the popularity of Fair and Lovely whoever designs a cheap and non-toxic cream which renders skin white will make the profits from Viagra seem trivial. White skin may then no longer be a privilege, but a consumer accoutrement. And yet, this comment made me think of the cochlear implant controversy that has riven the deaf community. Though these implants do not mimic natural hearing, they do provide a modicum of “correction” for deafness. I use the quotes specifically because some deaf activists do not consider the lack of hearing a problem, and argue that these artificial devices may signal the death of their culture! As 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents who will no doubt enthusiastically adopt these treatments I don’t dismiss these concerns. But this issue reminds us of the power of socially mediated identities of group and community. Myself, I put little stock in such things, and I am generally rather insensitive to the rights of “communities.” But the looming dilemmas posed by such technologies will force us to face our assumptions as a culture.