Monday, April 14, 2008

Race in America

Eugene Volokh describes how the "Asians became White". It's an interesting account of the imbecility of racial classifications. Volokh writes, "I've discussed this phenomenon — of Asians not only being classified together with whites for various race preference programs (and calls for such programs), but of actually being called white — in the past."

It would be hilarious if it weren't so serious.

I just want to add that the concept of race and color is a variable thing. In equatorial Africa, for some strange reason, an African-American and a Chinese are all species of Gringos, though they may revert to their previous racial categories once they leave it. In many parts of the world an Arab is white, while in other parts of the world he may not be white.

This leads to the strange situation where a Filipino, who marries a fair skinned Mexican girl in the Philippines and emigrates to America mysteriously finds the trip has made him "white" and transformed his light brown haired wife into a minority. In this new world, some problems remain. Is an Indian (as in from Bombay) white? Do Native Americans, who have Asian features, become white?

I think eventually race will be decided on the basis of politics. Condoleeza Rice will become "white"; Barack Obama will remain "black". Ward Churchill will become a native American. And Bill Richardson will oscillate between being white and Latino, depending on the length of his beard.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger Habu said...

Only in the metaphysical world does race not matter.

Only in the highly abstract and over-theoretical does race not matter.

4/14/2008 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Habu, race also doesn't matter in the bible. There are only peoples and kindreds and tongues. Us non-Aryans always get crap for pointing that out, however.

4/14/2008 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

You keep returning to discuss this phenomenon of interest group politics because why precisely? It obviously bothers you -- as well it ought. The majority of us need to understand that we as individuals don't matter at all to a ruling class that gains by dividing indivuals into groups just so they can exploit differences between what you've aptly referred to as "mass nouns."

A few weeks ago, adding on to your Weapons Turned Inward, I wrote Metamorphosis that dealt with this issue in part. Leaders who once were elected to defend the common interests -- a republic -- learn quickly that when they want MORE power, LONGER terms at the helm, they must replace the equal interested sticks in their fasces with twigs of special interests of THEIR chosing -- a fascistic state.

As long as the leadership of the country, of any party, of any institution, sees a need to exploit those divisions easily distinguishable by things akin to racial features, why should only conservative blacks be called Uncle Tom's, or only conservative women be called female impersonators (to name but two overplayed groups)?

What you and Volokh are describing is the inevitable consequences of where racial differences for political gain must lead. When the majority of any grouping does well on their own, even better than the dreaded white man, that group proves that it does not need some political demagogue to steal for them. In fact, they become the ones who are next to be plundered.

Tocqueville was right. "The despot cares not that you love him provided you hate each other." Please, keep on demonstrating how the despots wishes are not panning out as they've schemed.

4/14/2008 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger some said...

"Volokh writes, "I've discussed this phenomenon — of Asians not only being classified together with whites for various race preference programs (and calls for such programs)"

Not quite. Asians are "disproportionately" represented among doctors despite fairly crushing penalties against them in the med school admissions process vis-a-vis "white" "whites".

4/14/2008 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Some posts ago I referred to the Chinese Room experiment in which if there was something that acted "Chinese" inside a sealed room there was no way to determine whether it was actually Chinese.

Interestingly enough the Internet functions like some kind of Chinese Room. We deal with faceless people all the time. Trust them to a degree unimaginable ten years ago. Many of the people I deal with, professionally and personally, I have never seen nor will ever see. Occasionally I get invitations to become their Friend on Facebook, where a photo is sometimes supplied. Most of the time my mental image of them is borne out. Once or twice my preconception is totally wrong.

But despite this, a person's physical identity still matters. Sometimes there's no way to judge a person except by parsing micro-expressions -- those transient changes in a person's face or inflection, which if we could play back our sight in slow motion -- which capture telling moments.

In some real sense race will always matter and in an equally real sense it won't matter at all. Race is part of a person's make up. You can't bleach it out of a person any more than you can lengthen, shorten or broaden him. But what really fascinates me is how societies use it as a proxy for all kinds of things. And when they find the proxy doesn't work they sometimes invent epicycles to save the model.

Personally I think race is too complicated an issue to be used as a proxy for anything. It may matter. But doesn't matter in any simple, predictable way. I think identity politics dumbs things down. And when I see intelligent people advocate it, I always ask myself if they really believe what they say.

4/14/2008 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

Back when I was in law school -- mid-eighties -- the New York Times ran a pie chart that purported to show the racial slices in the United States Congress. The House had various slices, but the NYT depicted the Senate as 100% white. I wondered what Danny Inouye and Spark Matsunaga -- both Senators at the time -- thought of that.

4/14/2008 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

My problem with RACE as the determinant factor is I can see where it will lead. What Dr. King feared and hoped to avoid.

If RACE is the determinant or merely just the dominant factor, then eventually it will fall to the biggest, most powerful group. Which is not Blacks or Asians or even Latinos. But Whites.

If you don't like Segregation, if you abhor separate but equal, if you don't like "whites only" and "colored only" drinking fountains, then you MUST have a color-blind, race neutral society. That judges people solely on the content of their character NOT the color of their skin.

Because there is a limit to white guilt, and the power of Upper Class Billionaires to leverage that guilt, with social disdain for "rednecks."

IF Black Racism is OK (and Obama says it is) then WHITE RACISM is OK and the whole apparatus of Jim Crow comes storming back.

Now, think of the money that could be made if Blacks were deprived of the right to vote, and whole valuable cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, were to fall under White Control, and be made "safe" ... with real estate bonanzas to be made as crime was driven down under a brutal but efficient segregationist regime. Or welfare payments stopped, and used for something else (likely graft related)?

I personally thank GOD that Jim Crow is dead, and I'd like to keep him buried. Racism, racialism, and all the identity group politics just bring him back like an undead zombie. If you don't want him lurching out of his grave like a bad horror movie, all the things that restore him to undead life: quotas, preferences, Affirmative Action, just HAVE TO GO. Period.

[And as a side note, the dysfunction in the Black community continues because of Black scapegoating of decades past White racism. It's not the KKK shooting up gang infested neighborhoods, and a black man is probably safer in a Klan infested white neighborhood than his own black gang-infested one. "Where you from?" being the overture to being murdered. By other Blacks. Only by forthrightly confronting this cultural failing and scapegoating can this situation be fixed.]

4/14/2008 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

And Dan is still there!
Joined now by fellow WWII Vet Daniel Akaka.

4/14/2008 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cobb said...

Honorary whiteness is a well-known phenomenon with its own dynamic. The thing to pay attention to is how white non-white people think they are.

A couple months ago there was a survey of Hispanics nationwide about their racial ideas. They considered themselves, racially, closer to whites than to blacks. However whites considered themselves closer to blacks than to Hispanics.

Race is one of the eternal temptations of the soul. The best thing we can do is make sense of it. It's rather like God in that way. So it's good to know your Ratzingers before you go dismissing the whole thing as the province of idiots and charlatans. There's a wise way to deal with every myth.

4/14/2008 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Oh come on, Habu, race didn't matter on the Starship Enterprise

4/14/2008 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

I've said it before--I'm a good nordic albino mutant out of African stock.

4/14/2008 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Thomas Sowell On Obama

To the youngsters buying in to the program he says, "Youth is another name for inexperience."

4/14/2008 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

In case you missed it, the race of Greens is gone from the Italian parliament. Likewise the commies. Totally gone, for the first time since WWII. This must mean something.

4/14/2008 11:57:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...


Habu, race also doesn't matter in the bible.

As I stated; Only in the metaphysical world does race not matter.

In fact within races being the wrong tribal member within that race matters.
Eg. Occidentals forever fighting other occidental
Oriental doing likewise.

And then the inter racial wars and the philosophies of David Dukes and Louis Farrakhan and Rev Wright and Barack Obama.

Don't try to PC around a challenge that has gone unresolved since the dawn of mankind.

Even in you own statement you acknowledged it as a factor in spite of backtracking within the very next sentence into some doublespeak about kindreds and tongues.

We know from the human gnome and other forensics that not only do physical difference exist, but almost all other experimentation consistently highlights strengths and weakness in different matters.

4/15/2008 02:17:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Al-Bob's Sowell link:

"Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings.

Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing." In other words, they mattered only in so far as they were willing to carry out the Marxist agenda.

Similar statements on the left go back as far as Rousseau in the 18th century and come forward into our own times.

It is understandable that young people are so strongly attracted to Obama. Youth is another name for inexperience -- and experience is what is most needed when dealing with skillful and charismatic demagogues.

Those of us old enough to have seen the type again and again over the years can no longer find them exciting. Instead, they are as tedious as they are dangerous.

4/15/2008 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Race, race, race.

The stories we could tell, the absurdities we've faced.

It would be hilarious if it weren't so serious.

Kinda sorta like Obama demonstrating fear of the other while ostensibly lamenting that very same fear of the other he presumes in a different, apparently "less enlightened" group of folk.

Still, race in the remainder of the world fascinates me more than race in America. So many people insisting they have no issues on this score, so many people lying through their teeth.

For instance, isn't "race" an invented construct designed to arbitrarily serve as a quick shorthand for "the other" by Europeans trying to get a handle on people different from them, including other folks (Europeans) now presumed to be white?

I've often wondered how people in India think of the other -- do they color-code it? What about the Chinese? The Zulu?

But back to America: Wretchard, I will never forget the absolute shock I had confronting a Smithsonian Museum traveling exhibit at the University of Florida as an undergraduate titled "Image of the Black in Western Art" which was full of Egyptian Art. I knew without a doubt that "western" was not Arabic and I also knew without a doubt that Egypt was African.

However, none of the white people I encountered admitted to finding this inclusion extremely odd. They didn't find it odd at all. It was only then that I began to get a better handle on the weird, conflicting definitions white people had for what was "white."

Because I assure you, there was absolutely no doubt among white people that Egyptians, and the Saudis, etc. were not white.

Except when you needed to claim those wonders of the world, or significant religions, etc. As Cobb said, "[h]onorary whiteness is a well-known phenomenon with its own dynamic."

4/15/2008 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

Huge segments of African Americans have voluntarily chosen separation from whites. You see it from grade school on up.

Plus in most of the "community " it is strictly verboten to do things too white, such as study hard and make good grades.

This country has spent trillions of dollars attempting to support the Black community only to have most of it fail because they aren't up to the task of making it succeed.
That is not whitey's fault.

And Cobb..the polling that you cited .."However whites considered themselves closer to blacks than to Hispanics." It was the classic PC head fake, giving the questioner the "proper answer"

4/15/2008 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Dave Chappelle gave this issue an excellent treatment.

4/15/2008 05:55:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

You do not want to miss Thomas Sowell on Barrack Obama today.

Obama by Thomas Sowell

4/15/2008 05:57:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I wish I could give credit to the commentator who pointed out that over 60 years ago we defeated horrible dictatorships that had as a main focus of their philosophy the idea that race does matter, right down to what was the religion of your grandmother twelve generations back.

And today we have reinvented the Nazi focus on genealogy and the racism of Imperial Japan, all in the name of what is supposed to their exact opposite.

4/15/2008 06:02:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Habu: We know from the human gnome and other forensics that not only do physical difference exist, but almost all other experimentation consistently highlights strengths and weakness in different matters.

Race is purely a social construct based on physical appearance. The belief that there are different levels of intelligence of ability based on categories of skin color is called RACISM. Of course, this being a righty blog, we non-Aryans expect to find it here.

4/15/2008 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

Your 6:25 post is simply junk. If you cozy up to a bit of anthropology and the forensic sciences you'd see how absurd your statement is.
And you may not have enjoyed Charles Murray's conclusion in The Bell Curve but that study was an academic tour de force , not a racist screed.

Going forward:

Consistent physical distinctions between groups of people from different areas, some of which can be readily observed (skin color, average build, etc.) and some of which can not (blood type distribution, etc.) are caused by genetic variation between those groups. Cultures divide people into races based on these physical, ultimately genetic differences.

4/15/2008 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Actually, the scientific proof that there is some difference between various lineages, for lack of a better word, is becoming more and more substantial.

If physical appearance is affected by genetics, then isn't brain capacity and neural interconnectivity also another function expressed by our DNA? In this vein, isn't it possible for there to be significant differences between various races/tribes/lineages?

Nurture is one thing, but I find myself unable to believe that the preponderance of Asians in the upper echelons of American tertiary institutions nowadays is purely down to nurture alone.

Facts do not cease to exist just because we ignore them. What we do have to do is to strive to constantly provide opportunities, regardless of gender or race, and avoid any type of policy that tries to correct for this inherent bias.

4/15/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

I believe that there is a normal distribution of intelligence across all races. The difference lay in the social constructs that germinate and promote (or hinder) the growth of the seeds of intelligence.

Regarding racism: I'm color blind, but I know an A-hole when I see one.

4/15/2008 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Nurture is one thing, but I find myself unable to believe that the preponderance of Asians in the upper echelons of American tertiary institutions nowadays is purely down to nurture alone.

That'd make aenea smarter than habu, and we can't have that. And she denies it, so, being the smarter, she must be right.

4/15/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think one of the lingering social costs of slavery is “white” paternalism toward “black” people. Whether the institution was slavery, the Freedman’s Bureau, Jim Crow, welfare, or affirmative action, one institution after another promoted the idea that the proper role for white people was the patronize black people. Black separatism could be seen as an attempt by members of the black middle class to flee from patronizing condescension.

The principal reason why I oppose racial profiling (and that includes affirmative action) is because this entrenches white supremacist assumptions in the halls of power. Affirmative action encourages ostensible liberals to demean any non-athletic achievement by a black person. Yet, the black political establishment supports racial profiling out the mistaken belief that appealing to white guilt is their most effective political weapon.

In Haiti, the president is traditionally black. Sometimes, the president is a black nationalist like Papa Doc, but he is traditionally more likely to be a puppet of the mulatto elite. This puppetry is called “politique de doublure”, or the politics of understudy.

In the racially charged environment of the Left, Barack Obama has little choice but to replicate Haitian-style politics in America, for he must make white liberals think they have their bright young black understudy while also appealing to black racism. Thus, Barack Obama’s remarks in San Francisco aren’t a bug – they’re a feature. Far from seeking white blue-collar voters, his election strategy appears designed to win without needing to appeal to them at all. Senator Obama’s expression of prejudice against rural voters appeals strongly to the constituencies he is actually courting.

I think Barack Obama is the kind of man who could have been elected President during the Jim Crow era precisely because he gives the white elite the impression that they have their black understudy who will do what he is told once he gets elected. But then, very few Americans have ever heard of “la politique de doublure”.

4/15/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Race. That's the thing that starts with one of those fake pistols or a green flag, and ends with a tape or checkered flag.

Wobbly, until a medic needs separate training for treating African-based genotypes versus Asian or Euro, I strongly question your "scientific evidence." Medically speaking, each cultural tribe of humanity is near enough to any other that a medic of one tribe can treat a member any other equally well as they can treat their own. People're all the same species, so they're all the same race. About "natural intelligence," I find it matters VERY little in higher ed; what matters is the amount of hard work one's willing to devote to studies and research. "Hard work beats talent if talent refuses to work hard." That comes from nurture and culture, not nature and genetics.

RattlerGator, if you're still at UF then I recommend you try talking to as many of the crowd of foreign-exchange students on our campus as you can manage. India and China are each as culturally inhomogeneous as the US is (ie, many tribal subcultures, with a national culture overlay). Most of my Indian and Chinese coworkers are mildly amused by American preoccupation with such trivialities as skin tone as a basis for culture. Regarding the Zulu, that's one specific African culture, but it requires very little memory to recall the Rwandan troubles of the mid-1990s, or effort to pick up the recent headlines showing the fighting between the Ugandans and the Somalis or troubles within South Africa. Pointedly without mentioning Mugabe and his ilk.

4/15/2008 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Race is in the eye of the beholder.

4/15/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Richard, I'm long since gone but I try to get back as often as I can. I hear you, though, and involved myself with folks from all over the globe while I was an undergraduate. Still, there is a very curious continuum the world-over involving light-skinned over dark skinned. I've seen it in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Italy -- you name it.

Alexis, very interesting comment that could lead us all over the place. I'm still waiting for someone to seriously delve into the Aristide / Liberation Theology / Jeremiah Wright / Barack Obama thing.

My best friend at U.F. was Haitian. He remains a best friend to this day. I cannot begin to tell you the number of debates we've had about that country. Or the mutual frustration we share in her inability to move forward.

Really, it is far more than frustration. Deep and abiding pain is more like it.

He just returned from a trip home to Cap Haitien. The juxtaposition with the Dominican Republic is jarring, the pictures devastating. He predicted there would soon be trouble because of the food situation alone -- and, of course, that has come to pass. In the Dominican, fruit and food everywhere. In Haiti, he had a hard time finding bananas.

Race in America? How about race on Hispaniola? Now that is a wild and convoluted subject.

4/15/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Aenea said...

Habu: Cultures divide people into races based on these physical, ultimately genetic differences.

Where your "race" comes from, you learned that Magellan led the first round-the-world expedition. Where my "race" comes from, we learned that Lapu-Lapu killed Magellan. You will score higher on your IQ test with the Magellan question, and I will score higher on my IQ test with the Lapu-Lapu question. It has nothing to do with your skin being lighter than mine. After another 500 years of air travel, there won't be any races anymore anyhow.

4/15/2008 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...


So you're suggesting that the threshold for differentiating race is now done by medics?

How is it then that a skeleton, follicle of hair, toenail clipping, saliva from a blunt or the bloody fingerprint on the outside of OJ's white Bronco identify what race a person is? Markers, anatomical and genetic markers and maybe the type of tennis shoes worn or the hoodie involved.

If those markers say Caucasian, Negro,Hispanic,malamute, or angora sheep then ipso facto, races are different.

When plucked out of 6000 year old ice in the Alps scientists can tell that a skeleton was a male etc,etc then something is valid in ascertaining who is what. It's not voodoo it's science.

But perhaps the biggest non starter in all this race stuff is "who cares?" If a human can do the job or simply coexist in harmony then why is race a factor? Thomas Sowell is easily my superior in intelligence, Tiger in athleticism, and Obama in glib fibbing what? I've never encountered on this Earth an Übermensch you couldn't take down with a well placed headshot. It's just when they get uppity, ya know?

Then on the other side there's the eternal question ...would you do Shari Belafonte or Joan Rivers?

4/15/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

I think eventually race will be decided on the basis of politics.

Or more fundamentally: success in assimilation. Once you have assimilated into white society, you're no longer a minority. A narrative will be invented whereby you join whites as a target of grievance. That will be true whether you're Indian, Cuban, Korean, or a middle-class African-American.

4/15/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger blue said...

habu: "Plus in most of the "community " it is strictly verboten to do things too white, such as study hard and make good grades."

On what evidence are you concluding that African-American kids don't study because doing so would be "too white"? Have you considered that there might be other reasons? Many African-American children, especially in large urban areas, grow up in very poor communities, where the avenues of success are more limited. Children may not study as hard because it is difficult for them to see any advantage to it. Families often have great difficulty supporting themselves, let alone sending their children through college, and kids often see greater opportunity to make money by getting into the drug business.

(con't) "This country has spent trillions of dollars attempting to support the Black community only to have most of it fail because they aren't up to the task of making it succeed.
That is not whitey's fault."

To say that the Black community has failed because they "aren't up to the task" is to place sole responsibility within the community and ignore causes from without. Have you given no thought to how these communities became poor in the first place? To the difficulty people in poor Black communities must overcome in order to secure things that people from richer communities take for granted? This is not to say that Black communities should bear NO responsibility for their actions - certainly they do. But to dismiss the outside influences is to ignore the facts, and accept a view that does reflect the reality of the situation.

4/15/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Racism did not exist in Brazil. A person's skin color had no bearing on their social standing, job, or marriage prospects. The Brazilians considered themselves one race.

Then one day the politicians decided to adopt an American-style affirmative action program for college admissions to help poor blacks. The problem was that there was so much intermarriage between the races that the only way to qualify for the program was to submit a photograph of yourself and let the government bureaucrats decide if you were "black enough" to qualify.

It did, indeed, transform the country. Racism is now thriving in Brazil and that can of worms can never be unopened. The Reverend Wright should learn to speak Portuguese. He'd be a huge hit down there today!

4/15/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gene Felder said...

If we want to transcend race, to get past race, why don’t we just stop talking about race?

After all, science now tells us that “There’s No Such Thing as Race”, the February 8, 2008 article by Jennifer Millman ( “Science shows that 99.9 percent of our DNA is the same, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute, but what makes up the remaining 0.1 percent? That question has stirred much debate, and many have used the uncertainty to fuel political wars about perceived biological differences based on race. But the latest study on the subject supports previous findings that say race doesn't exist.”

In the future, when someone categorizes, in our presence, a fellow human being by race, I hope you all will join me in responding that an faux pas has occurred, a violation of acceptable behavior. In addition, if an organization or the government inquires about race, we should all refuse to answer, or at a minimum, respond with “mixed race”.

Is Senator Barack Obama black? Why would anyone categorize someone who has father from Kenya, Africa and a so called “white” mother from Kansas as a black person? It comes from the slavery “one drop” of blood rule reinforced by Jim Crow laws intending on keeping the “white” race pure.

According to Professor F. James Davis the “answer to the question 'Who is black?" has long been that
a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the ‘one-drop rule’.''

From “The main purpose of the one-drop rule was to prevent interracial relationships and thus keep the white race ‘pure’."

It makes no sense in 2008, and we should all move on, and as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1963 that people should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

4/15/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

BlYour sympathies are well placed but your information and scholarship, as well as your own eyes and ears are failing you.

There have been many many sociological studies done about the social pressures exerted within the African American community to not be too white. Most recently Black theology via Rev Wright has highlighted their desire for separation and repudiation of any aspect of white culture , including education.

Your response to the trillions spent as having fallen victim to outside forces is to say there is some kind of social conspiracy in play to hold the African Americans down. I submit that bid business has lost billions in instituting government mandated affirmative action programs in hiring less qualified blacks (through lost productivity) to simply fill quotas, avoid lengthy lawsuits and "give them a chance" Where chances are now stretching into the fifth decade with glacial speed results are still measurable in productivity.

Have you given no thought to how these communities became poor in the first place? To the difficulty people in poor Black communities must overcome in order to secure things that people from richer communities take for granted?

You're joking of course or worse making a call with no basis in fact. I can sum it up in three initials and one program; LBJ and the Great Society. Were you alive for those debates and what the opposition said would come about, which has indeed materialized?
Government mandated dissolution of the black family unit and the concomitant results. That is the crux of the problem.

You've got a way to go to lecture on black history in this country.

Your bio is non existent so saying with certitude that you learned all this at the knee of university Marxist professors is a call I can't make but a bet I would.

I have devoted summers to working with migrant workers and for CORE in Tampa ,Florida in the late 1960's so I speak from scholarship and study. The two often differ substantially from reality.

4/16/2008 01:28:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

We have a good example in this thread demonstrating why we cannot, and will not, stop talking about race.

Peter Grynch:

Racism did not exist in Brazil. A person's skin color had no bearing on their social standing, job, or marriage prospects. The Brazilians considered themselves one race.

Now, I mean no offense, but this is what I initially meant by absurdities surrounding the subject.

Brazil is anything but indifferent to race.

But, of course, "race" fails scientifically as an inexact and overly-broad descriptive term in precisely the same way that it wins as a visual marker. The undeniable utility of this construct (we are, after all, prisoners of our vision in many ways) is what has made it such a misused and misunderstood concept.

It may be apocryphal, but I learned early on at U.F. that the early settlers of Brazil thought the European gene was a dominant gene and they could breed out the heavy visual dominance of African features in Brazil.

Apocryphal or not, science has shown the genetic groupings in Africa to contain the greatest diversity on the planet. Meaning, I presume, you can't "breed out" those features.

Does that genetic stock thus produce the worlds tallest, shortest, thinnest, and fattest people? Perhaps so.


Who the hell knows. However, if Africa does genetically produce the greatest numbers in all of these positive and negative categories, they are only on the extreme margins. Because the overwhelming majority of us are indistinguishable.

But it would help explain why our vision -- what we see, and therefore know for an absolute fact -- could perhaps confuse the hell out of us.

Heard it through the grapevine, right? Believe half of what you see, some or none of what you hear.

4/16/2008 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

The best observation on racism I can recall hearing was a story concerning the filming of the original Planet of the Apes. Since it took about four hours to get into makeup, the actors remained in costume throughout the day. An observer wandered into the studio cafeteria one lunchtime and was struck by an interesting fact: All the gorrila-actors sat at one table, the orangutan-actors sat at a seperate table, and te chimpanzee-actors sat at a third.

This perfectly illustrates both the absurdity and the instinctive nature of the problem.

4/16/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Salt Lick said...

FWIW, I always answer the race section on government forms with "other," "multiethnic," or "human." I will not help my government divide its citizens by "race."

4/16/2008 01:31:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger