Monday, April 22, 2013

Race, what a goddamned thing.

Anthropologists put it best (From the American Anthropological Association): 
WHEREAS all human beings are members of one species, Homo sapiens, and 
WHEREAS, differentiating species into biologically defined "races" has proven meaningless and unscientific as a way of explaining variation (whether in intelligence or other traits), 
THEREFORE, the American Anthropological Association urges the academy, our political leaders and our communities to affirm, without distraction by mistaken claims of racially determined intelligence, the common stake in assuring equal opportunity, in respecting diversity and in securing a harmonious quality of life for all people.
Everyone has bias about something, and that's normal. So figure out why you have them, and then work on getting over them.

I acknowledge that I'm not perfect and I don't have to be, but I also think that's a poor reason not to try.

Because, “if we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.” 

Because someone had a dream once about their kids being judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I think that's a damn fine dream to have.


  1. The thing about race is, that you could replace the word race with "Variety of species" at any point. If we were discovered in the ground many thousands of years from now. There would be an easily noticeable difference between the races, based on bone structure alone. And perhaps could even be classified as different species. Our evolutionary paths are a little different. It is much like butterflies. There are many varieties of butterflies, dogs, cats, etc.. However, they are all the same species.

    It is very PC today to pretend that there is no such that as race. However, as homo-sapiens we do have more than 1 variety of our species, and there are names for that "race". Race is not skin deep, there are many other changes inside our bodies as well. This doesn't mean anyone is less than anyone else or anything like that. Every variety evolved to fit different environments and and all fill their niche.

    1. On that note, great article. Thanks:)

    2. AUGH! I wrote a beautiful, long post in reply to yours but when I pushed "publish" it went away. WHY, CHROME? WHY?!

    3. (let's try again :P)

      I definitely see what you mean. It's pretty easy to look at someone, and then based on a variety of physical traits, categorize them into a race -- be it asian, pacific islander, native american, black, etc...

      From the biological point of view, though, there's more diversity between individuals than there are between races. For example, you can have a tall white guy and a short black guy, or vice versa. You can have a black guy with a flat face or a white guy with a more slanted face, or vice versa. Even thoush some traits may be more common in some races than others, no race has a monopoly on any given physical trait.

      So let's say that a thousand years from now, my bones are found by some archaeologists in Hawaii (where I'm currently living). Given that my fleshy parts -- cartilage, skin, organs -- have all dissolved away, they would be left with my bones and maybe some DNA if they're lucky. So, they look at my skull and notice that it's very flat and asian looking. They also notice that I'm about as tall as everyone around me, and when they run a chemical analysis on my bones to find out what my diet is like, they discover that it's not very different from everyone else around me -- I eat a lot of fish and not so much red meat, don't really drink a whole lot of dairy, etc... Based on these facts alone, I'd probably be more likely to get lumped in with the asian population out here than with the white population, even though (as far as I know) I don't have any asian descendants. (It wouldn't help things if they looked at my blood type, because I'm B positive, and the B blood type is most common in east asia and india area.)

      Now, that's not to say that where a person comes from isn't relevant: you can have genetic diseases like Tay-Sachs that are more common among Ashkenazi Jews than the average person, and so screening people of a certain descent to determine whether or not they have that marker is a worthwhile thing to do. Even with Tay-Sachs though, it's not JUST among Ashkenazi Jews; it's also found among French Canadians from south Quebec and Cajuns in Louisiana (fun fact, "Cajun" is creole for "Canadian").

      So BECAUSE we can have such crazy diversity between people in the same race (and different races) as well as a lot of overlap between races, THEREFORE trying to biologically categorize people by their "race" doesn't work out so well.

      But supposing we continue to do so: how do we categorize people of mixed descent? At what point is someone no longer considered black/white/asian/native american and instead considered something else? If my great grandmother(mom's side) is black and great grandfather(mom's side) is white, what's my grandmother's race (mom's side)? What about if she has a daughter (my mom) with a white man? And what if my dad's black?

      Although people have ethnic backgrounds, genetically we're all 94% the same and can all have babies with each other. The thing that separates people the most isn't their race, but their culture. And culture is a learned thing, not a biological thing.

      PHEW A LOT OF WORDS! Thanks for writing, though -- I'm sure my anthropology teacher appreciates you helping me review what he taught us :P Also if you're interested in HOW the AAA came up with their statement on race, here's the link to the long-form version:

      Carry on being awesome :D