Monday, May 26, 2014

The Race

Ok, guys; is there discrimination based on appearance?  Sure.  Tall men vs. short, blonde girls vs. brunettes, muscular teens vs. skinny, stylish  vs. not, and the list goes on.

The underlying issue is the question of personal worth.  Are some 'better' than others?

In the 17th century, we began to talk about 'race' in terms of people being part of this or that distinct lineage.  The early concept offered five racial types; Caucasian, Malay, Indian, Mongol, and Negroid.  Soon, discussions of race began to include the concept of races being distinct and unrelated species with suggestion of natural superiority and inferiority.  E.g., Caucasians are a species that is unrelated to the Negroid species.

From early on, though, science understood that the differences were more cultural and geographic than anything else.  In 1775, "... Blumenbach also noted the graded transition in appearances from one group to adjacent groups," and suggested that "one variety of mankind does so sensibly pass into the other, that you cannot mark out the limits between them".[1]

Disappointingly, science and folklore merged in the following decades to accommodate our prejudices.  Perhaps some folks needed to see themselves as inherently superior, intellectually and morally.

The resulting ideology (prevailing thought) was that 'race' was tied to a point of origin from the past, retaining its distinct behavioral and intellectual characteristics, and that 'race' determined innate worth.  That's nonsense, anthropologically speaking.  Don't say that in public; it's often still the prevailing thought whether conscious or subconscious.

"As an American of Northern European 
(Nordish) ancestry who loves my race 
and wants it to be preserved...."
The scholarly article cites arguments and
references supporting the 'my race'
compared to 'your race' perspective.
Each argument has been previously
resolved to the satisfaction of the
science communities, but the article's
author attributes each to liberal 

'political correctness' rather than 
objective science.  The author
defends racial separation as an ethical
concern suggesting that multi-racial
societies are diluting the white race.
Our differences are real; they are -
        and grandma's-cooking-habits.
And we look different too, but that part has nothing to do with intellectual capacity, ethical clarity, or intrinsic value within a community or society.

What are the chances that you and I hold unconscious attitudes and stereotypes? Of course we do.

Scientists agree there's little doubt that hate-filled racism is real, but a growing body of social science research[ref][ref] suggests that racial disparities and other biased outcomes in the criminal justice system, in medicine, and in professional settings can be explained by unconscious attitudes and stereotypes.  E.g., police cadets are more likely to shoot unarmed black men than they are unarmed white men.

And interracial marriage was illegal in the U.S. until just fifty years ago. 

Anti-Irish racism in Britain and the United States included the stereotyping of the Irish as alcoholics, and implications that they monopolised certain (usually low-paying) job markets. They were often called "white Negroes." Throughout Britain and the US, newspaper illustrations and hand drawings depicted a prehistoric "ape-like image" of Irish faces to bolster evolutionary racist claims that the Irish people were an "inferior race" as compared to Anglo-Saxons.[ref] 

There is emerging clarity in the discussion these days, but there's much yet to be done if we're to be an educated citizenry.  We should challenge our own thinking.  If you want a straight answer on the subject of race, objectivity is the most important and perhaps most difficult component.  Ask a real scientist and labor through the analysis yourself.  Race is only an issue to the inadequately informed.

With that being said, what are the real issues as we learn to share the world we live in?

The earliest forms of prejudicial discrimination (proto-racism) weren't based on color or appearance but were generally tribal or lineage distinctions.

Such discrimination persists today in cultures that retain strong tribal identities.  In Kenya, for example, the Kikuyu are the ruling class;  the Mijikenda and many more are ineligible for most opportunities for education, employment, and political office solely on the basis of lineage.  The distinctions and conflicts are expressed in business and politics, and not uncommonly, in violent upheavals.

Adding to the difficulties, tribes existed long before the national boundaries which now attempt to contain and govern them without their consent.
Seen from a distance, it's not unlike the rich vs. poor in the western world.  Or pretty vs. plain, or this side vs. that side of the railroad tracks.   
As has often been said, it is all just wrong in so many ways.