19 Mar 2018

Race is just plain stupid

NB: National Geographic Magazine just published a full issue on race. Here is their mea culpa on perpetuating racist images and thinking.

We know that "All men are created equal," but the men who wrote those words were slave-owners who institutionalized inequality by counting slaves as 7/10 of a human. (Let's not even get started on the equality of women.)

This example -- and you can provide your own -- is part of a problematic definition that interferes with our social, political and economic relations.

"Race," in other words, interferes with:
Jesus washed feet in this book too!
Race is a silly hang-over from a primitive time when strangers meant conflict, we married into our tribe [pdf], and people tried to justify their cruelty towards others based on a "God-given right" they had written into their holy books.

Besides my intellectual perspective on this topic, I also have personal experience. I am "white" (or Caucasian, a word that's even more stupid) because I say so, but my DNA shows that 1/6th of me comes from South Asia.

What does this all mean?
  • We need to stop thinking of ourselves as from a "race" when we are all humans.
  • We are too complex to sort into neat buckets, as our DNA is mixed from everywhere.
  • "Black" or "White" means nothing because it's subjective. I just talked to a girl who said she was "black" in the Netherlands but "white" in Tanzania. 
  • What really matters is a person's education, their cultural background and -- above all -- their socioeconomic status, as I am pretty sure that rich people have more in common than poor people, American have more in common than Germans, and so on.
  • Going further, it's more important to focus on someone's community as a source of their identity, strength and limitations than their skin color.
Bottom line: Race and color are easy to identify but wrong to focus on. Governments (and people) should focus on the factors that matter and stop discriminating (positively or negatively) on superficial appearances that have nothing to do with someone's mind, intentions, contributions or potential.