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.

6 comments:

Mike Fagan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Zetland said...

Well, it seems we're talking about different things. You're talking about culture (or institutions), and I am talking about skin color. I agree with you that "racial sensitivity" is no reason to avoid discussions of rape etc. I disagree with anyone who says "that's what [insert color] people do." My main point is to treat people as people (rapists or scholars) rather than trapped in their skin. Some cultures are indeed toxic (white supremacists or buddhist chauvinists) but that does not condemn everyone else who looks like them or worships like them...

Mike Fagan said...

It's not worth getting into an argument over for which I don't have time. Suffice to say that accusations of "racism" are being used by politicians and academics as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility and ignore difficult problems.

David Zetland said...

You don't have to argue (whoops -- you deleted your comment above), as I already agreed w you...

Robpublican said...

Good stuff but I'm going to quibble with your opener on a couple of points:
1) Unless you're reading a different Constitution than I am, it was 3/5, not 7/10.
2) It wasn't the slavers who stopped slaves from being counted as whole people, it was the abolitionists. The slavers preferred that slaves be fully counted as part of the general population. Representation and electoral votes were to be apportioned by population and so it worked to the advantage of the slave states. The fact that slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person actually helped to perpetuate slavery in the Unites States. Had they counted as 0/5, slavery may have been abolished much sooner.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Fifths_Compromise

DANIELBLOOM said...

One race, the human race.

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