Is Racism about appearance?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by ElectricFetus, Apr 22, 2010.

  1. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    No genetic rules apply to the sociological racial labeling of US citizens. Until recently, no one even knew what the genetic profiles were for most black Americans, for example. The determining of people's genetic profiles in America is so new and rare that it has been the subject of a couple of TV documentary style shows and articles in the newspapers.
    That would have no effect on his US racial identity. Lots of people have flown to Africa from the US, and flown back - their US racial identity remained whatever it was, in the US.

    Any of the dark-skinned people currently living in subSaharan Africa who are not "US Black" there will become "US Black" as soon as they step off the plane in the US, and remain US Black as long as they remain in the US.
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  3. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    Then you'll have to leave behind the 19th century idea that one "black" parent ALWAYS produces a "black" child. Sometimes, the child's skin color is so light, he or she is considered "white".

    Again, if you believe this, then you CANNOT also believe that every "black" parent will have a "black" child. Some children of "black" parents are called "white" by those Americans who still put people into colored pigeonholes, according to their looks.

    [The only way out of this dilemma is to admit the existence of MIXED-RACE people.]
    I don't use any racial terminology at all. YOU'RE the one that has to leave the 19th century, where everybody in America was either "black" (some said "colored"), "asian" (some said "oriental"), or "white". Remember the Obama girls when they grow up and have sex with men of their own choosing ....

    The best way out of that century is for YOU to admit (yes, admit) that some people (like our current president for instance) have two very different-looking parents, from two very different "races", which makes him a MIXED-RACE person.

    Sometime after you've done that, I'll introduce you to the radical idea that the actual racial classification system used in this country (by some) is actually meaningless, but that concept is too advanced for you to understand right now. Think about the "mixed-race" idea for a while.

    [Biology has everything to do with facial features, skin color, hair texture, etc.]
    Those "visual cues" are all in your imagination. You still classify people based on appearance, which is deceptive. Someone you think is a dark-skinned "white" person could have had a light-skinned "black" parent.

    [You asked for this. Knowing the similarities between Barak and his mother, the visual determination of race is, indeed, easy. He's white. The photo pair proves it. ]
    Then you had better abandon the idea that every "black" parent will produce a "black" child, even if their spouse is "white". Remember the Obama girls. Or Thomas Jefferson's female slave, who has descendants that look "white" (according to your visual cues).

    [Every wave of immigrants during the 19th century created a new set of facial features and skin colors to blend into the existing US population.]
    Only in the mind of a person who's still living in the 19th century.

    ALL "races" are in the minds of people who haven't left the 19th century yet. Grow up and admit the possibility of "mixed-race" people, like our current president, whose mother YOU would call "white".

    Remember what could happen to the Obama girls when they grow up. Obama's descendants could easily wind up looking like Ted Turner.

    Just keep watching the Obama girls and the skin colors of the men they date.
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    I don't recall asserting - or holding - such an idea.

    Yes, that's what I just said.

    Not every black parent, but a vastly overwhelming majority of them. You're talking about tiny fractions of percents here - numbers that are statistically irrelevant. That phenomenon isn't common enough to hinder the regular definitions of race in the US, or it wouldn't have been sustained all these generations in the first place.

    You mean they are white. One's race is nothing other than what strangers "call them" when asked to describe their race.

    That would be essentially all Americans.

    You've employed explicit racial terminology numerous times in every single post you've made in this thread.

    You should drop that example. There's a reason nobody is responding to it, and it's that, on the one hand, the odds of either of those girls producing an offspring that wouldn't be considered black is astronomically small and, on the other, it's pretty fucking creepy to sexualize children in that way.

    Nobody has denied that, to my knowledge.

    If by "mixed-race" you mean "has parents of different races," then sure. But if you intend it to be a description of his race, an alternative to (and exclusive of) "black," then you aren't making any sense. People who look like Obama are black in the United States. And that isn't subject to my agency - that's just how it is. There is no such racial category as "mixed race," in the US.

    Pretty strong words coming from someone as laughably bone-headed as yourself.

    And yet, everyone is able to see them with their own eyes, and agree on their presence or absence.

    Are you denying that there are various visible features statistically correlated with the black population, including skin color?

    It's only deceptive if you misread it as a description of what their parents looked like. It's not. It's a description of what they look like, and perfectly honest to boot.

    And, moreover, you only have a point there in a statistically insignificant number of special cases. For the vast majority of black people a person encounters in their lifetime, the assumption that they have at least one parent who is also black is quite safe.

    Again, I haven't asserted such a position, although the fact remains that only a statistically insignificant number of black parents will produce children that can pass.

    Race exists in present-day US society.

    I'll admit the possibility when it becomes an admissable racial category in the US - which isn't up to me. It's a collective decision, this whole definition of races thing. Individuals can't do much about it.

    And Obama's mother is white. It's not a question of what I "call" her - she actually inhabited an actual category that reall exists.

    And that wouldn't make Obama any less black, nor his daughters.

    Nor would it make your repeated invocations of Obama's daughters hypothetical sex lives any less creepy.

    That's, what, like the third such reference in that post?

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  7. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    If all of humanity were blind, could one still be racist??

    ...just a thought...
  8. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    So... races do exist then, yes? That is what you're saying here?
    I ask only for clarification, you understand.
    You'd best be careful with this line of reasoning, Benny boy. Next thing you know, some might be asking you if you think some breeds are better than others, depending on the traits you wish to reinforce.
    Perhaps, if some woman wished to have a dark, good looking baby with "natural rythm" they'd fuck a negroid?

    I didn't. Are you confusing me with someone else?

    Well, as far as your understanding goes, anyway.
  9. Bells Staff Member

    You mean you now admit there is race? Because being defined as "mixed race" means that one comes from people of at least 2 different races.

    As a person who is from "mixed-race", I have to say, your arguments in this thread have been amusing as hell and a bit creepy with your obsession with Obama's daughters having sex.
  10. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    NO !

    Thank you, God. Somebody GETS IT.
  11. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    [Then you'll have to leave behind the 19th century idea that one "black" parent ALWAYS produces a "black" child.]
    My apologies. I thought I was replying to another racist.

    [Sometimes, the child's skin color is so light, he or she is considered "white".]
    And as I've said, REPEATEDLY, race is a myth because it depends on individual perceptions of a person's personal appearance, which means that it's NOT based on any objective biological science.

    Regular definitions? I've seen two of them so far in this thread, and for your information, they contradict one another.

    1. Every "black" parent produces a "black" child. ALWAYS. NO EXCEPTIONS.
    2. Race is decided by examining a person's visual appearance.

    These two definitions CANNOT coexist, due to those "tiny fractions of percents", like what happened when Thomas Jefferson had sex with Sally Hemmings, his female slave, and then most of her descendants went on to have sex with people who looked like him, rather than people who looked like her. Somewhere along the genetic bloodline, a "black" parent had a child that people called "white", possibly after the child moved into a new town where nobody knew his/her ancestry.

    Keep watching the Obama girls. It could happen again.

    [Some children of "black" parents are called "white"]
    One more time. I'm color-blind. I don't use any racial terminology at all. Whenever I type the word "black" or "white", it's in quotes, to show anybody who reads my words that as far as I'm concerned, these two words are someone else's language that I'm borrowing for the moment. The words mean absolutely nothing to me.

    Just for clarification. Nobody has skin that is the color of milk or snow, and nobody has skin that is the color of a car tire. Nobody.

    [by those Americans who still put people into colored pigeonholes, according to their looks.]
    Ah, yes, the argument that you're not strange, you're just like the rest of the world. Nice try. The rest of the world is becoming more scientific when people are put into meaningless color categories. At the end of this century, there will be more of me and fewer of you.

    Again, whenever I use the words "black" and "white" in reference to people, I've put the words in quotes. These words don't apply to people very well, and I don't use them myself. They're other people's words, and I only type them so that your race-based thinking pattern will be better able to understand how silly the words are.

    [Remember the Obama girls when they grow up and have sex with men of their own choosing ....]
    1. I expect the Obama girls to grow up and become women.
    2. I expect those Obama women to date men of their own choosing.
    3. If either one of them dates a man whose skin color is lighter than their own, biological science says that any children they have together will have a skin color that is a lighter shade of brown than the skin color of the mother (the grown-up Obama woman).
    4. Nobody said either girl would be having sex with anybody until she's grown up.

    [The best way out of that century is for YOU to admit (yes, admit) that some people (like our current president for instance) have two very different-looking parents, from two very different "races",]
    Excellent. That's the first step out of the 19th century, where some people tried to deny others the right to marry someone who looked different than they were.

    Now for the next step. This is biology. If a man with LIGHT-brown skin, like Thomas Jefferson, has sex with a woman with DARK-brown skin, like Sally Hemmings, his slave, then the 1st generation child will look something like both of them, and his/her skin color will be somewhere in between theirs.

    When you've taken THAT step, I'll have more homework for you, because you'll only be in the 20th century, and this is the 21st.

    Speak for yourself, because you sure aren't speaking for me.

    Read my words.

    I'm denying the very existence of a "black" population. I'm also denying the existence of a "white" population. There's not one person in all the world who has skin that is BLACK, and not one person, anywhere in all the world, who has skin that is WHITE. You'd have to cover people with paint for you to be accurate when you refer to anyone as either color.

    [You just ran into the contradiction in your own argument. All I have to do is to hypothesize enough "white" people mixing into the "black" lineage, and PRESTO, you have a "white" person coming from a family with, as you assumed, at least one black parent.]
    And again, the fact that it DOES happen is proof that it CAN happen, over and over again.

    Once you've accepted the FACT that it can happen, you've accepted the difference between the two definitions of race, as clearly outlined earlier in this post.

    Once you've accepted the FACT that there are two different definitions of race, then if you want to continue using colors to describe people, you have to choose one of the two definitions, and you have to abandon the other, because they're mutually contradictory whenever people like Tom Jefferson have sex with people like Sally Hemmings. This contradiction, and the inevitable new train of thought that comes from it, applies at any historical time period, and it applies regardless of the reason why Tom had sex with Sally.

    Racists exist in present-day US society. These are people who put themselves and others into meaningless colored pigeonholes.

    [ALL "races" are in the minds of people who haven't left the 19th century yet.]
    I have bad news for you. "Mixed-race" became an admissable racial category several years ago. The following quote comes from a FAQ page on the US Census Bureau website.

    "The decision to use the instruction "mark one or more races" was reached by the Office of Management and Budget in 1997 after noting evidence of increasing numbers of children from interracial unions and the need to measure the increased diversity in the United States. Prior to this decision, most efforts to collect data on race (including those by the Census Bureau) asked people to report one race."​
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  12. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    There would be no difference between an whitegum and a redgum for a blind man either. No difference between cirrus and cumulous clouds.

    Hardly an argument in proving there isn't any difference between them.
    If I was a religious man, I'd thank god I didn't "get it".
  13. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    [The only way out of this dilemma is to admit the existence of MIXED-RACE people.]
    I'm dealing with some people on this thread who sincerely believe that it's possible to put themselves and others into colored pigeonholes. As far as I'm concerned, the colors are, strictly speaking, inaccurate as to an actual physical description of the color of anyone's skin. I consider all of these people to be racists, whether they practice actual bigotry or not, because my definition of a racist is anyone who thinks in terms of these meaningless color categories. Some racists are also bigots. My definition of a bigot is a racist who thinks that some groups of people, identified by a color, are better than other groups of people, also identified by a color.

    Some bigots are violently malicious, but I'm not discussing actual racial violence here, just the basic premise that says that these colors are an accurate way of describing real people. Colors are NOT an accurate method of describing real people, ALL of whom have skin whose color is any one of a hundred thousand shades of BROWN.

    "Mixed-race" is a 20th century concept, one that the U.S. Census Bureau has just adopted for use by every person who fills out the form. I'm still dealing with people who are living in the 19th century, so it will take some time to make them see the foolishness of color categories. The term "mixed-race" is just a convenient bridge from their century into mine. I don't use it myself, not even on the census form, but it can help others.

    Please pardon my references to two young women and their future husbands. Since they're so much in the public eye, this is an excellent way of forcing racists (my definition, please) to consider all the possible shades of brown (the only visually accurate description of a person's skin) that they could see in their delivery rooms, after they've grown up and had sex with men of their own choice.
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  14. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    Fortunately for both of us, if someone who didn't know much about meteorology made a mistaken identification of a cloud, it wouldn't hurt the cloud.

    Racism DOES hurt, even if you don't practice actual bigotry. That's why I can never be a bigot. I never use colors to describe real people unless somebody has gone to a paint store and has dumped a couple of gallons of their favorite color on themselves.
  15. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    Why do you insist on ranting about racism when significant amounts of people here are merely saying you're rather silly for believing there aren't any races?

    The two things are not the same, Benny. Stay with the program, lad.
  16. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    1. No person can be a bigot if they believe, as I do, that color categories are meaningless.
    2. When people feel "silly", I happen to think that they're confronting some contradictions regarding people and colors.
    3. Some people stop feeling silly when they recognize, as I did a long time ago, that colors are never an accurate method of describing real people. It is my realistic hope that more and more of the racists in the world (my definition, please) will feel as silly as Adolph Hitler did when he saw Jesse Owens winning footraces at the 1936 Olympic Games. Mr. Hitler was taking a baby step towards accepting Mr. Owens as an uncolored human being, worthy of being a friend.

    The next steps are roughly these: (after you've seen "inferiors" beating the best that your "race" had to offer)

    2. Feel silly, but accept the fact that Mr. Owens and many others who looked like him were real humans, not animals.
    3. Feel silly, but accept the fact that Mr. Owens and many others like him had personalities and feelings that could get hurt.
    4. Feel silly, but accept the fact that Mr. Owens and others like him didn't deserve to get their feelings hurt. They were human beings somewhat like yourself.
    5. Feel silly, but accept the fact that Mr. Owens and others like him had some civil rights, including the right to marry and have children with a spouse of their own choice.
    6. Feel silly, but accept the fact that Mr. Owens and others like him could even marry someone that didn't look like him, if that was his or her choice. This choice, in your eyes, could be termed a "mixed marriage", and it's what produced our current president.
    7. Feel silly, but accept the fact that any child born to a "mixed marriage" will have a skin that is darker than the lighter-skinned parent but lighter than the darker-skinned parent, regardless of gender. Barak Obama's skin color agrees with this visually accurate definition, by the way, so he's not really "black", but he's not really "white", either. The 20th century term for him is a "mixed-race" person. Personally, I simply refer to him as a MAN, who, when he formally applied to become our president, never proved his citizenship, as required by the U.S. Constitution. I blame the U.S. Supreme Court for not barring him from taking the job until he had proved his citizenship, if that matters to anyone..
    8. Feel silly, but accept the fact that any child born to a "mixed marriage" has a right to live, grow up, and make his own marriage choices. Barak Obama, like any other child of a "mixed marriage", had this choice when HE grew up. Barak made HIS choice when he married Michelle, but every child of a "mixed marriage" has the same right.
    9. Feel silly, but accept the fact that if a "mixed-race" person meets and marries someone else, the skin color of any children THEY have will be slightly different than the skin color of either of his two parents, assuming that the two parents have even slightly different skin colors. Biological science says that as long as the descendants of a "mixed marriage" keep having children, those children will still look just a bit different than their parents, and possibly very different than the skin color of their grandparents.
    10. Feel silly, but accept the fact that with so many different shades of brown skin wherever you look, in almost every country on the planet, it makes no sense to try to say that people can be grouped into color extremes, like black or white. The actual visual differences between ANY two people are much smaller, and much more insignificant than you could possibly realize.
    11. Feel silly, but accept the fact that if you can't separate any two people using color extremes, then it makes no sense whatsoever to use those colors, or any colors at all, to describe real people that have really mixed ancestries, really different individual personalities, and individual music choices, food choices, faith choices, hobby choices, and marriage choices.

    Benny, an admirer of Mr. Franklin, sometimes called "the Greatest American who never became President"
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  17. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    Although, I have to admit, this should be obvious to everyone....

  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's just their own name for themselves. Bel-/byel-/byal- means "white" in the Slavic languages. It's just like we now call the Bohemians "Czechs": their own name.

    However, we're wildly inconsistent. We still call the Hellenes "Greeks," the Deutsche "Germans," the Shqiptare "Albanians," the Suomalaiset "Finns," the Hayer "Armenians," etc.

    That's not your question but I stumbled onto it, embedded in your post. The Russians do not share the ancestry of the Tatars and Mongols. The Slavs are Eastern Indo-European tribes, related to the Persians, the Indic peoples, etc. The origin of the Cossacks is blurry, but they're almost certainly Slavic.

    I don't know what the questioner means by "the Balkans," since that is a geographical region. Various ethnic groups live in the Balkan peninsula today, including the Greeks (Western Indo-Europeans), the Bulgarians (the Bulgars were almost surely a Mongolic people although their descendants consider themselves the quintessential Slavs), the Albanians (Eastern Indo-Europeans but a separate subgroup from the Slavs and the Indo-Iranians), and the various Slavic peoples of the former Yugoslavia.
    Nonetheless, myths have a very powerful influence over human culture. Religions, for example.

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    I've seen reports from Americans who traveled in Africa recently. They say that most Africans tell them that Obama looks more like us than he does like them. They don't understand why anybody calls him an "African-American."

    I suspect that a lot of Americans would feel the same way, if he had not chosen to identify himself as Afro-American by assimilating into the ethnic Afro-American community and marrying an Afro-American wife. He looks only slightly more "black" to me than Vanessa Williams.
    By the time they grow up the Chinese and Latin Americans might be the dominant cultures on this planet.
    A lot of them would still hate the Jews--even the secular ones.

    No, I'm still not buying into the premise that racism is primarily based on appearance. It's becoming very difficult to identify Jews visually.
  19. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    Well, admittedly, I was running the hypothetical assuming that we were always blind. Given that, how could one go about identifying the possible target of one's racism??
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    People don't hate Jews because of the way they look. They hate them because of the way they think and behave. The Chassidim go to considerable lengths (yarmulkes, forelocks, beards, social rituals) to make sure they can be easily distinguished visually from their Gentile neighbors, for the precise reason that otherwise it would be quite difficult.

    Jon Stewart has to find some humorous way to remind us that he's Jewish about twice a week, otherwise we would forget.

    After two and a half millennia of migrating and being conquered, intermarrying with (or being raped by) every ethnic group in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the people who now identify themselves as Jews have a lot of spurious DNA in their mix. I don't imagine that they look very much like Abraham, Moses or David any more.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The connection there escapes me.

    The various historical attempts to identify "the Jews" as a "race", like blacks or yellows, so that a conjunction of bigotries could be focused on them (racial in addition to religious), did rest on a set of reality based but essentially imaginary physical characteristics - we see the stereotypical assignment of big noses etc to this day, in the literature of bigotry.

    We have seen similar stuff with other attempts to establish a racial bigotry where the necessary physical distinctions were illusory and unreliable - such as in WWII US propaganda depicting the Japanese as a different (evil) race from the Chinese, differentiated via buck teeth and the like.

    The failure to collect Jews into a race, like the failure to establish a Japanese race distinct from the Chinese one, demonstrates the reliance of racism on physical characteristics. Ask any black person in the US who can "talk white" on the phone what the difference can be when they show up for the apartment showing, job interview, etc - when their physical appearance comes into play, rather than their personal attributes, upbringing, cultural and social characteristics as revealed in even long conversations or extended letter exchanges.

    Racism is impossible without the ability to identify the race of strangers, correctly and consistently label people by race on sight.
  22. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    I understand that. And you're right; that accurately describes the current situation. But what if, historically, regardless of how (we're using blindness here...), people were unable to accurately identify specific groups? Groups that, ordinarily, are easily recognized?

    Surely, you would admit that, at some point in the past, the target group was identified primarily by sight. Yes, admittedly, it's the stereotypical behaviour that is of concern for the racist, but that behaviour must be given an identifiable locus.
  23. BennyF Registered Senior Member

    [[Can you and the Russians who claim a biological difference between themselves and the Cossacks, the Tartars, the Mongols, and the Balkans all be right?]
    It WAS my question, because the people who live in Moscow will readily tell you how different they are than any other group of people who used to be part of the Soviet Union, including the people who live in the geographic area called the Balkans.

    I consider the Balkans a geographic area, but Muskovites have a mind-set that makes these two groups biologically different. This is similar to, and just as silly to comprehend, as the supposed biological difference between Hutus and Tutsis.

    Race is a myth. The only consistent view of the world's people is that we're all one human race, not a half-dozen separate and color-coded races.

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