Racism is Null

I recently engaged in a conversation about racism, and I won’t bore you with the larger debate. Instead, I’ll bore you with two threads.

  1. Taxonomically, modern humans have only one race
  2. Constructively, race is used as a proxy to otherwise justify otherness

Taxonomically, Homo sapiens is the species, and we so-called modern humans are Homo sapiens sapiens, which is an extended subspecies…and extended at that, perhaps a sub-subspecies.

Definitionally, race is an alternative name for a sub-subspecies, so technically, our current instantiation of humanity, version X.whatever, can be considered a race. However, as there are no extant human subspecies, there is clearly no need for racial delineation. The best we can muster is to say we’ve reserved a placeholder in the taxonomy.

To expand, in this taxonomy, Neanderthal and Australopithecus were competing species. Homo sapiens sapiens is meant to differentiate so-called modern humans from prior Homo sapins idaltu, from which we branched.

The summary is that there is no other extant parallel species to Homo sapiens and (clearly) no parallel subspecies to Homo sapiens sapiens.

Yet racists need races to operate on, and unless they are railing about races within other species, they’ve got no dog in this race. What to do?

How does one not only construct races where none exist but also convince others that this delineation is de facto race, if not de jure?

Colour and relatively recent geographical origin serve as good-enough proxies to differentiate classes under the guise of race. They create specious backstories et voilà.

As most people are decidedly neither scientific nor inquisitive, this is an easy feat. And it provides a sort of gossamer other against which to rail. This structure is so permeable, people have tossed religious affiliation into the mix with barely anyone noticing because race is just a code word for otherness.

The question becomes: how does one fight against something that doesn’t actually exist and whose definition morphs and adapts more readily than a virus?

DISCLAIMER: This post was written on my mobile, so it may have more flaws than usual. I reserve the right to edit it substantially when I have access to a full-size keyboard and monitor.

10 thoughts on “Racism is Null

  1. Yes. You are correct. And..
    The issue is that one cannot intellectually prove to people that race doesn’t exist from a biological or genetic standpoint.
    The conversation about race it’s not about whether or not race can be biologically determined or anything like that. We have known for a while that race is a social construct.
    In dealing with race relationships we have to deal with the construct, that it is socially created, it is constructed through a negotiation of meaning and discourse, and its symbol, right now at least, is one’s pigmentation of skin, types of hair, things like that, the way they talk etc.
    The color of one’s skin is a sign or a symbol upon which the construction of race is based. Just as the symbol of a tree and its various formations tell us about different types of trees.
    Or different types of paper. Whatever you want to say is different types. The symbol itself in forms one to the categories.
    So, it is not a matter of just educating people that race does not exist. Because the evidence is ultimately the color of one’s skin. It doesn’t matter whether or not we “believe in race“. The fact of the matter is that we behave differently as a group based on this symbol, or these groups of symbols. It is apparent that people are selected out due to the race, despite whether or not I think that I am racist. This is called systemic racism. And it doesn’t really matter whether or not I think that I’m racist.
    So the way we are addressing this is that everyone just needs to be aware that we function this way, and not push it away as if it’s some thing that’s illogical. The fact of the matter is that we are behaving as if race exists, so we must acknowledge it in ourselves. And what that means is that I begin to identify myself as a white male to my own race. And this can be really tough for people in power, and white males are the people who typically have the most power.
    So, it is difficult for me to notice race because I’ve been taught that it is racist to notice race, to notice the color of people skin, or to talk about how I might be privileged in my whiteness, having a privilege that people with darker skin do not have. The systemic problem of which I benefit, is that I get to explain away people of colors experience by saying that it is irrational and that race doesn’t really exist. What I am doing when I do that is negate people of color’s experience I’ve lived life, and I’m demanding that everyone must answer to the white male standard for what is true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I notice colour, sex, gender height, speech impediments, clothing choices, weight, and on and on… Humans are difference machines. The point is to realise which, if any, of these are important and in what context.

      So-called ‘race’ is never a factor. National origin either. Cultural perspective might be important to me in some context.

      I admit to having some prejudices. When engaging in sexual relations, I tend to not prefer that my partners not be sporting a penis. Up until that point, it is irrelevant. I’ve had gay and trans friends throughout my life. I simply choose not to have sex with them. Maybe I’m missing out. Maybe I’d enjoy coconut on pizza. I don’t know, but I am not likely to find out in this lifetime.

      The problem is that racists are likely to cherry pick when they choose to recognise genetics as a factor. The same people who cite The Bell Curve as proving that the ‘black race’ is genetically inferior to the ‘white race’ are the same people who claim that sexual orientation is a choice, not genetics. And not to disparage these nut jobs, but let’s just get it out on the table that science is not likely a strong suit. In fact, they’re likely playing with jokers and the instruction cards.

      Like

      1. How enlightened of you. Thank you for your grace. 😋.

        While people routinely pick other white for jobs, for example, over people of color. How do you account for that?

        Like

      2. Haha. I feel that people have a comfort zone in familiarity. It’s a cognitive bias, I’ll suggest with evolutionary roots.

        If the population is 70% white, then it should be no surprise that the workforce should be at least that. Add systematic racism, and I’d expect even more because the lucky few minorities are still imprinted with the concept that light skin or whatever is better.

        I’d argue, but not here, that much of this is related to cultural differences rather than colour differences. It’s just easier to make it about colour. There is a dominant culture, and melting pots be damned. If you don’t adapt to the culture, you’re an outsider. In the US, just look at he English-language initiatives. Language is a cultural marker. Just look at French in Europe, especially England, during its height. English still has words adopted from French, which carry signifiers to betray the class of their originators. English-language cows, pigs, and sheep become beef, pork, and mutton owing to their roots in the scullery and its attendant staff.

        But I’m rambling… again. ha

        Like

      3. I submit. That most people would say they are both open to cultural acceptance as well as not racist. And yet. White ppe ppe still routinely win out over people of color.

        I disagree with the culture argument. Why would there be culture which identify a particular color, but not color which identifies a particular race? Culture is like a set of bluish rocks. There is not blue. Just a set we call blue that is all kind of more or less blue. Put some of those in a green set and they will appear greenish.

        Race is constructed upon symbols that are culturally enforced. Blueish or greenish informs “race”.

        The only reason why anyone would argue that it’s “culture“, is because culture is some thing that was made up by white people in order to control them better. There’s no such thing as “Caucasian” people. That’s just a term that racist scientists came up with to better segregate people to better colonies and control them. I disagree with your “it could be anything else but race” argument.

        You’re just replacing words. I really think that you should look up Robyn D’Angelo. She has a short 10 or 15 minute YouTube video matter fact I’ll give you the link.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Genetics about race of moot. It’s like arguing about the existence of God. Pointless. And yet religion has a very real effect in the world. Thier irrationality is point less to point out. It is more effective for change to look at how I am involved in the perpetuation of religion even if I don’t think there is a Christian God.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. … we have to be willing to discuss these social taboos. I have to be willing as a white man to identify myself to my race as it is the privileged race of the system. I have to learn to not be afraid to talk about my privilege or the benefits that I have just by the fact that I have pale skin and I’m a male. But as well, and I think this is the more difficult of tasks, is I need to listen to other people talk about their experiences, That is, without explaining them away, or wanting to negate them because they are “irrational”. I have to be willing to listen to these peoples experiences in the context of my privilege.
    To say that we’re all human and that race is a no point, is basically saying that everyone needs to answer to the white male standard of what is true. And this is because it is only white people that truly experienced this “humanity“ as a common thing, beyond racial categories.

    You may want to check out the book by Robyn D’Angelo called “what does it mean to be white”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always cringed at being called white. No one is going to use me for a white balance any time soon. It’s a silly notion revealing the purity factor versus dirty black. And how many ‘black’ black people do you know? And aren’t certain Asians whiter or paler than whites? And why are Asians called yellow? Is this the yellow that English equates with cowardness (and bellies)?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you might want to educate yourself on the situation your presume to know about before you begin to construct arguments. I feel you are missing a lot of points people have been talking about for years.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s