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The Myth of Race and Culture Part 1: The Truth About Race.

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In all the time that I have had tekwh0re, I have never really touched on the issue of race or racism. See, race, racism, etc, are very touchy words and in my experience really are a matter of each individual’s (strong) opinion (everybody has one).

Today, this is going to change. But before I go any deeper into this subject, I really need everyone reading this to create a blank slate in their minds for a moment and throw out everything anyone has ever taught you about race or racism.

Because all of it, each and every single bit is a part of a mass constructed lie. A social construct to keep the “haves” away from the “have nots”.

The concept of “race” is a very outdated and outmoded one. What does race mean? Or even more to the point, what does race mean to the individual?

“I must preserve the white ‘race'”. “I must preserve the black ‘race'”. “I must preserve the Indian ‘race'”.

Well, what does that mean? If I were to go down to the scientific basics, does this mean that one needs to preserve the pigment of one’s skin, the color and slant of one’s eye, the hue and texture of one’s skin?

Most people I know would say that preserving one’s race is more than that. That to preserves one race is to preserve the traditions of their race, the identity, the culture.

And right here, immediately we have come into a fallacy. Race is not related to culture. Race is related to environment. Location is related to culture. The culture is not related to environment. Culture is a living, breathing thing. Culture can travel, change, mutate.

Let me explain.

No one understands all the reasons why we come in all the many hues and variations in this world. Science has explained that one’s environment dictates how one looks. The sun being very hot in Africa has lead to people being of darker pigmentation to help with UV rays. Some Africans are taller because with a larger surface area, evaporation, hence cooling is better able to happen. As we get more into the temperate areas on earth, people tend to not be as dark and there is more of a mixture of “race”. As we go even further north, people start to get shorter, carry weight in a different manner. Science has dictated to us that this is because it is cold, and being more compact is more efficient in conserving heat.

That is the only thing that one’s physiology does. Once again, it is related to the environment, and nothing more.

Then again, genetics are a funny thing. Sometimes, you’ll still get a white black person or a white person with really kinky hair.

Culture on the other hand borrows from the environment, the morality and religions of the people, and the resources that are in the immediate and surrounding area. Culture has a way of spreading in a way that race does not. Man by nature, borrows ideas as they come along if they find it will improve his daily life. He borrows these ideas, expands upon them they become his own. For example, most of the world agrees that there are 12 months in a year. The names of the months themselves are all borrowed from Roman culture. Culture is a learned behavior. Culture we learn from were we live and the people around us.

This is why you can take a little Pakistani boy, have him grow up in Glasgow and end up being a hard core Rangers fan who responds with an “Aye” instead of a “yes” when you ask him a question.

This is why a Turkish girl growing up in Holland speaks Dutch, likes to dress in the latest fashions from France and eats “French” fries with mayonnaise.

This is why in America the majority whites, blacks, Asians, etc, eat pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, want to drive big cars, and enjoy American Idol. (And generally prefers Ketchup on their fries. In this case, I would have to say the Americans are right *wink*)

Culture transcends color. Culture does not even consider race.

This is why to me, the idea of “race” is stupid. The color of one’s skin has nothing to do with one’s behavior, likes, or wants. Where someone grew up, how they grew up, has everything to do with how they act. I keep thinking back on the Pakistani guy that I know. If you were to ask him what his nationality is, he would say British, and then Scottish.

And just because he has skin of a darker color, is he wrong? He sounds Scottish, he eats chips (french fries), enjoys the footie (soccer) on the telly. Perhaps he’s not running around in a kilt- then again, not many Caucasian guys up in Scotland are running around in kilts anyway (shame, too. At least from this Yankee woman’s perspective).

This is why I hate it when people in America, especially second and third generation ones say “I am Irish American.”, “I am African- American”, “I am Japanese-American”.

No, you are not. You are American. You’ve gone to American schools, you speak with an American accent. You eat pizza and hamburgers and you grew up and live here. You may be of Irish, African, or Japanese decent, but you are not a product of that “culture” anymore. You may speak Japanese at home but the television is in English and you work in America. The color of your skin, the texture of your hair may have something to do with the genetics of your ancestors, but as we have already proven:

Culture can and will always overwrite genetics.

Which means race means nothing but ancestral location.

Perhaps what is even more telling is how the “races” can mix and mate with no problem. Unlike when you cross a donkey with a horse, or a lion with a tiger, people of mixed race are not sterile. They can go on, have sex with anyone, have a baby, and continue on the species.

So, what are we really concerned with here? Color, or culture?

I can understand if someone is concerned about a culture disappearing from the earth. In reality, no culture ever really dies but only mutates or lives on as part of another. I plan on touching on that in part two of this essay.

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About Tek

  • Mac Diva

    I look forward to Part II, Vic. I agree with what you are saying about culture mattering and America, particularly, having a mixed culture. For example, even though a couple Indians ‘chiefs’ have tried to make hay over OutKast wearing those quasi-Indian outfits at the Grammys, believe me, Indians rushed to the Sam Goody and bought that CD like everyone else. Because, in addition to our subcultures, we are part of the larger culture. I visit a rez monthly, and it is rap coming out of the stereos there, not traditional Indian music, 90 percent of the time.

    But coming from a triracial isolate (blame the term on anthropologists, who have taken up studying us) I also know that ‘race’ matters. Lumbees have had continual problems with the Ku Klux Klan. (Here is an account of a legendary, but unusual, response.) Now, one could tell Kurt Klan, “say dude, we share a common culture. You like potato chips and I do, too,’ but it wouldn’t keep him from kicking one’s ass. As long as ‘race,’ a social construct indeed, has real world meaning, it can’t be ignored. Of more importance, as long as race is a correlate for poverty, the most affluent society in the world has a duty to improve conditions that involve race, such as poor health care in the rural South and on Indian reservations that is a legacy of segregation and discrimination.

    Too often, the ‘we share a common culture’ rubric is trotted out as a rug to be thrown over a reality of gross inequalities among so-called racial groups. Though I agree that race is not real, I don’t buy that at all.

  • Dirtgrain

    I agree with much of what you say. Race is an artificial construct. Because it is a basis for discrimination, both on an individual level and on an institutional level, we still need to talk about it.

    It is true that much of discrimination is based on culture. However, it becomes fuzzy when culture and race are overlapped to form stereotypes that are used as generalizations. You can say absolutely that it is wrong to hate or discriminate on someone because of his or her race. Is it always wrong to dislike or discriminate against a culture or an aspect of a culture? In this day of emphasis on multiculturalism and diversity, political correctness can lead you into a quandary. For example, I don’t like the way Muslim women are treated in Pakistan (here I generalize, but I think the majority of women in Pakistan are treated as inferior (appy polly loggies if I am dead wrong and offend anyone)). In fact, I abhor the concept of honor killings–I mean a man killing his wife for supposed dishonor. Political correctness would tell me that I must respect such a man’s culture and differences. If I voice my displeasure, some might call me racist against Pakistanis. For me, I will be okay with an aspect of another culture, even if it doesn’t appeal to me, up to the point when it becomes a case of cruelty toward another.

    As for those who claim certain heritage other than American, it is not so clear-cut. Culture doesn’t just disappear when it crosses borders. There are all kinds of differences in households across America–obviously. Some might be significant in terms of values, attitudes and beliefs. Even in seemingly homogenous neighborhoods, you can often trace back simple, everyday household practices and family beliefs to culture. So I wouldn’t write off culture in this sense. But I do understand what you are talking about. It’s disconcerting to hear someone cheaply throw around their heritage like a twelve-year old throws around Hello Kitty toys. Too often, it seems that there is some sort of phony, pithy connection. But I don’t want to be too judgemental. How do I know for sure what that person’s heritage means to him or her?

    I already cited the Prime Directive once today, but what the hell:

      As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.

    By the way, weren’t you talking shit about Star Trek recently? Why you got to be hating?

  • Mac Diva

    Dirt, are you a Trekkie? (Yes, I know they prefer Trekker.) Surely, one of the more bizarre things I did as a reporter was attend Star Trek conventions. The forementioned anthropologists could have a field day with ‘created’ cultures like Trekkie World.

    I also have difficulty with not being critical of other cultures when they do things I think are horrible. My wish is that people inside the culture see the problem and reform it, so that it does not end up being a case of outsiders meddling. But, that can be really slow. For example, activists in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have made very limited progress in stopping unwanted wives being set on fire by their husbands. At the rate of change now, the practice will still be around at the end of this century.

  • Dirtgrain

    Diva, I was just saying the same thing about not intervening and leaving it up to people to right themselves to Eric, Dan and Scooter at my post, Fight for Peace.

    I am not a bona fide Trekker. A real one would dismiss my lack of Star Trek knowledge in an instant. I don’t even know for sure how many episodes there were. Eighty? I have seen them all, I’m sure, and I have an annoying habit of citing the few Star Trek quotes that I know.

  • BB

    Thanks for your thoughtful post Ms. Tek. My view is quite simple actually. I believe race is irrelevant or at least ought to be. We all belong to the clan of Homo Sapiens. That is our roots and the bottom line. I have a mixed race family and I am proud of that. We are a family and love each other and that is all that is matters. That is what we as the human race should be focussed on. Who the hell cares about the fanatics out there. Some people are hung up, fixated, or make careers out of race. That is their neurosis and ought to be seeking professional help. Bottom line is that is their problem and they should keep it to themselves because most reasonable people are just not interested.

  • Shark

    Anyone see the irony?

    Responding to a post on the myth of race and how obsolete a racial view is in today’s world, MD immediately mentions that she’s an “Indian”.

  • Shark

    Tek: “This is why I hate it when people in America, especially second and third generation ones say “I am Irish American.”, “I am African- American”, “I am Japanese-American”. No, you are not. You are American.”

    Funny, I hate it when people say, “I’m an American.”

    Shouldn’t that, in an ideal world, be:

    “I’m an Earthling.”–?

    or “…a human”–?

    “I love my country too much to be a nationalist.” —Albert Camus

  • bhw

    For some reason, it seems that people are programmed to look for *difference* rather than sameness. Race usually makes differences easy to find: you can see them. It will take a loooong time before people [everywhere] stop seeing skin and hair-level differences and assigning some sort of “nature” to them.

    Even in societies where there was little racial diversity, such as in England, difference was artificially created where it could not be seen, in the classes.

    We’ve got a lot of work to do to get rid of this desire to separate ourselves from each other.

  • Mac Diva

    I am sure the intelligent people on the thread understand what I mean by saying race will not be an obsolete concept as long as it correlates with poverty and discrimination.

    I believe that if an immigrant woman marries an old, ugly, stupid, abusive, bigoted man it is because:

    *She has children and needs someone to support her and them,

    *She needs a green card,

    *She (if she is savvy) will stay in that marriage only long enough to get citizenship.

    To me, a situation like that screams domestic abuse waiting to happen. I don’t perceive it as something to be applauded at all.

  • Shark

    MD: “I am sure the intelligent people on the thread understand what I mean by saying race will not be an obsolete concept as long as it correlates with poverty and discrimination.”

    I’m not that intelligent.

    Someone please to explain:

    “…race will not be an obsolete concept as long as it correlates with poverty and discrimination.”


  • Benny

    I do think currently established racial categorizations are valid(major four races etc). It is does help to find effective cures of deseases, dealing with social trends etc. But I do think it is just one of hundreds of ways of categorizations, and there are many more accurate ways to categorize for those kinds of purposes also.

    For example in one categorisation, if Italians & British were the same ‘racial category’ then it should be separated and Italian should be in the same categories as Mongolians and East Indians for blood type analysis as those nationalities have very high % of blood type B. Other examples; Americans want to put all Germans or Dutch same “white race”, yet I saw many that are somewhat dark skinned/hair/eye as pure Germans/Dutch. At the same time I saw blond blue eyed Turkish and least blue eyed Iranians/Pakistanis(although dark hair & somewhat dark skin) ? they are definitely not ignorable portion at all. I know there are at least one million Chinese in China that are blue eyed.

    I remember in Japan they compared skin color of Northern Europeans and different small regions of Japanese and in some Northern Areas they found almost the same completion on average and there are many individual Japanese(although all black hair/ brown eye) that are “whiter” skin than Nordics(needles to say lot whiter than large portions of Central and South Europeans). Out of Central Africans, there seems to be a large difference in athlete ability of East(good long distance runners), Western(sprinters), yet Americans treat those two races and another race ?Mulatto?(so-called African Americans) all the same.

    I am a Tartar, and I know in many countries including some academics circles in Japan, Tarter, Fin, Estonian, Hungarian are categorized same as East Asian race often because of high ratio of Mongolian spot in babies and other biological traits. Yet amonst Tartars, many think Bashirs and Bulgarians and Tarters are basically the same race, historically speaking.

    Problem we have currently is racial categorization is too crude and only roughly one method is supposed to be ?true? and it is rather used exclusively to ‘create’ as many difference as possible based on that one division out of nothing(yet ignore or hide all other differences like listed above). So distorted pictures of reality is projected to the world and everyone accepts it that is the only truth. Also it is completely impossible to segregate every person into different races as virtually all people are mixed race. Needless to say if we think about it is not possible to draw a line of race especially division is crude, and large portion of people cannot be categorized as one pure race.

    So we do need far more different categorization of races than just one ? or not use it at all. Perhaps this racial category is one of the biggest looked over issues and most people accept as true in the world today.

  • Sandra Smallson

    Phew! How interesting. I was actually reading through every line so excited to get to the next post. See what that person had to say:) Very good. Ofcourse, I skipped one or two of the resident irritants but all in all, this is some interesting stuff. I agree with Ms Tek’s initial premise. Trying to distinguish b/w race and culture. Susequent posts further expantiating on her point, I also agree with.

    I shall venture my opinion on criticism of cultures. I do not like the Muslim culture. Some do not like the black culture. Some do not like the white culture. I use colours as I can’t think of a simpler and clearer way to put it. Now, is this wrong? To not like these cultures? In fact, I think gay people have a certain culture. I am not a fan of it either. Is that “racist” to say that? I do not think so. Where it leads to discrimination is when people from the culture you dislike are prevented from equal opportunities. I have a friend who refuses to eat anything served by Indians or any Muslim she can identify. Times like that is when culture blends with racism.

    Although, I did see this old woman yesterday on ABC news refusing to have anything to do with her daughter because she married a black man. She was glowing with praise for the black man and the multi racial kids, and simply was as blunt as possible. it’s just the colour of his skin, she said.

    I know those who are racist due to something they hate about the culture. Should we differentiate? This topic raises far too many questions.

  • Sandra Smallson

    In addition, that whole African American thing is a nonsense. Black Americans discriminate towards Africans. I know many South Africans, Nigerians, Ugandans, etc who have mentioned about the treatment they got from a Black American in the States. Infact, you find some of their more prominent comedians not doing anything to dispel the myth some of the white people have of African countries or cultures.

    This idea that wild animals are walking the streets and if you look out your windows you may come face to face with an elephant or a lion is complete rubbish. The idea that people live in huts or tents or zinc houses is complete poppycock. The other day an idiotic journalist was trying to explain the concept of a suspended ceiling to a Nigerian..LOL. It was hilarious when the Nigerian told him to go and broaden his horizons and then come back to him. White people who visit Africa have probably seen more wild animals than the African residents have seen in all their lives. Why? The white people go to the safaris. That’s where the animals are. They are not on the equivalent of 5th avenue or Oxford street. Usher, Eve, Dmx, shaggy, etc have all been to Nigeria to do shows. Did they sleep in tents and did they move around on the backs of elephants? Jamie Foxx, Will smith etc shot a film in South Africa? Did they not enjoy the same luxuries as they do in the States?

    It’s this sort of thing that adds to the problem. Nobody wants to dispel the myth about certain things. Yet, they shout about the motherland every chance they get and pronounce African American like it is a medal of honour.

  • Shark

    I have a friend who refuses to eat anything served by Indians or any Muslim…

    Ah, how wonderful to have the luxury to be a racist pig!

    (If there is a God, He should arrange it so she starves to death at Hindi banquet.)

  • Sandra Smallson

    The fact that a fool like you has been allowed access to a computer to exhibit mutterings of a man deep in the jaws of mental infirmity no doubt, and dementia raises doubts in my head that there is a God. So, do not worry about my misguided ignorant friend. She will find food somehow during the Hindi banquet. If not, knowing her, she will munch the goddamn indian food.

    What should be of more interest to you, is how you cure yourself from excessive levels of ignorance, poor judgment and stupidity caused by the deterioration of your intellectual faculties if they ever existed. Dementia is caused by or is an organic disease or a disorder of the brain. This is where you need the miraculous intervention of God. IF there is a God, ofcourse.

    The bad news first:) My prognosis is that you were born and bred that way, and this is how you will remain. The good news is that, in the broad span of things you are of no significance to anything or anyone except maybe in your household. Even then, I recommend they get their heads checked. Head issues seem to be running rampant in the Shark household a.k.a sanatorium

  • Lomu

    Sandra, the whole African American thing started because in some circles it was not PC to say Black American.

    Tek, I look forward to part 2.

  • Natalie Davis

    Shark wrote:

    Tek: “This is why I hate it when people in America, especially second and third generation ones say “I am Irish American.”, “I am African- American”, “I am Japanese-American”. No, you are not. You are American.”

    Funny, I hate it when people say, “I’m an American.”

    Absolutely!!! Human, period.

  • Lomu

    Natalie, people can not go around saying they are human. Americans, British, African, Indian. People are allowed to say what they are or where they are from. What is PC coming to when people can not be allowed to identify themselves by where they are from? You would prefer for identification based on species?

    In that case we should not be allowed to categorise genders. We are all human.

  • Shark

    Lomu: “People are allowed to say what they are or where they are from. What is PC coming to when people can not be allowed to identify themselves by where they are from? You would prefer for identification based on species?”

    1) Lomu, first of all, you said that people are “allowed” to say where they are from — which, beyond being incredibly OBVIOUS, says little else.

    2) Then you said ‘what’s pc coming to when people can not be allowed…’ You just said it’s allowed. Which is it?

    3) re. PLACE and IDENTITY –
    “Where they are from” is relative. You are from city, state, nation, continent, hemisphere, planet, solar system, etc.

    ie Pick one and find a new friend.

    ie. the farther one expands one’s sense of “identity”, the less one kills fellow humans for stupid reasons.

  • Dirtgrain

    All this buttoning and unbuttoning.

  • Sandra Smallson

    Well, I think the whole prefix problem is only an issue in the States.

    You do not hear, African British, Indian British, Asian British. You just hear British. Not English. British. Clearly, the English can only be the sons of the land itself. Others, results of inter-racial marriages or birth, etc, just call themselves British. Some, give further explanations of half this/half that.

    I think everyone is getting too sensitive. At this point in my life, I am not bothered by what box I tick. I will only have a problem if I m discriminated against BECAUSE I ticked a certain box. I don’t care if there is no multi-racial box. I’ll tick black. I’ll tick whatever. I have far more important things to worry about than what freaking box I am ticking or how I identified myself to Joe Bloggs down the street. I’m human, I’m a woman. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

  • Natalie Davis

    I choose to tick no box at all. If I lower myself to tick one, it is the one that says “other,” and I write in “human.” Human is what I am — it is the only honest and dignified answer for me to give. YMMV, but mine is human all the way.

  • tyson yunkaporta

    This is part of an article called “White Men Can Jump” I’ve written for Suite 101. You can find the rest of it and others on the same topic.

    I recently saw a remake of “The Longest Yard”, in which the characters lament that their football team lacks speed because they “need some brothers”. I switched it off in disgust. How can a man like Chris Rock support the defunct myth of different biological “races” that are somehow suited to different physical activities? I am always shocked to find that there are so many people out there who still believe such things, and who still utter phrases like, “They’re a very musical people.” I can hear them out there now – “But it’s true! They do run faster!!” Right. Tell that to Emmanuel Lewis and Gary Coleman.
    Dark skin is caused by high levels of melanin, a chemical which certainly has never been linked to athletic or musical ability, as is evident in the works of Michael Jackson. Throughout his career his skin has gone from very dark to very light, arguably without affecting his musical ability or athleticism. However, this does affect his credibility when he sings, “It don’t matter if you’re black or white.” It is interesting to look at the language used here, especially the phrase “you’re black or white”. In most pop culture texts, a person is not described as having black or white skin, but is black, or is white. This states clearly what they are, in social terms, as defined by their physical traits. So, in Western popular culture, people’s genes represent not only their physical abilities, but also their social standing, as “blacks” or “whites”.

    However, this of course does not extend to the peoples of the so-called “causcasian” group. Redheads are not referred to as “oranges”, and Mediterraneans are not referred to as “olives”. My father-in-law’s people are so white they have a bluish tint, but I don’t hear anybody calling them “blues”. What about all the other shades of European skin tone – stucco, eggshell, cream, pink? It’s the same with “black” people. There’s brown, dark brown, blue-black, light brown, yellow, and so forth. So what’s all this rubbish about “black and white”?

  • tyson yunkaporta

    Another article on this topic from Suite 101.

    Master Race Science

    Racism is not a belief, but a science. This science is called eugenics. All over the world this science of “racial purity”, mixed with religious ideology about a mythical “caucasian race” as being “God’s chosen” has been used to justify the some of the most horrific events in human history. This mingled scientific and religious discourse was apparent in many political and popular cultural texts of the colonial era. One of these was a diagram called “The Great Chain Of Being”, which placed races in order, with God and white people at the top, and monkeys and Aboriginal people at the bottom. The science of eugenics, through texts such as these, informed public opinion and government policy regarding Aborigines.
    The White Australia policy, the basis of Australian federation, was based on eugenics. Its founder, Edmund Barton, publicly proclaimed, “I don’t think the equality of man was ever intended to include racial equality”. Policy documents and correspondence of the early 1900’s used a lot of language such as the sinister word “finality” to advocate the ultimate destruction of genetically “inferior” Aboriginal peoples. A policy of breeding out “inferior races” is a piece of Australia’s silenced history around the “stolen generations” that has been recently reexamined in popular cultural texts such as “Rabbit Proof Fence”.

    These policies of genocide shaped the science of the day. When Charles Darwin stated that the human race was a “polymorphic species” taking many shapes with no actual biologically separate races, he was ignored. However, he gained much publicity when, in “The Ascent Of Man”, he compared “low” races such as “the negro or Australian and the gorilla”, and asserted that, “The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace the savage man throughout the world.”

  • My Opinion, That’s All

    I love this post. I was always wondering why we couldn’t all just be just Americans and why we all have to have other continents/countries added on when everyone hasn’t even been there. My maiden name is Irish and people asked me if I was Irish and quite honestly, I told them I wasn’t. I couldn’t locate Ireland on a map. My father-in-law, however is Polish-American because he was indeed, born in Poland and immigrated here as a child during WWII.

    I’m proud to be American. Why can’t everyone else be?

  • Bonnie

    Yay, finally, some sense in this crazy world of ours and when I say ours thats exactly what I mean. I am so fed up with people who have nothing better to do then cause division in everything they put their hand to. I am the product of a white mother(Irish, Welsh heritage, seventh generation Australian)) and an Indigenous father. I was raised Australian, simple. Only recently, out of honour and innocent recognition for my father whom I last seen when I was two, I began to tick the box marked Aboriginal/Islander descent in various government forms.(An OTEN tafe form and centrelink form to be precise). Little did I realise the impact this would have on me, my marriage and my general outlook. Suddenly, I got encouraging phone calls, was I coping?, did I need any help? or to talk to anyone?, followed by a gift of a new pencil case, with all sorts of pencil case things inside, all proudly marked with Indigenous art.(Not to mention a saving of fifty dollars in the handling fee). My husband on the other hand, who had been studying for a year longer then me and who is a white australian (Irish, English, Viking decent, also many generations in Australia), didnt get any phone calls of encouragement and support, no gift either and had to pay the full amount for the handling fee). I had ticked the magic box. For the first time in our happy twelve year marriage, I felt slightly divided from my husband and my community, I felt unsure of myself. Ironic also, is the fact my husband spent much of his youth and early twenties with his local Indigenous community, and was made an honorary member of this particular tribe, by the elders, the only white man having recieved this identification thus far. As for me, I had aboriginal friends and such, but was simply Australian. We both are. Up until that moment, we were both just normal everyday Aussies. But now, I was a dopey Australian, I needed special treatment and encouragement, I was less well off and had less money then before ticking the box. I felt silly and somehow not as smart as I was before. With the phone calls, the gift and not having to pay the same fee as a “white person”,I felt oddly patronized in a way I had never felt before, like I wasnt the same as my fellow Aussies, I was slightly less in value.I also noticed the colour of my skin in a way I hadnt before. Instead of it being a beautiful olive colour, clean and clear, now it made me “different”. It was an odd senation, as if I had been placed in a pigeon hole of culture and sub culture and an identity I wasnt sure what to do with.I had lost my liberty and freedom in simply being Australian.I felt separated in my own country, and whereas i had never before, in my whole life, been disciminated against,now I felt that I should be. I had been placed into some sort of mould and expectation, I had never even known. My mum taught me to be proud of being an Aussie and the ANZACS and all things Australian, equality and a fair go, treat people with respect and dignity, no matter what colour they are. Basically treat people as you would have them treat you, My husband was raised the same. And in every way, thats what I am, just an everyday Aussie girl,neither better nor worse than anyone else. No box ticking or devisive do gooders will ever change that. With respect, I borrow some words of the great Martin Luther King, with a couple of my own. “I have a dream, that the day will come when a man or woman will be judged, not by the colour of their skin, eyes or hair or the boxes they tick, but by the content of thier character.” “Long live true equality.”
    PS (I am not going to be ticking any more boxes, My father was a good kind man, I know it and acknowledge him in my heart and thats all that matters. He would have wanted me to simply be a good Australian and a good person.)

  • Ben Richards

    Professor Steve Hsu on the Risch study:

    “there are readily identifiable clusters of points, corresponding to traditional continental ethnic groups: Europeans, Africans, Asians, Native Americans, etc. (See, for example, Risch et al., Am. J. Hum. Genet. 76:268–275, 2005.) Of course, we can get into endless arguments about how we define European or Asian, and of course there is substructure within the clusters, but it is rather obvious that there are identifiable groupings, and as the Risch study shows, they correspond very well to self-identified notions of race.

    From the conclusions of the Risch paper (Am. J. Hum. Genet. 76:268–275, 2005):

    Attention has recently focused on genetic structure in the human population. Some have argued that the amount of genetic variation within populations dwarfs the variation between populations, suggesting that discrete genetic categories are not useful (Lewontin 1972; Cooper et al. 2003; Haga and Venter 2003). On the other hand, several studies have shown that individuals tend to cluster genetically with others of the same ancestral geographic origins (Mountain and Cavalli-Sforza 1997; Stephens et al. 2001; Bamshad et al. 2003). Prior studies have generally been performed on a relatively small number of individuals and/or markers. A recent study (Rosenberg et al. 2002) examined 377 autosomal micro-satellite markers in 1,056 individuals from a global sample of 52 populations and found significant evidence of genetic clustering, largely along geographic (continental) lines. Consistent with prior studies, the major genetic clusters consisted of Europeans/West Asians (whites), sub-Saharan Africans, East Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans. ethnic groups living in the United States, with a discrepancy rate of only 0.14%.

    This clustering is a natural consequence of geographical isolation, inheritance and natural selection operating over the last 50k years since humans left Africa.

    We see that there can be dramatic group differences in phenotypes even if there is complete allele overlap between two groups – as long as the frequency or probability distributions are distinct. But it is these distributions that are measured by the metric we defined earlier. Two groups that form distinct clusters are likely to exhibit different frequency distributions over various genes, leading to group differences.

    This leads us to two very distinct possibilities in human genetic variation:

    Hypothesis 1: (the PC mantra) The only group differences that exist between the clusters (races) are innocuous and superficial, for example related to skin color, hair color, body type, etc.

    Hypothesis 2: (the dangerous one) Group differences exist which might affect important (let us say, deep rather than superficial) and measurable characteristics, such as cognitive abilities, personality, athletic prowess, etc.

    Note H1 is under constant revision, as new genetically driven group differences (e.g., particularly in disease resistance) are being discovered. According to the mantra of H1 these must all (by definition) be superficial differences.

    A standard argument against H2 is that the 50k years during which groups have been separated is not long enough for differential natural selection to cause any group differences in deep characteristics. I find this argument quite naive, given what we know about animal breeding and how evolution has affected the (ever expanding list of) “superficial” characteristics. Many genes are now suspected of having been subject to strong selection over timescales of order 5k years or less. For further discussion of H2 by Steve Pinker, see here.

    The predominant view among social scientists is that H1 is obviously correct and H2 obviously false. However, this is mainly wishful thinking. Official statements by the American Sociological Association and the American Anthropological Association even endorse the view that race is not a valid biological concept, which is clearly incorrect.”

  • Edward Alastor

    Race is a social construct, but that definition detracts from the fact that it is a biological reality. The fact that in the animal kingdom, race/subspecies/breed (all with the same definition) create physical AND mental differences is scraped when we begin talking about human bio-diversity. The reason is that culture can obscure biology in some ways, and races are very variable. But race is a biological reality as much as a social construct.

  • Edward Alastor

    BTW- Read comment 27