Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dialogue on racism...

Ongoing here, here, and here.

Shermlock Shomes asks the important question.

(For the record, the very word "race" is as quaint as the word "phlogiston", and reflects about the same era of scientific theory. Any school of thought that gives weight to "race" is right up there with phrenology for predictive power.)


Tangalor said...

Well, racism is THE key for obamanoids. Why? They're quickly running out of things to fall back on.

Jay G said...

We were talking about this over at GBC last night. Reminded me of this story...

Nat said...

I was chatting with the Mrs. about this last night. The BBC reports that "US President Barack Obama does not believe current criticism of his policies is based on the colour of his skin, the White House has said." I followed up that with some of us wouldn't care if he were a lovely shade of pink, we don't like his politics. But it does show how the weak-minded have to fall back on an argument that has no quality rebuttal. Sort of like saying, "Tam is negative."

Mark said...

Oh, I freely admit it. I can't stand the President, and it's because of his color.

Y'see, I've never liked Reds.

Larry said...

"(For the record, the very word "race" is as quaint as the word "phlogiston", and reflects about the same era of scientific theory. Any school of thought that gives weight to "race" is right up there with phrenology for predictive power.) "

Um... beg to differ. There is multitudinous evidence that the 'race' of a person plays into legitimate medical considerations. If there are physiological differences that can be identified largely by external, visible phenotype, then 'race' is a valid concept.

None of which justifies using a group stereotype that is invalidated by an individual's actual characteristics. But then that's even more stupid than evil..

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Tam, I'm with you on 'race.' I take every opportunity when filling out forms that ask my race to check 'other' and write 'human' out beside it. This has been annoying paper pushers since I was in junior high.

DirtCrashr said...

"Race" really is a 19th Century device created by Victorians who encountered all those "new" butterflies, bugs, and three-toed sloths they'd never seen before. They stuck pins through them, and put them in little numbered boxes with Latin names, classifying everything into various ordered groups and won prestige if such a group was named after them.
It's the taxonomic rank below Species.
But while there are minute genetic variations, like (some) Eskimos have an amino acid that helps digest seal blubber, humans don't acknowledge differentiation by sub-species groupings. In modern taxonomy, Homo Sapiens is the only extant species of its genus.
"Race" is when any two male Homo Sapiens driving motor-vehicles meet at a stoplight...

Brian Dale said...

Sorry, Larry; it isn't cut-and-dried. "Race" in humans is a sociological concept (=folklore), not a biological one.

You wrote that "If there are physiological differences that can be identified largely by external, visible phenotype, then 'race' is a valid concept."

Well, that might be so, if there were. "Largely" refers to groups--artificial agglomerations based on preconceived notions--and not to individuals. Further, "largely" isn't good enough for medicine (to follow the example that you've chosen). Physiology is an attribute of an individual, and the "typical" characteristics of any group will mislead, even fatally, if used instead of an individual's real, personal traits.

Want to use average, typical or most common blood type when selecting blood to be transfused into somebody? I don't.

Oh, and DirtCrashr, I'll be quoting your "stoplight" definition in the future.

Brian Dale said...

I just wrote, "Well, that might be so, if there were."

No, that's wrong, and I shouldn't have posted it. I should have written that it's false, period.

Kristopher said...

Don't be dissing Phrenology.

Corrective Phrenology ( w/ baseball bat ) still has a place in today's world.

DirtCrashr said...

Applied Phrenology!

DirtCrashr said...

It occurs to me to ask, what race is a strawman? This issue is played to deceive and misdirect.

Rick R. said...

Brian Dale,

It's more than physipological difference.

There's genetic markers that can be readily mapped to populations in accordance to how they are conventionally assigned "race". And they aren't, apparantly, genes that control appearance in most cases. While different groups may share some common markers, they don;t share others. It's the combination of such codes that maps pretty closely to where a person's ancestors come from.

Not surprising -- a population that has been (mostly) interbreeding long enough to look somewhat like each other is ALSO likely to share other, unrelated, genetic codes, just like blood relatives in an extended family do.

Google, "The Attack of the Milk Drinking Mutants", and then look up lactose intolerance among various "races". That's one simple example. One basic factor that has NOTHING to do with appearance, yet, when considered in combination with other markers, can tell you a lot about where a person's ancestry is from -- and often yield a reasonably good guess as to basic appearance of gross features (someone whose lineage is almost purely Austrlaian Aborigine is unlikely to be a pale redhead with gracile facial bones; the guy whose family is from Northwest Asia is unlikely to have really dark skin and be a 6'5" beanpole).

Is there blurring on the edges, ESPECIALLY in modern Western society? HELL YES -- I don't know about YOUR ancestors, but mine apprantly bedded anyone they could catch! {grin}

Of course, my personal chuckle is the "identification" of Hispanic as a "race". If you're classifying by race, they are either American Indian, African, Caucasian, or mixed, depending on the person. If you're classifying by culture (which isn't "race"), their ancestors could be from anywhere -- if at some point they were culturally assimilated into the Spanish (or by some definitions, Spanish or Portugese) cultures.

Now, how RELEVANT is "race"?

Physiologically, it provides, at best, rough predictors of suceptibilities. And THAT only if one is willing to accept that the human species represents roughly 6 billion INDIVIDUALS, with a very subtle shading from one "race" to another. That kid whose family is originally the from the Mediterranian basin or central Africa is FAR more likely to have sickle cell anemia than I am.

Visually, it provides, at best, some *rough* categories we can put people into quickly for descriptive purposes (unlike, say, bloodtype -- which was once proposed as being a "more logical" division than conventional racial categories). Handy if you have to sort people or describe them succinctly for someone else to identify them. "Asian female" conveys more information in less time than if I attempted to individually describe each feature as without reference to "race".

Culturally? Means squat to me. I'm FAR more interested in another classification altogether -- "barbarian" versus "civilized". "Race", and even birth culture are absolutely irrelevant to me compared to that.

Unfortunately, all too many people confuse "race" (the geographic origins of the majority of your ancestors a couple of thousand years ago, as best guessed) with "culture".

Races don't have culture -- people do.

Nat said...

So along the lines of what Rick R. just posted, I have been wondering at what point my lineage gets to begin referring to themselves as "Native Americans?" The two "main halves" of my family tree can trace their roots back to both the Mayflower (1620) and Jamestown (1607+). So after how many centuries do I get to claim "been here, you guys are new?"

Also, I have always taken the race based on religion to be a bit odd, since someone can convert to a minority. I think we should all just pick the minority of our choice and convert!

Just my thoughts on the subject. I live in the NW where if you're an a-hole people treat you as such and if you're not, well then, no one has a problem. We have issues, but I think that they are mostly imported from Californication.

Larry said...

@ Brian Dale-

sorry, you're not very convincing. Rick R has a pretty good expansion of what I'm thinking about 'race'. It's is a useful shortcut, and as long as it's useful, it's valid. Let's propose a definition of it:

"A group of humans sharing physical characteristics acquired by semi- or completely isolated breeding, enough to be distinct from other such pools of isolated breeding populations."

I've lived overseas enough to have runinto some things the average American doesn't think of that much, being as how heterogenous our population is: most Koreans are lactose intolerant to some degree, experience "Asian Flush" when drinking, etc. They also smell differently (not strictly due to diet) and have different patterns of sweat glands (less apocrine glands) than Caucasians. If this is not a "racial" difference, then what is it?

CGHill said...

My favorite way to complete the item on the form that says "Race" is "Mile relay."

Not that I'm up to running 440 yards these days, but it's the principle of the thing.

WV: taxicing. Formerly known as "surtax."

Brian Dale said...

Rick R. and Larry, populations are real. Families are real. Ethnic groups, if they represent a particular set of families, are real.

Rick, R., you suggested that I "Google, "The Attack of the Milk Drinking Mutants", and then look up lactose intolerance among various "races"." I don't think that I will. I recall the phenomenon, and I can also just dig out all of my old PopGen notebooks and texts from grad school, lo, these many years ago. Maybe re-read some old Sewall Wright papers for extra fun.

Larry, you asked straightforwardly, "If this is not a "racial" difference, then what is it?" It's a difference that exists between and among individuals. Moreover, I'm going to speculate that it's (taken as an overview or a phenotypic frequency) a quantitative difference, probably measurable between families and among populations.

I'm fine with the term, "ethnic group;" it seems to reflect the notion of "people who kinda have such-and-such physical appearance" or "people whose ancestors all lived in Whateveritwas Valley."

Larry, I agree that Rick R. has hit it right on the button. I dislike using the word "race" to mean whatever people use it to mean when they're speaking of humans, because there really are biological races in quite a number of plant and animal species.

TBeck said...

I like Obama because he has a smooth skull.

Anonymous said...

To state the obvious, there is a spectrum of human 'races', but it's quite possible to categorize some people into races. If every ancestors of certain person was from few tribes in Zaire.. then that person is black. He looks black, and according to highly hated but still valid research, he is likely to be dumber than the average Han chinese.

There's good evidence that people from sub-saharan Africa have IQ -(now, Mensa members' IQ scores are worthless, but IQ score of someone who isn't used to IQ style tests is a solid predictor of a number of things, like likelihood of incarceration, future income, etc etc.. )-
that is around one standard deviation lower than that of Han chinese or caucasians, for example.

I felt better when I didn't know this particular fact. Only thing that cheers me up is, that US black-white IQ gap has diminished by a third since the 1930's. Maybe it's culture, maybe race mixing but let's hope it keeps happening.


@Nat. You never get to pick up that right, unless you kick out or totally assimilate the previous people. I'm Slavic*.. and my 'ancestors'(group of tribes that spoke slavic languages) crawled out from Pripet Marshes and spread over a huge territory in just 150 years. Seems impossible.

However, it looks like they were just very good at assimiliating other people's and making them speak their language and use their customs. I think that's called cultural genocide nowadays.. or acculturation.

Unlike other tribes, they allowed prisoners and slaves to become free members of their tribe after a certain period of time....

And that's why Celts and other people who were here earlier don't keep calling us invaders and all that. They're us and we're them but we won 'cause we don't speak Celtic. I'm not sure whether it counts anyway.

*but it's all about language. Everyone who lives in central or eastern Europe probably has a number of Germans and Hungarians and possibly even a Turk or two somewhere down in their family tree. And that's why we have lots of pretty women, and why British women are a byword for ugliness. Island isolation, low population mixing.. etc.

-Passerby Orc

staghounds said...

And there's always the interesting possibility that the very first human populations in the Americas came from Europe, living here in peace and sustainable harmony with our earth, only to be wiped out by the evil, land stealing invaders from Asia.

Kristopher said...

Passerby Orc:

Actually, you have a lot in common genetically and linguistically with the Celts.

Most of the Indo-european language speakers have a cultural and genetic ancestry that points to a central asian herder that had a mutation that allowed him to drink milk after infancy. His language and the genetics spread over most of europe and asia simply because dairying + herding was five times more efficient than herding alone.

It may have been fairly diluted by the tine it hit the ends of the continent, but our languages still echo from that serious genetic advantage.

I think the point here is that single gene markers can be damned more important than trivia like skin color, smell, and facial features.

Anonymous said...

You race-deniers are so funny!

Kristopher said...

People who freak out over trivia like skin color are so pitiful, anon.

There are much more important genetic markers out there. Melanin content is damned near irrelevant.

Brian Dale said...

Hey, Nonny-mouse ("You race-deniers are so funny!"):

Call me a Raving Cladist all you like. Sticks and stones, man...

Wildflower said...

Your statement that there is no scientific concept of race is completely true.

But in America, race is profound and cultural, particularly for those defined as blacks.

It is more taboo to state somebody IS racist than to actually BE racist.

You should read a different point of view once in a while. There's a great one HERE

Brian Dale said...

"You should read a different point of view once in a while."

Wildflower, please consider the notion that, because you haven't met all of us or spoken with us at length, that there might be more to some or even all of the commenters whom you've read than you've had the chance to encounter yet.

You suggested, "You should read a different point of view once in a while."


I once stood in a room and listened attentively to Amiri Baraka (who grew up with the name LeRoi Jones and whose writing had inspired me as a high school student) as he answered a question about what white people should do to stop racism. His statement:

"It doesn't matter what you think; it doesn't matter what you say; it doesn't matter what you do. If you're white, you are the enemy. You can't help it, and there's nothing you can do about it."


Y'know what? I still admire the way the man uses the language that I love. That doesn't mean that I agree with his philosophy.

"Read a different point of view once in a while," indeed!"

Wildflower said...

I didn't link to Amiri Baraka, nor to I advocate his philosophy. If you found yourself at his site or reading his words, you must have clicked on something different.

Kristopher said...

Well thank you for that, Wildflower. Interesting site.

Yes ... racism is a cultural concept, not a scientific one. Couldn't we just, like stop it, maybe?

It does take two to tango. Yes, obsessive bigots need a good slapping ... but I refuse to accept responsibility for the actions of persons other than myself. I am responsible for all my own wins and fails, and no one else's.

( BTW ... I don't buy firearms because I fear Obama. I buy firearms because I still can. Freedoms not used are ones you generally lose. )

LabRat said...

Orc: it's true, sub-Saharan Africans have lower IQ scores than Han Chinese.

What I find aggravating is that the reaction is a hushed and horrified "what if black people are racially stupid, what will we do if we face THE TRUTH" (again, a group that geographically has much more genetic diversity than the Chinese and Caucasians combined), and not "I wonder why".

Sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to great genetic diversity, also has much higher than global averages of malnutrition. Hard to get enough fat, hard to get enough protein... and hard to get enough iodine, something we take for granted as being in all commercial salt. Why is our salt iodized? Because our inland populations, especially in the mountains where there was no such thing as seafood and poverty was rife, were suffering from the effects, like goiter... and hypothyroid babies, a problem that, before its cause was known, used to lead to a developmental disorder called "cretinism". No longer used, but it left a linguistic impression, and the cultural impression of mountain rural folk as retarded lasted long after the iodine went into the salt.

The World Health Organization is working on it.

"What if black people are just stupid!"

Not much real thought went into either.

Brian Dale said...


Nope, I see that my comment was unclear. I read Amiri Baraka's stuff in high school and I later met him in person. I used my experience of him simply as an example of how people's concepts can be very different when "race" in humans is taken as a starting point.

Thanks for responding to me so calmly; as I read my comment (repeating a sentence of yours three time by my failure to edit out a Control-C typo), I must apologize for seeming to browbeat you about the phrase. I beg your pardon for that.

Kristopher said...

Well then ... they are doomed. Putting the UN in charge of health in Africa ... dear lord.

Wildflower said...

The reason I left the link is because the links the blogger left on the race debate seemed to be very one-sided and only from a point of view that feels offensive to me because my reality is different.

This is not saying that folks are unaware of other points of views...just that none have been voiced.

As far as genetics--Europeans are closer to Africans than Asians.

So if an European believed all Africans are inherently inferior to him because of genetics, he'd have to believe that all Asians are inherently superior to him because of genetics. (google it)

Anonymous said...

Just because Obama is half Irish, people should not expect him to be anything like Ronald Reagan. That would be Racist.

Anonymous said...


Enviromental factors are important. I'm sure that under proper administration things would improve a lot.

But, even in the absence of enviromental factors, there apprears to be a gap. If this study was done correctly, that is.

@Wildflower.. I'm not sure what fallacy are you using, but it's a pretty obvious one. Sorting IQ by races is dirty business, but there is ample evidence that Asians are on average a bit smarter than whites.

However, they have nothing on Askhenzai Jews, who for some reason or others are on average way smarter than other Europeans or even Asians.. Neatly explains them netting something like 25%+ of Nobel prizes while comprising less than 0.5% of world's population.

..UN is pretty awful, but I haven't heard much about their health programs. Certainly they'll get more care now than if you let libertarianism rule and left it to the all-powerful market forces. (reasonable healthcare in 200 years, when they sort of crawl from middle Ages )

Since they're a superstitious lot, that'd mean the Shamans would have a booming business. Still have, read up on muti.

Melanin content is damn near irrelevant. I agree with you on that, however, melanin is not all that differs between say me and a pygmy from Africa. His ancestors were to hunting and gathering adapted to hot, humid jungles, mine to hunting bigger game and later to agriculture in a much colder and less sunny region (Europe). That's why we have narrow noses(to heat up cold air), why we are bigger (pygmies can't afford being bigger, in 100% humidity sweating doesn't work, so they have to have a smaller body) etc..

I should mention the lack of sickle cell anemia patients in countries like Poland. There are differences all right.

-Passerby Orc

Steve Skubinna said...

The way we discuss "race" in America is a purely social construct, an aritfact of the pre-Civil War days when defenders of slavery became more and more desperate to protect their "peculiar institution." As currently understood in public discourse, "race" has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with cultural self identification.

Nobody accused opponents of HillaryCare of "racism."

Ed Foster said...

Passerby Orc tried to achieve some kind of synthesis, a difficult thing to do on a hot button subject like this.

I remember back in college, when we were sitting around Elmer's in New Britain with a really great teacher, kicking around the nature vs. nurture dichotomy. Getting beer-whacked on her dollar too. Teachers like that are rare indeed.

Anyway, I was a bit different, having just returned from a place where people who didn't look a bit like me spent a lot of time shooting at me.

I'd also spent some time in Europe, and, as a Navy Brat, had been forced to acclimate myself, chameleon-wise, into various different cultures.

My younger compatriots were quite PC about matters racial. In point of fact, they had been beaten into feeling guilty and ashamed of being "white".

My comment was along the lines of "All of human history was various tribes wandering around, trying to improve their collective security at the expense of every other tribe they bumped into, until the 19th century, when a totally unique culture, unlike any the world had ever seen, said women were people, everybody should have a chance at the gold ring, and invented the machine age that made emancipation possible".

Every culture in the history of the world until that time had some form of chattel slavery to clean the chamber pot and pick cotton/tobacco/potatoes/tomatoes/ thresh wheat. Did I miss any stereotypes?

Culturally, everybody in the world is European (white?), barring the occasional pygmy, Kalahari bushman, or Phillipino bush tribesman.

The Japanese businessman may wear a kimono on weekends in the country, but he works in a British suit, lives in a western house or apartment building, drives a western designed auto, and has kids who wear jeans and sneakers.

The same holds for virtually any place on the planet. So, culturally, we are pretty much all at least on the same playing field, however unlevel.

I'm on a roll here, so I'll be back with part two in a moment.

CounterClckWise said...

Maybe don't Ed. It's a whole blog post on its own so you can just link to it here!

OK, Tam I get what your saying, but if you change the semantics of the issue then what else changes? Folks use the word race as shorthand for ethnicity but anyone needing rigor is capable of discerning the terms in their own use.

Ed Foster said...

CounterClckWise, it's too late. I already wrote it, so I'll have to dump it. I ain't Tam, and I don't have her organizational skill. Plain English, I would screw up a blog of my own, so I get to belabor you guys when something I read here tickles my something or other. Next part:

Where I earned some serious approbation was when I posited "Foster's Hypothesis".

To whit: Nature and Nurture are opposite sides of the same coin, each effecting the other.

Put low I.Q. people on welfare(yes, it is important, and does provide the single best indicator of potential), allow an essentially total lack of social norms, and they will get dumber and dumber each passing 15 or 16 year generation. Selection does matter.

For reference (I come from a family of teachers, quite good ones, and this one is a working standard), the best indicator of where an individual will end up in income percentile can be determined before his or her birth by averaging the parental I.Q. scores.

Within plus or minus 10% on income, 90% of the time. The variables are almost entirely ADD. It doesn't reflect all that well on our education system that a highschool dropout with an I.Q. of 140 will probably make more money than a college grad with a Wechsler of 112, but that's how it works out.

A recent study in Britain got only a few mentions in their press due to it's non-PC nature. Although it is still available at BBC Online if you dig for it.

It seems a panel of scholars determined that success in school was 80% genetic.

Not so bad, really? That's the difference between a 60 and an 80, or an 80 and a 100, right? Think about it, that's a trick question.

But it turned out that the lower an individual scored, the more determinate the outcome.

Plain English, it is easy for a bad school system to drop the scores of a bright kid, but almost impossible to significantly raise those of a dull one.

In a polyglot culture like ours, "race" may not be a critical determinate, but innate intellect is. And, sadly, history was kinder to some peoples than others.

Actually, it was more cruel, and demanded a more ruthless selection process.

There are geniuses and morons in every group, but it would be naive to think that the selection process was the same for a nomadic herdsman from the subarctic and a peasant from a sundrenched alluvial flood plane in the tropics, a feuding clansman hiding in ambush in an oak forest and a medieval craftsman in Europe, China, or Peru.

And Wildflower, genetically, Europeans are MUCH closer to Asians than Africans. They only split apart about 15,000 years ago, and have been mixing along the edges ever since.

The straight dark hair, olive skin, and sexy high cheeckbones I was so attracted to on my Polish ex-wife did not wander down from the Baltic. Or the faint epicanthic folds on two of my kids, or the charming mix of three races in my grandchildren.

I really don't have an axe to grind here. I do however think that objectivity suffers on both sides of the divide.

Final instalment of my Phillipic next.

Tam said...


"As far as genetics--Europeans are closer to Africans than Asians."

The idea that there is a genetic entity that can be pointed at and called a "European" or an "Asian" or an "African" is silly. Humans have been cheerfully boinking anything they ran across, from Neanderthals to farm animals, since the days of the Olduvai.

Who's to say that any "European's" family tree is free of Hun mercenaries or Numidian dancing girls? Or that any "Asian" is 100% Portuguese-free?

Nobody seriously thinks that black cats are smarter than tabbies, and yet here we are in the 21st Century, talking about which Sneetches are smarter because they have stars upon thars...

Wildflower said...

Race cannot be defined in humans because we are far closer genetically than, say, dogs are. If we were dogs we'd all be one breed.

American Anthropological Association's statement on race in humans. Doesn't exist scientifically

But there are genetic population pools that have little relation to traditional concepts of race.

And yep, Europeans are genetically closer to many groups of Africans than to most groups of Asians. The deal is some African and Asian groups vary as much as groups on different continents and so do so-called European groups.

The traditional racists don't tend to like the European/African similarities, they prefer the features of lighter skin and straighter hair on the Asians and abhor African features, but racial traits have little to do with genetic similarities.

Google it yourselves. Here's one link on the anthropology topic.

Among Templeton's conclusions: there is more genetic similarity between Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans and between Europeans and Melanesians, inhabitants of islands northeast of Australia, than there is between Africans and Melanesians. Yet, sub-Saharan Africans and Melanesians share dark skin, hair texture and cranial-facial features, traits commonly used to classify people into races. According to Templeton, this example shows that "racial traits" are grossly incompatible with overall genetic differences between human populations.

Tam said...


You're so funny! You say "race cannot be defined in humans" and then you go on and talk about races.

You racist!

Mikael said...

Don't get too hung up on IQ variations and whatnot, like labrat pointed out, the results are often enviromental.

But yes there's differences between ethnic groups. Sometimes within what we consider a single ethnic group, but from different locations.

Prime example: east africans tend toward endurance, and west africans tend towards explosive muscles. IE: marathoners vs sprinters. (African americans can be of either descent but tend more towards west african)

Meanwhile germanic people tend towards explosive upper body strength, and I'd hazard a guess that slavic people might tend towards endurance(but there's been quite a bit of genetic exchange between the two).

None of this means we don't get slavic bodybuilders, germanic marathoners, etc.

And asians tend to have better balance than us in the west.

And it's still just tendencies. You can still meet an asian klutz who trips and falls a lot, a spaghetti-armed germanic, and an african who sucks at running.

Ed Foster said...

Tam, I worship the ground you walk on, and I don't want to tick you off (you're a better pistol shot than I am, and an inch taller to boot), but on this I have to disagree.

Up until the arrival of the train in the mid 19th century, most of the world's population lived and died within a radius of about 5 miles, usually for centuries at a time, often millenia. That being as far as you could walk in a day, in bad weather, and still get home in time for the evening milking.

More than enough time to evolve a distinct local "breed", tailored to distinct local conditions. Thousands of them in fact, each blending gradually into the next, usually quite similar group. The blurred edges were usually far away from the center and effected only small parts of the population.

Google up r1a_migration, then try Haplogroups_In_Europe. For yocks, also Google france_races to see just how frighteningly static most of the world still is.

It's the 21st century, yet most of the planet still marries a second cousin. Unless they're Moslem, in which case there's just about a 50% chance of they're marrying a first cousin.

I'm just sayin nature's variation in genetic gifts, while not effecting any individual per se, is still a major determinant in whole populations.

I used to find myself avoiding the issue too, as a sort of reverse PC. The left had demonized it so much, I felt it wasn't a place I could go for fear of becoming an outcast.

When you get here to check out the new pistol line (hint), I'll regale you with horror stories from my two wasted years as an inner city teacher. Ed.

Wildflower said...


There is no such thing as race scientifically, but socially race is a huge purple elephant in the room dancing the rumba and wearing a bright yellow dress. In other words, there is no ignoring it.

Not talking about race in America is burying your head in the sand. White Americans are the ones generally free to ignore and disregard race in this country.

You CANNOT do that as a black American. It's simply not possible. It slams you in the face constantly. We cannot go along with our lives oblivious of race as you do. I'd give it a few hours at max if I ventured outside of my house before somebody brings it to my attention exactly what I am.

When you meet a person, the first thing you see isn't that they are white. Whites are considered the default, normal in this society. I

When you read a book, the characters aren't defined as white, unless it's integral to the story--but a character of any other race has to be carefully defined as being that race and described. White is the default, the normal, and race has to play NO part in their story. With a character of any other race, race HAS to play a part. They cannot simply be normal. In America, that's not allowed.

I'm an author, btw, so this illustration comes naturally.

Telling a black person race doesn't or shouldn't exist for them is like telling the Jews in Germany seventy or so years ago that being Jewish didn't exist, didn't matter, and didn't make one different from a German.

It doesn't, but if you told that to any Jew of that time, they'd be thinking, WTF?

Your statements strike me the same way.

For blacks, race exists in spades.

(How's that for a pun?)

Ed Foster said...

Actually, if you took every runner in the world, fast twitch fiber and slow twitch, lined them up and told them to run as fast as they could, as far as they could, at 100yds/meters, everone in front would be west African. Same at 200, with the Baltic types gaining.

At 400, a Swede, north German, Pole, or Russian. We're not counting Ben Johnson, the world's geatest doper, who apparently had slow twitch fibers injected in his legs.

800, same Baltic types.

Mile, a Spaniard, Portuguese, Irishman, or Scot, a Swiss or Austrian or Bavarian.

From 5 miles to 25 miles, east African almost every time. Same amount of slow twitch muscle in his legs as the Alpine/Iberian types, but a much shorter torso and 25 pounds less body weight.

UltraRunning, the western European stamina types only. Dramatically lighter and more flexable bones, heavier tendons and ligaments. Same as in bicycle racing.

Throw in upper body strength and those same freckle people completely dominate Triathalon. But they can't jump or sprint, and they suck at basketball.

A sprinter and a triathlete have less in common than a mastiff and a poodle.

Gotta bail crew, it's wage slave time.

Tam said...


"Not talking about race in America is burying your head in the sand. White Americans are the ones generally free to ignore and disregard race in this country."

I love it! Catch-22 racism!

If I pay attention to the color of someone's skin, it's because I'm a racist, and if I don't, it's because my secret white (as far as you know; big racist assumption on your part) privilege makes me a subconscious racist.

Do you have any idea how fucking crazy this makes you sound?

Ed Foster said...

Me, I just step gently and try to smile at everyone. Strange people everywhere.

Wildflower said...

If I pay attention to the color of someone's skin, it's because I'm a racist, and if I don't, it's because my secret white (as far as you know; big racist assumption on your part) privilege makes me a subconscious racist.

Subconscious? Not really. More like willfully unaware or ignorant.

White privilege isn't a secret. You feel comfortable calling me a racist, yet if I called you one, conversation would be instantly stifled.

You can hurl insults and call me names in a racial conversation, yet I have to be very careful about expressing my feelings if I want the conversation to continue.

I don't know if you're white, but I do know that you're probably definitely NOT black or a member of a denigrated race in your society. Your words brim and overflow with self-satisfied privilege throughout the blog too much.

The saddest thing is privilege is so seldom appreciated. You'd have to be able to set foot in another's shoes and walk a step or two for that to happen.

Obviously, I tire of continuing this conversation and exercising restraint.

Do you realize how fucking racist you sound?

I suppose the sound of the rushing river Denial drowns it out.

Brian Dale said...

Ah, "privilege." The accusation against which there's no defense, because--from the structure of the concept--it cannot be disproved.

Wildflower, the ad hominem stuff that accompanies the solid statements that you've made here is bringing up some cognitive dissonance for me...

Brian Dale said...

Is Tam white?

"Well, we did do the nose..."

"And the hat..."

Tam said...


"Do you realize how fucking racist you sound?"

No, I don't. Since my "racism" is all inside your head, I'm afraid you'll have to tell me.

Tam said...

Brian Dale,

I'm not saying there's no such thing as racism. Obviously there are people out there who believe in all kinds of corny irrational, unscientific things, like race theory, or a flat Earth, or Communism.

Robb Allen said...

Flowerchild, please...

You called me a white racist on my blog (and my skin? It's not white. Ask Tam, she's met me). Flat out called me one and interestingly, your comments are still there for the entire world to see. The conversation can continue, so your paranoia about 'ending the conversation' is bunk.

Your race card ain't so much worn as it's basically confetti by now. If it weren't for the real racists who decree "white privilege" and "you don't know what it's like" (try being the product of a mixed marriage like me - the worst of both worlds. Yet, I don't complain about it), then we'd be a lot further on in American society.

But no, people like you want to push other people's noses in your problems and pretend it's theirs. Tam, and most of the commentariat here are staunch defenders of personal liberty. That means we all view the INDIVIDUAL as being the smallest minority worth protecting and that every right is due to every person. We don't consider skin color, height, weight, or if your naughty bits dangle twixt your thighs or not - your rights are the same as mine.

And without people like you trying to get in the way, we'd be a lot further along than we are.

Top of the Chain said...


You just don't get it or us or whatever. We've moved past race whether socially or scientifically. It appears you have a hangup with it though.

pdb said...

This is the most ridiculous display of idiotic faggotry I've ever seen.

Wildflower, I will mail you a USPS money order for $100, no shit, if you can show me ONE unequivocally racist statement on Tam's blog.

C'mon, free money. This should be easy!

salamandertales said...

Yo, Whiteflower, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish. But Jesse Jackson was the best race baiter of all time.

Human said...

Wildflower writes: "White privilege isn't a secret. You feel comfortable calling me a racist, yet if I called you one, conversation would be instantly stifled." Then she proceeds to call Tam a racist and hasn't returned.

Self-fulfilling prophecy?

Darn it, Wildflower, come back; we're gonna have a conversation on "race," whatever that means and it's no fair hurling epithets and then running away.

You wanna move forward, time for a dialog.

pdb said...

I bow to Mr Salamander's timely and topical snark.

Wildflower said...

Why? I announced I was tired of the convo, which is the only reason I bothered to tell the truth.

It would be similar to engaging in a conversation at Stormfront for me to engage in a conversation here.

When have you last engaged at a racial conversation anywhere other than amongst yourselves? Or in the company of minorities (who actually have experience with what you've decided is the nonexistent concept of racism)?

I did link to a post at Tami's blog discussing the issue in a very reasoned way. Why haven't you stampeded there to discuss race?

I suggest Stormfront would be a better fit. I have more respect for them because at least they're honest with themselves about the issue.

Tam said...

Holy shit, I'm not just a racist, now I'm a Nazi!

This is frickin' great!

Hey, did you know that the guy that posted above you, PDB, is widely known as the Hulking Hebrew? Honest! You could look it up.

LabRat said...

Orc- the Minnesota study involved subjects defined as distinct genetic categories according to degree of melanin and social convention, did not remotely control for any condition prior to adoption, and used different IQ tests that required arcane calculation to "correct" scores. The original investigators concluded that their results supported the environmental conclusions, while their detractors alleged the results actually showed correlation according to "degree of African ancestry"- again assumed to be defined by skin color, and further assumed a genetically unitary condition. This kind of thing may fly in psychology, which has a lengthy record of biologically dubious methods, but any actual geneticist attempting to do a proper heritability study would throw the data out the window. With great force.

I am not going to dispute that there are variations among human populations, but if you're going to attempt to prove a particular one, you need to use a study design that doesn't use a sampling category whose only guaranteed internal genetic consistency between categories was melanin content. Unless you're studying the heritability of tanning; then it'd be perfectly sound.

Your point about the Ashkenazi and central Asian results is taken- and it never ceases to entertain me how much genuine white supremacists love to wave this kind of data around without seeming to realize they're essentially celebrating being the second-stupidest "race" on the planet- but speaking of environmental influences... Jewish culture in general lionizes scholarship and intellectual achievement, and in the areas of Europe especially where the Ashkenazi traditionally hail from, it was their only means of cultural survival. Likewise, the difference in pressure to achieve scholastically in China or Japan and in most European natures is night and day. I'm not saying a potential genetic basis is necessarily wrong, but it's also not the most logical assumption.

Wildflower- You know, it would have been entirely possible to point out that race is nonetheless an extremely influential social construct regardless of its biological basis without assuming anyone was too drowned in privilege and "fucking racist" to acknowledge it and they should just go hang out with the Nazis. It might be an important clue in the mystery of why no one seems remotely interested in having a conversation about race with you.

LabRat said...

European NATIONS. Too much time staring at "NATURE vs NURTURE" debatees.

Word verification: inter, what we shall likely have to do with this thread.

DirtCrashr said...

Race isn't measured by IQ and there aren't any sub-species of Homo Sapens - it's a cultural artifact and not all cultures acknowledged it.

Wildflower said...

I didn't allude to my reality of her being a fucking racist until Tam alluded to her reality of calling me fucking crazy. She'd ALREADY called me a racist.

Funny, how nobody hones into any attacks but mine.

But what can you expect from the likes of you folk?

Stormfront aren't just Nazis, I do believe they consist of people who are racist, mainly against blacks, but no, I wouldn't go announcing I was Jewish there. If one just sticks to discussing race in the same way you usually do, y'all will fit right in.

theirritablearchitect said...

"...As far as genetics--Europeans are closer to Africans than Asians..."

Not so.

Most European ancestry is from the Caucasoid "branch" of Homo Sapien, which originated in south Asia, in the Indus valley.

The other two areas where early man supposedly flourished were in the Rift Valley, in what we now call Kenya (typically, this is termed the Negroid "race"), and the third, in what is now China, the Mongoloid "race".

But you know what? All of this "race" stuff is just thin differentiation. Why? Humans from any part of the world, no matter how remote or insular, can successfully reproduce with other humans, no matter what "race" either party may be labeled as coming from.

This isn't a matter of crossing a horse with a donkey and getting a sterile mule. People are people, they just have differences, some of which, people seem to want to keep pointing out, needlessly.

Ed Foster said...

Wildflower's sounding more and more like what my black Daughter-In-law (family photos on request) would refer to as a NWA. Or perhaps an HWA. That's H as in Hon--y. If we're going to split the N word, why not it's vanilla equivalent?

And why the A? Suppositions only, and I ain't going there. As a grand finale, I admit I'm somewhere in the middle, never a happy place to be.

Race is real, at least at the edges. If I take a random sample of 100 each western Europeans, Arabs, Nigerians, and Han Chinese, any five year old could tell them apart instantly, with 100% accuracy.

Use southern Italians and the distinction would blur with reference to Arabs, and if we substituted Morroccans for Arabs the merge with "black" Africa would be a tad shaky, but most Americans do come from the fringes.

And the average intelligence, real useable intelligence, of the Nigerians would be dramatically lower than any other group.

I.Q. scores track remarkably well with both income and, to only a slightly lesser degree, type of job. It's almost eerie how much we seem to be creating a caste system based on intellectual capability.

Suprisingly, affirmative action doesn't make all that much of a difference. It gets lots of marginally competent people into safe but usually mediocre paying jobs, but doesn't advance many of them to any serious level of control. Obviously Mr. Obama is a glaring exception, but by and large...

A really good read, well researched and presented, is the book The I.Q. Controversy. The author had all the liberal bonefides.

A rich New York Jew who had worked in the Socialist work houses in the 1930's and '40's, graduated NYU with Benjamin Hooks, and a man with 40 years in publishing, ending as editor of Harpers.

He started to research and write the book specifically to debunk the idea of I.Q. as a real determinant, learned enough to have an OMFG moment, and ended up completely in the opposite camp. A good, fast read.

So, we end up with one group, of which roughly 85% are less bright than a typical blue collar suburbanite. Remember, that blue collar guy in the 'burbs is smarter than the blue collar guy who stayed behind in the old neighborhood, so roughly 70% are less quick than the inner city white.

Steve Sailor's blog has all the relevant numbers, but the bottom line is that 30% of African-Americans can pull their own weight if given the chance. Even in a modern, post-manual labor society.

Somewhere between stocking shelves (80 to 100 I.Q.), being a cop (105 and up), teaching elementary school (110 to 130), being a doctor or engineer (avg. 132), or flying a Space Shuttle (145 and up). Just like most of the people reading this blog.

These people weren't assigned the jobs because of their test scores, they prospered in those jobs and were tested after they had proven themselves. The numbers were very consistent.

Half of America's black citizens have I.Q.'s under 80, and blacks are 12% of the population. Call it 18 million basically unemployable black people.

17% of America's whites have I.Q's under 80, call it about 38 million. Which is the bigger problem? The whites are twice as numerous and they aren't as easy to spot.

Perhaps the question should be, what should we do with incapable people, regardless of ethnic attachments?

They are still people, and treating them like anything less is a slippery slope I don't want to go near. Our welfare system doesn't do anything but breed sociopaths, but what else is there? An area we really need change.

Brian Dale said...

~quoth Wildflower: "But what can you expect from the likes of you folk?"

Ow. Did I really just read that?


Tam said...


"This kind of thing may fly in psychology, which has a lengthy record of biologically dubious methods, but any actual geneticist attempting to do a proper heritability study would throw the data out the window. With great force."

One of my favorite lines is the one about where one creates a bogus "science" by taking a Greek or Latin root and adding "-ology" to it, like "astrology", "phrenology", or "psychology"... ;)

Unix-Jedi said...

But what can you expect from the likes of you folk?

YOU FOLK!??!?!?!

And he's calling *us* bigots?

Tam said...

It's a special kind of internet where writing a post making fun of racism gets you called a racist. ;)

Moriarty said...

Yeah, let's talk about the likes of us folk for a sec.

White physician in solo practice. My wife, white social worker. My son, white. My daughter - from Taiwan.

Let me introduce you to my closest friends, dating back to grade school...

White. Married his wife while in the Air Force in the Philippines. Three children. Satellite communications specialist for a major telecom firm. Recently returned from a 2 year contract in Afghanistan.

White. Met his wife (a Royal Thai Army officer) while in Army SF. Still in, now a Lt. Colonel with MD and MPH after his name and two kids.

White. Married a Latina (parents from Mexico.) Two children. MBA, regional manager for a large pharmacy chain.

White. Recovering from severe PTSD incurred in Iraq, medically retired military with 23 years. Two children from a prior marriage (one recently promoted to GySgt, USMC.) Wife white. Two children from their present marriage and one child whom you might identify as "African American" from a prior relationship.

Yep. Dat'd be us folk. Reasonably well educated and successful white crackers from a redneck, agrarian small town who have a predilection for ignoring race in our personal lives.

Funny, how nobody hones into any attacks but mine.

That might have a lot to do with your use of unfounded assumptions and sweeping generalizations.

Or, you could just be an idiot.

(Machts nichts.)

DirtCrashr said...

I dunno about you folks, I was born in Calcutta.

Roberta X said...


Roberta X said...

(I am, of course, a heathen: Cherokees who snuck off the Trail, dirt-poor Scots and poorer Irish and German farmers with dirt under their fingernails. My Dad had wavy jet-black hair, black eyes and skin as dark-red as old leather; Mom is fair and blonde. What's that make me? American. Just like you and Tam and Wildflower and (most) of the other commenters here. Some are furrin and we get along with them okay, too. Hey, Wildflower, yer my sister, or brother maybe, if I read you wrong, and Tam's our sister, too -- you have some kind of problem with that?)

Mikael said...

I sometimes half-jokingly say that I'll be the first one in my family whose kids will not be blue-eyed.

I'm far too attracted to latinos, asians, persians, etc. They make up about half my past love interests, while most people I know and meet are white.

I've been friends with africans, asians, persians, latinos, arabs, etc. One of my best friends in grade school was one Nuogo Demba an imigrant from Gambia.

Oh and two of the players at the local Go club(really tricky game, harder than chess) who are better than me are non-caucasian(a han chinese and a black guy, so much for dumb blacks eh?)

Moriarty said...

Well, speaking of furriners...

Dad was an honest-to-Satan HJ when my grandfather spirited his 17-year-old butt out of the Fatherland. Grandpapa, having an impeccable sense of timing, left the day of something called the Gleiwitz incident, which began a period of strenuous impoliteness throughout Europe. (Being a German WW1 vet, he had a fairly clear view of which way things were headed.)

My mother, being an orphan, stayed for the festivities in the capacity of a medical aide attached to the Wehrmacht.

My parents met afterward and the rest, as they say, is history.

Apart from a certain animosity toward Russians on Mom's part, I've never seen a hint of ethnic intolerance in my family. Despite her advancing age Mom is, however, exceedingly... energetic toward anyone who dares speak an ill word of our daughter, particularly in public. (That happened once - and only once.)

CounterClckWise said...

Hey Tam, have you read a book called Before The Dawn by Nick Wade? I highly recommend it as a prehistory of man's development, in which he addresses the genetic heritability issues that you're parsing.

Anonymous said...

You white people are all nuts.

Shootin' Buddy

Ken said...

...along with the rest of you Earther dregs.

Brian Dale said...

{* adds "Earther Dregs" to the list of Potential Band Names *}

Tam said...

Wasn't that an Allen Sloan solo project?

Mark said...

Last time I checked, there was one Human race, Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Everything else is just a variety. Live it up, kids - there's only one Human Race, and that's the Human Race. Skin colour's about as important as eye colour.