Race Me!

What is race?  If you just answered it is a competition based on who can go faster, you win a gold star.  Because the other meaning of the word is far, far more elusive.

Phillip K. Dick speaking of sanity once said something like (like because I’m too lazy to go look for a quote, and besides it’s late, my having woken up about an hour later than normal and having had to deal with stuff postponed from the trip) Sanity is an edge narrower than a foothold, sharper than the tooth of a guard dog, more elusive than a phantom.  Perhaps it doesn’t exist.  Perhaps it’s a phantom.

Now, just as with sanity there are degrees.  While Phil Dick might have considered the guy on the street corner, weedling on himself and ranting about giant ants perfectly sane, most of us would have no doubt in seeing him for total nuts.  And while you can look at me and my friend Amanda – who is a redhead – and go “well, I’m not sure” if you set Amanda next to someone from Papua New Guinea, you’ll probably go “okay, they have different sets of inherited characteristics.” And you’d be right.  Heck, we all have different sets of inherited characteristics.  I’m fairly sure my brother and I inherited characteristics each from one side of the family.

So, how do we define race?  How do you go “you have this and that characteristic and that other therefore you’re this race.”  If you’re saying “I know your race when I see you” – go sit in the corner and think about your misdeeds.  I’m impressed over and over again by how many American blacks would be immediately and instinctively considered white in other countries.  Perhaps not Obama – although it depends on the country and the circumstances – but Jeremiah Wright?  Oh, for heaven’s sakes, there wouldn’t even be any hesitation.  The man looks Portuguese.  He doesn’t even look like one of the darker – still white – Portuguese.

What we consider black (I refuse to use African-American for the same reason I wouldn’t call myself Portuguese-American – and I got here yesterday. Because the American part is what counts.  Besides, African-American is not a race, it’s an origin.  If Dave had come to the US instead of OZ he could damn well call himself African-American.  Not that he would)in the US would pass unnoticed as Caucasian most places in the world.  (Maybe not Germany or Scandinavia.)

Did you know that if you put an afro on me and I have a tan, I am functionally black?  No?  Well, I was for most of the seventies, and this in Portugal, where race distinction requires a deeper tan and more African features.  And yet, three of my four grandparents were blue/green eyed and two were blond.  And the features don’t even all come from the same side.

Are you under the impression there is some set of genes that makes a race or another?  Well…  There aren’t.  There are some genetic defects that make it fairly sure you belong to one race – or sub-race – but that’s about it.  Even genetic testing at the level we have it can’t say for sure that you don’t have any x blood, just that you PROBABLY don’t.  That the genes you inherited don’t have traces of x doesn’t mean one of your siblings or cousins doesn’t.  We found out recently for instance that my sons have way more Amerindian blood than we thought, because Robert has some health problems that trace to that – however Dan has always considered himself anglo-Irish, and he just doesn’t tan.  If you put him under the sun long enough he’ll turn a slightly less blue-tint shade of pale.

Race is in fact a phantom.  It is also a survival of the human instinct for tribalism.  Throughout history “race” has applied to – not a set of genetic characteristics – but “my tribe” vs. another tribe.  If you’re my tribe you’re probably my cousin and look somewhat like me.  If you are another tribe, you look different.  That’s the earliest definition of race.  Later it extended to national unit and at the time that national units were sharpening their stories, to be accepted as valid, and you can read Nineteenth century about the Portuguese race and the English race and the Irish race.

And now…  And now we have the present system, in which the government uses race to divide and conquer.  In the name of righting injustices and banishing the increasingly more invisible specter of racism, they are looking for race in all the wrong places.  For instance, my maiden name now makes me a different race.  Which is interesting, because for years it didn’t.  My maiden name is Marques de Almeida (it is common in Portugal to do this sort of thing because there are very few family names, comparatively, so Marques de Almeida is a different descent line from say Soares de Almeida or…  You get the point.) If I had spelled that with a z when I became a citizen, I’d have been immediately and without blinking Hispanic, Latina or whatever you want to call it this week.  But I spelled it with an s and therefore I was white.  Now the feds say I’m Latina anyway.  Well and good.  But how does a letter make me a different race?  And what difference does it make, anyway, when at least one branch of the family came from near enough Spain that with one thing and another (and yet another) I probably have a lot of Spanish ancestors (not that I’ll admit to it for sure.  Not under torture.  I mean… Spaniards! – I’m joking, I swear.)

It is possible that you can’t eradicate tribalism from the human soul.  And if you can, I’m not the one to say the federal government should set about doing it.  They’ve already gone too far towards doing that and, like most attempts at changing the human soul with the blunt mallet of statism, it has backfired horribly.

Yes, black people in America have a troubled history – of which the government and the entertainment industry makes a point of reminding them every time they turn around.  So what?  Are they the only people taken slave in the history of the world?

Believe it or not, a lot of Americans believe this.  I once sat through a speech given by a Catholic Bishop – A BISHOP, not a parish priest – who decided to hang his point on the day of the speech being the day of two saints who were slave and mistress (both women.)  I can’t remember their names, but back in Roman times, slave and owner converted to Christianity and died for it.  What was the theme of the Bishop’s sermon?  Racism.  And as he spoke it became obvious this man, who SURELY somewhere along the line studied history, assumed – unthinking – that the slave was black.  She might have been, but it’s unlikely.  From the time period it is far more likely she was blond and blue eyed, while her mistress was somewhat more melanin enhanced.

But American schools don’t teach this.  They don’t teach that each and everyone of us has ancestors who were enslaved – that slavery was an evil that stalked humanity UNTIL the industrial revolution freed us.   Nor that most people were enslaved by people who looked just like them.

I once asked a teacher why not and was told that teaching that – though it’s true – would be racist.  Because singling out people who tan easily, have curly hair and might have recent slave ancestry and telling them they are the ONLY ONES who were ever enslaved is not racist (besides being a lie.)  And apparently it builds their self esteem.  You know, self-esteem is built on being a victim, which makes you virtuous, right?  If I told you “You were beat up by everyone in kindergarten, even the little girl on crutches” it immediately makes you feel powerful, doesn’t it?

No.  It makes you feel like you need protection and therefore it serves the government’s ends, not yours.  Which is why true history of slavery is NOT taught in schools.  Not to save anyone’s “self esteem.”

Phantom.  We’ve given them cart blanche to hunt a phantom. Should we allow our government to spend money and resources pursuing a phantom?  What’s next?  We’re going to give them a mandate to ferret alien landings?  Look, that probably would be better.  At least, it would be less harmful.  This race thing which of course the government sees as a means to win power by pitching a set of their bosses – the people – against the other has now become silly season.  When you say things like “unemployed” is a code word for black, you’ve entered nuts territory.  You don’t even deserve to be tarred and feathered, just pointed at and laughed, because you just crossed that edge of Dick’s definition and proved you’re insane.

In an increasingly more race-mixed America – and world – race is becoming harder and harder to track down.  You see, it’s not easy to pin.  The child of blond people can have black hair – a recessive gene surfacing.  Dan and I could theoretically produce a blond, blue eyed child.  Actually it’s not even that rare, in Portugal, for a family of Mediterranean looking people to throw out a blond child.  We had a couple of blond sheep among my cousins, one of whom could be my twin, except for blond hair and blue eyes.

What you have to remember is this: unless your ancestors come from a very small place and have been isolated for thousands of years, you probably have ancestors from all over the world.

One of my belly laughs on the DaVinci Code is that if Jesus and Mary Magdalen TRULY had had children and any of those lines survived, the descendants wouldn’t be the kings of France – the descendants would be ALL OF US.  Heck, if any of Shakespeare’s descendants survived (well, not from his wife, obviously, but for heaven’s sake, the man worked away from home a good deal) there is a good chance most of us in the anglosphere are descended from him.

We are of a randy species that never really made a distinction based on skin color or much of anything else when it comes to giving someone a two-penny upright.  And lost travelers, ship wrecked sailors, prisoners of war and heaven knows what else, have ensured that enough of that occurred to keep us one species.  Yes, people from Scandinavia can make babies with people from Sub-Saharan Africa, and that means that some gene exchange has kept on occurring.  (We’ve found that species – defined as unable to have viable offspring – occurs in far fewer generations than we previously imagined.) [It wouldn’t mean that someone from Sub-Saharan Africa made it to Sweden every few thousand years, either – just that a lot of someone’s made it to Northern Africa, and then those in turn made it to the Mediterranean and…  Genetic exchange on the retail plan.]

Now, with international travel, more of it occurs.  And meanwhile government bureaucrats are looking for racial characteristics and code words and unconscious racism under your bed and mine and trying to convince us that the way to eliminate racism is to keep emphasizing different characteristics of some sub-group.  Because you know, if we start saying “There’s nothing wrong with redheads” and “redheads are people too” and “you bought carrots.  It means you hate redheads” it will foster integration and good will and not cause EVERYONE to do a double take every time they see a redhead AND CERTAINLY not cause everyone to be afraid to mention “carrot” or “orange” near a redheaded friend.

They think we’re stupid, and they’re trying to make us insane.

I don’t know about you, but I personally am tired of it.  I’m ready to go under the bed with the fumigation equipment – for ants.  Today’s emergency – and if I find any government bureaucrats there, I’ll laugh at them.  Which is what we all need to start doing.

And as for race…  My parents told me I was human.  (Though for a while they weren’t sure.)  I choose to believe them.

136 responses to “Race Me!

  1. In one of my more squishy, mandatory (why are all the mandatory classes squishy?) classes in college…you know, the type with titles which invariably end in “Studies”…I was so fed up with the discussion of race as if it were a real thing that I asked for and received permission from the instructor (himself a graduate student in a “Studies” discipline…(maybe the quotes should be around the word discipline in that sentence) to do an experiment in class.

    I put up a powerpoint slide of 30 people, shoulders and head only, all of seemingly variant ethnic background. I handed out simple slips of paper and asked the class to count the number of African Americans on the slide and write down the total, then I collected them and did a quick-n-dirty graph on the blackboard.

    It was a trick question because every single picture on the slide was of someone who was born somewhere in Africa. There were whitey whites and blackie blacks and everything in between. There were a couple that looked hispanic, some with oriental features, etc.

    I had hoped it would be eye opening, but all it did was earn me the ire of those most married to the hyphenated self-image they routinely cloaked themselves with.

    • Never argue with a fool, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

      • Mileage varies. Most of the people who have argued with me over the years were fools, and unlike them, I learned from the experience. Nowadays, when people are choosing the right-hand horn of the dilemma from Proverbs (‘Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him’), I very often find myself elected to be the poor Sammy Soap who has to cover the left-hand horn (‘Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit’) just in case the enemy tries a flank attack.

      • Never argue with a fool, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

        Oh bearcat, that so goes in my quotes database.

    • Once again I cannot initiate, or if Scott doesn’t mind:

      They think we’re stupid, and they’re trying to make us insane.

      I don’t know if they think we are stupid, but they certainly seem so. Trying to make sense of them will likely drive us insane. (I believe it was Orwell observed that it takes a lot of education to believe such nonsense.)

      Just as the walls are really beginning to fall, and I see so many mixed couples around me here in the south, the government gets nearly as uptight about race identification as it was back during the social Darwin phase of race construct. Great. Just great.

      • I think a convulsion of racial animus was inevitable as the aging hucksters from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s started seeing their relevance slip away. It’s unfortunately, however, that it happened with the advent of this administration’s historic (and it is, don’t kid yourselves) election to office.

  2. i had an eye-opening experience recently which changed my attitude drastically. I had heard that Africa was the origin of humans. When I had my DNA done, and found my ptDNA through a male of the family, I got the shock of my life. Yea – we may very well be Sumerians. 😉 *snort. On my father’s side our relatives are mostly Arabs… we left the Mid-east about 4,000 more or less years ago according to the DNA record.

    Okay – I am blonde hair, blue-eyed (half of the family), which follows my mother’s Scandinavian heritage. Half of my brothers and sisters are darker skin, dark hair, and blue eyes – following my father’s side of the family. My second sister and I DO NOT LOOK ALIKE.

    Even so – it was a shock to realize that we were closer related to the mid-East than to most Europeans. Even my mother’s side of the DNA is different. Of course, when you look at the family lines (unsubstantiated with DNA), we did keep to ourselves. Some married close cousins for many years (sometimes centuries).

    So what I am getting to is that we are more mixed than we think. I was talking to a friend who was tracing her genealogy. She found out that her family ran away from a family of slaveowners and lived free in the “Far West” which is now Ohio. Her family were mulattos and when they ran away, they were classified as white.

    She had always wondered why the extreme curly hair popped out in the family. Well… yea –

    So this politicalization of race is WRONG. Plus just because I look a certain way, doesn’t mean my DNA agrees (genotype vs. phenotype).

  3. Sorry, I find the entire topic tedious and interesting only in the way that turning over random rocks is interesting. There are facts — such as the way an anthropologist can distinguish “race” by examining a femur — but they clearly have no relevance to current discussions of the subject, which uses race as shorthand for culture and then goes sharply downhill. I say its spinach.

  4. Yes on the race thing, my grandfather was black Irish; black hair, only a mustache no other facial hair, high cheekbones, and tanned very dark (if you ever seen his legs that were always covered in pants his skin was so light it was translucent). He used to get jobs as an Indian through the affirmative action act once it came into effect. His parents or grandparents (I forget which) came from the old country.

    I went to school with some kids, both parents were dark brown haired, brown eyed caucasian (typical European look) all three kids came out with Negroid (I know that isn’t the PC word but best description I can come up with) features, and the typical tight curled afro type hair to go with it. Only problem was, all three were also white-blonde, blue-eyed, and VERY pale skinned. I am not sure where those physical attributes came from, but I am pretty sure they were not of a ‘pure race’ no matter what their parents looked like.

    • My grandmother was from Liverpool, as WASPy-white as the day was long, but her family came from Cornwall, and she always breathlessly insisted that there was a Spanish sailor, ship-wrecked from the Spanish Armada who had married into her ancestral line. The proof of it was, (she insisted) that one of her brothers was tall, with dark hair and eyes, and looked so very foreign! It had to be that Spanish blood! We forbore from pointing out that in Cornwall, with a long history of cross-Channel smuggling, there might have been any number of less dramatic reasons for this. And I lived in Spain for six years – just about all my local national neighbors where of the hair color that my other grandmother called ‘dun-duckety brown’, pale-ish skin tone and varied eye color. Pretty much like I thought the average Englishmen-and-women looked, from when I went venturing there. (Pretty much like me, in fact.) But my Liverpool gran lived on that family story.

      And my Pennsylvana gran had the story of the escaping slave family who settled down in Lionville, PA – which was a node on the Underground Railway. They were as pale in skin-tone as anyone in the country around – they were in the same grade-school as she. But they did have the seriously kinky hair.

  5. I tried, unsuccessfully, to post a comment. I copied and tried to paste at least six times. Into a box that did not have a “post comment” under it. Now I see that the entire blog entry has been repeated below the comments and the first copy – and the reply form down there under the second copy has no “post comment” – and it was *that*, *second* copy that the link from my email took me to. And by time I figured that out, I’d copied and pasted a forwarded weblink, so lost my comments.

    I hate WordPress.

  6. I have a lady friend who looks African-American, but she’s really Bahamanian.

    Looks alone are not a good indicator.

    • Shirley you’re not suggesting that race is only skin-deep…

      • But that’s one of the actually useful uses for race, isn’t it? As a short hand for how somebody looks – saying the guy you are looking for looks African, and then adding something like ‘short and slim, with very short hair’ takes a lot less space than starting with ‘dark skin, short tightly curled hair, broad nose…’.

  7. Nonsense, Sarah: I can tell your race at a glance. You’re Human. . . 😉

  8. Oh, so many things here. I’ll try to keep it to a couple.

    I would be right there with you on the being able to tan for a while and be called black. No idea why – if the storyline from my grandfather is true, I’m 1/16th Amerindian, but that’s not much. The rest is all European. But my father’s arms are darker than Obama’s (I don’t spend as much time in the sun as he did, or mine would be, too), and it was one of the black students in my high school who called me “n***er lips”, so yeah.

    On thinking twice or worrying about everything you say around a member of a “victim” group? Oh. My. Word. I have dialogues in my head practicing how I will respond to some accusation of racism or sexism, because I might say something that offends someone. I know I’m overreacting, but it still makes me worry, simply because of the small number of times that it has happened.

    • We all do that — the running through head thing. ALL of us. It’s time we stop and just laugh when called racist. In my case, being from where I am, the answer should be “I don’t discriminate against any possible ancestors. you name it, I probably have it. Even if Amerindian is unlikely.” Robert got called “my n*gg*r” by his football team mates and the first time they met Dan they approached him and said “So, your mom is the one who’s black?” 😛 And he has STRAIGHT hair, unlike his brother who looks like he just walked over from following Moses across the desert. You figure it. We don’t care.

  9. My last name is Norwegian. I can trace my family tree back to the 1400s.

    My ancestors came to the Americas in 1690 or so.

    After 320 years of running (and sleeping) through the maelstrom of American genetics, my DNA must be hilarious.

    One of the funniest things was running into a black Air Force General when I was in the service – who had the same Norwegian last name as I do. For the same reason, more or less.

    • My mom’s hobby is geneology (if I spelled that wrong, it’s one of the few words I can never remember how to spell). In the course of her researches, we have found Cherokee/Chickasaw, tons of Scots, Irish, Welsh, English, Nordic (Viking), French, Spanish, Italian, Jewish, and possibly Egyptian. And since some of the Scots and English links go into the European aristocracy, and we all know the European aristocracy interbreed like crazy, well…

  10. Indeed.

    • That was supposed to be attached to scottmcglasson’s post:

      I think a convulsion of racial animus was inevitable as the aging hucksters from the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s started seeing their relevance slip away. It’s unfortunately, however, that it happened with the advent of this administration’s historic (and it is, don’t kid yourselves) election to office.


  11. Hm. I’m not so sure that there doesn’t need to be some amount of… of awareness that, y’know, maybe that there college teacher should re-think why he’s giving two white-looking girls an A, and the amber-skinned girl with the broader nose and the dark-amber, close-cut afro, a B on the same assignment. Especially when he ought to have been able to see I, whiteygirl that I am, was BSing my way through things. (I think he saw it; my friend A had her “reading journal” commented all over, and mine had virtually no comments. I wonder now if he was scared of me, since I was the one who stood up against most of the yes-man class and said, “You know, in this story you’ve assigned, that’s rape that’s being glorified. She says no, he continues, and oh, wow, orgasms. Maybe the assumptions here are a little squicky if you think about it, and not the best model to hold up about how Sex In Nature Is So Morally Perfect.”)

    We compared our stuff and there was, honestly, no objective reason that our amber-skinned friend would have a lower grade. Except we were “obviously” white, and she “obviously” wasn’t.

    (This is also the English class where Friend A and I planted a small pine as one of our projects, and brought in pine seedlings for the class, and as I recall got quite the good grade for our posterboard and pictures and seedlings in plastic cups. Because Nature Is Perfect And Ideal.)

    (Oh, and his fantasy was to go out and till the fields and have his wife bring him lunch and have sex with her outside in the grass beside the field. As he told the class.)

    And that’s in freakin’ New England, where in theory people are more enlightened than down South where I grew up.

    Yeah, there’s a tension between bias against and too much lenience towards — but that classmate should’ve gotten the same A I got, because I know how contemptuously I faked my “reading journal.” She did at least as much work as I did. She deserved my grade.

    • There’s always other reasons. And people are ALWAYS prejudiced. You’re simplifying it to race. Perhaps he didn’t like her opinions? Look, at one time Dan and I and our friends who are slightly taller and were — at the time — thinner walked into a car lot. The salesmen fawned on them, ignored us. Not race. We were all dressed down. (It was Saturday) but they’re taller than us. And they were thinner. We fit someone’s “redneck” niche. They didn’t. (SHRUG.) I have people I react badly to, nothing to do with race. Sometimes it’s their mannerisms that annoy me. BUT — here’s the thing — we ALL have those things. The good teachers are already aware of them. The bad aren’t going to become good through a series of rules on “how to be politically correct.” THAT’s not how people work. And all the people who are good teachers are just going to have to discriminate the other way — by LAW — and then they’re going to hate everyone. Seriously. The way we’ve been going is not the way.

      • I suppose it’s possible he didn’t like her opinions. But he should have really hated mine, because I pretty well despised all of his, and I got an A, not just in that project, but for the whole class.

        I also wrote an extremely scathing teacher evaluation at the end of the class, because dear GODS the man was an unthinking git.

        Sometimes it’s nice to have a few ways to point to the Unthinkingness, though… It means at least there is the concept of “that… might oughta be thought about.” One of my fictional cultures… I admit openly, I set it up to be “so racist, they don’t have a word for it.”

        There’s always going to be a tension between doing so much nothing that everyone goes along knowing that X sits at the back of the bus*, and doing so much everything-on-a-platter that the recipients become as capable to take care of themselves as one of Snape’s Slytherin students are to make a competent potion without having their hands held and their noses wiped. I think that the tension may be necessary, until we really can get to Star Fleet, or else a vast majority operates on inertia, instinct, and habit.

        (*Actually, the 8th graders got moved to the front of the bus one year, so the driver could keep an eye on them better…)

      • Exactly. Perhaps she reminded him of someone he didn’t like. Perhaps she misspelled a certain word and when he sees THAT word misspelled some former experience convinces his subconscious that the person misspelling it is a moron. Perhaps he found her tone of voice obnoxious. There are a nigh-infinite number of irrelevant reasons a professor who was influenced by irrelevant reasons when giving grades might be influenced by.

        Or perhaps – and this is crazy, I know, but stay with me – he was a college professor with years of experience and certain expectations of what student work should comprise *and the OP and her whitey friend just hit closer to the mark.* Whether by accident or not. The sheer *arrogance* of assuming that *you* can get inside *his* head and determine that his method of evaluating the work would have produced identical results absent racial influence, it simply astounds me

    • I really cannot understand these idiots who think it romantic to have sex out of doors. Do it in the field or woods and you’ve got rocks and twigs to deal with; do it on the beach and you’re getting sand into places you really don’t want sand.

      As for grading, well, it is always subjective on things like journals. Student A may be coasting on glib articulateness, student B may have innovative ideas but struggle to make them clear. The teacher may just like the flow of words employed by one student and be put off by spelling errors in the other and miss which of the two actually has something worth saying. This sort of problem leads to politicians being called great orators even though they have nothing original to say and what they do say is banal, jejune and cliched.

      • Pretty much NOBODY in the world outside of hip Americans and Europeans thinks it’s good to have sex outdoors. Sherpas in Nepal have to keep telling their clients, “it’s very very bad to have sex outdoors here, you’re bringing disaster upon yourself.” American Indians who have stuck close to the old ways are also are infuriated by whiteeyes screwing everywhere. “It’s disrespectful in the extreme, and it disturbs the nature spirits who are everywhere and who we must get along with.”

        • Especially since there are a HUGE number of Native American stories that start with a girl being somewhat unclothed outdoors, or even unwarily drinking the wrong water or swallowing a bug, and then her getting impregnated by some spirit or invaded by one wanting to get born so as to make mischief. Very Greco-Roman Zeus-ish, really.

          So yeah, sex outdoors would just be asking for trouble.

      • Mosquitoes and chiggers. ‘Nuff said.

      • Yeah, but near as I can tell, he didn’t even read my so carefully crafted journal.

        • Now working at a traditional publishing house, where they don’t read the books they publish, either… Have you considered maybe he was afraid of you? Sometimes in life, being nice doesn’t pay. TRUST me, I know.

  12. One afternoon years ago I managed to get a fellow undergrad all but spitting nails when I inquired, “If you are a person of color, does that make me a person of pinkness?” No, I was a European-American. “But I was born here, so shouldn’t I be a native American?” Oh heavens no, only Native Americans are native Americans, I’m a European American. “Well, you are certainly of color,” she’s about Alan West’s shade, “so I’m of pinkness, right?” The earnest campus activist failed to notice the growing number of students of all shades gathered in the back of the classroom, stifling giggles.

    I’d say the current process is a conflation of class, culture and race, at least in the US and parts of Europe. Thomas Sowell summed it up nicely in “White Liberals and Black Rednecks.” “Race” has become a code word for “culture” and cultural behavior, which blends into economics and social class. Thus one can be declared racist for disliking certain practices associated with Islam, for example, even though practitioners of Islam belong to all sorts of genetic groups.

    • Just like some of the liberals calling Herman Cain racist because he was running as a conservative, and we all know conservatives are racist. Therefore Herman Cain must be racist, and hate his own skin color.

  13. masgramondou

    I’m sure your use of the term “carte blanche” is RAAAAACIST. Aren’t you suggesting that only white paper is acceptable?

  14. I had an American History teacher once that insisted that the Amerindians didn’t keep slaves. I pointed out that slavery was prevalent in North America long before the Europeans arrived, and showed him in the textbook we were using where it said so. I showed him where both the Mayan and the Aztec cultures were based on slavery. He refused to speak to me the rest of the semester. Some people don’t want to know the truth.
    One of my ancestors was at LEAST half-Creek (his mother was full-blooded). There were 24 slaves listed among his “possessions” when he died. He’d freed more than 50 more before he died, including at least 20 Amerindians (mostly Cherokee and Seminole). The Hebrews were slaves in both Egypt and in Babylon. The Arabs kept slaves until at least 1967, and may still. Quite a few of the early settlers to this nation came here FROM EUROPE as indentured servants – a polite word for short-term slavery. One of the major problems with political correctness is that it can’t function without “forgetting” or ignoring a great amount of history and human behavior.

    • In Mauritania, slavery was legal until 1981. The law abolishing it still isn’t enforced; slavery and slave-trading are still endemic in parts of the country. Now, I give you one guess what continent Mauritania is on, and what ‘race’ the slaves AND the slaveowners are. (No fair knowing in advance!)

    • The Hebrews were slaves in both Egypt and in Babylon.”

      This is the basis for arguments that Jesus was Bla … African-American. Truthfully, I haven’t paid much attention to the argument (once I decide the source is in need of a good enema I tend to stop listening), but as I recall it goes something like: Moses was able to pass as a member of the Egyptian Royal Household(TM), the ERH was …. um, melanin gifted, therefore Moses had to be melanin gifted, David was a direct descendant of Mo, Jesus was in direct line of descent of David, ergo (a little Latin enhances credibility, don’ch know) Jesus was a man of color.

      Once you realize these same theorists hold the belief that ancient Egyptians built the pyramids and flew by their astounding mental powers, why bother arguing with them?

      • For some reason I always assumed Jesus looked Jewish, you he was a Jew.

        • And the Bible says Jesus was nothing extraordinary to look at, in looking at all the Jews I have seen I would have to say a black man would be considered extraordinary in that society.

          • Sigh – just one more example of the Jews stealing the Black Man’s heritage.

            Google “Jesus was black” after you swallow whatever is in your mouth.

            • To be fair, there were undoubtedly black Jews in Africa (and apparently still are today). But yeah, not what this particular group of cranks is interested in.

    • The last Icelander captured by Barbary slavers was taken from his farm in 1627. The English still had problems with Barbary slave raids then, too. Today, Khartoum is the major slave market for Africa and the Middle East. The hard-liners maintain that what the Prophet commanded or permitted cannot be banned, which includes slavery.

    • And their death rate was hideous. What’s the economic difference between treatment of a person who is property forever, and a person who is property for a few years? If the “owner” has no scruples, great temptation to work the indentured slave to death while he’s still a slave.

      • From what I read, slaves were treated much better than indentured servants. Many died before reaching the end of their indenture.

      • There is also — has anyone thought of that — that the west VOLUNTARILY freed their slaves. Think of the investment that had gone into them — they were freed. It was the right thing to do, of course. BUT it was also the first time in history that was done en-masse. You’d think resentment would be less? And you’d, of course, be wrong. Eh. Humans are weird.

        • There you go, using logic again.

        • There was gratitude, at one time. The “Black Vote” used to be solidly Republi-Party Of Lincoln-can, finally changing under LBJ’s effort to re-enslave … excuse me: provide them a useful scam by which they could draw against the State at the expense of their pride, their dignity and their social cohesion … in the name of The Great Society.

  15. My mummy frequently told me I was a little monkey (and she ought to have known, one hopes) even though my dear pater rarely engaged in social grooming in public. I have a feeling Sarah has been sneaking into my computer and reading the latest Bolg (you know, my vertically challenging Pict (so he is tattooed blue) who just never got around to dying
    The doorman looked down at me. That happens a lot, when you’re 4’7” but there’s looking down and looking down. He bent down and said ‘what you want here. We don’ like your kind.”
    I always thought I was one of a kind. Bending down had put his lovely green and yellow and red scarf in comfortable reach, so I used it raise myself to his height. Or, because I am quite heavy, to bring him down to mine. “You have something against dwarves, mister?” I said, looking him in the eye.
    He thought he’d take a swing at me, so I rapped his knuckles with the Glock. His eyes bulged. “You’re a very unfriendly fellow. I came here, all polite on a matter of business, and you’re taking it out on me because you’re six foot four and I’m 4′ 7″. So why don’t I break your kneecaps so you can see the world from my angle? Or was this just a terrible misunderstanding?”
    “Man, nothin’ against your height,” he lied hastily. “Jus’ this place is for people o’ color, see.”
    “You’re saying I’m not colored?” I said pointing to my tattoos.
    “No man. I never said anything dirty like colored! That’s an insult, man. I said people of color.”
    “Blue isn’t a color according you then?” Now, I must admit this ‘color’ thing irritates me. I’ve met one or two transparent people, but they were ghosts. All the living ones were some color, even if it was fish-belly white, like this fellow’s face, right now.
    “Uh. I mean black.”
    “You aren’t.”
    Even bent double looking into my face, and I am not a pretty sight, he drew himself up – as high as he could while keeping his head attached. “My great great grandma was a slave, man!”
    “So was mine.” She had been. She’d been the queen before the Votadini raid too, but I had the feeling this fellow would be more impressed by slaves than queens, or by who got her pregnant. I remember the legionnaires from Libia and Nubia on Hadrian’s Wall being really popular with the local girls, so I was probably as ‘black’ as this dude anyway. Maybe Fintan is old enough not to be of mixed up skin-color genes, but no-one else on earth is.
    “Uh. I didn’t know, brother.”
    I’m a bit low on relations, and I was sure this fellow wasn’t one of them. But I let it pass. “I’ve come to find out about a dancer.”

  16. “We are of a randy species that never really made a distinction based on skin color or much of anything else when it comes to giving someone a two-penny upright.”

    For once I disagree with you.

    True, in the big picture someone from every group gets a chance at the two-penny upright. But in the short run, there are all kinds of rules, spoken and unspoken–mostly unspoken–so that there are plenty of people who are SOL on this front.

    Cases in point:

    It was de facto acceptable for white Southern men, pre-Civil Rights Act, to have children with black women. It was not acceptable for white Southern women to have children fathered by black men–and, with rare exceptions, it didn’t happen.

    Also, pre-Pill, sex was not really common before marriage. About the only ones who had it were the alphas of the alpha males. Thus there was a huge advantage to being personally heroic. This advantage disappeared with the Sexual Revolution.

    In fact, by the 1970s, being a heroic male was a huge disadvantage. I don’t doubt that many Vietnam vets went lonely and miserable due to the hatred against them at the time.

    Then, during the 1980s, it became once again a plus to be a veteran of the military, so millions of young men joined the military…

    …only to be told, with the end of the Cold War and the accession of William Clinton, that alpha males were “out” and draft dodgers were “in.”

    Meanwhile, during all this time, being knowledgeable about science and engineering (i.e., a nerd) put you automatically at the back of the pack. FWIW, I got the short end of the stick both ways. I was a nerd in the 1980s, and an uncool veteran in the 1990s (as well as a gun owner, which made it even worse for me in that evil decade).

    Then came the 2000s, when it was again a plus to be a big strong man–but only if you were a firefighter (i.e., in a public employee union), or else if you were a veteran who was fashionably anti-war. If you were a supporter of the war, then obviously you were a chicken hawk. Harry Reid said so himself, and he heroically served in the Capitol Police while 50,000 men died in Vietnam.

    Sorry if I sound bitter, but that’s what happens when you’re 45 and still unmarried.

    • Yes — but I was talking in time scales from pre-history on. And I’m not saying every individual gets a go. I’m saying that the rules seem to be “if it moves jump it” — in the long run, and you know, through the lens of genetic research. I mean, they’re now finding we’re not that terrible being that Desmond Morris apostrophized in The Naked Ape, the creature who’d killed all his near relatives and rivals. Instead we seem to have had a go on them in quite a different way and have bits of species we don’t even have a name for embedded in our DNA. I suggest someone with the right credentials writes a book called The Randy Ape before the market cools on it.

      • The thing is, I don’t think humans are a particularly randy ape. Look at dogs sometime–you’ll find cocker spaniel males valiantly but unsuccessfully making a go at collies females, with the female attempting to comply. You wouldn’t find that in humans; a woman would not give the time of day to a man less than half her size.

        However, over the long haul, since we are intelligent/schizophrenic (take your pick) to change rules every few generations, you do have a pretty thorough mix in what is generally a very non-randy species. Those characteristics that carry universal repulsion–retardation, excessive dwarfism, morbid obesity in males–remain the exception rather than the rule.

        • not sure I agree with you Ken – case in point Japanese males … and I knew quite a few women on base (who weren’t supposed to) were with males that were quite a bit smaller than they were….

          • i.e. smaller males were Japanese males.

            • Some of us LIKE small males. I do. My husband is two inches taller than I, but that’s an accident. I like my men small and slim. Sue me. Considering the massive men in my family I figure that kink is an incest prevention device planted in my subconscious.

              • My hubby is two inches taller than I am too – same reason 😉 My father and brothers (also grandfather who is now dead) are all over six foot.

                • well, it might be a life-saving thing too. As is, the boys almost killed me with their d*mn shoulders.

                  • ouch – for me I was tired of looking up at the menfolk. I thought it would be nice to actually look into someone’s eyes. 😉

                    • My friends used to tease me for my tendency to “pocket boyfriends.” One evening when there was a group of us going out and I ended up flirting and talking with the cute, small guy in the group — a full two inches shorter than I — a friend afterwards told me “Yeah, that one was for you. That’s why we invited him.”

                    • LOL – funny –

                    • I would think it would also have the benefit of his not dislocating his spine while nuzzling certain … bouncy bits. ; P

                • A minor quibble: I believe* your deceased grandfather is now under six feet.

                  *with appropriate recognition that many cultures employ cremation or mausoleums, neither of which work for this jape.

        • My lovely cousin and her newborn son are living proof that Amazons and runts do reproduce in humans….
          More dramatically, google “dwarf man married to a normal woman.”

        • There have been historical changes in tastes. For example: once upon a time a bit of fat meant that you have plenty to eat, and having plenty to eat was very desirable.

          As to women’s choices in men: does anyone recall the statuesque lady who married Henry Kissenger, or Lauren Bacall’s height compared to Bogarts? Women are generally looking for something more than arm-candy — be it expressed in a mercenary avarice or the simple desire to have a mate they can respect.

          Not all gene mixing is voluntary. I doubt that slaves see it that way. The idea that the common soldier should not go on a rampage is quite new and not yet universal. Women who are/were in areas that are/were conquered and pillaged probably do/did not line up and volunteer to entertain the troops.

      • so true – we were more likely to have fun than to kill the others 😉

      • Fictionalize it with a handsome, tormented biology researcher (male) and his initially assertive graduate student (or forest ranger). Mix in some steamy scenes including a rope hammock put to uses the manufacturer never, ever intended and you’ll have a best seller that will out-do the 50 Shades series!

    • Ken – I married my hubby when I was almost 32 and he was almost 46. We had been together for a few years by then… but there is still hope. Also, the hubby (who is a Vietnam War vet) had been married before.

    • Also consider that most of history consists of one group conquering another at varying intervals. Whenever that happens, genes get mixed, because whatever the rest of the people may be like, soldiers ARE usually very randy.

  17. I had to laugh when, during the early days of the Trayvon Martin mess, the so-called President averred that, had he a son, he’d look like Martin. If he’d heard me, perhaps he’d have blushed when I asked him “I have a grandson. And he looks a lot like YOU in your Choom Gang days. (Poor kid.) Why is he automatically considered “black”? He’s half white (like the Prez), so why isn’t he considered white? Maybe because Democrats want to keep his kind down on the plantation?

    Anyway. One of my favorite singers, Amanda Marshall, has a song about this called Double Agent. http://www.babytrollblog.com/index.php/2178


  18. Oh, and for another tangent – I think the piece of ‘skin-color racism’ that irritates me most is the descendents of slaves brought from Africa, having a detestation of ‘whites’ who they blame for slavery, although simply on skin color it is impossible to tell if someone is a direct descendent of William Wilberforce or emigrated from Latvia last week, but having absolute adulation of anyone from Africa. Roots! Yet, ‘black Africans’ of say Ghana or most of West Africa are 99.999% guaranteed to be the descendents of the very people who captured them, enslaved them, sold them, profited very well from their ancestors suffering. It brought – by local standards – vast wealth too. Surely if restitution is due, they should have a share of the bill? It’s like the whole ‘Islam’ fashion among some slave descendants. For every one slave that went west, at least 30 went East into the heart of Islam. The Eastern slave trade out of Africa started centuries before the Western on, and endured long long after. Yet the US is far more genetically mixed than Arabia. Ever wondered why? Maybe you should.

    • Dave – I had a co-worker whose family was from the Gold Coast. He was second generation. He used to find it funny that the “African-Americans” were so angry with whites because it was his tribe that was selling their ancestors to the slavers.

      Also many of these people didn’t know the actual history of slavery in Africa. It is still there. They expected him to be from a slave family…and when he was friendly with whites, he was a traitor.

      • As I said, our schools don’t teach the truth. And they should.

      • Yes, I hate the movies that show the white (even though a lot of the slavers werer Portuegese or Spanish they always tend to look Scandinavian in the movies) slavers running through the jungle, capturing the poor black slaves. In reality they usually met some tribe on the beach, and bought the slaves from them, much more efficient and economically feasible.

        • Given the alternative to selling them off as war booty would have been to slay them as surplus livestock, you can understand why nowadays they choose to blame the buyer rather than the seller.

        • indeed. In fact, until malarial drugs were available, whites couldn’t go very far into the jungle without risking it.

      • If you want an even more politically unacceptable truth – the winners enslaved and sold the losers in Africa. As the slave trade going west went on for some generations, it is very likely that at times those who won and sold slaves were somewhere further down the line losers who were in their turn sold. Finding ‘good guys’ may be more of a challenge than saying ‘oh your ancestor was a victim: therefore a good guy.’ We can agree that slavery is something no human should be subjected to, but ‘blame’ is more than just about skin color.

        • You saying the Africans engaged in “improving the breed” by selling off those who were bad at war? Whoof!! There’s a line of argument that’ll get you called names!

      • I have a co-worker (who sometimes refers to himself as the token black), who likes to stir up controversy by stating such things as, “Slavery is not inherently immoral.”

        But he’s also a Pittsburgh Steelers fan (in Cincinnati, no less), so people usually just ignore him and give him a hard time about that. I think it’s hilarious, myself. I don’t get into these conversations, usually. I just sit back and laugh.

        • I always start conversations of a racially-charged nature with my black friends by saying something like, “Hey, Kevin. You’re black, right? What about this…” etc, etc.

  19. I have great fun pointing out to people who assume that because I am a conservative I am also a blinkered bigoted prick: “The lead singer of my favorite band is not only gay — he’s also African: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_Mercury “.

    ” o/~ The white folks think they’re at the top — ask any proud white male/
    A million years of evolution — we get Danny Quayle. o/~ ”
    [“Insanity”, Oingo Boingo]


    • “Some people say that joke is racist against black people. To them I say my best friend…my BEST friend…is Cuban and that’s close enough.”

      • My best friend is Mexican – and my brother married a Guatemalen (Spaniard with one Aztec in the family). Also, a sister married a Ute Indian… so I laugh when someone tells me I am racist because I am pale with blue eyes.

        • Although if you called my friend Mexican, she would be insulted. She has all her papers – and is a naturalized citizen. American all the way.

  20. Had a family reunion, and got into talking about who was with who and when… somehow, the topic came up that the reason they were called “Buffalo soldiers” is because the local Indians had never seen anything like them, and assumed they were powerful magic. (Not sure if anybody else has ever been around a buffalo– they are POWERFUL. This was kind of like the Minotaur walking up, but good.)

    There were still folks when mom was growing up that remembered men asking black soldiers to sleep with their wives so they could have (basically) a Magical Child.

    Gotta agree race is largely BS; I still remember my shock when I saw the “crane dance” from the tribe up north in Japan. I still can’t tell it from the Crane Dance of some Canadian tribes, and the folks look an awful lot alike. I’d just never thought about the Indians stopping somewhere else along the way! (Silly, huh?)

    A…hum… think it was great-grandfather married an Indian lady, although she MIGHT have been half. (she didn’t care enough to pass word down) Couldn’t tell from my grand-dad. I thought you could with my dad… then we met up with a relative that hadn’t left Scotland and also works outside, he’s the same sort of tanning pattern.

    I say race is largely BS because it can be a useful shorthand. Same way that I’ll call myself a hobbit; doesn’t mean you should expect me to have fuzzy feet.

    • Hmm, I had always heard they were called buffalo soldiers because they had hair like a buffalo. But yes I have been around buffalo, and we evern raised a few beefalo when I was a kid. I have to agree, they are POWERFUL.

      • Been pretty close to a small herd of buffalo – quite something 😉

      • IIRC, the hair was a big part of it, though the way that their skin tended to match the shorter face hair helped. Can you imagine meeting someone who had hair that looked like the feathers of an awesomely powerful bird? I love getting that little glimpse into a different culture.

  21. As far as I know, my lot are celt/viking/anglo all the way back… except that my maiden name was first recorded in a village in Kent right around when Edward I was kicking Jews out of England, and it’s a name that pops up all over Europe. And appearance-wise, of me and my sibs, there’s a six-foot (female) blond blue-eyed viking throwback, one tall and slender with olive skin and straight and very fine dark hair, my brother who can pass for Australian aboriginal if he feels so inclined, also tall and thin, olive skin, dark curly hair and dark eyes, plus a flatter nose than the “euro” norm. Another sister is tall, thin, pale skin, tans golden and has straight medium-dark hair, and me – average height, stocky build, pale skin and mousy hair. I was white-blond when I was born and went mouse.

    That’s one family with mostly known ancestry.

    As far as I’m concerned race is only relevant between you and your doctor, and that’s only because of the interesting clusters of inheritable ailments and in some cases equally interesting blood types. If you belong to group X, you’ve got a higher likelihood of having/getting problem Y.

    For everything else, what matters is the individual.

    • Funny – Kate we must have some of the same heritage, we have a lot of the same body types in the women in our family… We are Viking and Anglo… The Sumerian thing came out in left field. And we are known ancestry too. 😉

  22. *snort* people REALLY hate my views on “racism”.