Sunday, May 20, 2007

Imagine a world with no race or racism.

This is what Francis Holland has been theorizing for a few days now on the web, and a question he has posed to me via comments on this site, and through e-mail. I have been holding off about addressing this interesting and thought provoking post from my fellow AfroSpear blogger, Mr. Holland, but I have given it some thought, and I think I am ready to give it my two cents.

First, let me give you the gist of what Francis is saying: The essence of his argument is that we as human beings should not categorize each other based on our race. He argues there is no difference between black and white since we are all from the human race, which should make us one.

As a result, he says race does not exist and the word race is a false construct which tends to distort the entire debate on matters of race in this country. He gives the analogy that "all cats whether spotted or not, are from the same-'cat'" family, and thus the same should hold true for humans. Francis eloquently reasons that we should use the words "skin color" instead of race, and when referring to a racist or racism we should refer to that condition as "SCAA, or (skin color aroused antagonism)"-I think that's his own words. ( The guy should be a college professor at some Ivy League college)

Fascinating stuff indeed. But I have to disagree with Francis, if not in theory, then certainly in principal. Let's look at one description of race: "A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically physical characteristics. ~The Free Online Dictionary~ The key word for me in that description is distinguished. Because even though we may all be from one human family, we can still be easily distinguished by our characteristics, and physical features. Given what has transpired between black folks and those in the majority in this country, I do not think that we can just simplistically dismiss the dynamic of our distinguishing features and characteristics in this debate. To simply say; we are now just one tribe of humans and our differences in terms of how we look, might work when we all get to heaven, (if there is such a place) but it ain't gonna work down here. I am a student of history, and I have seen what happens to races of people when they buy into this pie in the sky Utopian way of thinking. (Think native Americans in this country) So I choose to take a more realistic look at racism and its place in our society. Also, what about the thinking of those on the other side. Especially those with f****d up pathologies when it comes to race. I think it was Jean Paul Sartre that seemed to be saying in his book, "Black Orpheus", that "Racism is the social evil of human psychology, borne of fear of the human condition, a form of bad faith." How do we deal with those that are still viewing us as a separate group of people when we are embracing the philosophy that we are all one? For instance, to stay with Sartre a little bit. In a brilliant thesis by D.A. Masolo, he further sums up Sartre's reasoning in "Black Orpheus" like this: "If the Jew did not exist for the anti Semite, he would have invented him". Racists, he theorized that Sartre seemed to be saying; "find escape in the hatred of the Negro."

Francis says that the word race, "is a badge and mark of inferiority", I don't believe that. I think that although our race is a badge, and it is one that has caused us great hardship and struggles-at least in this country, it is a badge we should wear with pride and a consciousness that comes from our life experiences. I agree with Sartre, when he says; "we are defined not only by who and what we are, but what others think we are." But we should not let others "subjective image" of us define us in a negative way. So that badge of race that we wear was not necessarily put there by us, it was put there by others to label us more easily. But we must now accept that for what it is and move on. Not by simply saying; let's do away with the words race and racism, but by becoming so empowered and strong as a race that how others view us will become irrelevant.

So thank you Francis for raising this issue, it certainly raises some interesting points. I also understand that when it comes to race and racism I am probably more cynical than most people.
For instance, I am probably one of the few people that takes issue with one my heroes from the past, Franz Fanon no less, when he talks about one of the paradoxes that racism creates. Fanon says that racism affects both friends and foes alike. He says that some will say: "I dislike you, but it is not because you are black, others will say, I like you despite the fact that you are black. Either way, both remain fixated on race as an important factor which clouds the lens they view from." For the most part I agree with that, except I part company with Fanon when he implies that the first example in his paradox is a friend. No, that individual, just like the second one, is a foe. Because were he a friend, he would not have considered race in the first place. "..but it is not because you are black". I guess this is where Francis wants all of us to be, where we don't consider race at all.

Sorry, I think I will have to be like one of those bad guys in the movies. You know the ones you always see in the stare down scenes. Both brandishing weapons, both refusing to budge. One telling the other; "drop your weapon", while the other says; "no you drop yours first." Maybe if white folks drop their weapons first I will consider it. But until then, for better or for worse, I think I am sticking this black thing out.


Woozie said...

Thought provoking post. I like your position, but I think that we should think of ourselves as all humans first, and then divide things up into races. Because if you put race first and humanity second you'll get people saying "Oh well since mostly black people die from AIDS it's a problem for black people only". Ignorant statement I know, but it would come up if race was always put first.

Woozie said...

Oh yeah, and who is Jummy Carter?

Marcy said...

The older I get, the more I share your view on things, field. Although my Christian education teaches me that we are all part of the Human Family, all Children of God, in real life, I haven't been able to get there. Which is why I get a little hot whenever my colleagues at work are the first to remark during diversity training, "There are more about us that is alike than is different." Yeah, and the bones of the woman found in Africa is supposed to make me feel better that via DNA, we are all connected. Well, it doesn't.

Like you, field, I am going to stick this black thing out, too.

field negro said...

"Oh yeah, and who is Jummy Carter?"

"woozie" you are a funny dude, and you make a good point about the human race coming first. But unfortunately, I just don't trust that everyone else will think that way.

Thank you "miss profe", there is strength in numbers :)

Anonymous said...

I usually don't agree with anything you said, as I commonly post on Bookerrising and I am fairly right of center (but an independent libertarian who doesn't care for either political party), that being said I find you amusing so I read you for time to time for the hyperbole.

I agree with what you said here though.

Race does exist as a social concept and I think that is where Holland is getting confused.

Race (according to most mainstream anthropologist and genetisist) does not exist as a biological concept.

This is co-signed by leading people in these fields here:

The history of race, as we understand it in America was a false scientific concept that originated in the middle Enlightenment in Europe.

I'm not saying that their was no discrimination on appearance, on ethnic origin, etc, but racism, as in hatred based on the idea that one group of people is fundamentally inferior to another based on appearance did not exist as a global concept before the Enlightenment.

For more on that...

I don't agree with much the neo-con Dinesh D'Souza says, but he was dead on with this (well his overall thesis...ignore the Western white worship, he is known for that doesn't make everything he says wrong).

The problem is as you said Field, black people can idenitify however they want. It really does not matter, because we are 13% of the population. What matters is how the other 87% see us, especially the 67% that are "white". If they hold on to the label, nothing else matters in the end.

The thing is, if race has been learned and taught and there was a time when it did not exist, then that also means that it can be unlearned...but it will take a long time to unlearn ignorance. What scientist know today will take generations to trickle down to the average plebian, similar to the theory of evolution. It took decades after Darwin to have it universally taught in public schools and it is still controversial.

Christopher Chambers said...

When you look at us genetically, we human beings came out of Africa twice. The first time over 100K years ago. The next, around 74K years ago, after a supervolcano in present day Sumatra literary wiped us out (there were only maybe a few thousand homo sapiens left on the planet). These nomads who left Africa a second time went on to become white folks, yellow folks, red folks. We're all cousins, genetically.

Problem is that some cuzes (the folk conservative blacks cheese to on Booker Rising), got a bit mixed up based on their guns, germs and steel and thought everyone else was less than human...

Anonymous said...

To recognize that we are all in fact human and that race is a construct is not the same as blinding oneself to what people do to each other and themselves in the name of race or racism.

We (nonwhites) are the ones who, historically could accept difference, accept white people into our indigenous lands, into our families, treat them as human beings. These people (big generalization) act like devils: if we don't express a vision of humanity, of human identity that's accurate, inclusive and real, who will? We should at least question the vision they created, no?

We've got to do an autopsy on race and racism, an autopsy on ourselves. We've got to stick our fingers into our "entrails" and actually touch the history, the origin, the madness, the deceit, the phony bill of goods we were sold and still buy.

Part of the difficulty in dealing with this topic is that the oppressor created the language, definitions and meaning of words and concepts that we use. And we accept those definitions and words (and the assumptions beneath them). We have to examine everything, question everything,deconstruct everything.

Intellectuals can't fail to look at certain things because other people don't or, perhaps, won't believe those same things. We have to go where the intellect takes us, go where the evidence takes us. We can't NOT look because we don't want to see, or because we are comfortable with how we're defined by this culture.

I'd like to be considered a human being, but in this culture, to be black means to be subhuman - regardless of how much black history I know. The man who calls himself white, who placed us in this black bag and keeps us there, wants us to claim our "difference." He wants to claim a particular kind of difference which keeps us divided and conquered. And we do and are.

Now, I'm not saying there isn't a way to claim difference and unite amongst ourselves and with others confronting the same problems...I just don't see us doing it.

The difference I see us claiming is the disempowering, dividing kind. Field, that post you had about your frustration with "US" is what I mean. Is there a way in which we claim our status as "inferiors" by going along with the white man's classification system? It is they who insisted in the beginning that we were so different - Indians and blacks - that we couldn't be integrated. And we still haven't been.

This isn't about pie-in-the-sky, 'we're all just folks' bullshit. We must ALWAYS know where we are and what's happening. BUT, we need to figure out who we really are and how we really want to be classified and carry ourselves as such.

Dragon Horse said: "What matters is how the other 87% see us, especially the 67% that are "white". If they hold on to the label, nothing else matters in the end." I believe that because the other 87% feel the way they do, we live down to it. It doesn't have to be that way.

Hathor said...

Growing up colored, Negro, then black in a world where there was segregation, I didn't learn to feel inferior. What bugs white people more is when you don't feel inferior. When you won't let their rhetoric stop you from your own opinion. Let then used the words. Its interesting when you call them on their sh*t and don't say the word racist, they say it for you. That is the context in which they see themselves; the White Race, even when they are saying they are not a racist.

Anonymous said...

What bugs white people more is when you don't feel inferior. When you won't let their rhetoric stop you from your own opinion. Let then used the words. Its interesting when you call them on their sh*t and don't say the word racist, they say it for you. That is the context in which they see themselves; the White Race, even when they are saying they are not a racist

You're on the money with this one. How dare you NOT feel inferior, and then act accordingly. How dare you have an equal, if not suprerior education. How dare you be able to use the King's English to rip them a new one, but do it oh-so-politely that they just want to explode, but you enjoy watching them be like a worm on a hook as they try and get out the $*#& they just stepped in.

Yeah,how dare you, you 'Uppity Negro', you.

I read Francis' post too, and think it's a bit too pie in the sky for me. Race IS a social construct, and you have to know the history behind that social construct in order to come from a position of strength.

I don't see that have any choice but ride this Black thing out, do you?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't see that we have any choice but ride this Black thing out, do you?

Forgiven said...

While all the posts are interesting, I think you all miss the point. The point is not how others define you, but how you define yourself. I can't expect others to do the right thing, but I have to. When I allow others to define who and what I am, then I have truly lost my identity and I don't even know it. It doesn't matter if they put down their gun or not, I put my down. You all are looking at this thing through human logic and the thing you are talking about defies logic. It is not logical to believe that one man is more human than another man. That would be like a scientist claiming the one tiger is more tigery than another because he has different stripes.

The problem is that we have spent too much time and effort allowing others to define not only who we are, but also the rest of the world. Just because some one else has a limited and shallow view of the world does not mean I have to buy into it. There will always be some form of discrimination on this earth, if there were no n*****s, they would discriminate against each other. By my allowing others to frame the question, I allow them to frame the argument. It's like what they have done with this do you support the troops issue. The question is not whether I support the troops, that's like asking me if I support Rhode Island. The question should be do I support the policy that put the troops where they are, but again if I allow others to frame the question they limit my response.

Until we divorce ourselves from the reactionary, we will always be enslaved...

Anonymous said...

When we "intellectually" ride this black thing out, are we not "reacting?" Aren't we allowing ourselves to be defined by them, by how the white man treats us? If we do the opposite of what he wants - he wants us to be inferior, so we're going to behave in a way he doesn't like - act brassy, in your face-defiant? Is that being ourselves? Acting "not inferior?"

What if "riding this black thing out" is staying on the train to the death camp. I mean, do we seem like we are progressing as a people? Have we resolved/cured what ails us? What do we need to throw overboard, what isn't working for us?

I see US manifesting all kinds of reactionary behavior and failing completely to do positive visioning/pro-active behavior. When we create something pro-active like this AfroSpear movement, the torpedos start flying and we're often shooting them.

voodooguru said...

"As a matter of biology, when we are born into the human species, we must accept our shared familyhood with all others who share our species, regardless of color, like it or not." Francis Holland

I'm feeling you on this one Field. I don't particularly like the theory, and in practice? When I see the day that people don't see "skin color" - I hope I'm awake for that there.

Ethnocentricity, as opposed to racism (an important distinction) has probably been around since Day Dot. Racism, as an ideology, reputedly has its roots in The Reconquesta Period (722-1492AD), on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).

The Reconquista represents the retaking of Christian Iberia from The Islamic Moors of North Africa. In 1449, (race)riots in the city of Toledo led to the first instance of what was to come to be called limpieza de sangre (cleanliness of blood); when converted Jews, or Conversos, were forbidden from taking official positions.

The Inquisition that followed The Reconquesta saw the rise of Old Christianity, or a Christian bloodline free of Jewish or Muslim ancestory. This distinction resulted in military and religious orders, and craft guilds writing bylaws that excluded converted Jews and Muslims; and meant that "commoners" could demand "honour" - simply because of their "pure" blood. That last bit sound familiar? (And do WE confer "dishonour" solely because of skin color?)

Scientific Racism had its roots in the New Imperialist Period (1871-1914), when the European nations added 20% of the Earth's land area to their overseas colonial holdings, largely in Africa. A number of quack scientific disciplines like phrenenology, anthropometry and physical anthropology provided the theory, thugging provided the practice.

Most dictionaries agree: racism is an ideology based on the assumption that traits and characteristics are particular to entire "skin color groups".

Like, for example, white people are the devil. Real easy in practice but real dodgy theoretically.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke

Not really sure why I threw that in. Keep up The Work, Field.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, Francis has largely swayed me to his point of view on this issue, although the framing of the problem as a psychiatric one (at least in extreme examples) is likely more useful than abolishing the term "race" from discussion (as long as it's realized that it's a social, not a biological construct).

As a note on biology, this paper suggests that every human is very likely at least a 170th - 70th (depending on the parameters given for the simulation) or so cousin to everyone else presently alive.

Anonymous said...

@Woozie "I like your position, but I think that we should think of ourselves as all humans first, and then divide things up into races."

The problem is that "race" usually is used as a synonym for skin color. A native Australian and a native Central African, for example, both have very dark skin colors. However, genetically, the Aboriginal Australian likely has a far closer relationship to a much lighter-colored East Asian than the Central African that their skin color alone might indicate. Even worse, the highest mitochondrial genetic variance (i.e. distance from a single female ancestor along a direct matrilineal line) is in Africa, among peoples with fairly close skin colors. This means, for example, that some African natives are far more closely related along the direct matrilineal line to, say, a native American or a native European than to some other native Africans.

What does this mean? It means that an accurate perception of genetic race (if one could be constructed, which, under modern zoological terminology, is not possible- human populations interbreed far too frequently) would look rather different than a mapping by skin color.

At least in the colonies which later made up the U.S.A., race appears to have been the way to determine who they were willing to enslave (after several other attempts of classification died off, such as religion). Why should we support a system (or even the terminology of the system) designed to oppress those of us without particularly light skin color?

Anonymous said...

"What if "riding this black thing out" is staying on the train to the death camp."

Max, it's up to us riding this "black thing" to make sure that we are not just playing out the string and heading to the death camp.

"the black thing" does not have to be a negative. And just to expand on the historical perpective of this argument; it does not even necessarily have to be black. It could be brown, tan,or as zimbel seemed to put it; all people regardless of "race" with similar skin colors. Hell, it could even be like minded white people who understand the "black thing."

But I do agree with "forgiven" that at the end of the day, it's not about how others define you, but how you define yourself. And how we define ourselves is what will ultimately determine our survival.

C-dell said...

this is a very interesting post. I was reading what I missed and the post about black conservatives really grabbed my attention.

MartiniCocoa said...

dropping of the weapons ... happened on September 11th

and SEpt. 12th

the weapons were picked up again.

on your house negro of the day....

i don't know if I can blame LeBron for his choice...

what if LeBron couldn't ball like that... he might be one of the featured people in the Business Week story THE POVERTY BUSINESS.

He knows not to muck up the paycheck and just don't care.

There's a Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson song called
A Prayer For Everybody /To Be Free

the lyric that breaks my heart every single time is:

Without you and without me
and without love and harmony
without courage and dignity
what would it mean to be free.

LeBron ain't free.

I am, though.


Francis Holland said...

Field, thanks for addressing this topic, even if you don't agree with me about it. Back in February, I wrote a post at my blog called, "Color-Blindness Doesn't Exist: Here's Why:" So, I'm really surprised that anyone who knows of me thinks I'm trying to erase our Blackness or deny our difference. I'm merely insisting that our difference is not a "racial" difference, and that calling it a "racial" difference concedes a major part of the linguistic war to white war to white supremacists.

I think that the fact that the same group that invented the "N" word (whites) invented the "race" word is prima facie evidence that we need a change. We insisted that they stop calling us the "N" word and they did. Now, we ALL need to stop calling is the "R" word. So, why have we become so attached to the "R" word, when we all agree that it has no basis in biology?

Well, the good thing is that white supremacists like the "R" word too, so if we stick with it we'll have one thing less to argue with them about. (:

I don't trust anybody who tells me they're color blind. If a white person tells me, "I didn't even notice you were Black, that's about as much of as compliment as if a woman said, "I didn't even notice you were a man!"

I have no illusions about the differences between us and whites. It's my skin color and my cultural heritage and the shape of my nose and lips and my thoughts and feelings born out of my social position and political position that distinguish me from whites. I don't need to exaggerate that into a "racial" difference.

Extreme Color Aroused Disorder is a disease of delusions and irrationality. When whites said we were inherently less intelligent based on our "race" that was delusional and irrational. Unfortunately, there are still many delusions and irrational thoughts out there, associated with "race." Lawrence Somers, president of Harvard University suggested just last year or so that we were inherently incapable of doing math and science because of "racial" differences. One strong strategy for putting that history behind us is to stop calling ourselves by the term invented to evoke that history.

I acknowledge all of the fundamental differences that Field Negro perceptively describes between Blacks and whites, but I think they are sufficiently great in and of themselves that we don't need to exaggerate them still further by calling them "race." Why can't we just call them "Blackness"?

Even more damaging to us strategically is to hold onto the term "racism" instead of exchanging it for a more scientific term.

This has to do with "opportunity costs," the price of NOT making the political progress that we could make. Because Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECA) is descriptive and scientific, it stands a chance of becoming the basis for a psychiatric diagnosis. Since no one wants to have a psychiatric illness, whites will make an effort to avoid symptomatic behaviors and they will even get therapy if necessary to work on their dysfunctional thought. IF Color-Aroused Disorder is recognized as an illness.

But, if you read the illness definitions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, you realize that "racism" has no change of ever being considered an illness, because it is too subjective, too diffuse, and therefore can never lead to any level of scientific agreement.

Field, you and I are lawyers. We know that to convince someone of the existence of something, you list the elements and then you show, point by point, that the elements are met. What are the elements of "racism"? Can anyone tell me offhand what the symptoms are and what level of each symptom is needed to make the definition?

Of course not. That doesn't exist, even after fifty years of arguing about it.

Have you ever heard anyone explain how to distinguish "mild" racism from the moderate and extreme forms? Of course not! There is no agreement about this whatsoever. And this is something we have not progressed with, this definition, over the past fifty years. We're treading water. The phenomenon of what we call "racism" is Black people's most fundamental historical problem in America, but our way of describing it is hopelessly subjective and unscientific. "You know it when you see it."

On the other hand Extreme Color-aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior Disorder (ECEIBD) or Extreme Color-Arousal for short (ECA) provides a logical road map to explaining to others objectively why you think a person has a problem. To demonstrate that someone has ECA, you make a list of the emotions they've exhibited, and the ideation they've shown and they behaviors that are symptomatic, and then you make an effort to show that these are "extreme." As far as I'm concerned any symptom like "paranoia" that is a symptom as another illness that is listed in the Psychiatrist's Reference book, the DSM-IV doesn't suddenly become benign simply because it is directed at Black people.

By showing how similar "racism" is to diseases like Anti-Social Personality Disorder, Paranoia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, symtom-wise, we can show white people that Extreme Color Arousal (ECA) is a bad disease and make them feel bad about having that disease, like they feel bad about being active alcoholics and drug addicts.

If ECA is considered an illness, then insurance companies will have to pay for people to get treatment, and they will have to show that they have their illness under control if they want to keep their jobs. If they call us epithets at work, they will have to get a ECA evaluation or lose their jobs.

Anonymous said...

"I don't trust anybody who tells me they're color blind. If a white person tells me, "I didn't even notice you were Black, that's about as much of as compliment as if a woman said, "I didn't even notice you were a man!"'

Francis, that quote right there shows me that we are kindred spirits on this issue. We just disagree on some of the finer points of how to go about addressing it.

Anonymous said...

I finally figured out what it was that bothered me so much about Francis' theory.

"Can anyone tell me offhand what the symptoms are and what level of each symptom is needed to make the definition?"

Francis answers his own question "o course not", but thats not true. Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, a noted psychiatrist, in her essay "The Cress Theory of Color Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy) postulated that there is only one functional form of racism existent in the world and that is white supremacy. She accurately defines racism using he language we have all come to understand and accept, and proceeded to clearly define the psychosis and symptoms. Of course white folks, who have absolutely no incentive to embrace a theory that diagnoses the majority of their skin color group as mentally ill, completely rejected her theories, and Black folks largely ignored them. But at least her attempt to look at the issue of color confrontation in terms of mental illness addressed all the fats in evidence.

The ECA theory leaves the distinct impression hat we can all be afflicted with the SAME illness. That is to say that a Black man who experiences anxiety or angst due to contact with white people is exhibiting and expressing the exact same mental problems as a Klansman who wants all black folks dead or properly in their place, under his boot. The ECA theory is more likely to be used to make black folks seem crazy than to address the actual observable dynamic of white supremacy. On the surface, I can see why it might be useful to dispense with the term race and the concept of some overall racism that anyone can feel towards a person designated as a different race. But upon sober reflection I would have to say it is potentially a red herring of epic proportions.

Paula D. said...

Wow Field, this is a trip! I must bring this to the attention of my book club so we can have a heated debate!

Anonymous said...

@Exodus Mentality-

I think that is part of the reason why ECEIBD stands for Extreme Color-aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior Disorder; feeling a mild amount of anxiety wouldn't fit into this category. Feeling enough anxiety that you want to kill someone that has a different skin color (purely due to their skin color) would.

Stealing from this example that Francis wrote up, using Antisocial personality disorder as a comparison, I would likely get roughly a 4 on the Antisocial personality disorder test. In other words, I have some symptoms of antisocial personality disorder. However, to be considered psychopathic, I'd need a 30 or higher on this same test. Something similar could be created for ECEIBD, where the person who avoids people of other skin colors because a different-colored gang beat them up a few times as a kid wouldn't be diagnosed with this mental illness, whereas someone in that same gang who would beat up people based on skin color would.

Anonymous said...


it's too easy to use the examples on the farthest end of the spectrum. I get your point, but if the theory gives people of color and puts only white people on the spot, then it's doomed as the cress theory was.

how would ECA or ECEIBD address the white person who doesn't beat up Black people but won't hire them, or the white judge who sees little black girls as inherently bad and gives them harsher punishments than white girls, or the white person who has internalized the idea of white privilege and status in this world and thus justifies U.S. hegemony and modern day manifest destiny.

white supremacy is much more subtle today, even as the state sponsored violence is on the rise. I don't let the word "race" or any other word define my reality, so I don't have a problem with Francis' theory on it's face. It's just that I think he is missing the bigger picture by trying to appease the creators of the current skin color caste system and the continuing beneficiaries of white supremacy.

west coast story said...

It's about how we define outselves? Barack Obama defines himself as a mixed race African American but for some black folks, he is not authentic. I think we need to do some soul searching about how we define ourselves and how we decide what is an acceptable black man. For someone who has done as much as Obama has for poor black people, it's mind bending that so many black people have issues with him.

I may have said this before but I believe that Obama's big sins aren't that he's mixed race, it's that he's proud of his European and African heritage. More importantly, he's suspect because white people like him. I think people who have issues with him would feel better if he distanced himself from his white heritage and if more white people didn't like him. That most white Americans won't vote for him under any circumstances is simply not enough.

Anonymous said...

@exodus mentality

You have good points. To me, a lot of the question is: "Would I like the worst offenders (with symptoms that look a lot like mental illness) to be treated as though they have a mental illness?"

The answer, for me, is "yes". This does not mean that even a successful campaign to get ECEIBD recognized as a mental illness will eradicate (non-extreme) CEIBD or white supremacy. At best, it would reduce untreated cases of ECEIBD. However, fewer people in the general public that want to attack someone based on skin color seems like a good thing, to me.

Anonymous said...

@west coast story-
"That most white Americans won't vote for him under any circumstances is simply not enough."

I don't think that this is true. The inability for the majority of light-skinned people in the U.S. to vote for "black" people appears to have gone away in the 1970's, according to inferred numbers from Gallop. Although I'd expect these numbers to be above reality, it still suggests that this is unlikely today. Even better in Obama's case are the match-ups; he seems to do better than Edwards or Clinton.

On the other hand, my counter-question is: if things are so good for darker-skinned elected officials, why can I still count all the African-American U.S. Senators (in our entire history) on the fingers of one hand? I'm not an expert on election analysis, but these numbers would seem to suggest significantly higher numbers of African-American Senators than are presently in office.

-=Topper=- said...

I haven't had a cigarette since last November but in reading this thread and comments I have been having a nicotine fit like you wouldn't BELIEVE. Maybe I should resort to chewing a pencil. It's nerves and a few here have been touched.

"I don't see color"

I can't say this enough, you hear this from a white person, you level your baseball bat of persuasion at the ready.

This whole thing of "I don't see race" is the equivalent of white denials "I don't see color".

It is a hand best not played into theirs. Race and racism exists, and as far as riding the black thing out, well you really have no choice do you?

Field, you and I are lawyers. We know that to convince someone of the existence of something, you list the elements and then you show, point by point, that the elements are met. What are the elements of "racism"? Can anyone tell me offhand what the symptoms are and what level of each symptom is needed to make the definition?

I already had formulated in that paragraph the list, elements and levels even, then this...

Of course not. That doesn't exist, even after fifty years of arguing about it.

Of course not? I live in a visual world and see these cues everyday. There are levels in subtlety. From distrust, to outright hatred.

I have often said and I'll say it here as well, racism is perpetrated against minorities, not BY them.

Racism is the responsibility of the perpetrators to fix.

There is a "so be it". If blacks distrust whites it is within a reason simply stated "given the history".

Race by itself is just a word, a description. My race is white, some others black, others Hispanic, Asian and so on.

Race describes us, and by no means defines us.

That in itself is the human genome deal. Down deep we all are. But no one can rely on the Utopian society where race doesn't matter.

Because it has come to my attention and absolute nicotine fit that way too many white people do not want or even care for the responsibility of making it happen.

These are the same folks that say "I don't see color" and feel that they have done enough. In the meantime in Jena Louisiana their brothers were hanging nooses in effigy in a high school campus. Elsewhere to be sure a KKK meeting was in session.

Yes racism exists and will until folks are forced by zero tolerance policies to hold the tongue of hatred, silent.

There is such a disparity in justice to equivalently torch any idea of equality.

Back to Jena again. Blacks wanted to sit by a shaded tree, told they could. Next day visual threats of old hanging from it. School super calls it a "prank". In the meantime a black is beaten by whites, and a white beaten by blacks.

Do I really need to point out the group on trial in Jena for what they call third degree attempted murder?

If anything they could have leveled assault charges all around and leveled more against those responsible for the nooses to begin with. As it was, they were sent to another school and not really punished at all.

What a world we live in.


Foofa said...

I have been having his same argument with Holland that began through comments and extended into email. I am with you 100%.

Additionally, I don't think changing the wording in this case will be productive. I think it will cause more white people whining about not knowing what terms to use when talking to people of color. The last thing we need is another excuse not to discuss things.

Thanks for your cynical perspective, it very closely mirrors my own.

west coast story said...

"I don't think that this is true."

On what do you base that opinion? Tom Bradley polled high in the 1980's and he was supposed to be California's governor. He lost big time. Same thing happened somwehere else, forget where and with whom, now.

"On the other hand, my counter-question is: if things are so good for darker-skinned elected officials, why can I still count all the African-American U.S. Senators (in our entire history) on the fingers of one hand? I'm not an expert on election analysis, but these numbers would seem to suggest significantly higher numbers of African-American Senators than are presently in office."

I don't know what this means. And I'm not sure how it relates to Obama. I did not say things were so good with darker skinned elected offidials. You lost me.

My point is that Obama is never going to win so everyone whose panties are in a bunch that a black man might be president who is proud of his Euro roots and who is liked by white people, can take a deep breath because his "inauthentic" backside is never going to be elected anyway. The reason that blacks give for not supporting him is as valid as whites who say out loud they will never vote for a guy whose middle name is Hussein. A far more valid question about Obama is whether or not he has sufficient experience at the national and international level to be president. But not voting for him because he's half white? Because whites like him? Because his name is Hussein? That's just lame.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

There is a difference between the biological findings (which from all accounts are accurate) and the situation of “race” in the social arena. It’s true that there are few differences biologically speaking. But socially, the visual differences created by slight genetic variations are enough to cause this social division that humans suffer from.

Being biologically the same is all well and good… but getting the average Joe to understand that is hard. Especially when they are not exposed to other people or other cultures at a young age or taught as kids that we are really not that different.

Humans have exploited physical differences since the beginning of time. It’s human nature for us to gravitate towards groups of people who look like us… that goes for white, black, asian, etc. And it’s more than just physical features that divide people. People are also divided by language, religion, culture, etc. But physical features play a big part in it. When these things are added together…the divisions are that much more pronounced.

I will agree that race doesn’t exist biologically speaking. But socially, racism and the concept of race are alive and well…whether race as a construct is a myth or not… the consequences are still there.

If race doesn’t exist at all then what have we been dealing with all this time? Classism….a mislabeled form of Classism perhaps? There does seem to be a correlation between class/ status and discrimination…with the more affluent demeaning the less affluent. That seems to be the case the vast majority of the time.

Even within races and cultures you have racism. Look at the Hindus in India, and the Caste system there. The poorer… often darker skinned tended to be locked at the bottom rungs of the social & economic ladder. Or you could look at the Creoles of early New Orleans… who tended to be the more affluent Blacks at the time…had more priviledges, etc. In these cases you have the same race… but different classes.

I think today we are in more of a class war than a race battle…although racism is still alive and well.

I don’t know if we will ever get people to stop putting others in categories or discriminating based on race…physical appearance, or whatever label you want to use. Physical appearance has been exploited since the beginning of civilization… because humans fear other people who look different from themselves. As long as we have the physical diversity, religious diversity, cultural diversity, and class/economic diversity that we have, there will always be some sort of discrimination by one group against another. And you find it in every part of the world. Even people who have the same skin color will find SOMETHING to use as a basis for racism & discrimination…. look at the Hutus & Tutsis in Rwanda for example… I don’t know why humans allow themselves to be divided in this way.

I think that it may be possible someday to de-program folks and get them away from this human tendancy, but we would have to catch them early. It has a lot to do with upbringing IMO. Humans are already predisposed to highlighting physical difference and dividing & segregating themselves based on those differences…so it doesn’t take much influence from parents to get young people to be racists…. Most racists became so as a result of influence from their parents, their elders, their household, family, etc.

Check out a post that I made last year….it is about Jane Elliotts famous experiment. There is a documentary available from the link provided… it is called “A Class Divided”. You can watch it online. Amazing documentary. I am sure some of you have seen it…. but for those who have not….watch it again… and those who may have seen the documentary years ago… it’s worth watching again.

Follow Link Here

Anonymous said...

@West Coast Story-

"On what do you base that opinion?"

I give my basis in the rest of the first paragraph. I'll elaborate:

1) Since well over 80% of people claim that they would vote for a "black" presidential candidate (over multiple years, from multiple polling organizations), it is very likely that the majority of "white" people will claim in a poll that they will vote for a "black" presidential candidate. Even assuming a several-point difference between the polled numbers and the actuals (i.e. assuming that more "white" people will say "yes" in a poll than actually pull a level), it is still likely that the majority of "whites" (i.e. over 50%) would be willing to vote for a "black" candidate.

2) Of course, even given the above, this really says fairly little about if "white" people will vote for Obama; it is quite possible that "white" voters will claim that they'd vote for a "black" candidate, yet when given a specific "black" candidate, they'd reject him or her, every time (similar phenomenons are found in polling, all the time). The match-ups suggests that this is not true, at least in this case. In the match-ups, Obama appears to fare better than: Clinton, Edwards, Kerry, or Gore against Guliani, McCain, and Romney. This would suggest that Obama is the most "electable" Democratic candidate, not the least.

"I don't know what this means..."

Apologies for the confusion; the "counter-question" was one against my own analysis, not your earlier statement. Since there are a large number of Senatorial seats, far better statistical information can be gathered from them than from presidents. The abysmal numbers of African-American Senators, both historically and now suggests that the data presented in #1 above is not dominant, else there should be more than 1 current African-American senator (and far more than the tiny fraction of 1 Senator on average). Considering the large size of the differential, I'll hazard a guess that a major portion of this is from a (white male) old-boys network which grooms Senators that tends to exclude blacks and females. But that's just a guess; I don't have direct data backing up that assertion.

west coast story said...

zimbel: Got it. But still consider the Tome Bradley example. What people say and do are not necessarily the same things. I think people say they would vote for a black candidate, or even Obama in particular, and in fact will not. I think some white people honestly want to believe they would vote for a Obama but can't do it once they get in the voting booth. There are white folks who will vote for him. There are more who just can't.

Francis Holland said...

I really thank Field Negro for taking this topic to the attention of readers. I given some heavy thought to what he said above and written a response, taking his points into account:

Defending the Abolition of "Race" and "Racism" in the Revolutionary Fight Against Color-Aroused Disorder: A Response to Field Negro

I am confident that after reading this article both Natalie and Field will come to agree with me 100%. :) If not, we'll still be friends, but I won't give up.

@Zimbel: I really appreciate Zimbel's comments because he's read all of my articles, points out the flaws so that I can fix them, suggests added data and references and proofreads excellently. He's clearly a really smart person, and not just when he agrees with me.

@Exodus Mentality: I really appreciate your response because you give me another piece of the puzzle that I wasn't aware of. Francis Kress and I come to the same conclusion: that what we call "racism" is a psychiatric disorder. Kress says, I am told, that the disorder comes from a sense of inferiority, based on the knowledge that whites will inevitably become a minority even in this country and their dominant position is tenuous at best.

While this makes sense to me, psychiatrists should meet with individual patients to determine the basis of their illness rather than prejudging them.

A lot of whites want to understand why they feel lousy about themselves and they are willing to pay $150.00 per hour or more to find out. Many of them would much prefer to give up discriminating against minorities than to give up drugs and alcohol. Some of them will give up both if they're told it will make them feel better and take away the desire to "use." So, if there were therapeutic situations for people with moderate Color-Aroused Disorder and they were motivated by court-ordered referral, consent orders in civil suits, their wives, or their employers, I can imagine that they might make therapeutic progress against extreme or moderate color-aroused behaviors.

Remember: To make life easier for Black people it is not necessary that whites change all of their thoughts, emotions and behavior. As Zimbel said, if they only reign in their behavior while continuing to have emotions and thoughts, that would still make the world much safer and more pleasant for Black people.

For example, an alcoholic wants to drink and he feels nervous when he doesn't. Those are his thoughts and feelings. But if, in spite of those feelings, he decides NOT to drink, then he won't drive drunk and run me over. So, just getting him to change his behavior, even if he can't entirely erase his thoughts, can be an extraordinary victory for him and for everybody else.

Likewise, some people believe that whites should say whatever they think and feel. I disagree. I think it is VERY useful for whites to understand that legally and socially, if they DON'T say everything they think and feel then they can get along with Blacks much better in social situations and career situations.

Some white men have Black bosses and women bosses now. If they let their thoughts and feelings get run away with them, they can lose their jobs. That's a powerful incentive to learn how to deal with those thoughts and feelings more appropriately.

Unfortunately, most cities have no "Racists Anonymous" groups and there are no psychiatrists listed in the phone book under "racists counseling." If two people in the United States would seek such a counselor's help then that's good enough reason to want to make the services available.

I think Barack Obama's great. But, if his skin were white, his facial characteristics would fit right in among whites. That's why when people talk about his "racial" group, it's completely illogical and unscientific. Barack Obama is half white! His genes are half white. His racial group is half white. Whites are his racial group genetically just as much as Black people are.

So, when the media makes references to "racial groups," they are relying on old "one drop rule" racism. What they really mean is his "color group" where anyone who is known to have ANY blacks genes at all is considered to be 100% "Black" as far as whites are concerned.


Rather than passively accept such definitions, we should use them as a new front in our offensive against white irrationality. If we demand that whites stop using the word "racial" then we can throw their irrationality in their faces at every turn, but only if we stop using the word ourselves in ways that are illogical and unscientific.

Anyway, I'm glad we're having this conversation, and I hope you'll read the article I wrote addressing the points that Field made above.

I'm please that most everybody agrees that "race" is a social construct and hardly if at all a biological reality, because skin color and the shape of my nose does not make me into another "race."

Now, the question is, "Who's got the better strategy for using language to move our struggle forward?" I've heard the "Let's stick to what we have because it's working swell" argument. But if it were working that well then we wouldn't be here discussing what to do about "racism" in America, because our old approach would already have solved the problem. I propose some ways that we can move forward in this article, where I pose the question:

"Does scientific understanding ever advance without the advent of new concepts and new vocabulary?"
Defending the Abolition of "Race" and "Racism" in the Revolutionary Fight Against Color-Aroused Disorder: A Response to Field Negro


Anonymous said...

@west coast story

Thank you. I was aware of the phenomenon of the Bradley effect, but I wasn't aware of the name, nor the reason behind it. It seems that the limited historical data would suggest that 10% (assuming that it exists in general, and is not just an artifact of bad polling, which appears to be in dispute) is a reasonable estimate for said effect (I had been guessing 5-7%). This still puts the concept of voting for a hypothetical "black" candidate as something the majority of "white" people support, but it does cast a lot more doubt on the match-up numbers (since 10% would more than negate Obama's lead compared to the other candidates).

T. S. Snowden said...

Great post, the points I wanted to make have been made in this post and in some of the comments so I will just leave you with a quote---

"stay black"-- I know I will...
throwing the right fist in the air

StEwPiD_MoNkEy said...

Perhaps if you don't continue using slavery invented terms like race, it would help towards unity.

There is no such thing as race between humans. To say so is wrong and using these words continue the cycle.

StEwPiD_MoNkEy said...

Then you are ignorant of science and simply choose to dwell in your ignorance.