BIG IDEAS: De-confusing Race and Categorization

While cultures vary widely and people are of different character within a culture, there are no races from a valid biological standpoint. Culture and character is what defines humans and all anyone needs to perform basic categorizations.

Defining and categorizing things is fundamental to human understanding and therefore, people have always, and always will, assign people to categories. One cannot get to know every single person on earth as an individual, and so quick and useful shorthand is needed to make risk and reward calculations. We do it to others and we do it to ourselves. We do it broadly, by assigning characteristics to groups, and we do it to individuals within our own families.

We do it also because it works. In a group setting, some cultural stereotypes are true and valid for a reason. Where I work, we have a Norwegian office and many Norwegian employees. I’ve met them, and they are reserved and quiet. We have Aussies and Scots and Brits and an odd assortment of Americans from different backgrounds and in a general sense, they are all about how one might expect given their cultural history. They are individuals, within a setting.

Where these individuals don’t match their cultural background, one finds individual traits. There are gregarious Norwegians and quiet serious Aussies, and when time and circumstances allow, one can get to know them as individuals. Further, one can come to know deeply their character; they’re temperament, their trustworthiness.

Fine judgments come later; first we categorize based on appearance and knowledge from first contact. And here, we have developed a serious and intractable problem. 

Your Place Under The Sun

In recent human history the categorization process has come to incorporate the idea of humans belonging to immutable biological races with fixed characteristics. No previous scheme presupposed immutable biological imperatives because the former ways of assigning humans to groups had no ideas about the biology of the scheme. They looked and dressed and spoke differently, but all were human. They may be hated, and they might need to be killed en masse, but there was no knowledge of them as sub-human. The Old Testament Bible describes masses of people the Hebrews were to slaughter as they were not chosen by God, but they are never described as inherently flawed from the ground up.

Imagine how simple human grouping used to be to understand; you looked very much like your parents because, of course, you came from them, and you looked a little like the other people in your village because you all did similar labor under the same sun on the same spot on earth. This scheme was simple and 100% accurate. The Greeks and Romans understood that differences in the physical appearance of human groups were a matter of geography and placed little importance on the physical differences. They may have thought of certain groups as ‘barbarians’ but those groups could shed the title by adapting to Greek or later Roman culture. They were fated to nothing by their biology.

Science And The Race Toxin

It was the march of science that began to create the race schemes we are plagued with today. The advent of the social sciences finished the job of tainting human views with race theory. In the late 18th century, the Renaissance passion for categorizing the flora and fauna of the world came to applying the same techniques to people. What started as taxonomy began using the human skull as part of the process. Craniometrist set off on a bad path that resulted in Johan Blumback publishing in 1795 his list of race categories which were the Caucasian, Mongolian, Aethiopian, American, and Malayan races. This and other lists were based on skulls, skin colors and hair traits, and as one might imagine, it was a short jump to moving on from descriptions of features to descriptions of innate inner characters.

Scientific racism and eugenics were not far behind and the attendant horrors are well known. Much of history since then has been little else.

Wherever You Go, There You Are

We are suffused with entirely fake and fallible ideas about race. And we’ve constructed an entire legal and cultural edifice upon these foul ideas and so ideas about race are both in our national origin story and our legal code and they are embedded in the way we talk about each other and how we see ourselves. The race toxin is intoxicating, everyone gets something, and a bad idea that serves a useful purpose is a weed upon the mind that is nearly impossible to get rid of.

Imagine how these ideas changed the course of history. There was no biological justification for slavery and so no need for the Civil War, segregation, Civil Rights, and consequently, no need for the malformed progeny of all of these disasters, which includes an unhealthy obsession with ‘diversity’. Master and slave were physically the same. The Jews and Germans were identical. Spanish and native South American peoples are physically the same regardless of what we see or think or observe. There will be no peace on earth until the monster of faith in any race is eradicated forever.

Towards A Theory of a Raceless World

In the aftermath of World War 2, the issue of race was examined at length as the United Nations and its progeny, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was being set up. The organization issued several proclamations on race since it was thought that the UN was ultimately going to go on to become a functioning and enlightened world governing body. Many of these statements were contradictory, but the fifth and final statement made on race reads:

“Any theory which involves the claim that racial or ethnic groups are inherently superior or inferior, thus implying that some would be entitled to dominate and eliminate others, presumed to be inferior, or which bases value judgments on racial differentiation, has no scientific foundation and is contrary to the moral and ethical principles of humanity.”

That statement, issued in 1978, has done nothing to stop the tide of race talk but there is no further talk or action needed; we just have to drop it. There are no races; there is only choices and behavior, which exhibit on the cultural and then individual level.

That’s all there ever was. It’s time we start acting accordingly.