So for the first part I’m going to write a little history about racism.
If you’re an educated and informed person immediately you’re already lodging a complaint that goes something like this “But Rooster, study after study shows there is no such thing as race !”. You’re right of course and in the strongest sense. When you apply the methodology used to determine difference races within animal groups to humans you do not get anything close to enough variation. That’s not to say there aren’t significant genetic variation that are a huge factor on our potential. There are and they are a significant part. The problem is that when you take two unrelated individuals of any so called “race” in the world you will find huge genetic variation between them. Not in any significant way any less variation than if you took two unrelated people of two different “races”. This has been consistently demonstrated the past few years. So not talking about “race” is not a matter of being polite, it’s a matter of being scientific.
So when did this silly idea of racism start in the scientific sense ?
Over 100 years ago a certain smart chap named Charles Darwin introduced us to the idea of evolution. Shortly after the theory became popular there started a movement unrelated to Darwin called “social darwism”. The premise and assumption of the movement was that Western Men represented the “most evolved” “race” and that much could be learned about our evolutionary ancestors by studying races less similar to whites. Queue a barrage of white scientists traveling to Africa and South America with tape measures in hand with rule books looking for races with flatter noses, or higher foreheads etc. A ridiculous and stupid idea that we laugh at in the age of genetics, but it did represent the start of a group of people who tried to validate the differences between groups of people to be related to their race, rather than their environment using science.
When science caught up and we discover genetics the ideas of race were tested and failed. Simple as that. However in the lay mans mind the idea of race has been as popular as ever. Why ?
A tiny proportion of human variation our the genes that make up our relatively insignificant genetically speaking-phenotype. That is to say arbitrary things like our skin color (melanin levels) and hair color, height etc. Some are less arbitrary than others. Brain size for example correlates strongly with intelligence, just as big muscles correlate with strength. That’s why by the way men are much smarter than women and twice as likely to be geniuses.
While these phonotypical things seems to be vastly different and significant, take into account how acute and developed mans senses of recognition are. Considers how amazingly well human beings can make out different faces even amongst their own groups of people ,who objectively look very much the same.”Whites” will tell you all “asians” and “blacks” look the same. But that’s exactly what asians are likely to say to each other about whites and blacks…and what blacks say about whites and Asians etc. If you like I was when I first got to Asia you’re saying to yourself, but come on…they do look all the same. We have different hair colors and eye colors etc …But trust me, that’s exactly what they think about you. So I think it’s fair to say if we’re over exaggerating the differences amongst people with the similar phenotype of individuals who objectively look like us, then we’re really overstating the differences of other ”races” in our own mind.
If you’ve never lived in Asia I guarantee you could not tell one asian person from the next. You would allocate an entire stereotypical group of traits to them. Yet spend some time in Asia and you will quickly notice how you tune in an become able to tell the differences, and how something so seemingly uniform at first was made up of a massively diverse group of people all with extremely different cultures and traits. In other words there’s massive diversity between something you considered “the same” if you look for it. How “race” and “looks” play absolutely no role in any of it. A trip to Laos and Japan will demonstrate this nicely for you.
Another way to look at what little role phenotypes play in behavior is easily demonstrated to anyone whose ever had a brindle and fawn boxer dog. Very different looking creatures, but undoubtedly boxers. And even despite their very limited and similar social exposure…totally unique little chaps.
So to conclude I think it’s fair to say that looking different does not make us different. Nor does looking the same make us the same. What’s at play is the human tendency to exaggerate the differences between “us” and “them’ and trivialize the similarities.
To be continued ……