American Racial Classification :
One way to begin a critique of the American system of racial classification is to ask "Who is black?" This question rarely provokes analysis ; its answer is seen as so self-evident that challenges are novel and noteworthy. Americans no longer have need of a system of judicial screening to decide a person's race ; the rules are simply absorbed without explicity articulation.
- American racial classifications follow two formal rules :
-- the rule of recognition holds that person whose f.e. black-African ancestry is visible is black ;
-- the rule of descent holds that any person with a known trace of f.e. African ancestry is black, notwithstanding that person's visual appearance, or, stated differently, that the offspring of a black and a white is black.
Alternatives to Hypodescent :
- The American legal system today lacks intermediate or "mixed-race" classifications. While the establishment of self-contained black or white racial categories may seem obvious, an examination of other classification schemes reveals that the American categories are not exhaustive.
Let us posit the two original races - one a "pure black," the other a "pure white." As interracial reproduction occurs, a multiracial society emerges. Four historically documented examples of nonbinary schemes to categorize mixed-race offspring have evolved :
-- named fractions,
-- majoritarian, and
-- social continuum.
All of these schemes are logically symmetrical, so, at least in theory, neither "pure race" is privileged over the other. Consider each of the schemes in detail :
-- Mulatto. All mixed offspring are called mulattoes, irrespective of the percentages or fractions of their black or white ancestry,
-- Named fractions. Individuals are assigned labels according to the fractional composition of their racial ancestry. Thus, a mulatto is one-half white and one-half black ; a quadroon is one-fourth black and three-fourths white, a sambo one-fourth white and three-fourths black, etc.
-- Majoritarian. The higher percentage of either white or black ancestry determines the white or black label.
-- Social continuum. This is a variation on the named fractions scheme : labels generally correspond to the proportion of white or black ancestry, but social status is also an important factor in determining which label applies. The result is a much less rigid system of racial classification.
It is worth repeating two observations that apply to all four schemes. First, the use of racial categories presumes that at some time "pure" races existed. Second, because these schemes are symmetrical, nothing in them suggests inequality or subordination between races.
- The hypodescent rule, when combined with color-blind constitutionalism, conveys a complex and powerful ideology that supports racial subordination. Briefly, hypodescent imposes racial subordination through its implied validation of white racial purity. Subordination occurs in the very act of a white person recognizing a f.e. black person's race. Much of constitutional discourse disguises that subordination by treating racial categories as if they were stable and immutable. Finally, the treatment of racial categories as functionally objective devalues the socio-economic and political history of those placed within them. Through this complex process of assertion, disguise, and devaluation, racial categorization based on hypodescent advances white interests.
Assertion of Racial Subordination :
- Equality and the Social Metaphor of Racial Purity :
-- Looking at the lack of symmetry between racial categories provides a means of further understanding hypodescent. Under hypodescent, black parentage is recognized through the generations. The metaphor is one of purity and contamination : white is unblemished and pure, so one drop of ancestral black blood renders one black. Black ancestry is a contaminant that overwhelms white ancestry. Thus, under the American system of racial classification, claiming a white racial identity is a declaration of racial purity and an implicity assertion of racial domination. The symmetry of racial categorization systems other than hypodescent brings a sense of objectivity and neutrality to these schemes, and a comparison of hypodescent to symmetrical systems exposes its nonneutral assumptions.(ibid)
- Subordination in Recognition :
-- Under hypodescent, the moment of racial recognition is the moment in which is reproduced the inherent asymmetry of the metaphor of racial contamination and the implicity impossibility of racial equality. The situation that bares most fully the subordinating aspect of the moment of racial classification arises when a f.e. black person is at first mistaken for white and then recognized as black.
Before the moment of recognition, white acquaintances may let down their guard, betraying attitudes consistent with racial subordination, but which whites have learned to hide in the presence of nonwhites. Their meeting and initial conversation were based on the unsubordinated equality of a white-white relationship, but at the moment of racial recognition the exchange is transformed into a white-black relationship of subordination. In that moment of recognition lies the hidden assertion of white racial purity. The moment of racial recognition is thus characterized by an unconscious assertion of the racial hierarchy implied by hypodescent.
"White" is Undefined, Solve for X
http://newdiction.blogspot.com/2010/07/ ... -x_21.htmlwrote:Problem 1A: Tooki the space martian notices that Americans clamor for unity while desperately clinging to the very socio-political devices built on division which they haven't bothered to define, deconstruct or otherwise have an intelligent conversation about. Therefore, Tooki is inclined to believe that the country is just socially inept and might be better off obliterated. Could this be true? Tooki is a martian of science, so he scribbles down a formula of martian mathematical genius.
white + color = Unity
Substituting x for the unknown of "White" the equation now reads
x = Unity - color
Tooki scratches his head in wonderment. When you subtract the cultural, economic, historical, political, and civil liberties activist footprint of "color" from our national togetherness where does X stand on its own two legs? Tooki is baffled by the faceless concept of X. What could it mean? He lays down is his laser blaster to think...
The bedrock of racial division is the concept of race itself which, beyond being a tool of divisiveness, is a red herring for the "White" majority to avoid defining their cultural grounding. When it is stated or otherwise affirmed that a person is "White," what does that mean? What is the identity that is being engaged or the methodologies being adopted? I'm addressing "Whiteness" specifically because not only is it responsible for engendering the remaining racial colors, it is the only racial demographic that socially brandishes its label while remaining intransigent to defining its cultural relevance or belonging. Asking a White person to explain their identity within "Whiteness" draws almost indefinite silence. On the other hand, ask a person of color to discuss their racial label and you will most likely be met with open ethno-centric discourse. Why the difference? The answer lies in determining, by relatively concrete analytical terms, what comprises the social and cultural definition of "Whiteness."
Interestingly enough, the answer remains elusive even today but has far greater implications than being the punchline for entertaining journalism. With more than half of the American population self-identifying as "White" its imperative that such a concept be scrutinized for its existence as a fabricated construct. Some like to suggest that being "White" is synonymous with being an American but if all "races" can be true Americans, where then does "Whiteness" establish itself as a discreet cultural force?
Of all people, Glenn Beck takes a stab and demonstrates first hand the nature of the crisis.
The following comment thread was formed in response to an article over at The Atlantic which examines the role of "whiteness" in America's shifting ethnic make-up. An excerpt reads:
As is typical with most race-based articles there is a weathered defense of "White society" that is always focused upon diverting rather than addressing the topic of its cultural identity. An example plays out below.wrote:The white identity he limns on his blog is predicated on the quest for authenticityusually other peoples authenticity. As a white person, youre just desperate to find something else to grab onto. Youre jealous! Pretty much every white person I grew up with wished theyd grown up in, you know, an ethnic home that gave them a second language. White culture is Family Ties and Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roseslike, this is white culture. This is all we have.
wrote:Guest 2: It's the white man! That is increasingly becoming the racist mantra of the 21st century.wrote:Guest 3 in reply to Guest 2: Oddly, white people did not come to America until 1620. It was Columbus ( an Italian) in 1492 in service to Queen Isabella (Spanish) that started all the enslavement and disease among Native Americans. Oddly, it was the Spanish that brought similar problems to the Yucatan and Mexico. Similarly, it was the Spanish that started the Inquisition which ravaged for about 400 years. When will people learn that all races have had problems getting along with everyone? No one race can be blamed for a trait that all humans have demonstrated to possess throughout history. I find now it is an obvious trait of the "ethnic" to summarily blame white people for most of the ills in the world. Oddly, many races other than the white had been enslaving and ruining themselves and other nations when white people were still living in caves. Blaming the white people usually only indicates prejudice rather than any balanced or educated view of the world. Ignorance and anger hurt people, not a particular race as a whole.
A quick look at history will show that every race has been involved in the enslavement and oppression of others. For example; America was first "discovered" by Columbus (an Italian) in service to Queen Isabella (Spain) that first wiped out the Native Americans beginning around the early 1500's through disease and slavery. It was Spain that also began the Inquisition in 1498 and was not abolished until 1834. White people did not even arrive in North America until about 1602 and there were only 50 of them at that time. Anyway, slavery only existed in (white) America 1607-1865 although the Spanish had been enslaving them before the 1500's. This is all minor compared to how long Africans themselves had been warring and enslaving each other almost all the way back to the first pharaohs of Egypt! Besides, if it wasn't for white people (I'm thinking Lincoln off the top of my head), who would have given all Americans of every race the freedoms and equal rights they have today? The answer: white people! because they were only ones running the country at the time. duh! But, I digress. In short, only ignorance and anger oppress and harm others, not a race as a whole.So aside from your Arab-trader argument, would you mind defining whiteness and/or white culture, because it seems inherently in opposition to our greater national identity? Lets exculpate ourselves as Americans because our global social ills are too hopelessly intertwined for us to identify and discuss what exactly defines the "white" American legacy and its "traditions" specifically. What is "white?" "Ethnics" are tired of hearing what "White" people are not on the basis of what every other human being has done throughout history. "Ethnics" would much rather know what "whites" are subscribing to in "whiteness" that they feel is so exclusive to their imagined racial group in the development of THIS country?wrote:Me in reply to Guests 2 & 3: I do not understand the misconstrued exercise of retrospectively applying America's ill conceived notion of whiteness to a time when humans were living in caves. How is that applicable on any level? What the world was doing in ancient Egypt has no bearing on modern "whiteness." There was nothing "white" about cavemen. "Whiteness," specifically, is a modern American non-identity thats is constantly defined by what it is not rather than what it is. Hence,"whiteness" dodges self-awareness by perpetually revising its "legacy" in a very schizophrenic fashion that denounces, yet simultaneously embellishes everything that builds its historical context.
It seems that you are defending a construct that exists only to undermine a greater unity you allude to. To claim that one is "White" but against ignorance and oppression is like saying you're a Boston Red Sox fan but hate the concept of baseball. How does "white" exist outside of the historical context of America'a social division? Ultimately, the same question applies to all America's racial "colors" that were invented, stigmatized and exploited for whiteness to even exist. The difference, however, is that behind minority racial colors is an actual culture whether it be Mexican, Native American, Chinese, African, etc. that contributes to a greater American culture that belongs to everyone, but is institutionally controlled by the one racial demographic "bereft of culture." So again, what do you think defines the identity of "whiteness" and more importantly how is it exclusive to being a white person? Im eager to know White America's cultural grounding that allows this concept of "white" to be so separate from all the other colors it created, forcefully applied to and CONTINUES to appropriate from minority peoples. A culture's fabric is formed by how it has come into existence and the methods used to maintain its traditions. These seem to be the very things "white" people cannot take responsibility for or define for themselves, especially without diminishing or misrepresenting the relevance, contributions, and value of minorities that comprise the canvas onto which the illusion of "whiteness" can be projected.
Any balanced or educated view of the world can immediately identify how unbalanced and grossly biased American institutions are in favor of "whiteness," through American education if nothing else. Again, the "blame" of "ethnics" is often an effort to get white people to confront how they define themselves and what contributes to their listless cultural anti-identity in the context of their actions as a racial group. It is a perpetuated resentment toward a demographic of people that champion the "power" of a fabricated racial label whenever it is self-edifying and abandons the responsibility of their "team membership" whenever its not.wrote:"I find now it is an obvious trait of the "ethnic" to summarily blame white people for most of the ills in the world...Blaming the white people usually only indicates prejudice rather than any balanced or educated view of the world."
White is not a race. Its a contrived social concept built on dividing the single human race. If you subscribe to the methodologies that drive that social concept via its label, you are self-imposing the responsibility of what those methodologies bring about. -- The inherent paradox to the modern "White" identity is that racism IS color classism, and color-classism is the sole function of "Whiteness." Without color classism "whiteness" would completely dissolve, and without "Whiteness" all other racial groups would shed their color label and continue enjoying their ethno-cultural identity by their own social terms. Its why African Americans have witnessed generational shifts of racial neologisms with relatively little change to their cultural identity. The changing racial labels are irrelevant to the African-American culture itself and is rather a reaction to the social perceptions of "White" society. The social concept of "Whiteness" was bred to be the antithesis of equality, unity, and social harmony.wrote:"Ignorance and anger hurt people, not a particular race as a whole."
Becoming Metis: The Relationship Between the Sense of Metis Self and Cultural Stories : https://dspace.library.uvic.ca:8443/bit ... sequence=1
Also, for more on the Metis : link