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I see racial stuff come up all the time, here and in the news. Thing is, people act like the "lines" between the races are all clear and crisp. Black is black, latino is latino, asian is asian, white is white, right? Wrong!!

Let's look at some examples: a classic one is the multigeneration "african-american". "Black", right? Ummmm, no. Most likely to be mixed black, white, and even native american. Unless that person can trace all of their ancestors cleanly to the slave ships, with no white master taking liberties, or NA slaves in the mix, they're not pure 'black' - more like a heinz 57.

Then we have latino: spanish? some; indian? some; other southern european? maybe. Again, you can't tell the mix from appearances, either.

How about asian? With all of the history of raids and invasions in the asian countries - which "asian" is the real thing? None? Most asians, like most whites, who have a minority (defined as "anything not the dominant ethnic group where the ancestor comes from") in their bloodline, don't talk about it.

So the color theory of racial integrity is straight out, and very bogus when you're talking american born people, and those from other melting pot areas. The race is "human", folks.

So we get to ethnicity. Some days ethnicity seems to be race myths dressed up in fancy dress. Other days, it's a way to describe the genetic precursors to an individual: their ancestry, if you will. So my ethnicity isn't "white" - it's Danish, German, English, Irish, Welsh and French, in various levels. Does it have other stuff, like NA or jewish? I don't know, but it's possible. Do I have the "right" to enjoy and practice the cultures of all the ethnic inclusions I know of? I sure as hell think so!

So my "black" friends could just as easily be German, English, Scottish, Welsh, South African, and Nigerian. Do they have the same "right" to enjoy all of the cultures of their ancestry? Hell yes!

So then we come to the "american" cultures - and they all seem to base themselves off of skin tone.

So a guy who is, say, half German, half Nigerian, would be expected to act "black", talk "black", listen to rap and dress ghetto. Dumb. He may well be bilingual in German and English, dress in a button down suit or ironed jeans, and listen to Bach and QueensRyche.

A woman who was mostly european, with a little black, might be expected to dress like a yuppie and listen to teen pop, but instead really find resonance in R&B and Rap and delight in african tribal print dresses.

Are they wrong? I don't think so.

Maybe we should start looking at our cultures and subcultures, and who "belongs" in them, in other terms than just the nominal color of someone's skin, and our assumptions about "race".

Disagree? OK, but keep it polite, or I reserve the right to roast your ass. I'm in a mood.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
jilara
Jun. 16th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC)
Scott, who has some black bloodlines back in the early 19th century, loves the blacks who start ragging on him about how he's probably a prejudiced white boy. He doesn't figure it's worth disenlightening their prejudices.

Me, I figure a big part of me is ethnically Japanese. It's just I don't have the genetics to go with it. But a lot of Japanese grannies seem to recognise that part of me, anyway. ;-)
(Deleted comment)
witchchild
Jun. 16th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC)
And then there's me, who's Swedish on both sides, traceable back a few hundred years, and is just at home with folk music and salmon as I am with flamenco and mojitos.
jemyl
Jun. 16th, 2005 12:58 am (UTC)
Right On!
How very true! It is about time we stopped being so politically correct and recognized people for who they are instead of who others think they should be. Few whites heal kieloyd, but I do and I am Irish, Welch, French and German. Apparently, since my paternal family tree goes back to 1750 in Connecticut, there is also some slave blood in there someplace, way, way back. Do I care? Not a whit! I am an American.

Thirty years ago, out in San Jose, I was dating a Japanese Hawaiian man. He was, and still is, a real sweetheart, kind, considerate and lots of fun. One night we went to a party. I had been invited to come and bring a date. We went, and had a pretty good time too. I didn't understand the coolness of our hostess though, until the next day when she called an lambasted me for bringing a person of color into her home. It seems her father had worked on the Atomic Bomb and she hated anyone of Japanese descent. "I don't believe in interracial dating. You insulted me and my family by bringing that man into my house," she said. I told her that she was insulting me, my friend and my family by intimating that this man was anything but what he was, an American, whose father was a WW II veteran, on the Allies' side. She and I have not talked or seen each other since. He and I are still good friends. He calls every few months from Hawaii to see how my husband and I are doing.

It is time not to be so politically correct. It is time to recognize people as people and to emphasize the ways we are alike as humans, yet unique as individuals. That acceptance should go to religions too. "In my Father's House are Many mansions," does not mean only Christian houses, but all religions. Too many Christians limit God. Too many Pagans forget that God or gods, in the end it is still that which creates and is in all and of all. Working together the spiritual people of earth can change the world. Divided and fighting the same poeple can destroy it. Peace to all.

ertla
Jun. 16th, 2005 01:11 am (UTC)
Last I heard, when "ethnicity" wasn't being used as a euphemism, it referred to culture and identification, or their remnants, but was commonly applied only in situations involving a mix - most commonly among the descendants of immigrants and perhaps other migrants.

It didn't match any grouping as large as a race. "Han" is an ethnicity - I forget which Asian nationality they come from, but it isn't the whole nation. _Asian_ is not. Asian-American might be, barely, considered an "ethnicity", but only if you are dealing with people so far from their roots that this level of generality is as specific as they can get.

Thus you have "ethnic Russians" _and others_ in various of the fragments of the once USSR. In this case, the contrast is with citizens/residents of the territory known as Russia. Ancestry and genetics are only the point to the extent that they contribute to one's cultural traits and identification. What your family disowns and honestly forgets, doesn't count.

That's the usage I learned, of course, and not the usage I've observed in the USA, where there's such a giant cultural problem about race that they can't even find terms for smaller or different groupings, without trying to pervert them as new improved ways to refer to their national obsession.
furzecat
Jun. 16th, 2005 02:29 pm (UTC)
Two things make me swear out loud [1]

1) The word "ethnic" used when people mean "race" and are trying to be P.C. or simply don't know the difference. I am ethnically ENGLISH, racially I'm white. The guy on the other side of the screen to me as I type this is also ethnically English, he just happens to be black. We both grew up in the same culture.

2) The word "ethnic" used to describe anything the user considers exotic. "Ethnic design", for example, with no reference to what culture it (supposedly) comes from.

Culture and ethnicity are learned and can _be_ learned. Whilst my culture is English, learning to make that culture more Heathen is an ongoing process. Anyone who thinks that ethnicity is purely a matter of genetics is, to use a very English saying, talking bollocks.


[1] Okay, lots of things, but two related to your post.
ravan
Jun. 16th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
Sorry, but "white" isn't a race. It's a (range of) skin color(s). The ethnicities usually classed as "white" are european and russian. "Black" isn't a race. It's a (range of) skin color(s), because the ethnicities contributing can be a hodge podge of european, african, and even middle eastern. Ethnicity as I'm using it refers to ancestry and the genetic differences inherited therefrom, only one (a minor one) of which is skin color.

My ancestry (and ethnicity) isn't "white", it's various European tribes and migratory groups, plus whatever other groups crept in to the woodpile. "White" only describes my arbitrary racial designation based on skin color.

Essentially, people try to use the term "race" to label the polyglot of ethnic backgrounds that occur in the US, and try to force people into a stereotype due to their skin color.

Ethnicity is not learned. Culture is. Your genes, including the interesting little physiological factors engendered from various tribes at various locations, can't be "learned". "Race" is a null in a ethnically non-homogeneous population. The "white" and "black" races *aren't*. They're just rubbish bins in which to arbitrarily sort people.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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