Thursday, 30 December 2010

"Race" is not "Racially Ambiguous"; It Simply Does Not Exist

Apparently a skirmish over color arousal in a potentially fake Nike ad, touting women with large behinds, led to a discussion of the issue at The Root this week.  The Root writer, Nsenga K. Burton, wrote that the skin color in the photograph posted made the woman "racially ambiguous."

To try and add some scientific substance to the question, instead of becoming hopelessly confused and chasing our tails in "racial" circles, I posted the following:

I find it most interesting that the writer describes this woman as "racially ambiguous". "Race", as a matter of science, does NOT exist and it never did. The reason that her "race" is so hard to determine is that "race' was never a scientific reality. It's like saying the height and weight of the Easter Bunny and Santa's reindeer are "ambiguous." They are ambiguous because they don't exist.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program,

"DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other."

In other words, the Human Genome Project has proven that, as a matter of scientific fact, that which we call "race" does not exist as a matter of biology, and so all references to "race" are references to a fallacy.

An article called 'Race' and the Human Genome", published at Nature.Com in the "Nature Genetics," acknowledges that:

With very rare exceptions, all of us in the US are immigrants. We bring with us a subset of genes from our homelands, and for many Americans, often first-generation but more commonly second-generation, the plural noun 'homelands' is appropriate. From this perspective, the most immediately obvious characteristic of 'race' is that describing most of us as Caucasian, Asian or African is far too simple. Despite attempts by the US Census Bureau to expand its definitions, the term 'race' does not describe most of us with the subtlety and complexity required to capture and appreciate our genetic diversity. Unfortunately, this oversimplification has had many tragic effects. Therefore, we need to start with the science . . . "
Yesterday, 22:57:09
The reality is that the skin color of the woman in the photograph is "bisque", which is designated on the Internet Color chart as color number " #FFE4C4 ".

No vapid and anti-scientific discussion of her "race" can change the color of her skin, while her skin color does not fit within hardened sociological notions of "racial" extremes. We cannot assign to her membership in the "black race" or the "white race" because those "races" simply do not exist now and never did in the past.

Actual scientists might have divided humans into subspecies based on skin color, hair color, height, and other characteristics, except that it has been found to be impossible to find any given genetic material in one human group that is not present to some extent in another human group. Hence the "racial ambiguity". It is far more scientific to simply acknowledge that sub-races of the human race simply do not exist, and even if they did exist it would not be possible to distinguish and predict their genetic differences based on their skin color.

The truth is that the woman above has a skin color that is not easily named within a binomial "race by skin color" social system. Let's adjust the social system to the science rather than continuing in futility to try to adjust the science to the social system. That is what the author above admitted s/he was doing when s/he tried to assign a bisque-colored woman to a "white race" or "black race".

Others can and will stick with their "race"-based understanding of the science of human genetics. However, human geneticists of the Human Genome Project have already announced that humans will never fit into neat "races" based on their skin color. Just as phrenology is no longer a serious topic of science, I predict that "race" will have been replaced in science and elsewhere with much more subtle and useful understandings based on the human genome within the next fifty years. "Race" is headed toward the trash basket.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Why do Black Bloggers and White Supremacist Groups Agree that "Race" Exists?

There can be no such thing as "historical racism" because "race" itself does not exist.  This is simply the finding of the most recent indisputable scientific understanding of the human genome.  There is no basis in science for the belief that we can group members of the human species into distinct "racial" subgroups that that can be identified by skin color. 

There is no genetic material that can be found in all white people but no Black people, and there is likewise no genetic material that can be found consistently in Black people but that cannot be found in people with white skin.  So the human genome simply does not and will not permit us to scientifically group humans "racially," based on skin color or geographical region of origin.

We Blacks may be more similar genetically to the "white" man across the street than we are to our Black daughter's new Black fiance.  This is what genomic science tells us, but during slavery we could not fight the belief in "race" using genomic science because the human genes, on which genomic science is based, had not even been discover.  They had not been thoroughly mapped, as they are today.

If you disagree that you may be genetically more similar to your white neighbor, then ask your self whether you would prefer to have a blood transfusion from you white neighbor or your daughter's Black husband.  If you can answer that question without knowing the blood types of each of the potential donors, then your belief in "race" has tied your mind into so many knots that you may never be able to free yourself from them.

Once we lived in scientific ignorance and the belief in "race" because we had to do so if only because every aspect of American culture and law reinforced the notion of "race." Now, with the advances in the understanding of DNA and genomic science, we live in scientific ignorance only if we choose to do so.

There have been historical efforts to dominate and enslave others of the same skin color and/or different colors, often based in an "us vs. them" mentality, with dividing lines associated with geographical region of heritage, language, and social class .

But "historical racism" cannot exist because "race" itself does not exist.  "Race" is the most discussed scientific fallacy that has no basis whatsoever in science.  What do exist are skin color, skin color groups, and geographically and/or linguistically based culture groups.  And some people and groups still have stubborn but real interests in the continued belief in the existence of "race."  Just open the newspaper on any given day and you will find hundreds of such people, some of whom and naively ignorant, but many of whom believe they benefit from the concept of "race."

When Black bloggers, for example, are in agreement with white supremacist groups on a matter of science so significant as the belief in race, then these diametrically opposed parties both need to wonder why the agree one something so fundamental but find everything else the other groups believe to be repugnant.  If you are a Black person who believes in the existence of "race", you need to ask yourself why you agree with white supremacist groups on a question so fundamental.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Is The Duncan Hines-Associated Brown Cupcake Advertisement "Racist" or Color-Aroused Antagonism?

Many whites and Blacks will ask themselves whether the above video is "racist", and whether it is an example of Duncan Hines "racism".  First, let me say that I am not convinced that the above ad was even made by Duncan Hines, but others will surely investigate that. says it's for real, and has even identified the director and some of his other commercials in notoriously poor taste:

Cupcakes, once a delightful source of sugary indulgence, later a cliched trend much derided on blogs like this one, have sunk to a new low: racial controversy. A video for Duncan Hines' Amazing Glazes has angered viewers for its depiction of, uh, cupcakes in black face. Racist cupcakes? Facing criticism, Duncan Hines pulled the video from YouTube. But we managed to get a copy of the video, below. Judge for yourself:

Here's a link to the commercial that Duncan Hines pulled,
hosted at another website. >>> 
Duncan Hines' Hip Hop Cupcakes. [Photo: Duncan Hines]

It should also be noted that this is not the first time director Josh Binder has been criticized for creating questionable advertising. In the past, he has filmed an ad for Western wear that features a cowboy lassoing up two ladies, and another that spoofs samurai movies with loaves of bread.

To make a decision about whether the above cartoon is "racist", whomever it was that made it, we would first need to agree about the definition of "racist".  There is no more agreement among Americans now about what constitutes "racism", even after fifty years of continuous effort.

Let's ask another question instead.  Is the above advertisement an example of antagonistic color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior?  For example, was the video conceived with an awareness of its color content?  I don't think anyone will assert that the makers of this ad were unaware that chocolate is brown, or that the chocolate frosting has been used here to radically change the color of the cupcakes.  We are inherently discussion color here.

Chocolate frosting is often brown, so that in itself does not cause a problem.  But when dark-brown monkey-like talking faces are added to the frosting, we have to ask ourselves, "Is there ideation here that is associated with brown skin color?

When anyone takes a vanilla-colored cup cake and turns the surface brown they are acting on color-aroused ideation, unless the change of color is an utter accident, which is clearly not the case here.

It's quite apparent here, when these animated brown faces begin to talk, color-associated ideation is at hand. Color exists.  The nature of the color-aroused ideation can be debated, but the fact that there is color-aroused ideation cannot be debated.  The advertisement is about coloring cupcakes brown.  That behavior cannot occur without color-aroused and associated ideation.  When you turn something that was vanilla-colored into something that is deep brown colored, that is indicative of color-aroused ideation.  (If you paint your car blue, that is indicative of color-aroused ideation as well.) 

Once we agree that color-aroused ideation is present, in an ad that is inherently about color, we need to identify the nature of the color-aroused ideation.  The ideation seems to be that, "It is funny when cupcakes turn monkey-faced, begin to talk and allude to old stereotypes about Black people."

What is the substance of the color-aroused ideation, when cupcakes turn brown and then have monkey-like lips?  Are these dark brown monkeys just funny brown monkey faces, or are they an allusion to Black people and to white people's history of drawing Blacks with enormous outsized lips, enormous eyes and idiotic expressions?

Does some emotion enter the picture after the color-aroused ideation that is inherent in the ad?  The people who prepared and published this video appear to engage in mirth, which is a sense of funniness that causes people to laugh--if they see the humor.  The makers of this video experience funniness when they see this, and they experience mirth.  The ideational premises in this video are that Black people look like monkeys or can be made to look like monkeys.   In addition, there is the ideational belief that laughing at brown monkeys that look like caricatures of Black people is funny.

Here, we have color-associated ideation that led to color aroused emotion and behavior, i.e. the quite intentional presentation of these monkeys in a way that alludes to the presentation of Blacks as monkey-looking that goes back to the earliest superiority and white people's humor in the United States and elsewhere.  One only need compare these images to others from the nineteen-forties to see that these images historically have been used to debase Blacks while laughing at us at our expense.  The inhuman characteristics of the monkey-faces intends to dehumanize all Black people, by associating these inhuman monkey-like talking cupcakes with a caricature of all people whose skin is brown or who are members of "the Black People".

I think the above paragraphs have succeeded in demonstrating that the advertisement arouses and reflects ideation about color and about skin color, when the talking monkeys have brown skin.  (There are red, white, gray and yellow monkeys in nature, but the makers of this cartoon chose dark brown as the color for the monkeys.)  Moreover, the production and publication of this video demonstrates a belief that ridiculing Black people is an acceptable and even preferable form of humor, and an acceptable way to arouse mirth and ridicule in the watching public, since there were so many other ways they could have used chocolate on these cupcakes other than making talking semi-human dark brown monkey faces of them.

All of this color-aroused ideation and emotion would have made no difference to Black people and the public in general, but for the behavior of producing this commercial and placing it on the airwaves.  What we see here are the three individual components of what others call "racism":  (1) ideation (ridiculing monkeys and Black people will be humorous) which ideation leads to the (2) emotion (of feeling funniness and mirth, in this case); and then, finally, (3) the behavior of putting a video together on the basis of this ideation and emotion, which brings us to the entire scope of the tripartite problem:  color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior.

If we asked whether the above was "racist" we would never come to a consensus, because we haven't even come to a consensus about what "racism" consists of.  However, when we look to see whether there is color-aroused ideation, there clearly is.  The color-aroused emotion of mirth is clearly intended to be aroused, and perhaps many other emotions about which I could only speculate.  (Discussions of color-arousal are scientific discussions where there is no place or use for speculation.)  Finally, the making of this commercial and its placement in media channels is the behavior that will cause Duncan Hines so much grief, even if Duncan Hines does not turn out to be the responsible party.

The value of looking at the three individual components of color aroused ideation, emotion and behavior is (1) that we are able to look for each component scientifically, and (2) it is possible to realize that it was not in the ideation or the emotion that got Duncan Hines got into trouble here, but it was (3) the behavior of placing this video for public consumption.

As many of us have realized, people of all skin colors engage in ideation and emotion with respect to people of their own and others' skin colors, but much of this ideation and emotion is not obvious until it manifests itself in color-aroused behavior.  The persistence of color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior may be due to the difficulty humans have in their efforts (if they make any effort) to prevent their ideation and emotion from becoming the basis of their behavior.

It may also be that whites are playing a game with Blacks by insisting that they cannot determine what is "racist" and what is not.  If so, then using more empirical and objective measures may spoil the fun of a lot of color-aroused antagonists who claim not to know that their behavior is "racist".

Is the above video "racist"?  I have no desire to wander into such an intellectual thicket that ends in an impenetrable morass, because I have already determined, in a methodical way, that the above advertisement is an example of antagonistic color-aroused ideation, emotion and behavior.   That alone is sufficient reason to wish that the video be off of the airways.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

There are no "Races" or Sub-species within the Human Species.

The human species definitely exists, but scientific genomic research has shown that there are no "races" or subspecies within the human species.  Since DNA human genome mapping shows that there simply are no subspecies among the human species, it is therefore obvious that there are no subspecies who could be identified by their skin color.

Genomic scientists have discovered that, in many cases, people of different colors have more in common genetically with people of other skin colors than they have in common with others of the same skin color.

Science has proved that the hypothesis of the existence of "races" or subspecies among humans is an anachronistic and anti-empirical, anti-scientific fallacy.

Just as previous generations of humans insisted that the world was flat until the flat earth hypothesis was demolished by empirical experience as well as celestial science, the days of "race" as an scientific hypothesis are over.  Now, "race" remains only as a superstitious believe propounded by those who don't understand science and those who benefit by insisting that scientific discoveries have no relevance in pseudo-scientific conversations.

"Race" surprisingly, is also defended by Blacks and other minorities who are afraid to lose their cultural identities associated with skin color.  They know or seem not to realize that their sociological culture can be loosely associated with their skin colors even though "race" does not exist.  We don't need the fallacy of "race" to explain to us why Americans argue so much about skin color.  Americans argue so much about skin color partly because of the discredited but constantly cited fallacy of "race."