So What Defines A “White” Person?

White or something else?

White or something else?

Thank God, some people get how stupid our concepts of race are. I think I was tipped to this article by the blog, Mixed American Life, and I really wish it were required reading. Here is an excerpt:

It’s been widely mentioned among a certain set on social media networks that the suspect in the Boston bombings is Chechen, and therefore, “Caucasian.” The good-natured purpose of this being to foil the usual insipid bigotry let loose in similar situations, which assumes that all terrorists are non-White, that Muslims are of a separate, lesser race, and/or that any particular terrorist act is part of some larger, epochal war of “us versus them.”

All of these racist conclusions are ridiculous, and would be easily refuted with the most basic and widely-accepted social and scientific data of contemporary times. However, stating that because the suspect is from the region of the Caucasus Mountains he “is White” is a troubling statement. Most readily, this reifies a notion of Whiteness. But additionally, this overlooks the history of the term “Caucasian,” and how the racial history of anthropology brought this term into common parlance. To a person from the United States, where “Caucasian” is a synonym for racial Whiteness, there is an etymological connection that would allow you to say this, and think you are correct. But “Whiteness” has always only ever been exactly what “White people” want it to be. What part of the world a person is from has little to no affect on whether anyone thinks s/he is actually “White”, because “White” is a social class, not a place.

“Caucasian” was first identified as a race by Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1779, as one of five: the others being Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian, and American. These categories were based upon the measurement of the human skull. While he was a proponent of “Degreneration Theory,” that theorized that all humans were originally Caucasian before having their appearance change due to poor living conditions, he was able to note what is now widely known—that phenotypical differences within races are as large as those between races. In other words, in any measureable characteristic, there is as great a difference between individual Africans, and as great a difference between individual Europeans, as there is between Africans and Europeans compared.

I sincerely hope you take the time to read the rest of this excellent, not long, article that blows up our notion of what divides us. I just don’t get how people, once they are educated to these facts, can still see people in terms of race. Here is the link.

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20 thoughts on “So What Defines A “White” Person?

  1. ericjbaker says:

    It’s the usual error of thinking phenotypic characteristics are more relevant than genotypic ones. On a cellular level, the different “races” are almost identical. The greatest variance occurs within a “race,” a viable term only if one chooses to categorize people by superficial (phenotypic) traits.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      Indeed my friend. Amazing how we choose to characterize ourselves by the most superficial things.

  2. A person is White if their non-Semitic ancestors descend from Europe and they have most if not all of the traits that we, based on experience, associate with being White.

    If race were not real, then Jews, Negroes, and Latinos would not organize for their ethnic interests, and people like you, who deny that race has any reality, would not recognize their right to do so. You target Whites with your pseudoscientific rhetoric, but you don’t simultaneously argue to blacks, Jews and others that they shouldn’t be campaigning for their racial and ethnic interests, because “they don’t exist”.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      Actually if you read more if the posts on this blog you will see I don’t think any labels like white, black, brown or any color should define anyone. And I personally have no problem with whites wanting to organize cultural, political groups around what they believe their interests are. The key for me is pride in your culture is fine while organizing to wield power over another group is not. No matter who does it. Oh and hard to see what your argument is against the fact that the concept of race is man-made. Like it or not, you can choose to believe in it, but it does not make it real. It’s power comes from the belief not the reality.

      • Your first sentence conveys your confusion about race. It’s not a matter of skin color, strictly. Skin pigmentation is only one aspect of race. Looking at your picture, it’s clear that if your skin pigmentation were “white”, people would still be averse to classifying you as a White person. That’s why Albino Negroes are still recognizably Negroes, because more than just skin pigmentation is relevant to race, biologically. There is also: Bone structure, physique, behavior, physiology, and intelligence.

        Race is no less real than varieties in plants or subspecies in animals. It’s no less real than species, which as a category in biology is, itself, extremely controversial (do a Google search for “species problem”). But controversy over a category does not mean the category is man-made or unreal.

        Race is not a “social construct”. It has just as much biological reality as species. Whites are defined in part by their lineage (as are all biological categories; in fact, descent is the primary concern of systematists [those who study phylogenetic relationships among lineages of organisms] and not just phentoype, or appearance and behavior) and only in part by their appearance, which for Whites includes, but is not exclusively limited to, skin pigmentation.

      • Earnest Harris says:

        Once again, someone is ignoring what even biologists and anthropologists have to say on this matter. But again, when you choose to ignore these facts, very little logic can be used with you.

  3. ericjbaker,

    Race is no less grounded a biological category than is species. In fact, there’s more controversy about species than there is race. That’s why there’s a “species problem”. Biologists agree that species are real, but there is intense disagreement on how to define species. The “species problem” exists because there’s no consensus about what species are. Biologists have long recognized the existence of species, though, just as they have long recognized the reality of varieties (in plants) and subspecies (i.e. “races”). Anti-White thinkers like this blog’s author deliberately target Whites -because- they are anti-White, not because they genuinely don’t believe in the existence of race.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      That’s funny to me when someone says I am anti-white when they have no knowledge of my family’s make up. If only they knew how impossible it is for me to be anti-white. LOL

      • I don’t doubt that you have some White ancestry. I don’t think that’s relevant to the point I’m making. You claim, above, that you’re not opposed to Whites organizing for their perceived ethnic interests. But posts like this one convey clearly that you are targeting Whites. It’s clear in the title and in the text. That’s also, incidentally, the basic character of anti-White policy in the US: To convey to Whites that race is a “construct” while focusing arguments against Whites.

        That’s also why, in America, there’s a paradox in the advocacy of “diversity” (the claim that we do, and should, value racial, ethnic, and cultural “diversity”) while at the same time advocating that race is a “social construct” (the position that races and ethnicities are “man-made”). The paradox is only understandable if what the whole scheme is laboring for is undermining Whites societies, by telling Whites to view their own race as “man-made” while valuing “diversity”.

        Biologists recognize race, just as botanists recognize varieties in plants and zoologists recognize subspecies in animals. If anthropologists and social scientists downplay it, it’s because there are political motives for doing so. There is a consistently reinforced program of political correctness that compels people to pretend that race is “man-made” and a “social construct”.

        That race is real is reflected in evolutionary biology. Evolution in sexually reproducing taxa would not be possible without races, varieties, and subspecies. When geographical variants (i.e., races) differentiate and become distinct (as has happened, historically, with Caucasians, Negroids, and Mongoloids, the three broad racial types), there is the biological prospect of such variants becoming genetically and reproductively isolated. If that happens, then that race or variant is said to have speciated (become a new species).

      • Earnest Harris says:

        Though we disagree, I actually appreciate the discussion. With that being said though, I think if you have time to go through other posts I have done you will see I do not focus solely on the construct of “whites.” Far from it, since I think it is all a construct, like defining blacks by the “one drop rule” which I have written about many times, and for which I disagree with many blacks on.I think the problem with your argument, from my perspective, is that the very “science you are relying on also, when used by a different scientist, comes to the exact opposite conclusion. You say biologists recognize race, when clearly, as several articles I have referenced over the years points out, many biologists do not recognize as real. I suppose it is a matter of which you choose to believe. But whether you agree with the scientists I referenced or those you prefer, it is certainly clear then, that the concept is not rooted in fact otherwise there would not be scientists on both sides of the issue.

  4. Clearly, there are biologists and anthropologists that claim that race is a social construct. I don’t deny that. But biologists, whether they reject the category explicitly or not, can’t get around it. That’s why biological anthropologists can identify the race of deceased persons through skeletal remains, even though anthropologists in general claim that race is just a man-made construct. It’s also why there are biologists who deny that race is real, but still can’t avoid the relevance of race in evolutionary biology: That evolution, in sexually reproducing taxa, would not be possible unless sub-populations of species (namely, races) existed, were distinct, and evolved reproductive isolating mechanisms.

    It’s a kind of double-speak, where the reality of race is inescapable in several ways, but the “official” stance is one of denial, pretending that they’re “social constructs”.

    When I said above that “Biologists recognize race…” I mean that the fact of it is inescapable, in ways that I mention in my first paragraph here, even if it is denied.

    Whatever are your goals, your project is just going to have the effect of contributing to more confusion, and even if I granted you your claim that you’re equally trying to discredit race among all racial groups, the practical reality is going to be different: Whites are the target of a massive educational, media, and social campaign to view race as a construct and to be unconcerned about mass immigration and racial differences. By thereby trying to convince Whites not to view themselves in racial terms, you contribute to their decline, and you also, incidentally, harm the ethnic interests of African-Americans and other minorities, whose interests are not secured by having an America where Whites are a minority. It’s a paradox, because if what concerns you is people dominating each other on the basis of racial categories, you’re only worsening the situation. You would better improve the American situation by conveying to African-Americans that they have legitimate racial interests, and that those legitimate racial interests are better served by dropping this hatred and resentment of European-Americans, and aligning against forces such as mass immigration, international corporate influence, and pointless foreign wars.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      I’ll ignore the first part of your comment since as I said in the last reply there is no way you or I will convince the other on that. So on to you other point, that discussions like this will only confuse people and that only whites are targeted by misinformation in education and media.

      I am presuming you don’t really mean that since you sound like someone who is fairly reasoned. People are already confused on the matter of “race.” I come from a different perspective that believes that more information is better than less, even if initially it causes people confusion as you describe it. Ignorance is not bliss, it leads to silly discrimination and hatred. For some reason you think I am more focused on what all this means to whites than to others. Frankly that is not the case. I trust whites, like other ethnic groups, will adjust to the changing demographics that are happening. Where do we agree is that I don’t think african-americans, are anyone should carry hatred and resentment against european-americans, or any other group. That does no one any good. We all have much more that connects us and that we have in common, than “racial” categories. What is not in our interest, and by our, I mean all of us, including you and me, is to continue seeing each other as fundamentally different.

      • The reality is that we are different. People are different in many ways: Racially, mentally, physically and morally. Even if you convinced everyone in the world to cease seeing one another in racial terms, you’re not going to make any strides toward eradicating inequality, distinction and discrimination. People are always going to find concrete differences with each other, because those concrete differences are really there.

        Humans treat each other brutally, cynically, and in exploitative ways even within their own racial groups. I suspect you know that. The reason for that is because we have a genetic propensity for brutality that has nothing to do with racial categorizing. It’s naive to think that you’re making the world a better place by telling people that race is a fiction.

        Ultimately, there’s another sense in which your project is flawed. The reality of race doesn’t need the support of science. Race is real, even if there is no scientific argument to be made for it. People come into this world with a certain heritage, and their identity is rooted in their heritage, and having someone tell them that that racial heritage has no basis in biological reality should be no greater concern to them than it would be if a Marxist was told that equality has no viable counterpart to be referenced in nature. It wouldn’t stop a Marxist from promoting equality, a lawyer pursuing justice, or (an even better metaphor) the member of a family from pursuing the interests of his family if someone made the argument that science (or scientific philosophy) doesn’t give irrefutable proof of the existence of the category that concerns (and in the case of families and races) defines them.

      • Earnest Harris says:

        Now there is a hint of something we agree on. Heritage and culture are indeed real. “Racial” classifications are not. No problem with people celebrating their cultures.

        And yet another area where we disagree. I come from a philosophy that says even if you can’t change the whole world at one time, one can change a few minds, and who knows what those few minds can do. History is full of such examples.

      • A couple of points specifically in reference to my claim that you’re primarily targeting people of European descent.

        First of all, while your blog might be for any English-speaking reader, in practice, it’s likely to attract American and northern European readers.

        Second of all, I know that you know that in Africa, there simply aren’t sizable or meaningfully large enough non-African populations for your arguments to have any relevance. In Asia, as well, there aren’t significantly large enough populations for your calls for people of distinct races to ignore their differences to come to much. Only in Europe and America, and particularly in the latter, is that the case.

        I’m also inclined to suspect that you think that racial discrimination is problematic in greater degrees among Whites. I’ve only viewed a few of your posts, and you can correct me if I’m wrong, but so far I haven’t seen much writing regarding black-on-white crime, anti-White racial discrimination, or the problems that arise from viewing Whites in terms of racial stereotypes.

        Your most recent post complaining about racism was in relation to a White man making remarks about Tiger Woods. You could just as easily have picked the topic of the ongoing racist murder of white South Africans.

        Your most recent post about race as a concept contains the title, “What makes a person White?” You could just as easily have picked the title, “You’re not really black” or “Those Whites you hate don’t really exist”.

        Taking everything together, it’s not that difficult to comprehend that blogs like this in general, and this one in particular, have the express intent of convincing Whites not to care about race, first, followed by everyone else, second. Because you’re undoubtedly aware that multiracialism just doesn’t have a counterpart in Africa and Asia, like it does in America and Europe, you also undoubtedly are aware that the intent of all of this is to remove Whites from the Earth.

      • Earnest Harris says:

        Again, you really want to believe I wrote this blog for the purpose of convincing whites to not care about “race.” I hate to say it but you really are giving way to much credit to whites in terms of how I think. If it isn’t obvious, let me say that the purpose of the blog is to let all people know that “race” divisions are stupid. I have far greater concerns for what such thinking does to non-whites than I do whites. But at the end of the day, I want whites, blacks, browns, whomevers, to recognize that that we are all better off when we stop letting such ignorance get the better of us.

  5. “I have far greater concerns for what such thinking does to non-whites than I do whites.”

    Well, for White folks reading your blog, at least our discussion has drawn out the fact that your concerns are to promote the interests of non-Whites.

    • Earnest Harris says:

      LOL. Dude it took you all this back and forth to get that point? I told you that several comments ago. This blog is not about one group of people. It is about all people in our ever changing society. Glad you got that even if a bit late.

  6. Reblogged this on Critical Issues Blog and commented:
    Interesting post on what defines a “white” person.

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