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john eden
06-11-2008, 05:35 PM
I've seen a few people on other boards raise this issue post-election and thought it might be good to have a discussion here (where people are more sensible) about whiteness/blackness.

For me it seems pretty obvious that both categories are social constructions. And that most Americans would identify Barack Obama as being black. So for all intents and purposes he is.

It seems to me that there are some (white?) people who are suggesting that, because of Barack's parentage he is somehow "in between" white and black or possibly "not black enough". Which reminds me of the BNP always describing Lee Jasper as being "half black" - which is just bizarre.

Maybe there is scope here for people's thoughts about "shadism", or "whiteness" or whatever.

I must say I've not really read around the subject all that much, so any pointers would be welcome.

crackerjack
06-11-2008, 05:40 PM
Dizzee likes him best the way he is

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7713237.stm

crackerjack
06-11-2008, 05:43 PM
It seems to me that there are some (white?) people who are suggesting that, because of Barack's parentage he is somehow "in between" white and black or possibly "not black enough".


"not black enough" in a bad way? Jesse jackson said that too, though i think he meant it symbolically - ie not focussed enough on 'black issues'.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 05:46 PM
He's got one white parent and one black parent. That's all there is to it. It makes him whiter than most Kenyans and blacker than most Americans (and, crucially, blacker then the vast majority of the American political establishment). So it's in this latter sense that he's 'black', because he's black compared to GWB, McCain, Palin (and Clinton, Gore, Kerry) etc. etc. etc.

Edit: OK, obviously that's not 'all there is to it' since there's a whole complicated web of race issues surrounding it, to do with how people see themselves and are seen by others. But just to describe him as 'black' because he had a black dad seems not quite right, as it seems to imply that his mother's heritage counts for nothing - and it was she who raised him, after all.

droid
06-11-2008, 05:49 PM
RE: Shadism - seems mainly to be a 'black' thing - Jamaicans avoiding too much sun because it will make them 'blacker' and the general fetishising of lighter skin - bleaching etc...

Obviously this is the result of centuries of colonial 'divide and rule' practices, with variations on the theme all over the world (the protestant ascendancy here for example), but I would have thought it was rare (or at least rarely vocalised) amongst whites.

Grievous Angel
06-11-2008, 06:32 PM
"not black enough" in a bad way? Jesse jackson said that too, though i think he meant it symbolically - ie not focussed enough on 'black issues'.
Yeah. The distinction drawn is that he doesn't have a family history of slavery or a personal history within US racial struggles.

These make him simultaneously less attractive to many black voters, and a bit more attractive to white voters. That's why Jackson was insulting him a few months ago.

Cf what Gary Younge wrote about him a couple of weeks ago, about not really believing in him in terms of being a "black" candidate, though I think he came round to him a bit more on the basis of just being a pretty darn good candidate on his own terms.

Tea - his (white) mother didn't raise him to any significant degree - his (white) grandmother did. The mythical power of his losing his maternal figure right on the cusp of his greatest achivement is extraordinary.

zhao
06-11-2008, 06:45 PM
well in America's racist past (and present) a "half and half" person is categorized (and treated) as black.
so i don't think there is any reason for the definitions to be changed now.

mms
06-11-2008, 07:03 PM
i've mostly heard black people describe him as mixed race in a positive way.
He identifies himself as black.
I think there are lots of issues, there was the one drop rule which mean't you were black if anyone in your recent ancestory was black, also mixed race wasn't even on the consensus until very recent history, 2000 i think

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 07:20 PM
i've mostly heard black people describe him as mixed race in a positive way.
He identifies himself as black.
I think there are lots of issues, there was the one drop rule which mean't you were black if anyone in your recent ancestory was black, also mixed race wasn't even on the consensus until very recent history, 2000 i think

I don't think Barack being less than 100% black in terms of heritage cost him any black votes. He has a great reputation in terms of civil rights advocacy having spent several years as a community organizer on the southside of Chicago.

Mixed-race or multi-racial is the preferred nomenclature at this point. I don't think anyone has any problem seeing someone as multi-racial nowadays, rather than just black.

90% of the people in my neighborhood are mixed black and puerto rican or dominican. They don't seem to think they're less black or less PR/DR because of this. They're just mixed. No one else sees them as 100% anything. Mixed-race black hispanicos are so prevalant in NYC that most people don't assume a black person is an English speaker anymore.

Barack being mixed is a great asset in a country where whites will be the minority by 2050.

jambo
06-11-2008, 07:31 PM
Mixed-what? Multi-what?

social constructions.

vimothy
06-11-2008, 07:37 PM
I don't think Barack being less than 100% black in terms of heritage cost him any black votes..

Interesting though -- is it possible to be any more establishment than President of the United States of America?

craner
06-11-2008, 07:38 PM
I've seen a few people on other boards

Jesus, Eden, you read other boards? I hardly have enough time for this one.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 07:42 PM
Interesting though -- is it possible to be any more establishment than President of the United States of America?

Nope. And that's what black people have been dying and fighting for since they were emancipated--i.e. equal access to our institutions.

Also, it's worth noting that very very few blacks in the U.S. are 100% black, given the common practice of slave owners using female slaves for double duty as sex slaves.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 07:44 PM
Mixed-what? Multi-what?

Yup. Some people are of mixed ethnicity.

But we're all mixed ethnicity. That's what the U.S. is.

john eden
06-11-2008, 07:50 PM
Yup. Some people are of mixed ethnicity.

But we're all mixed ethnicity. That's what the U.S. is.

Indeed - and the UK.

I think "mixed race" is clearly a better term than "half caste" or "mongrel" and the other horrid stuff which preceded it in common parlance as it is less loaded. But "mixed ethnicity" is a bit of mouthful.

Craner - I skip a lot on here ;)

jambo
06-11-2008, 07:50 PM
Yup. Some people are of mixed ethnicity.

But we're all mixed ethnicity. That's what the U.S. is.
Gosh, really?

john eden
06-11-2008, 07:55 PM
RE: Shadism - seems mainly to be a 'black' thing - Jamaicans avoiding too much sun because it will make them 'blacker' and the general fetishising of lighter skin - bleaching etc...

Obviously this is the result of centuries of colonial 'divide and rule' practices, with variations on the theme all over the world (the protestant ascendancy here for example), but I would have thought it was rare (or at least rarely vocalised) amongst whites.

I think it is definitely more vocalised amongst black people but there is clearly a big issue for a lot of white people as well - white racist propaganda (e.g. cartoons) portrays black people as ultra-black for example, in the same way that racist caricatures of jews are really hook-nosed etc.

But also if you look at the portrayal of women in the media there is definitely an issue around lightness of skin and beauty, I think? In european countries but also something I noticed in Brazil.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 07:57 PM
Gosh, really?


I'm:

Italian
Danish
German
Jewish
"Gypsy" whatever that means
Scottish

Most people here, the vast majority, other than first generation immigrants, have a mixture of a number of ethnic groups in their heritage.

Forgot one--French Canadian.

I mostly identify with Italian-Americans culturally because I was mostly raised by them.

jambo
06-11-2008, 07:58 PM
Oh for goodness sake.

mms
06-11-2008, 07:58 PM
Also, it's worth noting that very very few blacks in the U.S. are 100% black, given the common practice of slave owners using female slaves for double duty as sex slaves.

yeah which explains stuff like the one drop rule.

yeah he's not any less black, you're right i wasn't trying to argue anything like that, but it wasn't until the 2000 censuss that american people could identify their background as coming from more than one place


'There remain many circumstances in which biracial individuals are left with no real response when asked for demographic data. But multiracial people won a victory of sorts after years of effort when in 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) changed the federal regulation of racial categories to permit multiple responses, resulting in a new format for the 2000 United States Census, which allowed participants to select more than one of the six available categories, which were, in brief: "White," "Black or African American," "Asian," "American Indian or Alaskan Native," "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander," and "Other." Further details are given in the article: Race (U.S. census). The OMB made its directive mandatory for all government forms by 2003.'

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 07:59 PM
Oh for goodness sake.

For goodness sake what?

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:00 PM
yeah which explains stuff like the one drop rule.

yeah he's not any less black, you're right i wasn't trying to argue anything like that, but it wasn't until the 2000 censuss that american people could identify their background as coming from more than one place


'There remain many circumstances in which biracial individuals are left with no real response when asked for demographic data. But multiracial people won a victory of sorts after years of effort when in 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) changed the federal regulation of racial categories to permit multiple responses, resulting in a new format for the 2000 United States Census, which allowed participants to select more than one of the six available categories, which were, in brief: "White," "Black or African American," "Asian," "American Indian or Alaskan Native," "Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander," and "Other." Further details are given in the article: Race (U.S. census). The OMB made its directive mandatory for all government forms by 2003.'

Yeah, I know, I was responding to people further upthread when I said people are considered mixed now. The census categories are a perfect example of how stupid the idea that "races" exist is.

john eden
06-11-2008, 08:01 PM
Oh for goodness sake.

Any comments on my OP, Jambo? :)

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:03 PM
But also if you look at the portrayal of women in the media there is definitely an issue around lightness of skin and beauty, I think? In european countries but also something I noticed in Brazil.

A bunch of people in the soc dept at my college wrote papers about this in the early 2000s. Lightness is definitely prized among african-american females and seen as more "feminine", while darker skin is considered more masculine.

It's easy to see if you take a quick look at female actresses and performers and compare them to male atheletes, actors, performers, etc.

jambo
06-11-2008, 08:03 PM
For goodness sake what?

Race exists--as a social construct.

As a biological fact it's non-existent, except in the minds of racists, who believe that there's some kind of "species within a species" heirarchy of human genetics.

Racism is always racism, no matter how good a racist's intentions may be.
Would you say that Obama is mixed-social construct then?

The point was not that I have never heard of people being of mixed ethnicity (what???) but that it is curious for the politically correct arbiters of 'preferred nomenclature' to stand against the notion of race as being inherently racist on the one hand but to approve the use of terms like 'mixed-race' and 'multi-racial' on the other.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:04 PM
Would you say that Obama is mixed-social construct then?

The point was not that I have never heard of people being of mixed ethnicity (what???) but that it is curious for the politically correct arbiters of 'preferred nomenclature' to stand against the notion of race as being inherently racist on the one hand but to approve the use of terms like 'mixed-race' and 'multi-racial' on the other.

Uhh when did I say I approved of them? I said they were preferred in the U.S.

There are tons of things here that are preferred that I think are flat out wrong.

gumdrops
06-11-2008, 08:08 PM
Barack being mixed is a great asset in a country where whites will be the minority by 2050.


do figures like this really increase by the same proportion annually though? also, im not sure i really like the way these stats for the US' ethnic makeup (usually with some fear-instilling agenda) are divided into 'whites' and then everyone else. plus 46% of the population isnt quite a minority. whites will still be the racial majority. its only when you group it into (all) non-whites and whites as the polar opposite that it seems that way.

jambo
06-11-2008, 08:11 PM
Uhh when did I say I approved of them? I said they were preferred in the U.S.
I said PC arbiters of 'preferred nomenclature'. Is that you? Do you have a badge?

But if you're asking:

I don't think anyone has any problem seeing someone as multi-racial nowadays, rather than just black.
'I don't think anyone has any problem'

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:12 PM
do figures like this really increase by the same proportion annually though? also, im not sure i really like the way these stats for the US' ethnic makeup (usually with some fear-instilling agenda) are divided into 'whites' and then everyone else. plus 46% of the population isnt quite a minority. whites will still be the racial majority. its only when you group it into (all) non-whites and whites as the polar opposite that it seems that way.

Yes, so the U.S. is going to be a "minority majority" country within the next few decades. So that 100% white people (or those who identify as such, anyway) are no longer the majority.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:14 PM
I said PC arbiters of 'preferred nomenclature'. Is that you? Do you have a badge?

But if you're asking:

'I don't think anyone has any problem'

Yes, which meant, I don't think Americans have a hard time acknowledging that some people who LOOK "black" are IN FACT of mixed heritage.

Did you read the post or are you intent on taking everything I say out of context for your own convenience?

vimothy
06-11-2008, 08:20 PM
Slightly OT, but I liked what David Boaz (http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2008/11/05/not-just-the-first-african-american-president/) said,


For two years now, everyone has talked about Barack Obama becoming the first black president, barely 40 years after the civil rights revolution. Obama himself has often said, “I don’t look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates.”

But his achievement is even more striking than “first African-American president.” There are tens of millions of white Americans who are part of ethnic groups that have never produced a president. The fact is, all 42 of our presidents have been of British, Irish, or Germanic descent. We’ve never had a president of southern or eastern European ancestry. Despite the millions of Americans who came to the New World from France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Scandinavia, Russia, and other parts of Europe–not to mention Asia and the Arab world and Latin America–we’ve never had a president who traced his ancestry to those parts of the world. Indeed, it’s often been said that “we’ve never had a president whose name ended in a vowel” (except for a silent ”e” such as Coolidge, and with the exception of Kennedy), which is another way of saying “not of southern or eastern European heritage”).

As Philip Q. Yang put it in his book Ethnic Studies: Issues and Approaches, “There have been no presidents of southern and eastern European descent; and none of Jewish, African, Latino, Asian, or Indian descent.” We’ve had 37 presidents of British (English, Scottish, or Welsh) or Irish descent; three of Dutch descent (Van Buren and the two Roosevelts); and two of Swiss/German descent (Hoover and Eisenhower). Of course, these categories usually refer to the president’s paternal line; Reagan, for instance, was Irish on his father’s side but not on his mother’s. But that doesn’t change the overall picture.

In this light, Obama’s achievement is even more remarkable. He has achieved something that no American politician even of southern or eastern European heritage has managed. But I think we can assume that from now on there won’t be any perceived disadvantage to candidates of Italian, French, Asian, or other previous genealogies not previously seen in the White House. For that, congratulations to Barack Obama.

jambo
06-11-2008, 08:22 PM
Did you read the post or are you intent on taking everything I say out of context for your own convenience?
You asked me where you had said that you approved of the term, even though it was the 'arbiters of PC language' I had mentioned, not nomadthesecond. So I quoted where you implied that you were OK with the term.

I think it's fairly acceptable as a term but I was just pointing out the inconsitency of utterly denying 'race' on the one hand, and accusing those who claim to recognise it as a reality of being racists, and using the language of race on the other.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:23 PM
Would you say that Obama is mixed-social construct then?.

As a matter of fact, yes, I would.

His life is a perfect sort of manifestation of the sort of cultural forces that exist based upon solely visual "racial" constructs and how they are insufficient.

Barack Obama was raised in predominantly "white" neighborhoods where schools received more funding and performed better. This gave him an automatic "leg up" over other people with skin as dark as his who were not raised by "whites" in white neighborhoods. His father was an African immigrant who left the family to go to Harvard, not a typical slave-descended black person in the U.S. This also affected his eligibility for admissions at Harvard.

Even so, as soon as he could, after Harvard, he fought loud and hard for the constitutional rights of black people. Even though he isn't slave-descended, he has no doubt encountered the same racism that anyone who looks black encounters in the U.S. He knows that the social construction of race wins out over reality and understanding anyday. This is why he thinks it's so important to have a progressive tax code, and why he wants to give students 5,000 federal dollars toward tuition if they volunteer in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Barack Obama understands the horrible effects of social constructions like race and the resulting norms as well as anyone and better than most.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:24 PM
You asked me where you had said that you approved of the term, even though it was the 'arbiters of PC language' I had mentioned, not nomadthesecond. So I quoted where you implied that you were OK with the term.

I think it's fairly acceptable as a term but I was just pointing out the inconsitency of utterly denying 'race' on the one hand, and accusing those who claim to recognise it as a reality of being racists, and using the language of race on the other.

Most people who prefer the term "mixed-race" DO NOT deny the existence of race. Most "PC" people actually believe wholeheartedly in it.

jambo
06-11-2008, 08:43 PM
Any comments on my OP, Jambo? :)
I would aspire not to give a toss how black or otherwise someone is. In other words I agree with the bit I already quoted -
social constructs.

Presumably if there's a discussion to be had for those that are interested it is around the implications of perceptions of and attitudes to colour / race.

john eden
06-11-2008, 08:50 PM
I would aspire not to give a toss how black or otherwise someone is. In other words I agree with the bit I already quoted -

Presumably if there's a discussion to be had for those that are interested it is around the implications of perceptions of and attitudes to colour / race.

OK cool. Are you interested in discussions around the implications of perceptions and attitudes to colour/race?

poetix
06-11-2008, 08:57 PM
Try fitting these three propositions into your head all at once, for pomo PC laffs:

"Reality is socially constructed" (there is nothing but bodies and languages)
"Race is a social construct" (languages construct bodies as raced)
"Race is not real" (the notion of race is demonstrably incoherent)

There are all sorts of things we habitually take for real that race is at least as real as, regrettably. Obama seems to bridge two "realities", one in which race is real (if incoherently so) and he is a black man, and another in which race is no longer real (has lost all symbolic efficiency) and "the colour of his skin" no longer signifies as a racial marker.

My guess is that the US itself is now a kind of disjunctive synthesis of these two realities: a racist society that has a dream of becoming a non-racist one, and a post-racial society that has not completely awoken from the nightmare of once having been something else. If so, Obama's presidency is at least a potent sign of the times.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 08:59 PM
Try fitting these three propositions into your head all at once, for pomo PC laffs:

"Reality is socially constructed" (there is nothing but bodies and languages)
"Race is a social construct" (languages construct bodies as raced)
"Race is not real" (the notion of race is demonstrably incoherent)

There are all sorts of things we habitually take for real that race is at least as real as, regrettably. Obama seems to bridge two "realities", one in which race is real (if incoherently so) and he is a black man, and another in which race is no longer real (has lost all symbolic efficiency) and "the colour of his skin" no longer signifies as a racial marker.

My guess is that the US itself is now a kind of disjunctive synthesis of these two realities: a racist society that has a dream of becoming a non-racist one, and a post-racial society that has not completely awoken from the nightmare of once having been something else. If so, Obama's presidency is at least a potent sign of the times.

"Race is not real" IS NOT, nor has it ever been, a "PC" sentiment or proposition. It's a scientific proposition that "race is not a biological fact."

But hey, if you're into constructing strawmen, have a ball.

droid
06-11-2008, 09:06 PM
The fact is, all 42 of our presidents have been of British, Irish, or Germanic descent.

Aha! That explains it so:

http://silencedmajority.blogs.com/silenced_majority_portal/images/2008/03/16/obama_244058d.jpg

The town of Moneygall, County Offaly is already planning for his visit:

http://www.moneygallgaa.com/MHC_Logo_.jpg

poetix
06-11-2008, 09:13 PM
"Race is not real" IS NOT, nor has it ever been, a "PC" sentiment or proposition. It's a scientific proposition that "race is not a biological fact."

But hey, if you're into constructing strawmen, have a ball.

If one accepts the first two propositions, one may have a few embarrassments with expressions like "biological fact" (and might enjoy pointing out that race has enjoyed, for a significant part of its ignominious history, precisely the status of "biological fact", with many "scientific propositions" being devoted to its elucidation)...

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 09:17 PM
If one accepts the first two propositions, one may have a few embarrassments with expressions like "biological fact" (and might enjoy pointing out that race has enjoyed, for a significant part of its ignominious history, precisely the status of "biological fact", with many "scientific propositions" being devoted to its elucidation)...

Who accepted the first two?

"Reality is socially constructed"? First, I've never heard anyone say this, let alone a PC true-believer. Most people who are fervently "PC" believe very strongly in social realism.

Pseudo-scientific elucidations, don't you mean?

poetix
06-11-2008, 09:22 PM
But I'm not sure that the assertion of the incoherence of race is primarily an assertion of biological fact in any case. Obviously I agree that race as a notion has no coherent mapping to what we know of actual human biodiversity. But it's incoherent even at the level at which it now operates, that of "demographic" or "culturalised" racism. And I don't think that biological racism faded simply because it was scientifically discredited. Scientifically discrediting nefarious ideas has not, historically, proven to be a stunningly effective way of making them go away.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 09:23 PM
Who exactly are these scurillous PC minions who go around doing crazy things like believing that reality doesn't exist except through language, and that race isn't "real", and questioning the basis in reality of our racial stereotypes? How terrible of them!

I can't think of a single example of one of these people, and I can think of lots and lots of PC ideologues.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 09:24 PM
But I'm not sure that the assertion of the incoherence of race is primarily an assertion of biological fact in any case. Obviously I agree that race as a notion has no coherent mapping to what we know of actual human biodiversity. But it's incoherent even at the level at which it now operates, that of "demographic" or "culturalised" racism. And I don't think that biological racism faded simply because it was scientifically discredited. Scientifically discrediting nefarious ideas has not, historically, proven to be a stunningly effective way of making them go away.

Of course not. But that doesn't mean that pretending that "race" is anything but a social construct leads us down the path of conceptual and political righteousness.

poetix
06-11-2008, 09:32 PM
Who accepted the first two?

Me neither.


"Reality is socially constructed"? First, I've never heard anyone say this

You've obviously read fewer bad books than I have, then.


, let alone a PC true-believer. Most people who are fervently "PC" believe very strongly in social realism.

This has not been my experience. Certainly some very PC queer-theory types I've known have also been very into Judith Butler, who in turn was very into regarding things less enlightened people thought of as "real" as discursive effects.


Pseudo-scientific elucidations, don't you mean?

Surprisingly few people thought so at the time.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 09:34 PM
You've obviously read fewer bad books than I have, then.


Oh, have I? Care to name some?

Judith Butler talked about gender being a discursive effect, not "reality."

My undergraduate thesis advisor was one of the leading Derridean scholars and queer theory proponents in the U.S., and I think you're being just a tad inflammatory and ridiculous here. People who reject social realism are hardly as simplistic about it as you seem to want to believe they are.

But again, it's your strawman, make it as silly as you like.

poetix
06-11-2008, 10:27 PM
Oh, have I? Care to name some?

I open this to the floor. What bad books have you read that claimed that reality was socially constructed? Ironically, I haven't read this one (http://www.amazon.com/Social-Construction-Reality-Sociology-Knowledge/dp/0385058985).

Lyotard has a generally anti-realist bent. Feyerabend certainly. Actually I don't really think either of them are "bad" as such. Rorty, now he's bad. But I can't help loving him, all the same.


Judith Butler talked about gender being a discursive effect, not "reality."

Gender would be one of those things that less-enlightened people regard as real. The point was that a) I have certainly known very PC people who were also enthusiastic about Judith Butler, b) whatever else she may be, Butler isn't a "social realist", at least about gender and - I believe, but don't ask me to quote chapter and verse on this - about race as well c) therefore, in my experience, there have been very PC people who were not also social realists.


My undergraduate thesis advisor was one of the leading Derridean scholars and queer theory proponents in the U.S

My postgraduate thesis adviser knew a lot about E. Nesbitt*. It didn't rub off.

I was so into Derrida once that I used to send people** Plato-and-Socrates postcards during the holidays. Best day of my life, when I discovered the Bodleian giftshop still had them in stock.


., and I think you're being just a tad inflammatory and ridiculous here.

I'm trying to make serious points in an amusing way. I can do po-faced, if you'd rather.


People who reject social realism are hardly as simplistic about it as you seem to want to believe they are.

Oh no, they're very complex and nuanced. They're all totally allergic to claims about "biological fact", though. They might allow that race isn't a matter of biological fact, but they'd mostly rather die than allow that it's a matter of biological fact that there's no such thing as race.

* This is actually true. Honesty requires me to admit that I never submitted my thesis***. Or wrote more than about a third of it.
** Girls I wanted to cop off with. It didn't work.
*** About the poetry of Geoffrey Hill, thanks for asking.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 10:29 PM
I'm:

Italian
Danish
German
Jewish
"Gypsy" whatever that means
Scottish

Most people here, the vast majority, other than first generation immigrants, have a mixture of a number of ethnic groups in their heritage.

Forgot one--French Canadian.

I mostly identify with Italian-Americans culturally because I was mostly raised by them.

Yeah, but they're all basically 'white', aren't they? I mean, to be ultra-pedantic, someone of mixed Mandinka/Zulu/Maasai/Tutsi heritage would be 'mixed race' (or mixed ethnicity, if we're going to avoid the term 'race'), but to anyone who didn't take a professional interest in African ethnography, they'd just be 'black' in the same way that you are 'white'.

As you say, it's got a lot to do with culture, and particularly the culture you were brought up in, which is very important to how people see themselves.

waffle
06-11-2008, 10:32 PM
Barack Obama understands the horrible effects of social constructions like race and the resulting norms as well as anyone and better than most.

This thread appears to be a continuation of two other threads, particularly the Bell Curve one, by populist means. Maybe, then, we can confirm what you are saying here by considering Obama's own critique of race/racism on National Public Radio from 1994, when he was a civil rights lawyer, via this response to Charles Murray's Bell Curve pseudo-science. [Perhaps I'm just imagining it, but it is clear that - at least in 1994 - Obama believed that racism/race is a 'construct' deriving from economic inequalities and invoked to perpetuate such inequalities, a belief later manifested in his electioneering slogan "This is not about race". Unfortunately, he's also a pragmatist attempting to confront existing structures of power, which is why he will soon become nothing more than a "magical negro" figurehead ("We have to be realistic") for the neo-liberal ruling class elite of the Democratic Party].



NPR
October 28, 1994
SHOW: All Things Considered (NPR 4:30 pm ET)

Charles Murray's Political Expediency Denounced
BYLINE: BARACK OBAMA
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 635 words




HIGHLIGHT: Commentator Barack Obama finds that Charles Murray, author of the controversial "The Bell Curve," demonstrates not scientific expertise but spurious political motivation in his conclusions about race and IQ.

BARACK OBAMA, Commentator: Charles Murray is inviting American down a dangerous path.

NOAH ADAMS, Host: Civil rights lawyer, Barack Obama.

Mr. OBAMA: The idea that inferior genes account for the problems of the poor in general, and blacks in particular, isn't new, of course. Racial supremacists have been using IQ tests to support their theories since the turn of the century. The arguments against such dubious science aren't new either. Scientists have repeatedly told us that genes don't vary much from one race to another, and psychologists have pointed out the role that language and other cultural barriers can play in depressing minority test scores, and no one disputes that children whose mothers smoke crack when they're pregnant are going to have developmental problems.

Now, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that with early intervention such problems can be prevented. But Mr. Murray isn't interested in prevention. He's interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it's artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell. It's easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray's calculations. After watching their income stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, realor perceived, that minorities may enjoy.

I happen to think Mr. Murray's wrong, not just in his estimation of black people, but in his estimation of the broader American public. But I do think Mr. Murray's right about the growing distance between the races. The violence and despair of the inner city are real. So's the problem of street crime. The longer we allow these problems to fester, the easier it becomes for white America to see all blacks as menacing and for black America to see all whites as racist. To close that gap, we're going to have to do more than denounce Mr. Murray's book. We're going to have to take concrete and deliberate action. For blacks, that means taking greater responsibility for the state of our own communities. Too many of us use white racism as an excuse for self-defeating behavior. Too many of our young people think education is a white thing and that the values of hard work and discipline andself-respect are somehow outdated.

That being said, it's time for all of us, and now I'm talking about the larger American community, to acknowledge that we've never even come close to providing equal opportunity to the majority of black children. Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children. Real opportunity would mean a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work, jobs that can return some structure and dignity to people's lives and give inner-city children something more than a basketball rim to shoot for. In the short run, such ladders of opportunity are going to cost more, not less, than either welfare or affirmative action. But, in the long run, our investment should payoff handsomely. That we fail to make this investment is just plain stupid. It's not the result of an intellectual deficit. It's the result of a moral deficit.

ADAMS: Barack Obama is a civil rights lawyer and writer. He lives in Chicago.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 10:36 PM
Gender would be one of those things that less-enlightened people regard as real. The point was that a) I have certainly known very PC people who were also enthusiastic about Judith Butler, b) whatever else she may be, Butler isn't a "social realist", at least about gender and - I believe, but don't ask me to quote chapter and verse on this - about race as well c) therefore, in my experience, there have been very PC people who were not also social realists.



My postgraduate thesis adviser knew a lot about E. Nesbitt*. It didn't rub off.

I was so into Derrida once that I used to send people** Plato-and-Socrates postcards during the holidays. Best day of my life, when I discovered the Bodleian giftshop still had them in stock.



I'm trying to make serious points in an amusing way. I can do po-faced, if you'd rather.



Oh no, they're very complex and nuanced. They're all totally allergic to claims about "biological fact", though. They might allow that race isn't a matter of biological fact, but they'd mostly rather die than allow that it's a matter of biological fact that there's no such thing as race.

* This is actually true. Honesty requires me to admit that I never submitted my thesis***. Or wrote more than about a third of it.
** Girls I wanted to cop off with. It didn't work.
*** About the poetry of Geoffrey Hill, thanks for asking.

So Judith Butler is merely a PC fundamentalist because she doesn't believe that gender and race are not social constructs? I'm sorry, but that just sounds like garden variety anti-intellectualism to me. Just because it's not a common-use sort of idea doesn't mean it's wrong, nor does it mean it's hopelessly "PC." Judith Butler in Gender Trouble said a lot of things that are not politically correct in the U.S.

Political correctness is not a monolith, either. What's politically correct in one country might not be in another. See: sex ed in New York versus sex ed in sub-Saharan Africa.

matt b
06-11-2008, 10:44 PM
from a boring semi-trad. sociological point of view, whilst genetics can be mapped out, whether or not obama is black/white/a mix of the two (w/ regard to ethnicity rather than race) will very much be a construct created through negotiation- a combination of how obama sees himself (growing up in a 'white' household, knowing his family heritage etc) and how others see him (whether he is seen as black/white/ a mix of the two by those who interact with him).

so, if the unknown obama encountered racism in his everyday contact (getting on a bus, going into a shop), this will have an impact on how he percieves his own ethnicity, to a greater or lesser extent. or vice versa.

if he had/has a sibling who did not share visual identifiers of being 'black', their perception of their own ethnicity may be slightly different. as will be others perception of them.

in terms of 'social reality', i'm guessing that obama would struggle in some circumstances to overcome the perception of being 'black' (e.g. the mainly white village i live in), whilst in others he may be seen being nearer to 'white' (think of your own example).

that is the area of interest rather than any objective measurement. but i don't wish to go over the whole bell curve stuff again, mainly because i was v.rude to vimothy, for which i can only apologise :(.

as is often the case, maybe some agreement on definition of terms might be useful

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 10:45 PM
Yeah, but they're all basically 'white', aren't they? I mean, to be ultra-pedantic, someone of mixed Mandinka/Zulu/Maasai/Tutsi heritage would be 'mixed race' (or mixed ethnicity, if we're going to avoid the term 'race'), but to anyone who didn't take a professional interest in African ethnography, they'd just be 'black' in the same way that you are 'white'.

As you say, it's got a lot to do with culture, and particularly the culture you were brought up in, which is very important to how people see themselves.

But you can look at an Italian person and say "hey, s/he has dark hair, and eyes, and a certain look that makes it obvious that he's Italian and shares genes with other Italians" just like you can say "that person looks black" or jamaican, or whatever...ethnicity is not the same as race, ethnic groups are groups that share common religion and nationality and culture...I think talking about difference w/r/t humans makes much more sense in terms of a less abstract grouping system such as ethnicity. Ethnicity acknowledges the cultural basis of difference, and the geographical basis of shared genes. It's not a perfect way to talk about difference, but I think it's less problematic than using "race" without challenging its conceptual basis.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 10:48 PM
This thread appears to be a continuation of two other threads, particularly the Bell Curve one, by populist means. Maybe, then, we can confirm what you are saying here by considering Obama's own critique of race/racism on National Public Radio from 1994, when he was a civil rights lawyer, via this response to Charles Murray's Bell Curve pseudo-science. [Perhaps I'm just imagining it, but it is clear that - at least in 1994 - Obama believed that racism/race is a 'construct' deriving from economic inequalities and invoked to perpetuate such inequalities, a belief later manifested in his electioneering slogan "This is not about race". Unfortunately, he's also a pragmatist attempting to confront existing structures of power, which is why he will soon become nothing more than a "magical negro" figurehead ("We have to be realistic") for the neo-liberal ruling class elite of the Democratic Party].

But I'm happy to have Obama if I have to have someone, you know? I think he *is* aligned with radical leftism ideologically, but he has enough of a "this is what's going on, how can we fix it?" pragmatism to him that I think he may actually be able to get a few good things done.

He's not going to be a revolutionary, but barring the possibility of a revolutionary being elected president, I'm more than glad to accept Obama's policies as an alternative to the ones we've had for the past 25 years.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 10:56 PM
Something weird just happened where an entire post by Poetix just disappeared.

poetix
06-11-2008, 10:56 PM
So Judith Butler is merely a PC fundamentalist

You need to slow down and try actually listening to what people are saying. No, I am not asserting that Judith Butler is "merely a PC fundamentalist". I am asserting that there exist, in my experience, people who are quite PC who also think Judith Butler is the bee's knees. Ergo, there exist PC people who are not social realists - I dispute, on this basis, your assertion that PC people tend also to be strongly social-realist.

Actually, you know what? I've just realised who you're going to be when you grow up (http://lecolonelchabert.blogspot.com). And that this is an aggravation I can live without...

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:02 PM
You need to slow down and try actually listening to what people are saying. No, I am not asserting that Judith Butler is "merely a PC fundamentalist". I am asserting that there exist, in my experience, people who are quite PC who also think Judith Butler is the bee's knees. Ergo, there exist PC people who are not social realists - I dispute, on this basis, your assertion that PC people tend also to be strongly social-realist.

Actually, you know what? I've just realised who you're going to be when you grow up (http://lecolonelchabert.blogspot.com). And that this is an aggravation I can live without...

Excuse me?

If as you assert everyone who thinks like Judith Butler is some sort of crazy PC fascist, isn't it safe to assume that you think Judith Butler is in fact wrong about gender?

"PC" is a completely invidious comparison made by people who'd rather not talk about what people actually have written or what they actually believe, but would rather write them off in one fell swoop so they don't have to deal with them.

I have no idea who Le Colonel Chabert is, but I'd most likely rather be him than a fucking "nature is purposive" "race is real" moron. I'd also point out that you don't know me, but hey, what does that matter? It's more important to create broad categories to place people in so you can dismiss what they're saying with impunity.

We can't all be you, sadly.

john eden
06-11-2008, 11:10 PM
Can people maybe try and sideline the bitchiness, one upmanship, willy waving, tit for tat, point scoring, snappy comebacks, pseudo stalking, personality clash, snideness?

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:11 PM
I feel bad for the U.K. I really do.

As soon as people begin making some progress so women and minorities can get ahead, you inevitably have a backlash of anti-intellectualism where White Men get all hot and bothered over the fact that people no longer want to hand over all the world's power to them. "Gender" has to be real, see, because a) most people think it is, and that's good enough, and b) if it isn't, then my puny sexuality has no grounds in "reality" boohoo.

Go read Maxim or Stuff and leave us horrible PC race disbelievers to ourselves.

poetix
06-11-2008, 11:11 PM
Race is as real as fashion is. Or money. I personally hope for a future in which neither race, nor money, nor fashion is real in any sense whatsoever. I would say "not in my lifetime", but as of yesterday that doesn't seem such a safe way to bet.

Grievous Angel
06-11-2008, 11:13 PM
Yeah. FFS. This was a good thread for a page or two.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:13 PM
Yes, race and fashion are really similar, thanks for pointing that out.

poetix
06-11-2008, 11:15 PM
I feel bad for the U.K. I really do.

As soon as people begin making some progress so women and minorities can get ahead, you inevitably have a backlash of anti-intellectualism where White Men get all hot and bothered over the fact that people no longer want to hand over all the world's power to them. "Gender" has to be real, see, because a) most people think it is, and that's good enough, and b) if it isn't, then my puny sexuality has no grounds in "reality" boohoo.

Go read Maxim or Stuff and leave us horrible PC race disbelievers to ourselves.

You are now ranting at someone who thinks almost the exact opposite of what I think (and pretty much the opposite of what I've actually said I think), which is quite funny really. Isn't the internet wonderful?

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:16 PM
Yeah. FFS. This was a good thread for a page or two.

But isn't this what always happens when there's a good thread on here about race or gender or difference general?

Somebody comes on and gets all upset because people have dared to assert that pretending that race is some sort of biological fact is destructive.

Yeah, it's stupid. But it's like clockwork.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:18 PM
You are now ranting at someone who thinks almost the exact opposite of what I think (and pretty much the opposite of what I've actually said I think), which is quite funny really. Isn't the internet wonderful?

I asked you who these horrible PC people were? Your only example, to my knowledge, were people who agreed with Judith Butler and some queer theorists. If you believe that race is not a fact, but a social construct, whither the howling about others who agree with you?

Social construct and "real" are not necessarily mutually exclusive categories, after all.

jambo
06-11-2008, 11:24 PM
In a sense this whole question is about meta-linguistics isn't it? Who are these people saying Obama is 'not black' or 'not black enough', and what do they mean by it and does it matter? Is it so interesting that some people say stupid things? Are there really that many of them? My guess would be that john eden is right that the general perception in the US is that he is black. And I think we can agree that he will have at least some awareness of what it means to be black in the US.

jambo
06-11-2008, 11:29 PM
As soon as people begin making some progress so women and minorities can get ahead, you inevitably have a backlash of anti-intellectualism where White Men get all hot and bothered over the fact that people no longer want to hand over all the world's power to them. "Gender" has to be real, see, because a) most people think it is, and that's good enough, and b) if it isn't, then my puny sexuality has no grounds in "reality" boohoo.
Gender is real in that people treat it as real so it has effects. Isn't that the sense in which we are allowing ourselves to talk about 'race'?

waffle
06-11-2008, 11:29 PM
He's not going to be a revolutionary, but barring the possibility of a revolutionary being elected president, I'm more than glad to accept Obama's policies as an alternative to the ones we've had for the past 25 years.

Perhaps I'm being premature in asserting that "he will soon become" a lapdog of the liberal status quo; rather, he is in serious danger of becoming so: he's already being advised to water down his supporters' expectations (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5051118.ece) (with the Democratic Leadership Council's William Glaston exclaiming, "expectations are sky-high (http://www.salon.com/opinion/walsh/election_2008/2008/11/04/evans_pritchard/print.html)", prefiguring Obama's future role as a steadying centrist).



I have no idea who Le Colonel Chabert is ....

HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!. If only. Actually, I think Poetix is just being facetious: Chabert is a Jewish American heiress (daughter of a former CEO of one of the US' big three TV networks) residing in Paris (though not the May '68 one), an, erm, 'old-fashioned' self-righteously social-realist Trotskyist (when she takes on a 'cause' [the "Zizek is a fascist" one has been continuing for at least the past 3 years], it's best to leave the room ... ).

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:31 PM
In a sense this whole question is about meta-linguistics isn't it? Who are these people saying Obama is 'not black' or 'not black enough', and what do they mean by it and does it matter? Is it so interesting that some people say stupid things? Are there really that many of them? My guess would be that john eden is right that the general perception in the US is that he is black. And I think we can agree that he will have at least some awareness of what it means to be black in the US.

I think he has quite a bit of awareness of what it means to be black, but I'm not so sure he's perceived as black rather than mixed.

You have to understand how many people here are mixed and how common it is and how much "mixed-racial" heritage is a part of how people talk about race in the U.S. for the past 20 years or so. I think hardline "race is a fact" racists probably tend to think of Obama as black only. Most other people see him as culturally sort of sitting the fence, so to speak, based on his life experiences and certain advantages and achievements.

I think the reason Obama didn't make an issue of his "blackness" is because he knows that it would have been detrimental to civil rights issues were he to play his blackness as many play the "race card", as a shortcut to credibility among black voters. Also, he didn't need to--he could run on issues alone and win. And that's what made his victory so sweet. He won because he was a great candidate, not because he was a token black candidate. This is the sort of victory black people have been dreaming of.

Some people think it's equally huge that a son of an immigrant was elected. There are so many ways in which his victory was helpful to race relations in the U.S.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 11:32 PM
But you can look at an Italian person and say "hey, s/he has dark hair, and eyes, and a certain look that makes it obvious that he's Italian and shares genes with other Italians" just like you can say "that person looks black" or jamaican, or whatever...ethnicity is not the same as race

OK, agreed so far:


ethnic groups are groups that share common religion and nationality and culture...I think talking about difference w/r/t humans makes much more sense in terms of a less abstract grouping system such as ethnicity. Ethnicity acknowledges the cultural basis of difference, and the geographical basis of shared genes. It's not a perfect way to talk about difference, but I think it's less problematic than using "race" without challenging its conceptual basis.

I guess I would define race, then, as "the genetic component of ethnicity", i.e. that which makes an Italian look Italian and a Norwegian look Norwegian (and a Kenyan look Kenyan, etc. etc. etc.). I think it's fallacious and dishonest to say that anyone who acknowledges this must necessarily assume that intellect or personality type is similarly correlated - because such things are a) influenced hugely by circumstances of upbringing (diet, education, home life and so on - all of which have a big socioeconomic aspect) and b) in many ways a product of the wider cultural norms of that society - and furthermore c) that even to the extent that such things have a genetic component, it's bound to be far more complicated than something like skin colour or hair type. Though of course there are people who do believe there is such a correlation - well, so much for them. I don't.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 11:33 PM
Can people maybe try and sideline the bitchiness, one upmanship, willy waving, tit for tat, point scoring, snappy comebacks, pseudo stalking, personality clash, snideness?

Dude, this in an internet forum! :rolleyes:

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:34 PM
Gender is real in that people treat it as real so it has effects. Isn't that the sense in which we are allowing ourselves to talk about 'race'?

Yeah, of course.

I don't understand what's at all wrong with Judith Butler's ideas, because she's merely describing the process by which gender identity comes to be constructed. This construct is entirely real.

But from what Poetix seems to be saying, he doesn't believe that the two ideas are reconcilable. I can't really tell *what* Poetix is saying, tbf.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:36 PM
OK, agreed so far:


I guess I would define race, then, as "the genetic component of ethnicity", i.e. that which makes an Italian look Italian and a Norwegian look Norwegian (and a Kenyan look Kenyan, etc. etc. etc.). I think it's fallacious and dishonest to say that anyone who acknowledges this must necessarily assume that intellect or personality type is similarly correlated - because such things are a) influenced hugely by circumstances of upbringing (diet, education, home life and so on - all of which have a big socioeconomic aspect) and b) in many ways a product of the wider cultural norms of that society - and furthermore c) that even to the extent that such things have a genetic component, it's bound to be far more complicated than something like skin colour or hair type. Though of course there are people who do believe there is such a correlation - well, so much for them. I don't.

But wait--Italians, Norwegians, Kenyans, aren't a race. That's not what the word means, and the concept is different. I have no problem with the idea that there's a genetic component to ethnicity, it's just that I don't think the concept of race is useful in discussing this component.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:38 PM
Jewish American heiress (daughter of a former CEO of one of the US' big three TV networks) residing in Paris

Don't I wish. I'm flat broke.

jambo
06-11-2008, 11:42 PM
I think he has quite a bit of awareness of what it means to be black, but I'm not so sure he's perceived as black rather than mixed.
OK

You have to understand how many people here are mixed and how common it is and how much "mixed-racial" heritage is a part of how people talk about race in the U.S. for the past 20 years or so. I think hardline "race is a fact" racists probably tend to think of Obama as black only. Most other people see him as culturally sort of sitting the fence, so to speak, based on his life experiences and certain advantages and achievements.

I think the reason Obama didn't make an issue of his "blackness" is because he knows that it would have been detrimental to civil rights issues were he to play his blackness as many play the "race card", as a shortcut to credibility among black voters. Also, he didn't need to--he could run on issues alone and win. And that's what made his victory so sweet. He won because he was a great candidate, not because he was a token black candidate. This is the sort of victory black people have been dreaming of.

Some people think it's equally huge that a son of an immigrant was elected. There are so many ways in which his victory was helpful to race relations in the U.S.
Yes I think we are all mostly aware of all that. And we have ethnically mixed people and running water in the UK too, for the time being anyway.

But I was going back to the OP really, the issue at hand being that 'some people' were saying that BO is not black or not black enough and what that means.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 11:46 PM
Don't I wish. I'm flat broke.

Hang on, a year ago you were waving your wad in Vimothy's face! What gives?

waffle
06-11-2008, 11:55 PM
Gender is real in that people treat it as real so it has effects. Isn't that the sense in which we are allowing ourselves to talk about 'race'?

This is very similar to the hyperstitional argument, isn't it? As soon as these ‘fictions’ are produced ("constructed"), they function in and as reality. As a result, it isn’t that belief in race produces race as "a biological fact", but rather that such belief produces equivalent effects to those the reality of race would produce.

Mr. Tea
06-11-2008, 11:55 PM
That's not what the word means, and the concept is different. I have no problem with the idea that there's a genetic component to ethnicity, it's just that I don't think the concept of race is useful in discussing this component.

Well then ultimately it seems we agree. I think you were assigning the word 'race' a definition that was 'harder', or at least more old-fashioned, than the one I was using - I mean, that's the definition you were assigning to my usage of the term. As I said at the time in the 'bell curve' thread, it's a bit like the word 'atom': it's an ancient word which is still used, but the concept it encapsulates is very different from that which was assigned to it by the first people who coined the term.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:56 PM
Hang on, a year ago you were waving your wad in Vimothy's face! What gives?

First, I never waved anything in anyone's face. I made a point that everyone who makes a lot of money doesn't necessarily deserve it (I was a pretty lousy employee everywhere I worked.) Then Vimothy translated the amount of salary I made from dollars into pounds somewhere along the line. I made a lot of money, especially for my age, but I spent even more.

As I've already said, I stopped going to my job in protest after I sat in a meeting with the Crestor brand team at Astra-Zeneca and the fuckers LAUGHED about the fact that it was shutting down people's kidneys. This had just happened to my grandfather. It was a sore subject. I was pissed. It was hard enough to write pharmaceutical grants for "medical education" "research" publications, even harder to watch these companies bribe doctors into prescribing shit, and even worse to be asked to lie on grant apps. I'd had it. So one day I stopped going so they'd fire me.

My grandmother died the day after Christmas, then my 23-year-old cousin died a few months later in a substance-related car accident. This precipitated all kinds of problems I was having already. My therapists told me I'd be unhappy until I did something I really wanted to do so I decided to apply to medical school. I'm only working sporadically at "off the books" jobs.

nomadthethird
06-11-2008, 11:58 PM
This is very similar to the hyperstitional argument, isn't it? As soon as these ‘fictions’ are produced ("constructed"), they function in and as reality. As a result, it isn’t that belief in race produces race as "a biological fact", but rather that such belief produces equivalent effects to those the reality of race would produce.

Exactly.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:03 AM
I suppose my bad experiences at work have made me very suspicious of "fact and figures" from researchers. I've seen firsthand how the "numbers" game works in Big Science and it's scary what passes as good work. This has made me even more suspicious of institutions and institutional analysis than I ever was...

Hence me questioning Vim's graphs whenever he posts them :slanted:

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:11 AM
Well then ultimately it seems we agree. I think you were assigning the word 'race' a definition that was 'harder', or at least more old-fashioned, than the one I was using - I mean, that's the definition you were assigning to my usage of the term. As I said at the time in the 'bell curve' thread, it's a bit like the word 'atom': it's an ancient word which is still used, but the concept it encapsulates is very different from that which was assigned to it by the first people who coined the term.

It would take an awful lot of education to change the use of race from the common-use version that exists now, though.

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:15 AM
Gender is real in that people treat it as real so it has effects. Isn't that the sense in which we are allowing ourselves to talk about 'race'?

This is very similar to the hyperstitional argument, isn't it? As soon as these ‘fictions’ are produced ("constructed"), they function in and as reality. As a result, it isn’t that belief in race produces race as "a biological fact", but rather that such belief produces equivalent effects to those the reality of race would produce.

Exactly.
This is also I think essentially what poetix was saying here and in other posts.

"Reality is socially constructed" (there is nothing but bodies and languages)
"Race is a social construct" (languages construct bodies as raced)
"Race is not real" (the notion of race is demonstrably incoherent)

There are all sorts of things we habitually take for real that race is at least as real as, regrettably. Obama seems to bridge two "realities", one in which race is real (if incoherently so) and he is a black man, and another in which race is no longer real (has lost all symbolic efficiency) and "the colour of his skin" no longer signifies as a racial marker.

My guess is that the US itself is now a kind of disjunctive synthesis of these two realities: a racist society that has a dream of becoming a non-racist one, and a post-racial society that has not completely awoken from the nightmare of once having been something else. If so, Obama's presidency is at least a potent sign of the times.

josef k.
07-11-2008, 12:16 AM
I just read through this thread - it seems to me that people are talking at cross-purposes here. Would anyone mind if I submitted some banal points, to try and clear things up a bit?

1) The term "Black" (like the term "White") clearly has no kind of relationship at all with biology. It is socially constructed, discursive, and scientifically meaningless. But it does have a socio-historical meaning, which it is possible to think about.

2) The question of gender, plainly, is not quite as simple - if only because it invariably tends to slide into a question of biological sex. There are, it is clear, male and female bodies, even if the borders between them are sometimes fuzzy. Sexual preference is a yet trickier matter, and clearly has something to do with language and the desire inherent in it.

3) It does not follow from the "social constructivist" position - and the idea that reality is in some sense constructed by language - that everything in reality has equal reality. Just because both reality and race are socially constructed, race does not thereby become real. Though all men are mortal, and Socrates is mortal, not all mortals are Socrates. As this thread has demonstrated.

4) Social constructivism is basically a form of sociological nominalism. It adopts a stance on universals, and suggests that these are historically and discursively generated. It then attempts to show how this happens. Social constructivism is not hostile to science tout court, despite what Sokal and Bricmont seem to believe: there is no way in which a commitment to social constructivist thinking would force someone to grant that "race" is as real an entity as, say, atoms, despite the fact that it recognizes that both are in some sense socially generated. Social constructivism does not equal sheer relativism, and to claim that it does is to construct a strawman.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:18 AM
This is also I think essentially what poetix was saying here and in other posts.

Yeah, ok, but in order to believe the last two paragraphs of this post:


Originally Posted by poetix
"Reality is socially constructed" (there is nothing but bodies and languages)
"Race is a social construct" (languages construct bodies as raced)
"Race is not real" (the notion of race is demonstrably incoherent)

There are all sorts of things we habitually take for real that race is at least as real as, regrettably. Obama seems to bridge two "realities", one in which race is real (if incoherently so) and he is a black man, and another in which race is no longer real (has lost all symbolic efficiency) and "the colour of his skin" no longer signifies as a racial marker.

My guess is that the US itself is now a kind of disjunctive synthesis of these two realities: a racist society that has a dream of becoming a non-racist one, and a post-racial society that has not completely awoken from the nightmare of once having been something else. If so, Obama's presidency is at least a potent sign of the times.

...don't you have to subscribe to those first three propositions? I think it's ridiculous to act as if it's especially PC to believe any or all of those three statements.

Great post as always, Josef!

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:23 AM
Yeah, ok, but in order to believe the last two paragraphs of this post:
...don't you have to subscribe to those first three propositions? I think it's ridiculous to act as if it's especially PC to believe any or all of those three statements.
I'm sure poetix can answer that but I read it as saying that if you accept the first two then you can't simply regard race as 'not real', because as a construct it still has effects. I think that's made quite clear by the last two paragraphs.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:29 AM
I'm sure poetix can answer that but I read it as saying that if you accept the first two then you can't simply regard race as 'not real', because as a construct it still has effects. I think that's made quite clear by the last two paragraphs.

But you can regard race as not "real" because it only exists as a cultural production, not a biological fact. In my opinion, there are not just two options, where you have to admit everything that humans produce is equally "real" or you have to believe that nothing they produce is real. As Josef K says, social constructivism is not simply relativism. It's not completely amoral. And, unlike Poetix, I think that what goes for PC language in the U.S. has little to do with social constructivism. Perhaps it's different elsewhere. I don't know.

josef k.
07-11-2008, 12:33 AM
if you accept the first two then you can't simply regard race as 'not real', because as a construct it still has effects...

But to say that a belief in something is real, and so therefore has effects on this basis, is not the same thing as saying that the thing is itself real.

The construct is surely "belief in the category of race" rather than "race" per se.

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:36 AM
Look I'm using shorthand and must let poetix answer for him/her self. Josef clarifies the finer points nicely, but what you say there is pretty much what poetix 2nd para says. I wouldn't argue it in quite the way poetix has but I think we all agree on this actually if we make a little effort to meet the others' intended meaning part of the way.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:40 AM
Look I'm using shorthand and must let poetix answer for him/her self. Josef clarifies the finer points nicely, but what you say there is pretty much what poetix 2nd para says. I wouldn't argue it in quite the way poetix has but I think we all agree on this actually if we make a little effort to meet the others' intended meaning part of the way.

I hope so.

But I doubt Poetix wants to be associated with PC fundamentalism and he seems to think it's quite prevalant among social constructivists.

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:43 AM
But to say that a belief in something is real, and so therefore has effects on this basis, is not the same thing as saying that the thing is itself real.
I know. I was just briefly pointing out that it looked to me like namadthesecond had misunderstood what poetix was saying where he/she had agreed with similar statements from myself and waffle.

waffle
07-11-2008, 12:48 AM
I guess I would define race, then, as "the genetic component of ethnicity", i.e. that which makes an Italian look Italian and a Norwegian look Norwegian (and a Kenyan look Kenyan, etc. etc. etc.).

And what is the 'colour' of power, what is the 'genetic component' of power? If Obama walked into your living room this minute, what would your response be, what would you excitedly and immediately post here?

"Gee, somebody who looks a bit like a Kenyan has literally just walked into my living room! Can you believe it!?"

"Fock'n'hell! Power has just levitated its way into my room! It's fockin' sublime, man, fockin' sublime!"

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 12:58 AM
And what is the 'colour' of power, what is the 'genetic component' of power? If Obama walked into your living room this minute, what would your response be, what would you excitedly and immediately post here?

"Gee, somebody who looks a bit like a Kenyan has literally just walked into my living room! Can you believe it!?"

"Fock'n'hell! Power has just levitated its way into my room! It's fockin' sublime, man, fockin' sublime!"

Another stunningly articulate, meaningful and constructive post there, waffle.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 12:59 AM
Yes I think we are all mostly aware of all that. And we have ethnically mixed people and running water in the UK too, for the time being anyway.

Of course there are mixed people in the U.K., and there are immigrants, but it's a different cultural situation in many ways. Identity politics over here are played very differently, mostly because everyone here is a transplant and the point is to assimilate, to become as American as possible, which is to let go of any cultural baggage you carry from your homeland. As Zizek says, there's no common cultural 'grounding' here, [his example: we call the ground floor the "1st" floor where Europeans call it "0"]. Everyone feels "mixed" to one extent or another. We have to pick and choose what sorts of traditions from our heritage to keep alive, if any--when my grandparents came here it was a point of pride to work on English until you had no accent. People still have nose jobs to look "more American", i.e. more generically white.

There's no common cultural ground that we as Americans appeal to for our identity outside of pop culture. Seriously. None. There's some noise made about the constitution and our democratic values, but that's about it. To be American is to be very conscious of your own process of producing your own cultural identifications.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:14 AM
1) The term "Black" (like the term "White") clearly has no kind of relationship at all with biology.


I really don't see how anyone can say this with a straight face. People look the way they do because of their genes, right? Is that not biological? Obviously how people perceive themselves and are perceived by others is modulated by sociology and demographics - hence Barack Obama, in the predominantly white USA, is identified mainly as 'black' - but it's ludicrous to suggest that biology has nothing to do with it.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 01:20 AM
I really don't see how anyone can say this with a straight face. People look the way they do because of their genes, right? Is that not biological? Obviously how people perceive themselves and are perceived by others is modulated by sociology and demographics - hence Barack Obama, in the predominantly white USA, is identified mainly as 'black' - but it's ludicrous to suggest that biology has nothing to do with it.

Biology has something to do with looks, but it doesn't have all that much to do with all those little random associations that fly around in someone's head around the term "black" or "white"--the connotations, stereotypes, etc. Most people don't think of "blackness" and think "there's some sort of vague genetic similarity between people who all look black", they think of the Rodney King beating and/or Martin Luther King, etc etc.

Edit: I take that back, there are tons of people who only think of "black" as a genetic predisposition that includes all sorts of bad traits (which can be found across all populations, but this is ignored). Racists hear "black" and think of a fantasy "black man" with all sorts of hideous imaginary traits and who the racists believes is a product of his own bad genes, whose children will suffer the same genetic affliction.

josef k.
07-11-2008, 01:22 AM
But Kenyans do not look the same as Ethiopians. Yet in the US, they would both be called "Black." Why? Not because of genetics...

All I'm really saying here is that there is no ethnic group "Black" - no more than there is an ethnic group "White."

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:26 AM
OK, so the terms are nuanced with social connotations - I admitted as much in my post - but josef said they have "NO RELATIONSHIP AT ALL with biology". That just seems to be social constructivism taken to a bizarrely extreme degree; you might almost as well claim that the terms "tall" and "short" are meaningless since "height is socially constructed" (just because there may be extraneous social connotations associated with tall or short people).

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 01:29 AM
"Fock'n'hell! Power has just levitated its way into my room! It's fockin' sublime, man, fockin' sublime!"

That would probably be my reaction. Usually celebrities are disappointing in person, they look so much smaller than you imagined they were. But Obama is tall and lanky.

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:43 AM
Everyone feels "mixed" to one extent or another. We have to pick and choose what sorts of traditions from our heritage to keep alive, if any--when my grandparents came here it was a point of pride to work on English until you had no accent. People still have nose jobs to look "more American", i.e. more generically white.

There's no common cultural ground that we as Americans appeal to for our identity outside of pop culture. Seriously. None. There's some noise made about the constitution and our democratic values, but that's about it. To be American is to be very conscious of your own process of producing your own cultural identifications.
Yes I get what you are saying, there's a different ambience around the notion of cultural identity. Perhaps that lack of ground is what I have perceived as a weird hollow (lack) at the centre of American life when I have visited. I also felt that as opportunity though.

It's not as if everyone just arrived there though. And how much of modern British cultural identity is really built on stuff that's older then the USA? Obviously there are parts of the UK where people can agree on what it means to be English, Scottish or Welsh and feel themselves to be that, but I think it's quite different in the large metropolitan centres and London in particular.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:44 AM
Obviously there are parts of the UK where people can agree on what it means to be English, Scottish or Welsh and feel themselves to be that, but I think it's quite different in the large metropolitan centres and London in particular.

London's just fucking mad, it's somehow the most and least British part of Britain at the same time.

josef k.
07-11-2008, 01:45 AM
OK, so the terms are nuanced with social connotations - I admitted as much in my post - but josef said they have "NO RELATIONSHIP AT ALL with biology". That just seems to be social constructivism taken to a bizarrely extreme degree; you might almost as well claim that the terms "tall" and "short" are meaningless since "height is socially constructed" (just because there may be extraneous social connotations associated with tall or short people).

At base, my argument is this: There is no way to distinguish "Black" from "White" on any kind of biological basis. There is no hard, genetic code corresponding to these terms. There is no sample group that could even be tested. Consider: one hundred years ago, the only "Whites" in America were WASPS. Yet now the term is thought to include Irish, Jews, Italians...

waffle
07-11-2008, 01:54 AM
I really don't see how anyone can say this with a straight face. People look the way they do because of their genes, right?

http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2007/12/pinocchio4.jpg

waffle
07-11-2008, 01:59 AM
That would probably be my reaction. Usually celebrities are disappointing in person, they look so much smaller than you imagined they were. But Obama is tall and lanky.

Well, so am I. Therefore I am a black non-celebrity! :eek:

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:04 AM
Yes I get what you are saying, there's a different ambience around the notion of cultural identity. Perhaps that lack of ground is what I have perceived as a weird hollow (lack) at the centre of American life when I have visited. I also felt that as opportunity though.

It's not as if everyone just arrived there though. And how much of modern British cultural identity is really built on stuff that's older then the USA? Obviously there are parts of the UK where people can agree on what it means to be English, Scottish or Welsh and feel themselves to be that, but I think it's quite different in the large metropolitan centres and London in particular.

I've never been to the U.K., but every other European country I've visited felt worlds away from the U.S. culturally, some of them better some worse.

The first thing I noticed was that in Europe people obey laws. It doesn't matter which laws, or how trivial they seem, people do what they're supposed to, even when it comes to things like jaywalking! In Germany this was especially striking--they didn't just obey laws, they seemed to have a strict social code of conduct that was adhered to without question at all times. For example, I would simply cross the street when there were no cars at whatever point I liked and people looked at me like I was just out of my mind. Don't talk to Turks. Never ask "how are you?" unless you really mean it. In the U.S. nobody obeys laws, no matter how important they are, unless the fear of recrimination is tangible and the punishment severe. Law and law enforcement are there to protect you from harm, not keep you from doing whatever you want to do.

The second thing I noticed in Europe was that people all eat meals at regular times, and with their families. I don't really know anyone who does this in the U.S. except my ultra WASPy boyfriend's family. (well, I don't know, they're German and his dad's Jewish, but they act WASPy) And when they do it's awkward and there's lots of forced conversation until everyone gets sufficiently drunk to deal with each other. Also, Europeans didn't snack or eat nearly as much junk food as Americans. Europeans on average are much thinner than Americans, which is nice.

The third thing I noticed was that people in Europe take their own religion (or in England's case, I imagine, social etiquette, which is sort of like its substitute for religion since historically no one took the Church of England seriously) seriously but not as a set of beliefs, more as cultural tradition. This is very refreshing to me. It's fun to look at pretty cathedrals, not so fun to listen to fundamentalists thump the Bible.

The fourth thing I noticed was that European people all assume that others are nice, good people for the most part, or at very least respect others. Neighbors are tolerated not sued. People know their neighbors or are at least friendly with them when they see them. Once I left my wallet in a cab, with lots of money and an ID, and I thought for sure it was gone forever. Someone else called the cab authority for me and the guy brought the wallet back full of money! I tried to give him $50 for his trouble and he wouldn't take it, he couldn't understand why I'd want to give him money. In the U.S. not only would that have been stolen, but my identity would have probably been thieved, too. Here people assume the worst about everyone.

There are a lot more but those are the ones that struck me the most. They sound pretty minor but they add up to huge differences.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:09 AM
Well, so am I. Therefore I am a black non-celebrity! :eek:

Tall people are great. The taller presidential candidate has won more than 90% of the time. Another thing Obama had going for him!

craner
07-11-2008, 02:18 AM
Craner - I skip a lot on here

I must admit, I sometimes look at the When Saturday Comes message board. They have some smart, funny fuckers on there.

I have nothing to add to this debate though - it's an arid one. He's a Democrat Senator from Chicago who is now Presidant of the USA. That's what's important. Race is a sideshow.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:24 AM
Craner - I skip a lot on here

I must admit, I sometimes look at the When Saturday Comes message board. They have some smart, funny fuckers on there.

I have nothing to add to this debate though - it's an arid one. He's a Democrat Senator from Chicago who is now Presidant of the USA. That's what's important. Race is a sideshow.

I don't know, this did seem to open that last door for black Americans...it's symbolically significant at least...

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 02:33 AM
Tall people are great.

Heightist! :mad:

craner
07-11-2008, 02:34 AM
Yes, it's moving to an extent. But.

For example, listening to Bonnie Greer on QT tonight, swerving from hatred of Bush to adoration of Obama, it's clear that these kind of humanities intellectuals have no clue about politics or, more importantly perhaps, politicians.

So the symbolism, in the end, becomes, and is, irrelevant.

Alice Walker is already disappointed by her hero Obama. 2 days in! It won't be long before a lot of accolytes are. Does no one remember the Clinton swoon? Boom and bust! One of the reasons I adore Hitchens is because he called this fucker blue and true from the start. Politics is not the right arena for ideals and dreams. It never has been. It's a distasteful game. There's not one political hero in history. At least, not one who had power.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:38 AM
One of the reasons I adore Hitchens is because he called this fucker blue and true from the start. Politics is not the right arena for ideals and dreams. It never has been. It's a distasteful game. There's not one political hero in history. At least, not one who had power.

This isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy or anything...if people believe politics can't change the world for the better, then it probably never will.

If there's one thing they taught me good in rehab, it's that you create your own reality. ;)

craner
07-11-2008, 02:45 AM
If there's anything life taught me in my last horrid 5 years, it's that if you create your own reality, real reality carries on and gets worse.

Although maybe we mean the same thing.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:46 AM
Also, I don't think rolling back the ridiculous Bush tax cuts is some kind of lofty pipe dream, it's a pretty easy thing to do that will change things for the better over here.

And making sure people have access to health care? More like a basic human right than a dream.

It's easy for you to say over there in the U.K. where people can go to the doctor's office if they need to that politicians can't make or break a country...!

craner
07-11-2008, 02:52 AM
That's true, but we don't live on a massive block of land with federal states the size of the country I was born in (Wales).

waffle
07-11-2008, 02:55 AM
Tall people are great. The taller presidential candidate has won more than 90% of the time. Another thing Obama had going for him!

Is this why the likes of Michael Moore and Oprah Winfrey confine themselves to the TeeVee, that if Napoleon were around today he would be an entertainer?

There's a degree of retrospective biological determinism/confabulation Guinness-book-of-Records 'achievement' evident here, though, as with the current misleading myth of The Left-Handed President (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/2185970/Barak-Obama-would-continue-run-of-left-handed-presidents.html)(five of the last seven, including Obama, are left-handed, but overall, only 8 US Presidents out of 44 have been so (http://www.lefthandedstore.com/famous_left_handed_people.htm)).

In the same way, the average height of US Presidents (http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/show/1008172) is just 5 ft 10 in, which is only slightly above the average (male) height of 5 ft 9.25 in. Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman are still in with a chance.

John Cleese for (UK) Prime Minister!

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:55 AM
Bush was hands down the absolute worst thing that ever happened to the U.S. Even his own party agrees. It's a problem, the country's left in a gigantic mess. But it's not a mess that can't be fixed at least in part, and to sit back and pretend that anybody who might take office is going to be so drunk with power they could never possibly do anything that's in the best interest of the country at large is self-defeating. We've all had enough of self-defeating miserablism over here.

Thank Fucking God.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 02:58 AM
Is this why the likes of Michael Moore and Oprah Winfrey confine themselves to the TeeVee, that if Napoleon were around today he would be an entertainer?

There's a degree of retrospective biological determinism/confabulation Guinness-book-of-Records 'achievement' evident here, though, as with the current misleading myth of The Left-Handed President (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/2185970/Barak-Obama-would-continue-run-of-left-handed-presidents.html)(five of the last seven, including Obama, are left-handed, but overall, only 8 US Presidents out of 44 have been so (http://www.lefthandedstore.com/famous_left_handed_people.htm)).

In the same way, the average height of US Presidents (http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/show/1008172) is just 5 ft 10 in, which is only slightly above the average (male) height of 5 ft 9.25 in. Tom Cruise, Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman are still in with a chance.

John Cleese for (UK) Prime Minister!

Ha I saw John Cleese on Hardball last week. The point is not that presidents are taller than average, it's that the candidate that is taller than the other usually wins. So I've read. I imagine it's made more of a difference since debates were televised.

Tom Cruise is really short.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 03:06 AM
Bush was hands down the absolute worst thing that ever happened to the U.S. Even his own party agrees.

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/7/P/j/bush_worst_disaster.jpg

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:08 AM
Although maybe we mean the same thing.

What I meant was that often the way we insist that "things are" says more about who we are than it says about things. People didn't just create God in their own image, they create the world in their own image.

Also, some people create choas or a miserable worldview because they like feeling overwhelmed--it's a great excuse to use, or drink, or indulge in whatever. The world can suck (if you insist on only acknowledging the negative), or it can be a neutral field (if you balance the good against the bad), or it can be great if the good in your life outweighs the bad.

It's not easy for me to acknowledge that I created my own reality, but I did. The world can be going straight to hell, but that doesn't mean I have to self-destruct. My self-destructing isn't necessarily a direct result of the world's problems even if I want to believe it is.

It's funny how people need to feel that things are beyond repair in order to justify their own lack of involvement. I'm just as guilty as anyone, but I'm trying to learn other ways.

waffle
07-11-2008, 03:13 AM
That's true, but we don't live on a massive block of land with federal states the size of the country I was born in (Wales).

You mean Wales is like Palin's Alaska, or Hitchens' 'inner mind'/back garden?

craner
07-11-2008, 03:20 AM
You mean Wales is like Palin's Alaska, or Hitchens' 'inner mind'/back garden?

Absolutely, it's a great country. We even speak "Welsh".

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:24 AM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yale-kramer/scorecard-god-1-hitchen_b_51859.html

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:28 AM
Wrong thread?

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:30 AM
For what? Who cares?

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:35 AM
Lol

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:37 AM
Sometimes, I swear, the internet just seems like a magnet for neuroses.

(Where exactly should this go? That's inappropriate! Don't be rude.)

Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

It's the internet, the only place where we can forget about boundaries if we want to. Let's!

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:38 AM
Christopher Hitchens doesn't believe in God. Yale Kramer thinks Christopher Hitchens is a dick. What does this have to do with what colour people think Barack Obama has? I mean, I don't particularly care but then I didn't post the link.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:39 AM
Christopher Hitchens doesn't believe in God. Yale Kramer thinks Christopher Hitchens is a dick. What does this have to do with what colour people think Barack Obama has? I mean, I don't particularly care but then I didn't post the link.

I wasn't the one who started talking about Christopher Hitchens, though, was I?

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:41 AM
No, OK. Oliver Craner mentioned Hitchens. I did ask a genuine question because I thought you may have intended that for the thread about atheism. Actually seems kind of relevant to that one.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:42 AM
Pretend the internet is a hypertext and it's relevant to BOTH threads.

There, feel better now? :)

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:49 AM
It doesn't bother me, like I say I thought it was a genuine mistake. Feel better now?

I think threads should go where they go as well, as long as it's interesting. Some noises were made earlier about the direction of the thread, but not by me.

Hitchens does seem rather peripheral to this though, and that article is rather peripheral to his relevance in that it is just slagging off his book about atheism.

But let's find something interesting to talk about.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 03:54 AM
Yeah I usually just skip over posts I don't find interesting or that seem irrelevant to me. That's my coping mechanism.

I feel great.

I'm watching a show on Discovery Health about the "orgasmtron" they're trying to use to teach women to have orgasms. I'm also drinking a diet pepsi.

Not relevant or interesting, though.

We could argue about whether race really exist some more?

craner
07-11-2008, 04:11 AM
No, OK. Oliver Craner mentioned Hitchens.

It always happens. Like a surrogate father.

You were mentioning neurosis?

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 04:13 AM
No, OK. Oliver Craner mentioned Hitchens.

It always happens. Like a surrogate father.

You were mentioning neurosis?

I wasn't trying to blame, I was just pointing out that Christopher Hitchens came up, and I'd just read this thing I thought was funny about what a dick he is. I don't really know much about him. I would've thought it'd be hard to hate him that much.

I'm certifiably not neurotic, though I'm sure sometimes I get anxious.

waffle
07-11-2008, 04:13 AM
You mean Wales is like Palin's Alaska, or Hitchens' 'inner mind'/back garden?

Absolutely, it's a great country. We even speak "Welsh".

I'm truly amazed and flabbergasted by such linguistic secessionist insights! Yes, and Kenyans speak "English" (when not trading in Swahili or when rock stars are not appropriating Maasai warriors to sell Product Red credit cards to chick-lit lovers) and Algerians speak "French".

Does this mean Obama will deliver his Inaugural Address in Swahili?

Be sure to continue enjoying all your "Welsh" versions of Richard Burton Hamlet monologues and Tom Jones records.

craner
07-11-2008, 04:20 AM
Shit, this is like text messaging, but I'm not sure.

Are you 2 missing my humour or am I missing yours?

I actually like Hitchens.

And I'm Welsh but very against the Welsh language mafia crippling Welsh Industry, Media and the absurd Welsh "Assembly", but that's surely an argument for a different and, I should imagine, minority thread.

Now I sound very earnest.

jambo
07-11-2008, 04:23 AM
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45162000/jpg/_45162744_-2.jpg

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7702913.stm

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 04:26 AM
I think most things are funny :D

craner
07-11-2008, 04:28 AM
Saw it. A classic. In Swansea, my home town, no less. Interestingly, maybe non-coincidentaly, one of the least Welsh-speaking parts of the country. Which I'm not unhappy about. Swansea, and if you grew up there you'd know this, has a strong trans-Atlantic feel. Water a lot warmer than Pembroke, the Gower kids all think they're from Hawaii...

waffle
07-11-2008, 05:37 AM
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45162000/jpg/_45162744_-2.jpg

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/7702913.stm

At least they get half of it right!

http://peterjordan.castlebar.ie/images/famoussignpost2.jpg

In Ireland, as above, the confusion resulting from signage profusion and over-abundance, along with multi-lingualism featuring whimsical spelling (Britain's Royal Engineers in Ireland in 1833, while making the first Ordinance Survey, often asked the locals the Irish place names but struggled to spell them phonetically), have the added advantage of including distances in both miles and kilometres, which rarely correspond. This, though, was due to the advanced knowledge of the dedicated Signposters and their assistants, having been influenced by both De Selby's and Einstein's theories of space/time, designing, formulating and positioning many signposts on the scientifically correct assumption that there is no fixed reference point anywhere in the universe ("You want to go to Blarney? Well, I wouldn't start from here!"). Such far-sighted relativist ideas, permitting each signpost to offer multiple alternatives for the traveller, enables the tourist not only to be in two places at once, but crucially allows the lucky ones to get lost in both Irish and English.

john eden
07-11-2008, 08:01 AM
But Kenyans do not look the same as Ethiopians. Yet in the US, they would both be called "Black." Why? Not because of genetics...

All I'm really saying here is that there is no ethnic group "Black" - no more than there is an ethnic group "White."

Who is white seems prone to shift over time as well. For example southern europeans such as Italians didn't used to be considered white in some areas.

Has anyone read this:

http://www.amazon.com/Irish-Became-White-Routledge-Classics/dp/0415963095/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226044870&sr=1-1

The author was also involved with Race Traitor (http://racetraitor.org) - a journal whose mission statement was to "abolish the white race".

matt b
07-11-2008, 08:56 AM
berlisconi has solved the problem- obama is 'tanned'

Bang Diddley
07-11-2008, 10:41 AM
RE: Shadism - seems mainly to be a 'black' thing - Jamaicans avoiding too much sun because it will make them 'blacker' and the general fetishising of lighter skin - bleaching etc...

Obviously this is the result of centuries of colonial 'divide and rule' practices, with variations on the theme all over the world (the protestant ascendancy here for example), but I would have thought it was rare (or at least rarely vocalised) amongst whites.

Also in Asian (Indian Subcontinent for our American readers) culture. I guess for the same reasons of Empire etc. Being dark is seen as a social disadvantage. In movies the goodies are whiter than the baddies. Im still waiting for a Indoploitation movie : )

Bang Diddley
07-11-2008, 10:45 AM
Indeed - and the UK.

I think "mixed race" is clearly a better term than "half caste" or "mongrel" and the other horrid stuff which preceded it in common parlance as it is less loaded. But "mixed ethnicity" is a bit of mouthful.

Craner - I skip a lot on here ;)

The current official term is 'mixed heritage' tho the word on the street is 'mix race' without the 'ed' or more simply 'black'.

poetix
07-11-2008, 10:47 AM
Fairies <---- Race ----> Atoms ----> Chuck Norris

Coming back for a moment to Butler: the general sway of the argument is that gender performativity is the iterative discursive inscription through which a body's sex* is made to appear as coherently organised, the guarantor of the body's integrity. (An unsexed or ambivalently-sexed body is incoherent from the standpoint of the gender system: an object of horror, a hyper-eroticised repository of nasty/nice surprises). There are bodies and languages, and discursive inscription is what naturalises or "ontologises" bodily dispositions, so that sex appears as ontologically stable.

So the argument here is not that gender "is not real" (while biological sex "is real"), but that gendering "realises" sex, fixes its co-ordinates within a gendered reality. Much of the scientific discourse on biological sex is strongly contoured by the discursive limits of the gender system, as Joan Roughgarden has argued quite persuasively. Heteronormativity reaches "all the way down" into the way we construe how bodies function and what they can do.

What I'm trying to indicate is that arguments over whether or not something like race "is real" don't really gain a lot of traction in this kind of situation: and I don't think that saying that some things are more real than others helps very much either - unless one can describe how this variation in intensity of existence is governed, and how it is possible for it to change.

* Yes, sex (http://www.amazon.com/Bodies-That-Matter-Discursive-Limits/dp/0415903661).

Bang Diddley
07-11-2008, 10:56 AM
Can people maybe try and sideline the bitchiness, one upmanship, willy waving, tit for tat, point scoring, snappy comebacks, pseudo stalking, personality clash, snideness?

Aye ive sort of lost the thread a bit and for that reason Im out.

zhao
07-11-2008, 11:07 AM
Also in Asian (Indian Subcontinent for our American readers) culture. I guess for the same reasons of Empire etc. Being dark is seen as a social disadvantage. In movies the goodies are whiter than the baddies.

international standards of beauty are for sure very much influenced by (understatement?) the imagistic aspect of cultural imperialism ---- when the Moors ruled Spain for 500 years and the Afrocentric Islamic golden age was the epitome of progress and modernity, they did not, or were unable to, propagate images of themselves through out the world ---- but even so i bet lots of Europeans wanted to look African, considered African features to be more beautiful, aped styles of dress, etc. the extent to which euro-centric culture have ubiquitously spread their aesthetic preferences in advertising and entertainment in the information age is unprecedented. it is the first time imperialists are able to export, bombard, and overload wholesale images of themselves to the entire world with such rapidity and efficiency. (this explains the caucasoid features of manga characters: japanese are especially fascinated with white people, along with the post-war adoption of capitalism)

with that said, coincidentally, to make matters even more convoluted and confusing, lightness and white are also very old symbols of purity and prized in many cultures such as China and India, predating the current euro-centric world view.

swears
07-11-2008, 11:26 AM
"My president is black, my Lambo's blue, and I'll be goddamned if my rims ain't too."

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 11:55 AM
"he's young black and suntanned"

Guess who

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5100973.ece

Is it possible to sack the italian people for repeatedly voting this cunt back in?

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:33 PM
Yeah, describing someone as suntanned is pretty offensive. :mad:

Or is it now that ignoring someone's 'race' and using another descriptor for their appearance is 'racist'?

I'm no fan of Berlusconi (to say the least) and it's a dumb thing for representative of a country to say but this is not uncharacteristic of a way in which older Italian people sometimes talk about dark skinned people. Italians can be quite dark themselves you know. It is usually meant as a compliment.

Is it more 'racist' than calling for a whole nation to be sacked because of one monster? Less PC than using the word 'cunt'?

This is all a bit school playground, and there's more important things people should be writing about SB.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v469/Artadius/ThatsRacist.gif

matt b
07-11-2008, 12:37 PM
...


thanks once again for your insightful comments :rolleyes:

jambo
07-11-2008, 12:39 PM
That means you disagree with me?

Or you don't approve of the angle from which I approach the question?

matt b
07-11-2008, 12:42 PM
That means you disagree with me?

Or you don't approve of the angle from which I approach the question?

or i don't understand what the chuff you're on about. what points are you trying to make?

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:03 PM
or i don't understand what the chuff you're on about. what points are you trying to make?
Ah OK, the sarcastic comment and rolling eyes gave a different impression. :p

..

I think it's absurd to say that describing someone as 'suntanned' is racist.

I ask rhetorically if it is now considered racist to ignore notions of race (which some here seem to think are inherently the grounds of racism) and use a different description?

And I noted that it seems a bit daft to be aiming for the PC high ground while calling for the sacking of an entire people and using the word 'cunt'. I realise crackerjack didn't mean that too seriously and it doesn't bother me, just saying.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:06 PM
Also in Asian (Indian Subcontinent for our American readers) culture. I guess for the same reasons of Empire etc.

Zhao is correct in his post below (edit: I mean above - how was that for teleological? :)): the caste connotations of skin colour existed in India long before the British turned up, just as a result of the dark-skinned Dravidian peoples (the original 'native' Indians) having been historically conquered and subjugated by lighter-skinned Indo-Aryans. Though no doubt this worked to the advantage of various foreign groups that have ruled India since then, such as the Persians and much later the British.

droid
07-11-2008, 01:11 PM
I ask rhetorically if it is now considered racist to ignore notions of race (which some here seem to think are inherently the grounds of racism) and use a different description?

And I noted that it seems a bit daft to be aiming for the PC high ground while calling for the sacking of an entire people and using the word 'cunt'. I realise crackerjack didn't mean that too seriously and it doesn't bother me, just saying.

Isn't it more about intent and identity in this case though? If Obama defines himself as 'black', then isn't Berlusconi's comment an attempt to deny or mock his identity rather than ignoring it?

It's certainly a potentially double edged comment, but given the proponent I doubt it was made out of an enlightened (!) attempt to ignore all notions of race.

RE: Cunt - this has been discussed here i think. Its a perfectly acceptable pejorative in some parts of the world (when not aimed to women).

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:15 PM
So you can only describe people in the way they choose to describe themselves?

matt b
07-11-2008, 01:16 PM
I think it's absurd to say that describing someone as 'suntanned' is racist..

really? given berlusconi's record, it wouldn't suprise me. what's your take on jim davidson's 'hilarious' chalky white character?


And I noted that it seems a bit daft to be aiming for the PC high ground

why's this pc highground of which you speak? do you not agree with the idea of treating people equally/ understanding structural inequality etc etc?

mms
07-11-2008, 01:17 PM
well doesn't darkness, or redness of skin for whites, denote class, ie the implication is that you are tanned as you work outside as a labourer, while the less tanned are more bureaucrats and upper class. It's quite weird as it also implies that darkness of skin is absolutely because of your social standing, so it also implies that it's something that comes with your experiences in life, nonsense of course, although the sun does affect melatonin in all humans.

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:26 PM
really? given berlusconi's record, it wouldn't suprise me. what's your take on jim davidson's 'hilarious' chalky white character?
OK, you think 'suntanned' is an insult. No problem. Do you think it's specifically 'racist', does it refer to race?

why's this pc highground of which you speak? do you not agree with the idea of treating people equally/ understanding structural inequality etc etc?
I treat people equally. And I agree with the idea of being able to use the language I choose to use and describe things as I see them. There's an English expression for that but I won't use it because obviously it will get people's pathetic oversensitive PC hackles up even though it has a meaning which has nothing to do with skin colour prejudice.

Crackerjack was the one aiming for the PC high ground by taking a PC stance against the language that someone was using.

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:27 PM
well doesn't darkness, or redness of skin for whites, denote class, ie the implication is that you are tanned as you work outside as a labourer, while the less tanned are more bureacrats and uper class. It's quite weird as it also implies that darkness of skin is absolutely because of your social standing, so it also implies that it's something that comes with your experiences in life, nonsense of course, although the sun does affect melatonin in all humans.
Yes that's interesting. There is also a certain amount of antagonism between northern and southern Italians along these lines.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:29 PM
well doesn't darkness, or redness of skin for whites, denote class, ie the implication is that you are tanned as you work outside as a labourer, while the less tanned are more bureacrats and uper class. It's quite weird as it also implies that darkness of skin is absolutely because of your social standing, so it also implies that it's something that comes with your experiences in life, nonsense of course, although the sun does affect melatonin in all humans.

Well that used to be the case in Europe a couple of hundred years ago - but times changed (as is their wont) and most people, of all social classes, started working indoors, and it became fashionable to go on holiday to hot and sunny places. Hence a tan, which once carried the stigma of the farmhand, became a symbol of beauty and sophistication. Then it became a symbol of people from Essex roasting themselves on the beaches of Marbella, and you had 'heroin chic', the wasted indie/'emo' look and so on...coming and going in cycles, just like other fashions.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 01:32 PM
Ah OK, the sarcastic comment and rolling eyes gave a different impression. :p

..

I think it's absurd to say that describing someone as 'suntanned' is racist.

I ask rhetorically if it is now considered racist to ignore notions of race (which some here seem to think are inherently the grounds of racism) and use a different description?

And I noted that it seems a bit daft to be aiming for the PC high ground while calling for the sacking of an entire people and using the word 'cunt'. I realise crackerjack didn't mean that too seriously and it doesn't bother me, just saying.

i'm not aiming for the PC high ground and I never actually used (or even implied) the word 'racist' in my post. I do think Berlusconi runs a racist government, but in this instance I was more concerned with the leader of a major European country talking like an end-of-pier-act.

But thanks for pointing out that recycled Jim Davidson jokes aren't the only problem with the corrupt media monopolist, Mafia associate, perjurer and former P2 member, I appreciate that.

Are Spiked just breaking you in or something? You know, the rest of them get paid for this piffle, you shouldn't be wasting it here for free.

droid
07-11-2008, 01:34 PM
So you can only describe people in the way they choose to describe themselves?

Of course not, but surely you could see how the denial of something as crucial to someone's identity as their cultural and racial heritage (I'm black and I'm proud) by a known racist could be seen as offensive?

Also a suntan is something primarily associated with white skin (dem tan - fi look like black man), something which lighter skinned people can choose to obtain and then slough off as it suits them, whereas the darkness of black skin is permanent and is used as an excuse for prejudice and un-equal treatment in many parts of the world - so this could be seen not only as a denial of Obama's 'blackness', but also as a denial of these, very real, inequalities.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 01:36 PM
To be fair, Kenya's probably pretty sunny, so you can see how SB's confusion arose.

mms
07-11-2008, 01:37 PM
Well that used to be the case in Europe a couple of hundred years ago - but times changed (as is their wont) and most people, of all social classes, started working indoors, and it became fashionable to go on holiday to hot and sunny places. Hence a tan, which once carried the stigma of the farmhand, became a symbol of beauty and sophistication. Then it became a symbol of people from Essex roasting themselves on the beaches of Marbella, and you had 'heroin chic', the wasted indie/'emo' look and so on...coming and going in cycles, just like other fashions.

sure but we're also taking about connatations of skin colour as a global phenomenon, so this runs with the idea in india that darkness of skin also denotes class, and the idea that lighter skin is more refined in other parts of the world. Maybe the ideas that came from british fashions 200 years ago influenced this idea too, but not essentially.

yeah of course now sun tan in the west is a sign of something else, an all over tan is a sign of having enough income to afford the time to go abroad and lie on a beach for 10 days.
In the US you still have the term 'red neck' which is a slight towards white working class mostly southern farmers etc.

IdleRich
07-11-2008, 01:38 PM
"OK, you think 'suntanned' is an insult. No problem. Do you think it's specifically 'racist', does it refer to race?"
I think that suntanned was used as an insult in the sense that it describes Obama in a way that is both not correct (well, it may possibly be technically correct but you know what I mean) and not the way that he would probably describe himself. Is it racist? I don't really think it is but he's guilty of something close to racism by both insulting someone and alluding to race at the same time.

poetix
07-11-2008, 01:40 PM
I hear David Cameron's started frequenting tanning parlours. Can't think what that might be about.

jambo
07-11-2008, 01:42 PM
I never actually used (or even implied) the word 'racist' in my post. I do think Berlusconi runs a racist government, but in this instance I was more concerned with the leader of a major European country talking like an end-of-pier-act.
I didn't say you did - 'racism' was the thrust of the article.

Perhaps if you'd said more about what you intended in linking the article than Is it possible to sack the Italian people for repeatedly voting this cunt back in? it would have been clearer what your position was.

Are Spiked just breaking you in or something? You know, the rest of them get paid for this piffle, you shouldn't be wasting it here for free.

I don't know what you are talking about but it sounds like an insult.

STN
07-11-2008, 01:45 PM
There's an English expression for that but I won't use it because obviously it will get people's pathetic oversensitive PC hackles up even though it has a meaning which has nothing to do with skin colour prejudice.

.

it comes from Cicero, I think.

john eden
07-11-2008, 01:46 PM
OK, you think 'suntanned' is an insult. No problem. Do you think it's specifically 'racist', does it refer to race?

I treat people equally. And I agree with the idea of being able to use the language I choose to use and describe things as I see them. There's an English expression for that but I won't use it because obviously it will get people's pathetic oversensitive PC hackles up even though it has a meaning which has nothing to do with skin colour prejudice.

Crackerjack was the one aiming for the PC high ground by taking a PC stance against the language that someone was using.

It depends on context, doesn't it? "Suntanned" is generally neutral when applied to white people. But it can be used even in that context to fuel racist jokes - "Phil went on holiday, came back looking like a paki" for example.

I imagine "suntanned" can be used as an insult which is non-racist as well - certainly reference to burberry, fake tan, white stilletos etc can be part of a character assassination.

Similarly "calling a spade a spade" - you can of course use that phrase if you wish but there is not doubt that in some circumstances it can be used to highlight racism - for example a white person staring at a black person they have just met and using it pointedly.

And I'm not making these examples up to make a point or offend people - they happened.

So in summary, use what language you like and perhaps other people will use what language they like to criticise you if they feel like it.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 01:52 PM
I don't know what you are talking about but it sounds like an insult.

Oh, you should. It's the number one port of call for ambitious young contrarians who think calling a spade a spade makes them a modern day Tom Paine.

matt b
07-11-2008, 01:57 PM
...

of course 'suntanned' is not specifically racist, but it's coming out of the mouth of a man who has associated himself with racist comments in the past, about a 'black man', so clearly he wasn't complementing him on the lovely glow caused by sun damage.

yeah man, use the language you choose- do you choose nigger, paki, chink etc? or are there reasons why you feel the use of such terms in inappropriate?


and, what's with all this PC high ground rubbish? shouldn't you be on HYS or something?

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:00 PM
and, what's with all this PC high ground rubbish? shouldn't you be on HYS or something?

I just had to Google that - for anyone else so confused, it stands for Have Your Say (the BBC's messageboard and inspiration for Speak Your Brains), not Hamble Yacht Services

vimothy
07-11-2008, 02:00 PM
Oh, you should. It's the number one port of call for ambitious young contrarians who think calling a spade a spade makes them a modern day Tom Paine.

I remember Living Marxism -- there used to be street-sellers on Market Street every Saturday.

droid
07-11-2008, 02:08 PM
I just had to Google that - for anyone else so confused, it stands for Have Your Say (the BBC's messageboard and inspiration for Speak Your Brains), not Hamble Yacht Services


The way the BBC go on about Obama you’d think he was standing as a candiate for PM of Britain, not President of the US.

Where’s all your coverage of John McCain?

Oh, he doesn’t fit the PC agenda does he. White man for US President doesn’t have the same multiculti ring as Half Black-Half Muslim for US President does it?

matt b
07-11-2008, 02:09 PM
I just had to Google that - for anyone else so confused, it stands for Have Your Say (the BBC's messageboard and inspiration for Speak Your Brains)

HYS is the home of the confused. the daily mail comments boxes are more coherent

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:11 PM
and, what's with all this PC high ground rubbish? shouldn't you be on HYS or something?
There is a sense here from more than a few of what is acceptable opinion or language and what isn't. Unspoken boundaries being set and ooh ooh ooh's of excitement and outrage when it seems that someone has said the wrong thing. I'm not really interested in PC or non-PC debates but the atmosphere of caution is palpable.

I don't know what HYS is.

matt b
07-11-2008, 02:14 PM
I'm not really interested in PC or non-PC debates but the atmosphere of caution is palpable..

really, or is there just a whiff of politeness?

and how, when most of your posts mention the PC mafia (i paraphrase) can you claim to not be interested in it?


I don't know what HYS is.

oh boy, you'd LOVE it.

do you care to answer any of my questions?

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:14 PM
Oh, you should. It's the number one port of call for ambitious young contrarians who think calling a spade a spade makes them a modern day Tom Paine.
Contrarian means someone who says something in a way that isn't immediately familiar to your cosy tribal norms?

Oh hang on I get it, the correct response to this is 'I am not a contrarian'.

:)

matt b
07-11-2008, 02:19 PM
Contrarian means someone who says something in a way that isn't immediately familiar to your cosy tribal norms?

'kin ell you've been here a week and have posted 100+ times. don't you think its time to get some sleep?

john eden
07-11-2008, 02:22 PM
There is a sense here from more than a few of what is acceptable opinion or language and what isn't. Unspoken boundaries being set and ooh ooh ooh's of excitement and outrage when it seems that someone has said the wrong thing. I'm not really interested in PC or non-PC debates but the atmosphere of caution is palpable.


Bollocks.

:)

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:23 PM
and how, when most of your posts mention the PC mafia (i paraphrase) can you claim to not be interested in it?
I used 'PC' once, in this context:

Is it more 'racist' than calling for a whole nation to be sacked because of one monster? Less PC than using the word 'cunt'?
Which was followed by questions from yourself, to which I have replied.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:23 PM
'kin ell you've been here a week and have posted 100+ times. don't you think its time to get some sleep?

Jambo never sleeps; sleep is the cousin of cosy tribal norms.

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:23 PM
Bollocks.

:)
That's more like it.

:)

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 02:24 PM
sure but we're also taking about connatations of skin colour as a global phenomenon, so this runs with the idea in india that darkness of skin also denotes class, and the idea that lighter skin is more refined in other parts of the world. Maybe the ideas that came from british fashions 200 years ago influenced this idea too, but not essentially.


Well yeah, as I said on the last page this is an artefact of ancient Indian history, though no doubt it resonated with British attitudes when they arrived much later.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:26 PM
I used 'PC' once, in this context:

Which was followed by questions from yourself, to which I have replied.

No, you also accused me of 'seeking the PC high ground'.

And it's been the background to virtually everything you've posted since: brave Jambo says what he thinks, calls a spade a spade while dissensus hides in cosy cautious tribal norms.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 02:28 PM
I want to meet this Tribal Norm character, he sounds like a riot.

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:30 PM
No, you also accused me of 'seeking the PC high ground'.
Yes that was in polite response to matt b's (sarcastic, eye-rolling) question. My interpretation of your posting of the link to the 'suntanned' article was that you felt it was not politically correct of SB to use that term. And I can only assume that you felt justified in doing that because you yourself would not use such offensive language.

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:30 PM
I want to meet this Tribal Norm character, he sounds like a riot.
He's tearing up the Funky House scene.

john eden
07-11-2008, 02:35 PM
Yes that was in polite response to matt b's (sarcastic, eye-rolling) question. My interpretation of your posting of the link to the 'suntanned' article was that you felt it was not politically correct of SB to use that term. And I can only assume that you felt justified in doing that because you yourself would not use such offensive language.

I've got Club Tropicana going round in my head now.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:37 PM
I want to meet this Tribal Norm character, he sounds like a riot.

Nah, he's playing it safe and cosy, doesn't go out in the real world much.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:41 PM
[QUOTE=jambo;155211]Yes that was in polite response to matt b's (sarcastic, eye-rolling) question. My interpretation of your posting of the link to the 'suntanned' article was that you felt it was not politically correct of SB to use that term./QUOTE]

Only in the sense that it is not correct for a political leader to use silly disparaging terms about anyone.
But seriously, Jambo, if you wanna reduce all and any issues of race to a loaded term like PC, that's your lookout. Why not change the first letter of your pseudonym while you're at it? I'm sure a bold thinker such as yourself can find a nice avatar to go with.

matt b
07-11-2008, 02:51 PM
I've got Club Tropicana going round in my head now.

thank fuck i had to search for the lyrics in order to get this :)

surely, that this has happened to you, is enough to invoke: BAN!!!! ;)

jambo
07-11-2008, 02:54 PM
Only in the sense that it is not correct for a political leader to use silly disparaging terms about anyone.
You deem it to be not politically correct, so it is not politically correct in your scheme.

It may have been intended in a disparaging fashion but not necessarily. I already mentioned that Italians, who can be quite dark themselves, sometimes use that sort of description for dark skinned people and it is not meant negatively. Please consider that this is a cultural mishearing on the part of (PC) UK or American ears. No, I'm not defending Berlusconi but this is the case in my experience, sorry if that is alien to your island sensibilities.

But seriously, Jambo, if you wanna reduce all and any issues of race to a loaded term like PC, that's your lookout.
If you want to read my posts in that way that is your lookout, jack.

Why not change the first letter of your pseudonym while you're at it? I'm sure a bold thinker such as yourself can find a nice avatar to go with.
More insults and insinuations?

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 02:59 PM
More insults and insinuations?

Yep.

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:01 PM
structural inequality
I think some steps in tackling this are made by not giving it fuel. That means by refusing to grant it purchase as a confining reality in the minds of those who would be it's victims, but also in the minds of those who mean well but are afraid that they might be unwitting perpetrators.

One way in which Obama has succeeded is by refusing to accept that such notions have any relevance to himself as limitations. Admittedly this has been 'easier' for him than for a black person brought up in a black social environment in America, but the principle I think is still demonstrated.

john eden
07-11-2008, 03:12 PM
thank fuck i had to search for the lyrics in order to get this :)

surely, that this has happened to you, is enough to invoke: BAN!!!! ;)

I quite like it actually. :D

Good horns (on the version in my head, at least)

matt b
07-11-2008, 03:26 PM
I think some steps in tackling this are made by not giving it fuel. That means by refusing to grant it purchase as a confining reality in the minds of those who would be it's victims, but also in the minds of those who mean well but are afraid that they might be unwitting perpetrators.

One way in which Obama has succeeded is by refusing to accept that such notions have any relevance to himself as limitations. Admittedly this has been 'easier' for him than for a black person brought up in a black social environment in America, but the principle I think is still demonstrated.

is it me, or is this jibberish?

matt b
07-11-2008, 03:26 PM
I quite like it actually. :D

Good horns (on the version in my head, at least)

dear god!

straight
07-11-2008, 03:30 PM
The was this conversation has turned cant help but evoke the episode of curb where larry mistakes a black man in a queue for the valet then after being lambasted by wanda gets further grief because he didnt tell his agent that the script she wrote was written by a black woman, 'and not one of them light skinned blacks, reeeal black'

jambo
07-11-2008, 03:50 PM
is it me, or is this jibberish?
I go back and make a thoughtful comment on your post despite the intervening stream of abuse and this is the way you engage with it?

The was this conversation has turned cant help but evoke the episode of curb where larry mistakes a black man in a queue for the valet then after being lambasted by wanda gets further grief because he didnt tell his agent that the script she wrote was written by a black woman, 'and not one of them light skinned blacks, reeeal black'
Yes, jambo is the black man in the queue.

matt b
07-11-2008, 04:00 PM
I go back and make a thoughtful comment on your post despite the intervening stream of abuse and this is the way you engage with it?


thoughtful might be pushing it, but frankly its friday afternoon, i've had a busy day, and your arguments, though couched in fancy language are rubbish and ignore the power of language, its use in different contexts etc etc. if bernard manning wasn't dead, you could be his spokesperson

sufi
07-11-2008, 04:01 PM
hope i'm not interrupting as i can tell you're enjoying this rather under-informed speculation about what is black what is race etc.... again....

caught this article on the eve of the election which seems germane (tho not germaine ;) )



When I was asked to appear on Today, BBC Radio 4's flagship news programme, to talk about Barack Obama and the US election, I was more than happy to do so.

But when I was asked whether Obama is considered black or mixed-race, I thought at first that I was hearing things. I simply didn't know what to say but then got angry. Not at the formidable Sarah Montague who had asked me the question, but at whoever thought the question a legitimate one.

Suddenly, I was whisked back to the language of the pulp fiction I used to read in my youth during the "blaxploitation" era of the 1970s: novels called Mandingo, Slave, and all of the other tosh that sold by the truckload and featured slaves kicking the butts of their white masters.

The question was worthy only of the pub, the blogosphere, and under the hairdryer. If the BBC had had someone "black/black British/mixed race" (or whatever the individuals might choose to call themselves) in charge of things, this would not have been given airtime.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: until the UK sees fit to make way for the wealth of black talent available gaffes like the one I walked into will continue to be the gift to bad race relations that just keeps on giving. But there is an even deeper issue here: why is it necessary to designate Obama's race at all, and even more importantly, is it possible, even desirable to go beyond it?

The answer to the first question is an easy one: the election of a man of African descent in a nation in which African blood was not only a stigma but a possible death sentence, and the right to keep things that way helped to create a civil war, is an achievement of monumental importance.

The answer to the second is more problematic, more complex. Our eyes are part of the brain and while we see what we see, it is the brain, with its millennia of conditioning that interprets what we see. That conditioning places labels on different skin colours, usually rating lighter skins at a higher level of evolution, cleanliness, intelligence and goodness.

In my time, during my Black Power youth, we made a virtue of dark skin in an attempt to overthrow centuries of stigma both with, and outside of, the black community.

Today, to some extent, the pendulum has swung the other way, with a young dark-skinned black girl telling me once that she couldn't get a date because black boys only like light-skinned and/or white girls. And so the beat goes on unto eternity, until we decide to bring a halt to it.

I'm neither a geneticist nor a scientist, but I know enough to know that the difference chromosomally between different "races" is so minuscule as to not even register. Yet we elevate or denigrate skin colour to such an extent as to imply that something magical might be occurring in the US today.

Hopefully we will witness the triumph of a hard-working, highly intelligent, focussed and in many ways extraordinary man with a few plans that just might get us out of the mire. If we can begin to see Obama in this way, we just might have a chance for a real future.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/04/race-barackobama

john eden
07-11-2008, 04:03 PM
thoughtful might be pushing it, but frankly its friday afternoon, i've had a busy day, and your arguments, though couched in fancy language are rubbish and ignore the power of language, its use in different contexts etc etc.

Plus, I made you google Wham lyrics with my immense psychick powers. :p

matt b
07-11-2008, 04:06 PM
Plus, I made you google Wham lyrics with my immense psychick powers. :p

the final nail in the coffin, you magicking bastard:p

jambo
07-11-2008, 04:17 PM
thoughtful might be pushing it, but frankly its friday afternoon, i've had a busy day, and your arguments, though couched in fancy language are rubbish and ignore the power of language, its use in different contexts etc etc.
No, you are simply exhibiting prejudice and are unable or unwilling to see what I am actually saying. To bring the thread back to something relevant and some level of civility I gave same thoughts on 'structural inequality' as you had mentioned it. What I say is of course not the whole story, I'm sure we can agree on much of that anyway, but something that occurred to me. You don't want to expend any effort in understanding that so you mock and disparage. What do think my 'argument' is exactly? Are we arguing about something? I have not used fancy words in the slightest, if I had perhaps you would be more impressed and awed and not be so quick to dismiss. No matter.

But I hope people are taking note, the insults, prejudice, insinuations, jibes, hostility and dismissal levelled at this poster on a thread ostensibly about issues of prejudice and perception is both instructive and ironic. I do not take it personally.

droid
07-11-2008, 04:20 PM
the final nail in the coffin, you magicking bastard:p

Black Magick Innit.

droid
07-11-2008, 04:22 PM
But I hope people are taking note, the insults, prejudice, insinuations, jibes, hostility and dismissal levelled at this poster on a thread ostensibly about issues of prejudice and perception is both instructive and ironic. I do not take it personally.

Move over Kevin Barry. ;)

jambo
07-11-2008, 04:34 PM
Perhaps some people should have a little look at their attitudes to new arrivals. It's like a provincial rugby pub or something with all the mateyness, back slapping, in-jokes and suspicion of outsiders.

Nice post sufi.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 04:34 PM
But I hope people are taking note, the insults, prejudice, insinuations, jibes, hostility and dismissal levelled at this poster on a thread ostensibly about issues of prejudice and perception is both instructive and ironic. I do not take it personally.

Jesus H Christ.*









* No insults, prejudice, insinuations, jibes, hostility or dismissal intentionally levelled at Christians, or theists of any other kind.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 04:35 PM
But when I was asked whether Obama is considered black or mixed-race, I thought at first that I was hearing things. I simply didn't know what to say but then got angry. Not at the formidable Sarah Montague who had asked me the question, but at whoever thought the question a legitimate one.

You know, I just can't see why this should provoke such outrage. What is it that's so offensive about it? It can't be that it merely acknowledges the man's heritage, as if that "shouldn't be an issue in this day and age", because the fact that he polled 97% of the black vote in America suggests it certainly is an issue to African-Americans, doesn't it? OK, so the Democrats generally have a better record on race relations than the Reps, but when was the last time a Democratic candidate got 97% of the black vote? When was the last time any candidate got 97% of any one ethnic group's vote?

matt b
07-11-2008, 04:35 PM
. You don't want to expend any effort in understanding that so you mock and disparage. What do think my 'argument' is exactly? Are we arguing about something? I have not used fancy words in the slightest, if I had perhaps you would be more impressed and awed and not be so quick to dismiss. No matter.

it seems to me, that you think people should be able to call other people whatever YOU (bollocks the original mistake changes what I waspointing out entirely. Sorry) want, as this will somehow overcome historical structural inequalities. anyone who disagrees with you is some sort of PC language fascist.

i don't agree with this. however, if you are not arguing this, then please clearly state your position.

your use of words does not to my mind at least aid the clarity of the points you are trying to make. maybe that's where all the confusion lies. i don't think claiming that i am prejudiced towards you helps matters.

my tip would be, don't wander into a discussion forum with a solid membership who have, over time come to an informal understanding of how to discuss stuff in a meaningful way (sometimes) and then give yourself RSI in an attempt to get yourself noticed.

of course there will be an element of piss taking if you do this, esp. if you start bandying about 'PC gone mad' claims. it's childish

fokse vektaire xeven
07-11-2008, 04:40 PM
'kin ell you've been here a week

that's what you think ;)

matt b
07-11-2008, 04:48 PM
that's what you think ;)

crikey. Ian town!

jambo
07-11-2008, 04:51 PM
it seems to me, that you think people should be able to call other people whatever they want, as this will somehow overcome historical structural inequalities.
I think refusing to accept that historical structural inequalities must necessarily be a limitation on achievement and possibility can help overcome them. That's what I said.

I also said that we may sometimes describe people in ways other than the way they would describe themselves. It's not always offensive, sometimes it is.

I wasn't necessarily drawing a link between the two, although I guess now you mention it they are not entirely unrelated. But maybe you should stick to reading what is said.

anyone who disagrees with you is some sort of PC language fascist.
Really, have I said this? It was about the issue with Berlusconi using a term and a criticism of that as not being politically correct. You've inflated this.

i don't think claiming that i am prejudiced towards you helps matters.
That's how it looks from the drastic misreading of what I've typed.

my tip would be, don't wander into a discussion forum with a solid membership who have, over time come to an informal understanding of how to discuss stuff in a meaningful way (sometimes) and then give yourself RSI in an attempt to get yourself noticed.
I'm giving myself RSI in an effort not to be misrepresented.

of course there will be an element of piss taking if you do this, esp. if you start bandying about 'PC gone mad' claims. it's childish
Taking the piss when points are thoroughly misunderstood or dismissed is rude and childish.

I used 'PC high ground' in an informal way. It just means aiming for the moral high ground, being more 'politically correct' than someone else. If 'you' are taking a position that a certain use of language is unacceptable then this is a way of describing what you are doing.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 04:53 PM
You know, I just can't see why this should provoke such outrage. What is it that's so offensive about it? It can't be that it merely acknowledges the man's heritage, as if that "shouldn't be an issue in this day and age", because the fact that he polled 97% of the black vote in America suggests it certainly is an issue to African-Americans, doesn't it? OK, so the Democrats generally have a better record on race relations than the Reps, but when was the last time a Democratic candidate got 97% of the black vote? When was the last time any candidate got 97% of any one ethnic group's vote?

The Dems generally get around 90% of the black vote.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 05:05 PM
The Dems generally get around 90% of the black vote.

OK, fair enough. But later she asks:


But there is an even deeper issue here: why is it necessary to designate Obama's race at all, and even more importantly, is it possible, even desirable to go beyond it?

and answers herself:



The answer to the first question is an easy one: the election of a man of African descent in a nation in which African blood was not only a stigma but a possible death sentence, and the right to keep things that way helped to create a civil war, is an achievement of monumental importance.

So the colour of Obama's skin clearly *is* significant. Why, then, the anger over the question as to whether he's black or mixed race?

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 05:10 PM
I think refusing to accept that historical structural inequalities must necessarily be a limitation on achievement and possibility can help overcome them. That's what I said.

I also said that we may sometimes describe people in ways other than the way they would describe themselves. It's not always offensive, sometimes it is.

I wasn't necessarily drawing a link between the two, although I guess now you mention it they are not entirely unrelated. But maybe you should stick to reading what is said.

Really, have I said this? It was about the issue with Berlusconi using a term and a criticism of that as not being politically correct. You've inflated this.

That's how it looks from the drastic misreading of what I've typed.

I'm giving myself RSI in an effort not to be misrepresented.

Taking the piss when points are thoroughly misunderstood or dismissed is rude and childish.

I used 'PC high ground' in an informal way. It just means aiming for the moral high ground, being more 'politically correct' than someone else. If 'you' are taking a position that a certain use of language is unacceptable then this is a way of describing what you are doing.

Matt tries to explain politely why you're getting the responses you are, and you just come back with more of the same.

Enough of the martyrdom, please.

This began because you started in with the PC accusations - a loaded term, as you must be aware - since when you've been acting like the kid in the playground who keeps getting his lunch money nicked. Either dish it out and take it, or do neither. Don't complain when arsey posts meet with arsey responses.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:12 PM
really? given berlusconi's record, it wouldn't suprise me. what's your take on jim davidson's 'hilarious' chalky white character?



why's this pc highground of which you speak? do you not agree with the idea of treating people equally/ understanding structural inequality etc etc?

Yeah, it's funny, in the U.S. all of the "PC" mudslinging stopped around 2000 when people realized it was meaningless and counterproductive. Now everyone's moved on to bitching about hipsters.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:18 PM
Perhaps some people should have a little look at their attitudes to new arrivals. It's like a provincial rugby pub or something with all the mateyness, back slapping, in-jokes and suspicion of outsiders.

Nice post sufi.

You're exactly right. That's what this place is. Be careful or you may piss off the "oldest" posters and they'll coup, and try to find some way to annoy you out of existence with their self-righteous crusade to "stay on topic" or "keep things civil."

Thin skinned people and the internet, a match made in heaven!

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 05:19 PM
OK, fair enough. But later she asks:


and answers herself:



So the colour of Obama's skin clearly *is* significant. Why, then, the anger over the question as to whether he's black or mixed race?

Bollocks, just replied in detail then lost the post.

Wasn't disagreeing with you - just busy and thought i'd throw in that little fact bomb.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:23 PM
I think that suntanned was used as an insult in the sense that it describes Obama in a way that is both not correct (well, it may possibly be technically correct but you know what I mean) and not the way that he would probably describe himself. Is it racist? I don't really think it is but he's guilty of something close to racism by both insulting someone and alluding to race at the same time.

Re Italian people and racism--sure, there is a lot of racism among southern Italians where people don't have as many educational opportunities or whatever. And maybe a lot in Italy in general. But there's also the idea floating around that there's at least some mixture of black heritage with Sicilian and southern Italians, given some of the wars that were waged and the proximity to northern Africa. I have relatives who have black textured hair and are very dark.

So Berlusconi is clueless about current norms, but maybe he meant the "suntanned" comment as a measure of solidarity with other darker-than-whites. Sounded terrible.

john eden
07-11-2008, 05:23 PM
You're exactly right. That's what this place is. Be careful or you may piss off the "oldest" posters and they'll coup, and try to find some way to annoy you out of existence with their self-righteous crusade to "stay on topic" or "keep things civil."

Thin skinned people and the internet, a match made in heaven!

I'm constantly amazed by your saintly patience with us, nomadthesecond.

jambo
07-11-2008, 05:25 PM
Matt tries to explain politely why you're getting the responses you are, and you just come back with more of the same.

Enough of the martyrdom, please.

This began because you started in with the PC accusations - a loaded term, as you must be aware - since when you've been acting like the kid in the playground who keeps getting his lunch money nicked. Either dish it out and take it, or do neither. Don't complain when arsey posts meet with arsey responses.
*sigh*

More of the same being what? My response is polite, I state my opinion and make an effort to clarify what matt b has maybe misunderstood of what I'd said. Dreadful.

You've fixated on 'PC accusations'. I've explained the sense in which it was used. It was rhetorical and informal. I coined the phrase 'PC high ground', excuse me, perhaps I should have said 'moral high ground' but it conveys the same thing - taking a stance for what is and is not morally acceptable.

crackerjack
07-11-2008, 05:25 PM
Re Italian people and racism--sure, there is a lot of racism among southern Italians where people don't have as many educational opportunities or whatever. And maybe a lot in Italy in general. But there's also the idea floating around that there's at least some mixture of black heritage with Sicilian and southern Italians, given some of the wars that were waged and the proximity to northern Africa. I have relatives who have black textured hair and are very dark.

So Berlusconi is clueless about current norms, but maybe he meant the "suntanned" comment as a measure of solidarity with other darker-than-whites. Sounded terrible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnAdWKiy-sc

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:28 PM
To be fair, Kenya's probably pretty sunny, so you can see how SB's confusion arose.

To be fair I have no idea what Jambo's points are most of the time.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:29 PM
I'm constantly amazed by your saintly patience with us, nomadthesecond.

I thought you were supposed to be a "mod", John Eden, and as such above this sort of snide, bitchy, semi stalking, behavior.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:30 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnAdWKiy-sc

lol

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 05:31 PM
I thought you were supposed to be a "mod", John Eden, and as such above this sort of snide, bitchy, semi stalking, behavior.

Nah, he's far too busy scooting around on his Lambretta, looking sharp in his Fred Perry threads...

jambo
07-11-2008, 05:35 PM
So Berlusconi is clueless about current norms, but maybe he meant the "suntanned" comment as a measure of solidarity with other darker-than-whites. Sounded terrible.
Yes, it's possible.


I'm no fan of Berlusconi (to say the least) and it's a dumb thing for representative of a country to say but this is not uncharacteristic of a way in which older Italian people sometimes talk about dark skinned people. Italians can be quite dark themselves you know. It is usually meant as a compliment.
From the original post I made that matt b didn't understand.

And from a little later:

It may have been intended in a disparaging fashion but not necessarily. I already mentioned that Italians, who can be quite dark themselves, sometimes use that sort of description for dark skinned people and it is not meant negatively. Please consider that this is a cultural mishearing on the part of (PC) UK or American ears.

So that would be one of the points I actually made twice now. ;)

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:42 PM
Yes, it's possible.


From the original post I made that matt b didn't understand.

And from a little later:


So that would be one of the points I actually made twice now. ;)

Yeah, but Italians also use the term "moulinyan" (eggplant) for black people and in southern Italy there's quite a bit of unchallenged racism. It's even worse among Italian-Americans because they came to the U.S. and had to fight for jobs against black people.

Edit: Looks like the real spelling is mulignane.

matt b
07-11-2008, 05:42 PM
Yes, it's possible.


From the original post I made that matt b didn't understand.


I didn't say it was, I said it could be. But no matter

droid
07-11-2008, 05:43 PM
And the ironic comment of the month award goes to (drumroll)....


Thin skinned people and the internet, a match made in heaven!


I thought you were supposed to be a "mod", John Eden, and as such above this sort of snide, bitchy, semi stalking, behavior.

Congratulations. ;)

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:44 PM
And the ironic comment of the month award goes to (drumroll)....





Congratulations. ;)

Do you think that I'm offended? Because I'm not. :)

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:47 PM
Look, one snide comment deserves another. Who gives a shit? I will not be losing sleep over any of this. In fact, I'll probably forget everything that I posted here within an hour or so.

It's just the internet. Don't expect people to take your bitchy, snide comments and not return them in kind. If this is your biggest issue in life today, some snide comments on the internet, count yourself luckier than 99% of the world and move on.

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 05:50 PM
The following may sound kerazy, but it's true.

A couple of weeks ago I was out at this bar and got chatting to the toilet attendant, a Nigerian guy in late middle age whose 'day job' was playing saxophone - in fact he used to play sax in Fela Kuti's band. Must have been between gigs, I guess. He's still touring and showed me his performer's card from an opera he'd played in at the Scala (not the night club near King's Cross, the actual Scala in Milan), and had lived for a while in Italy, or at least toured extensively there, but decided he wanted his kids to grow up in Britain because he found so many Italians are just openly racist towards black people.

Most interesting night club toilet conversation I've had for an age, anyway.

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 05:53 PM
*sigh*

More of the same being what? My response is polite, I state my opinion and make an effort to clarify what matt b has maybe misunderstood of what I'd said. Dreadful.

You've fixated on 'PC accusations'. I've explained the sense in which it was used. It was rhetorical and informal. I coined the phrase 'PC high ground', excuse me, perhaps I should have said 'moral high ground' but it conveys the same thing - taking a stance for what is and is not morally acceptable.

Jambo, yours and Poetix's insistence that anyone who believes in "social construction" theories (and doesn't agree with you) is some kind of PC strawman is part of what contributed to this thread completely derailing and losing coherence. That's because "PC" accusations are entirely spurious, they're always intended only to dismiss a *person* rather than a claim, and they're not worth taking seriously.

If you want to be taken seriously, talk seriously about claims. Don't take your own anti-PC moral high ground. It's equally stupid as what you seem to be criticizing.

jambo
07-11-2008, 05:56 PM
I didn't say it was, I said it could be. But no matter
Sorry matt b, I don't mean to perpetuate any snideyness or bitchyness but you said it could be what? I'm actually not sure what you mean.

If I might say so, this:

I'm no fan of Berlusconi (to say the least) and it's a dumb thing for representative of a country to say but this is not uncharacteristic of a way in which older Italian people sometimes talk about dark skinned people. Italians can be quite dark themselves you know. It is usually meant as a compliment.
Was the major part of my post to which you replied:

thanks once again for your insightful comments :rolleyes:

or i don't understand what the chuff you're on about. what points are you trying to make?
Which business did precipitate the greater part of the ensuing nonsense here.

Is what I said there really that unintelligible?

jambo
07-11-2008, 06:11 PM
Jambo, yours and Poetix's insistence that anyone who believes in "social construction" theories (and don't agree with you) is some kind of PC strawman is part of what contributed to this thread completely derailing and losing coherence.
I don't insist on anything of the sort. Not at all.

People treat 'social constructions' (perhaps I should say 'ideas about things' to avoid further prejudicial controversy and confusion with some formal movement of 'social constructivists') as real so they have real effects. They are as real as many other things. But that's not what this is about anyway.

That's because "PC" accusations are entirely spurious, they're always intended only to dismiss a *person* rather than a claim, and they're not worth taking seriously.
The PCness I was referring to was in the Times article getting worked up about the use of 'suntanned'. I referred to PC informally in a rhetorical question to crackerjack. To me this is an issue of 'political correctness' in that some people have decided that it is not a 'politically correct' term to use.

If you want to be taken seriously, talk seriously about claims. Don't take your own anti-PC moral high ground. It's equally stupid as what you seem to be criticizing.
I'm not taking an anti-PC moral high ground. I was suggesting that it [the use of the word 'suntanned' in this instance] was perhaps not so much of a transgression as had been suggested.

Hmm?

Is it possible to sack the italian people for repeatedly voting this cunt back in?

Is it more 'racist' than calling for a whole nation to be sacked because of one monster? Less PC than using the word 'cunt'?

waffle
07-11-2008, 06:13 PM
So the argument here is not that gender "is not real" (while biological sex "is real"), but that gendering "realises" sex, fixes its co-ordinates within a gendered reality. Much of the scientific discourse on biological sex is strongly contoured by the discursive limits of the gender system, as Joan Roughgarden has argued quite persuasively.

Heteronormativity reaches "all the way down" into the way we construe how bodies function and what they can do.

I'm reminded of the still somewhat paranoid obsession with a 'homosexual gene' (those 'evolutionary psychologists' again), but no corresponding obsession with a 'heteronormative' gene, or a 'bisexual' gene, or a 'non-sexual' gene, or a 'trans-sexual' gene, or a 'transvestite' gene, with the scientific discourse itself anthropomorphizing 'sex' everywhere.


What I'm trying to indicate is that arguments over whether or not something like race "is real" don't really gain a lot of traction in this kind of situation: and I don't think that saying that some things are more real than others helps very much either - unless one can describe how this variation in intensity of existence is governed, and how it is possible for it to change.

Yes. What 'de-ontologizes' all of this too - whether sex or race - is, ironically, biogenetics itself, because if genetic (re)engineering is able to reduce the human psyche to an object of manipulation ( what someone like Heidegger feared as the 'danger' inherent in modern science and technology), to fundamentally reconfigure and reduce a human being to a natural object whose physical features can be altered, then it is not just humanity which is retrospectively problematized and undermined, but nature itself is lost, is 'denaturalized.' It is not just sex and race, as (voided) master signifiers, that then destitute the discursive consistency of gender and 'skin colour', respectively, but nature itself can longer be invoked as humanism's stabilizing MacGuffin (that 'unfathomable dimension of ourselves' we call 'human nature' goes the way of the present financial meltdown). Those who perceive a basic incompatibility between their biological and psychic-discursive identities can already directly manipulate such a symbolic blockage: for instance undergoing a sex-change if someone believes their gender to be 'trapped' in the wrong sex (not so easy in relation to 'colour', as Michael Jackson's tragic surgery revealed). This reaches its 'discursive limit' when a parent is permitted to 'choose' the sex of her/his child: all becomes merely contingent.


Coming back for a moment to Butler: the general sway of the argument is that gender performativity is the iterative discursive inscription through which a body's sex* is made to appear as coherently organised, the guarantor of the body's integrity. (An unsexed or ambivalently-sexed body is incoherent from the standpoint of the gender system: an object of horror, a hyper-eroticised repository of nasty/nice surprises). There are bodies and languages, and discursive inscription is what naturalises or "ontologises" bodily dispositions, so that sex appears as ontologically stable.

Definitely ...

http://xxo23o.net/albums/images/10248f.jpg http://media.canada.com/idl/vitc/20070727/209112-67848.jpg

Microsoft has a new slogan: "Who do you want to be today?"

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 06:21 PM
I'm reminded of the still somewhat paranoid obsession with a 'homosexual gene' (those 'evolutionary psychologists' again), but no corresponding obsession with a 'heteronormative' gene, or a 'bisexual' gene, or a 'non-sexual' gene, or a 'trans-sexual' gene, or a 'transvestite' gene, with the scientific discourse itself anthropomorphizing 'sex' everywhere.

Yes. What 'de-ontologizes' all of this too - whether sex or race - is, ironically, biogenetics itself, because if genetic (re)engineering is able to reduce the human psyche to an object of manipulation ( what someone like Heidegger feared as the 'danger' inherent in modern science and technology), to fundamentally reconfigure and reduce a human being to a natural object whose physical features can be altered, then it is not just humanity which is retrospectively problematized and undermined, but nature itself is lost, is 'denaturalized.' It is not just sex and race, as (voided) master signifiers, that then destitute the discursive consistency of gender and 'skin colour', respectively, but nature itself can longer be invoked as humanism's stabilizing MacGuffin (that 'unfathomable dimension of ourselves' we call 'human nature' goes the way of the present financial meltdown). Those who perceive a basic incompatibility between their biological and psychic-discursive identities can already directly manipulate such a symbolic blockage: for instance undergoing a sex-change if someone believes their gender to be 'trapped' in the wrong sex (not so easy in relation to 'colour', as Michael Jackson's tragic surgery revealed). This reaches its 'discursive limit' when a parent is permitted to 'choose' the sex of her/his child: all becomes merely contingent.


The idea that sexuality can be reduced to genes in a one-to-one sort of correspondence is, of course, ridiclous.

I find it strange that the promise of a "homosexual gene" is supposed to allay the fears of the homophobic, as if somehow if it's proven to be a "born in" trait that straight people will stop being threatened by departures from heteronorms such as "gay marriage"...seems to me that this will more likely feed homophobia because it's essentially the same justification racists use for their hatred of black people (their "inferior" genes)...

Great argument for post-humanism btw :cool:

vimothy
07-11-2008, 06:44 PM
The following may sound kerazy, but it's true.

A couple of weeks ago I was out at this bar and got chatting to the toilet attendant, a Nigerian guy in late middle age whose 'day job' was playing saxophone - in fact he used to play sax in Fela Kuti's band.

Good find -- as it happens, I have started to learn the sax and am in dire need of lessons...

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 06:48 PM
Good find -- as it happens, I have started to learn the sax and am in dire need of lessons...

Shame you're not in LDN - I could tell you the name of the bar, he might still be working there, who knows? Sure he'd be glad to pass on some of his expertise. :)

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 06:49 PM
The idea that sexuality can be reduced to genes in a one-to-one sort of correspondence is, of course, ridiclous.


Oh, I dunno, I'm sure generations of gays have inherited gay genes from their gay parents, who inherited them from their gay parents, and so on back to the dawn of time... :rolleyes:

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 06:49 PM
Good find -- as it happens, I have started to learn the sax and am in dire need of lessons...

Alto sax? Wind instruments are hard for me, my lungs just aren't strong enough I guess.

Fela Kuti is the bomb, the only afrobeat people I've ever met are in Antibalas :slanted:

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 06:53 PM
I know diddly-squat about African music, though I daresay some of the music forum regulars could point me in the direction of some good Youtube vids to get started on.

matt b
07-11-2008, 06:56 PM
Sorry matt b...
Is what I said there really that unintelligible?

i stated that the comment could have been racist, but wasn't definately so. given mr b's history it wouldn't surprise me if it was.

your comment sounded like an attempt to justify mr b's comments regardless of context. or at least, somehow make an apology for it.

as those in power in italy at the moment have driven a racist agenda for a while now, it may well have been meant to be a snidely racist statement.

you then went on about how people like mr b should be allowed to use traditionally racist terms in order to reduce their 'power' or somesuch, whilst PC-ing those who disagreed w/you.

or is this way out?

nomadthethird
07-11-2008, 06:57 PM
There are all those African music threads that Zhao and Mistersloane curate nicely, but for starters just check out Sun Ra and Afrika Bambataa (or however you spell that)...they are the best on vinyl for tripping

vimothy
07-11-2008, 07:00 PM
Wow -- I find myself agreeing with nomad and HMLT in the same thread.

People, you've got problems...


Yes. What 'de-ontologizes' all of this too - whether sex or race - is, ironically, biogenetics itself, because if genetic (re)engineering is able to reduce the human psyche to an object of manipulation ( what someone like Heidegger feared as the 'danger' inherent in modern science and technology), to fundamentally reconfigure and reduce a human being to a natural object whose physical features can be altered, then it is not just humanity which is retrospectively problematized and undermined, but nature itself is lost, is 'denaturalized.'


Fela Kuti is the bomb

Mr. Tea
07-11-2008, 07:05 PM
There are all those African music threads that Zhao and Mistersloane curate nicely, but for starters just check out Sun Ra and Afrika Bambataa (or however you spell that)...they are the best on vinyl for tripping

Is Babataa actually African? I thought he was from Detroit or somewhere like that? Edit: South Bronx by way of the Caribbean, according to the interweb.