Race: A Clarification

 

race3
(The distance between Native Americans and East Asians on this rough chart is too long.)

It has come to my attention that some of you (I am looking at you) don’t know what I mean by the word “race.” I try to be consistent, but unfortunately, the word is used pretty inconsistently out in society–“Human race,” “Asian race,” “English race,” “Female race,” etc. There is even a term, “landrace” used over in biology to denote a domesticated, locally adapted, traditional variety of a species of animal or plant. “Race” was originally used similar to “breed” or “lineage;” today, people usually use it to denote a level of genetic relatedness one step up from ethnic group.

genetic_map_of_europe
source: Big Think: Genetic map of Europe

When I use it, I am (usually) referring to one of the three macro-races of humanity: Sub-Saharan Africans, Caucasians, and Asians.

People often treat “Caucasian” and “white” as synonyms, but they’re not. “Caucasians” includes North Africans, Middle Easterners, Europeans, and many Indians (from India.) Three of these groups are not generally thought of as being included in “white,” but from a genetic perspective they definitely cluster together in the Caucasian clade (depicted above.) People may tell you that “race is a social construct,” but human population clades are not.

Since people don’t use “race” in any consistent way, it would be valid to refer to a “white race” that is a subset of the greater Caucasian race–but this is confusing because two different levels of genetic similarity are being described with the same word.

I have personally come to regard “white” as an America-centric ethnonym, (but I can’t promise I have always used it consistently.)

What do I mean?

“Whites” and “Blacks” in America are not drawn equally from all pale and dark skinned groups back in Europe and Africa. Indeed, just having some kind of European identity (eg, Irish,) is often enough to incur an at least joking insistence that one is not white.

Remember that homo Sapiens is about 300,000 years old, give or take a decade, and the era of swift, long-range travel is only about 500 years old. The “races” and “ethnic groups” that existed in 1491 were largely a result of travel being difficult, with barriers like the Sahara desert and the Himalayas massively interfering with human movement. These barriers effectively separated most human groups, preventing them from interbreeding and thus sending them off in their own genetic directions–until 1492.

casta_painting_all
People over-thought ancestry long before 23 and Me

Post 1492, the Americas became a mixing zone where Native Americans (Asian clade), Europeans (Caucasians) and West Africans (Sub Saharan Africans) met and interacted–the many degrees of mixed race ancestry found in Latin America are one result of this interaction.

American whites hailed, indeed, from a different race than American blacks and they, in turn, from American Indians. So within the American context, calling them different races made sense–and was accurate. But they were never drawn equally from all parts of their greater racial clades. They were drawn from particular ethnic groups back home–US “whites” initially from Northwest European countries like Britain, France, and the Netherlands.

When these different ethnic groups got here and started marrying each other, they became their own, new ethnic group.

So when people ask, “Is so-and-so white?” or “Is this group white?” it depends on what exactly you mean by white. Do you mean “light skinned”? Treated as white in the US? European? Hailing from one of the ethnic groups that contributed to “whites” in the US? Not possessing any competing European ethnic identity besides white?

800px-Girls_in_Ghazni
Light-skinned Hazara (red), Tajik and Pashtun girls, Afghanistan.

Usually meaning can be inferred from conversation, but things can get confusing when people are using two different definitions or when discussing groups that didn’t contribute much to America’s founding stock.

I have perhaps mentioned before my discomfort with the word “racism”–not because I don’t think people discriminate against other people, but because it privileges offenses that cross a certain level of genetic dissimilarity between people as worse than offenses that cross smaller differences.

Was the English genocide of the Boers somehow less bad simply because the English and Boers are both “white”? Yes, we could say that the English were racist against the Boers, despite being part of the same race, or declare that the “English race” is a thing, but this is confusing. Plus, people can dislike each other for reasons totally unrelated to race, such as being male or female, disabled, or unattractive. I doubt anyone who was turned down for a date or denied a job because they happen to have the misfortune of being ugly ever comforted themself that at least they weren’t turned down because of their race.

And then there is the recent trend of calling people racist for disliking particular religions, even though Americans have traditionally thought of religions as belief systems–matters of opinion–rather than ethnic groups. (Indeed, there is a deep conflict between the traditional American view that religion is a matter of conscience, enshrined in the Bill of Rights next to the Freedom of Speech, and thus freely criticisable like any other opinion, and the view put forth by various endogamous ethno-religious groups that religion is ethnicity and therefore any criticism is racist.)

But to sum: when I use “race,” I am referring to the macro-races of Caucasians, East Asians, and Sub-Saharan Africans. I try not to confuse matters by mixing up genetic levels, but I can’t promise I have always been consistent in every post.

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11 thoughts on “Race: A Clarification

  1. Firstly let me say this blog has become a must read for me and the amount of info (and thus work) you put into it is really great.
    Thanks a lot!
    Unfortunetely the graphs in this post are not linked to better resolution pics. Any chance to amend that?

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  2. There are 5:
    Caucasoids, Mongoloids, Negroids, Australoids and Amerinoids.

    Australoids are not lumped with Mongoloids and neither are the Amerinoids.
    The Australoids separated very early from the other, and the Amerinoids have a great portion of ANE ancestry, which can be classified as leaning Caucasian.

    Of course, beyond these 5 fixed groups we have the mixed ones, such as Somalian (Caucasoid+Negroid) or some people from the Russian Far East, Alaska and region (Amerinoid+Mongoloid). Modern mixed race people also enters here.

    But if you’re actually reffering to Crown Eurasians, as in opposition to the Basal, then ok.

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    • There are multiple valid ways to split groups, but if you’re going to split Native Americans (who are not all that distinct from other East Asians due to having only split recently from them,) you should also split the Bushmen and Pygmies, who split from the rest of us before the OOA.

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      • I thought you had rejected my comment.
        But what you said is correct, there are Capoid and Pygmoid groupings as well, but they’re almost never used.
        About Amerindians, they’re a mixture of ANE and East Asian that happened 25,000 years ago… This is not recent.

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    • Completely false. Amerinoids ARE Mongoloids by every genetic standard. They are not a separate race that mixed with East Asians. And they certainly are NOT closer to Caucasians by DNA.

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  3. “When I use it, I am (usually) referring to one of the three macro-races of humanity: Sub-Saharan Africans, Caucasians, and Asians.”

    Do Oceanians go with the African race on the tri-racial viewpoint?

    “Since people don’t use “race” in any consistent way, it would be valid to refer to a “white race” that is a subset of the greater Caucasian race–but this is confusing because two different levels of genetic similarity are being described with the same word.”

    If boundaries are set, then using the term ‘white race’ could be valid, as ‘whites’ could be a subrace of the Caucasian race.

    ““Whites” and “Blacks” in America are not drawn equally from all pale and dark skinned groups back in Europe and Africa. Indeed, just having some kind of European identity (eg, Irish,) is often enough to incur an at least joking insistence that one is not white.”

    “Whites” and “Blacks” are socialraces as articulated by Hardimon—they are social groups that are taken to be what Hardimon calls ‘racialist races.’ I could accept the terms ‘White’ and “Black” as socialraces, just as I can accept ‘Latinos/Hispanics’ as socialraces but not biological races in the vain of Caucasians and Africans.

    “The “races” and “ethnic groups” that existed in 1491 were largely a result of travel being difficult, with barriers like the Sahara desert and the Himalayas massively interfering with human movement. These barriers effectively separated most human groups, preventing them from interbreeding and thus sending them off in their own genetic directions–until 1492.”

    Agreed. See: https://notpoliticallycorrect.me/2018/07/06/how-much-admixture-on-social-isolation-the-one-drop-rule-and-the-maintenance-of-races/

    I take “races” to be: groups of humans that transmit heritable characters to subsequent generations which corresponds to that group’s geographic ancestry who belong to biological lines of descent which were initiated by geographically separated and reproductively isolated founding populations.

    Using this definition, Native Americans are not part of the ‘Asian’ clade—that’s just a holdover from Rushton. just on the basis of visible physical features, geographic ancestry and they derive from a distinct geographic location.

    Michael Hardimon’s and Quayshawn Spencer’s arguments are sufficient to establish the claim that biological racial realism is true, though they go about proving it in different ways.

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    • Ideally, I’d give Oceanans their own separate clade, but they are such a small group compared to the others it feels a bit silly, kind of like listing Basque and Indo-European both as language families. I think Pumpkin Person likes to class them with the SSAs based on having merely spread out, not faced evolutionary pressure to adapt to new environments since Melanesia is pretty similar, climatically, to Africa.

      I lump them with other Asians, due to genetic overlap between them, but it’s not crazy to prefer other groupings.

      Yeah, it just gets confusing when people uses the same word to refer to a “social race” and others to a biological sub-race.

      If I’m lumping rather than splitting, I prefer to lump the NAs with other Asians, eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas#/media/File:Distribution_of_Haplogroup_C-M217_Y-DNA_-_worldwide.png Not because of Rushton (I am not familiar with his thoughts on the matter) but there’s no particular reason to prefer three rather than 5 or 6 clades.

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      • Grouping Oceanians with Africans is ridiculous since they are actually the farthest away from Africans genetically and have been shown to have descended from Eurasians.

        Pumpkin Person has consistently shown himself to be one of the dumbest, most off-based HBD bloggers out there, along with Agnostic. So I’m not surprised he would make such a claim.

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