The notion that race is biologically meaningless is often thrown around in contemporary academic discourse. For Neven Sesardic, in “Race: a social destruction of a biological concept”, such perspectives are often rooted in fundamental misunderstandings of what precisely a biological definition of race would consist of
After rebutting a series of banal platitudes from race deniers, Sesardic offers a model of his own for the biological definition of race, clustered with the following elements:
- Ancestry (often visible along geographic lines)
- Morphology (physical characteristics)
- Psychology (intelligence measures, temperament, and sometimes morality)
Now let’s see how taxonomists have classified Neanderthals. Until the 1960s, Neanderthals were classified as Homo neanderthalensis, a different species from us, Homo sapiens. But the genetic distance between Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis (<0.08%) 20 is less than the genetic distance between the two chimpanzee species (0.103). 21 Today, Neanderthals are classified as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, 22 a sub-species of our species, while we are another sub-species, Homo sapiens sapiens. The genetic distance between (sub-Saharan) Africans and Eurasians (0.2%) is more than twice the genetic distance between living humans and Neanderthals (0.08%) 23 so, at the very least, Africans should be classified as a sub-species, Homo sapiens africanus and Eurasians as another sub-species, Homo sapiens eurasianensis.
Finally, the genetic distance between Homo sapiens and Homo erectus is estimated as 0.170 24 (mean given as 0.19), 25 about the same as the genetic distance between the Bantu Africans and the Eskimos, but the genetic distance between living Africans and Eurasians is 0.23 (Table 7-1, p. 45). Thus, Homo sapiens is more closely related to Homo erectus than Eurasians are to sub-Saharan Africans. Either erectus should be reclassified as Homo sapiens erectus or sub-Saharan Africans should be reclassified as Homo africanus. 26
3. Ernst Mayr, in 1942, defined “species” as a reproductively isolated groups of organisms, where the isolation can be purely geographical, i.e., populations that do not interbreed are different species, even if they can interbreed.
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
― “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehesi Coates
“Truth in philosophy”, to employ the definition of G.W.F. Hegel, “means that concept and external reality correspond”. To reach this truth, there must be troubleshooting along the line that develops, to use Abraham Lincoln’s infamous phrase on a more politically-oriented form of division, toward “a more perfect union”. This union, unlike the one which Lincoln refers to, is not a geographic one, but a union in the sense of the correspondence between actuality and of the notion (endeavoring to represent actuality) itself. As Slavoj Žižek puts it:
The response to the question, ‘Why is error, illusion, immanent to truth? Why does truth arise through mistakes?’, is therefore quite simply: because substance is already subject. Substance is always already subjectivized: substantial Truth coincides with its very progression through ‘subjective’ illusions. At this point, another response to the question ‘Why is error immanent to the truth?’ emerges: because there is no metalanguage. The idea that one is able from the outset to account for error, to take it under consideration as error, and therefore to take one’s distance from it, is precisely the supreme error of the existence of metalanguage, the illusion that, while taking part inavoiding identifying oneself with error, we commit the supreme error and miss the truth, because the place illusion, one is somehow also able to observe the process from an ‘objective’ distance. By of truth itself is only constituted through error. To put this another way, we could recall the Hegelian proposition which can be paraphrased as ‘the fear of error is error itself: the true evil is not the evil object but the one who perceives evil as such.
And as another analysis of Hegel goes: “[D]egrees of truth are in some sense also degrees of error, for truth exists only in the conquest of error, and not in its illusion, although it has no positive source of content except truth. Error is truth misplaced and thereby perverted, the alter ego of truth” (Weventer). In a similar sense, and perhaps this is most evident in rudimentary scholarly disciplines, scientific research is ideally always a work in progress. It is in this vein that I intend to present in this work a fragment of a new discourse that I call ‘Critical Vice Theory’, or a critical examination of society and culture, to the intersection of socially harmful relations which in totality harm the formation of stable families (and here, of course, lies the great subjectivity), intoxicating substances, and power. Critical Vice Theory, though particularly helpful in its relation to particular types of identity groups, e.g. John R. Baker’s ‘ethnic taxon’– all-encompassing but not supplanting term that comprehends race, subrace, and local form (not in the limited sense of cultural ethnicity, however, but more-so in the tradition of biological anthropology and such)–, is not yet threaded with a systematic thesis, such as that of Critical Race Theory and ‘White Supremacy’.
The following is an outline of a critique of alcohol in relation to so-called Native Americans and Latinos:
- An ‘ethnic taxon’ (race, subrace, local form, in the sense of biological anthropology not merely social construction) has genetic implications.
- “Corporations target ethnic communities as consumers for liquor, beer, and cigarettes”v(Alaniz & Wilkes).
- “National surveys show variations across ethnicities in drinking, alcohol use disorders, alcohol problems, and treatment use. Higher rates of high-risk drinking among ethnic minorities are reported for Native Americans and Hispanics, although within-ethnic group differences (e.g., gender, age-group, and other subpopulations) also are evident for ethnicities. Whites and Native Americans have a greater risk for alcohol use disorders relative to other ethnic groups. However, once alcohol dependence occurs, Blacks and Hispanics experience higher rates than Whites of recurrent or persistent dependence. Furthermore, the consequences of drinking appear to be more profound for Native Americans, Hispanics, and Blacks” (Chartier & Caetano).
- “Substance dependence has a substantial genetic component in Native Americans, similar in magnitude to that reported for other populations. The high rates of substance dependence seen in some tribes is likely a combination of a lack of genetic protective factors (metabolizing enzyme variants) combined with genetically mediated risk factors (externalizing traits, consumption drive, and drug sensitivity or tolerance) that combine with key environmental factors (trauma exposure, early age at onset of use, and environmental hardship) to produce an elevated risk for the disorder” (Ehlers & Gizer).
- Many Latinos have significant Native American ancestry, which factors into predisposition to risk of alcoholism.
- An additional factor of alcoholism and the Latino: “Hispanics with alcohol-induced problems – especially male Mexican Americans – have significantly worse health and welfare than those with other ethnic backgrounds…. Researchers have found that interaction between education and a polymorphism of the reward gene contribute to severe alcoholism among Mexican Americans” (News-medical.net) .
- Some hedging: “Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Puerto Ricans have the highest AUD [alcohol use disorders] incidence (3.6%; 95% CI: 0.5, 6.7) followed by Mexican-Americans (2.5%; 95% CI: 1.5, 3.6), Other Hispanics (1.6%; 95% CI: 0.1, 3.1) and Cuban-Americans (0.6%; 95% CI: 0.1, 1.2). In contrast, weighted adjusted relative risk estimates for Mexican-Americans were (RR = 3.2; 95% CI: 1.7, 6.2) but for Puerto Ricans (RR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.0, 5.0) it was somewhat attenuated but still significant (P = 0.049). No difference was found for Cuban-Americans and Other Hispanics” (Ríos-Bedoya & Freile-Salinas).
- Europeans conquered Native Americans and Latinos via alcohol, a process which perpetuates itself today via internalized cultural norms among both groups in themselves, social structures from host countries (emigration included), historically disproportionate wealth accumulation, generational poverty, and often an increased risk of deviancy for a host of reasons, these and others included, all of which are compounded via alcohol dependency and such ailments.
- Therefore, it would be in the best interests of the Native American and Latino populations to mitigate their exposure to alcohol consumption and associated activities.
Works cited (formatting to be corrected)
- Zizek, Slavoj. ” The Most Sublime of Hysterics: Hegel with Lacan”. Interrogating the Real. London: Continuum, 2005. Rex Butler and Scott Stephens editors. Print.
- Weventer. “Hegel – The Absolute, Truth and Falsity”. Philosophyblogs.wordpress.com. Oct. 03, 2012. Web. Dec. 4, 2014. <http://philosophyblogs.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/hegel-the-absolute-truth-and-falsity/>
- Baker, John R. Race. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. 4-5. Web. Dec. 4, 2014. <http://www.melvindavilamartinez.com/2014/12/04/john-r-bakers-concept-of-ethnic-taxon/>
- Alaniz, Maria Luisa, and Chris Wilkes. “Pro-drinking messages and message environments for young adults: the case of alcohol industry advertising in African American, Latino, and Native American communities.” Journal of Public Health Policy (1998): 447-472. JSTOR. Dec. 4, 2014.
- Chartier, Karen, and Raul Caetano. “Ethnicity and health disparities in alcohol research.” Alcohol Research & Health 33.1-2 (2010): 152. Web. Dec. 4, 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3887493/>
- Ehlers, Cindy L., and Ian R. Gizer. “Evidence for a Genetic Component for Substance Dependence in Native Americans”. American Journal of Psychiatry 2013 170:2 , 154-164. Web. Dec. 4, 2014. <http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12010113>
- “Alcoholism in Hispanics dependent on gene/environment interaction”. News-medical.net. Sep. 21, 2009. Web. Dec. 4, 2014.
- Ríos-Bedoya, Carlos F., and Diana Freile-Salinas. “Incidence of Alcohol Use Disorders Among Hispanic Subgroups in the USA.” Alcohol and Alcoholism 49.5 (2014): 549-556. Web. Dec. 4, 2014. <http://alcalc.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/5/549.short>
From Race by John R. Baker, pp. 4-5:
[O]ne repeatedly finds the need for a comprehensive term that can be used without distinction for any of the taxa that are minor to the species: that is to say, races, subraces, and local forms. No one has previously suggested a term having this meaning, and it is therefore necessary to propose one. Throughout the book ethnic taxon will be used for the purpose. It is open to objection that English words derived from the Greek ἔθνος (ethnic, ethnology, ethnography, and others) are used by some authors in reference to groups of mankind distinguished by cultural or national features, rather than descent from common ancestors. This usage, however, is not universal; and it seems impossible to think of an acceptable substitute for ethnic. Most of the Greek and Latin words that might have been chosen are either so unfamiliar that they would convey no idea to most readers, or else have already been taken into our language with senses that make them inapplicable here… It is particularly important that the meaning of the term ‘ethnic’ taxon should be clearly understood. It does not supplant the words race, subrace, and local form, but comprehends these three, and can be used in place of any of them.
- Baker, John R. Race. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. 4-5. Print.
Demography is destiny and ideology, I claim: that the source of an individual subject’s heart and intent is in their preferred demographics.
In the summer of 1961, Commander George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party attended his first of two rallies of the Nation of Islam. Though the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the leader (‘messenger’, not prophet) of the Black Muslims, did not speak on that occasion due to illness, the ANP was impressed with the organizational skills of the religious group.
In one of his Rockwell Report newsletters, the leader of the white supremacist organization praised Mr. Muhammad in his characteristically acerbic vernacular:
[He] has gathered millions of the dirty, immoral, drunken, filthy-mouthed, lazy and repulsive people sneeringly called ‘niggers’ and inspired them to the point where they are clean, sober, honest, hard working, dignified, dedicated and admirable human beings in spite of their color. . . . Muhammad knows that mixing is a Jewish fraud and leads only to aggravation of the problems that it is supposed to solve. . . . I have talked to the Muslim leaders and am certain that a workable plan for separation of the races could be effected to the satisfaction of all concerned—except the communist-Jew agitators.
On February 25, 1962, following a speech by Mr. Muhammad that began with an introduction by Malcolm X, Rockwell was invited to the podium. The key passage of what Rockwell said at the Chicago International Amphitheater, before more than twelve thousand Black Muslims gathered for the Savior’s Day convention, is this:
You know that we call you niggers. But wouldn’t you rather be confronted by honest white men who tell you to your face what the others all say behind your back? Can you really gain anything dealing with a bunch of cowardly white sneaks? The yellow-liberals who tell you they love you, privately exclude you every way they know how. I am not afraid to stand here and tell you I hate race-mixing and will fight it to the death. But at the same time, I will do everything in my power to help the Honorable Elijah Muhammad carry out his inspired plan for land of your own in Africa. Elijah Muhammad is right–separation!
Having praised Mr. Muhammad as the African-American Adolf Hitler, Rockwell later told reporters that he considered members of the Nation of Islam to be “black Nazis”. “I am fully in concert with their program and I have the highest respect for Mr. Elijah Muhammad,” he said, though he opposed the territorial requests of the Black Muslims: “They want a chunk of America and I prefer that they go to Africa”. Though this quote cannot be read into too much in terms of Rockwell’s position-in-itself on the issue, it is precisely here, I claim, that the white supremacist view on black separatism was solidified, and has yet to recover. In Message to the Blackman in America, released a few years after Rockwell met Mr. Muhammad, the leader of the Black Muslims made clear that they did not want separatism in the sense of the ‘Back-to-Africa’ movement of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association. Still, the event in Chicago was one of the last times that groups of such disagreement came together for substantive discourse and reconciliation. It is necessary to note that Rockwell died before the de jure and de facto demise of the Jim Crow South, which likely would have changed his view on the matter.
Today, political expediency has totaled the notion of black repatriation, once touted by Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and so on in the guise of the American Colonization Society. In Sen. Theodore G. Bilbo’s (D-Miss.) Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization (1946), we find past prominent political leaders ascribing a “moral fitness” to the notion of repatriating black Americans to Africa. One particularly compelling quip in the 19th century had the effect of saying: blacks have been denied rights in almost every sense here in America; why also deny the right to a homeland from their original country? In present times, it would be reasonable to presume that Rockwell would have settled for the government of the United States granting portions of the Southeastern United States to the Black Muslims, and allowing such an endeavor to be incubated via contemporaneously white-owned resources.
- “George Lincoln Rockwell Meets Elijah Muhammad”. Anthonyflood.com. Jul. 24, 2007. Web. Dec. 2, 2014. <http://www.anthonyflood.com/rockwellelijah.htm>
- Pipes, Daniel. “How Elijah Muhammad Won”. Danielpipes.org. Jun. 2000. Web. Dec. 2, 2014. <http://www.danielpipes.org/341/how-elijah-muhammad-won>
- Muhammad, Elijah. “Message to the Blackman in America”. Phoenix, Ariz.: Secretarius Memps Publications, 1997. Print.
- Bilbo, Theodore G. “Take Your Choice: Separation or Mongrelization”. Poplarville, Miss.: Dream House Pub. Co., 1946. Print.
- Davila Martinez, Melvin. “When We Were Kins, or a primer on Elijah Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint”. The Examiner. Jun. 12, 2014. Web. Dec. 2, 2014. <http://www.examiner.com/article/when-we-were-kins-or-a-primer-on-elijah-muhammad-s-economic-blueprint>
In my book I focus on event in the sense of something extraordinary takes place… Within a certain field of phenomena where things go on the normal flow of things, from time to time something happens which as it were retroactively changes the rules of what is possible in the sense that something happens. It is generated by that situation….
We can say that Kafka implicitly or explicitly relied on a whole series of other artists like Edgar Allan Poe, Dostoevsky, William Blake and so on. But it’s not as simple as that because when you try to isolate in those earlier orders what makes them predecessors of Kafka, you can see that that dimension, Kafka, before Kafka, is perceptive and only once Kafka is already here….
Or as [Jorge Luis] Borges the Argentinian writer, as he put it in a wonderful concise way, truly all authors, writers have predecessors. A truly great writer in a way creates his own past, his own predecessors so that yes, there are people who influenced him but you can see this influence only once he is here.
Through the historiographical lens of ‘Event’, it appears that the genealogy of the discourse on black separatism and repatriation may be established as such, in chronological order:
- Progenitor: Paul Cuffee
- White support: American Colonization Society (as an organ)
- Fracture from ‘Back to Africa': Abraham Lincoln
- Developmental African-American discourse: Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet, among others
- Garveyism: Marcus Garvey
- The decline of White Supremacy: Theodore G. Bilbo and George Lincoln Rockwell
- Nation of Islam: The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
(1, 3, and 4) in particular may undergo subsequent revisions. I will explore this issue in further detail in future works.
The debate over Jewish “national rights” in the state of Israel is really about a question of whether Israel can maintain its demography or not, I say in a piece for The Times of Israel.