Seems like I am on a roll today on this identity thing.
Racism is a very limiting assumption that hardly invites to discussions beyond the concept of ‘race’. It assumes ‘race’ is the main issue in the process of discrimination that takes place, while ‘race’ is just another excuse and another means in a bigger system of oppression to pick on a very specific set of people. Usually in similar and same ways as genitals, body shape, family names, place of birth and specific physical traits (like “the perfect face”) are.
I like to focus on that bigger system of oppression of which that very racism is only part: a system of oppression that probably revolves purely around privileges and the ‘protection’ of those privileges.
Skin color as a badge of identity
“I am black”. “He is white”. “She is less black/brown than I am.” “You are not the same color as I am.” And?
How does that connect to anything?
Culture might be an excuse. “We come from this and that place” where specific groups of people had specific norms and values. So skin-color might be related to specific places on earth or in a city, where people lived lives in very specific ways. Still: that does not make skin-color equal to identity.
Skin-color might shape you. To be discriminated on your skin-color, for whatever reasons that might have been, shapes significant parts of your perception. The treatment you got due to the color of your skin shapes part of the way you look at reality around you, the way you look at specific systems and specific ways one group of people is treated related to another.
Still: your skin-color does not equal any personal identity.
Identity is based on what YOU do in specific situations. How YOU respond to specific triggers.
One reason why superiority / inferiority / objectification might be important in any abusive society
Superiority / inferiority / objectification (based on skin color as one possible vector) help to justify the abuse done to individuals and groups of people, by other people.
It takes courage and heart-wrenching soul-searching for any non-sociopathic human to hurt, kill, torture or exclude an equal. However: it will become a bit more simple to hurt, torture, kill or exclude someone when you are trained to put on the shoes of a similar mindset as that of the sociopath: where anyone who is not like you automatically is someone less and not even human anymore when needed.
Let me rephrase those two bits in slightly different words: it is hard for any normal person to damage, kill and exclude a living being. It is relatively easier to damage, kill and exclude a person whom you are trained to dislike and/or perceive as an object: a person who is not related to you (or not even considered human) in any sense at all.
Concepts of superiority / inferiority / objectification serve the ones who need to manipulate others to do their dirty hand-work for them.
In short: If I can make you believe that you are superior to the people around you, it will be easier for me to move you into a mind-set in which I can motivate you to hurt, maim, rape, murder and exclude other people in my interest. This can be simple group-bullying of one specific individual, or war and murder and exclusion against another group of people.
It hardly ever serves you yourself.
Structural Eugenics never took place: for most of us
To be distinctively different from any other member of the same species, you need to selectively breed specific traits. You see that clearly in dogs. Starting from a very generic breed of dogs we have developed and bred specific races with very specific traits. Both in body shape and in mentality. A dobermann-pincher is different in mentality from — for instance — a labrador.
Eugenics follows a very simple principle: you kill everything you do not like and that does not serve within your specific breeding program. From each new line of younglings you only select the very specific ones that look promising. The others you kill.
Within “the human race”, this process has never been done by those same human beings at such a large and structural scale that it mattered. You, your parents,your grand-parents all fucked randomly with random people and the only killing that took place on a systematic scale was by nature itself. Famine. Disease. Cancer. Gravity. Old age. Genetic defects.
One exception: when it concerned enslaved people and enslaved populations. Due to my limited reading list until now I only read of Europeans doing it until the late 1800’s, but probably some other people-enslaving populations did as well in some sort. Because they could.
In this process of selection, the strongest enslaved male and female people were selected to breed as many children as possible, mostly going for strength when the labor was tough. We Europeans probably go back as far as the 1600’s where this process must have started.
White people are not superior. Neither are others
So what did white people do to structurally improve their population? To breed only the smartest? The strongest? The most agile?
Nothing. Nazi Germany started an Eugenics project in around the 1940’s but that was cancelled. The ‘nobles’ must have done something in that direction, for centuries but the result is not really visible except for some very specific “family traits” you find in certain circles. In general, people just fucking around outside those projects have an equal distribution of really smart and talented people as those who attempted some kind of (internal) breeding program.
“The white people” do not even exist as a race. It is meaningless as a label. We talk about mostly Europeans who happen to have mostly light-pink skins due to some genetic deviation in a far past. Who were not massively killed off by skin-cancer due to Ultraviolet radiation and a lack of melanin.
These Europeans had no massive breeding program what so ever. They just fucked whomever and whatever and got babies as a result. They mostly fucked within very limited groups, leading to inbred in the most extreme cases and an emphasis on specific traits. Like very distinct features, like big noses, wide lips, narrow lips, small noses, round noses, sharp noses. Like heavy bones, light bones. Broad shoulders, narrow body. Sturdy bodies. Slender bodies.
But to call that a “race”?
Pink / light skinned genetic hodgepodge is a better word.
A side note: the harsh conditions we might consider to be relevant are hardly a factor either. Any place is crap and lethal when your only natural protection against nature is your naked skin and when your entire body is as shit for survival as the human body is. We suck as a species.
There are no real special traits
Even though many different branches of humans moved many different directions and the fucking and reproduction took place within isolated groups, we do not differ that much that it really matters. Like: “everyone in country X has this special trait that can make your head explode when they think of you in a field of flowers” kind of thing.
There is no genetic incompatibility between all these different branches. Fuck with someone from any place in the world (taking that they bearing another set of genitals than yours) and — except in cases of infertility — you will probably produce a child at some point.
That child then will be able to produce more children. Donkeys and horses, for instance, cannot. Their mutual offspring is a dead branch.
Fucking with someone from a specific group will not suddenly produce a child that can play piano like a star, or type 20 000 words per day in brilliant prose. That can happen anywhere and with any set of genetic material. Regardless of what some groups of people would like you to believe, there is no special “awesome piano playing super talent” kind of gene in any of our entire human population and concepts like: “blue blood” are complete and utter bullshit.
The force of culture
Looking at specific talents, you will find that culture is more of a driving power than eugenics has ever been. Force or seduce people to move and work and think in one specific direction and the result will be more than you will ever achieve by selective fucking and selectively murdering babies (Eugenics).
You are not your skin-color
When you identify with your skin-color, you identify with something that is completely arbitrary. That is random. That has no real meaning. Being whatever color and from whatever line of heritage is close to inconseqential. Even if that line is “special” like royalty (brief: a load of bullshit. Read ‘Lord of the Rings’ by JRR Tolkien and each time anything is mentioned about special races or traits, scribble ‘racist bullshit’ in the sideline. See what remains of that ‘masterpiece’.)
Your birth is random. The place and people of your birth are random. you were not selected. You were not chosen. You are not special. You are a lump of cells that started to divide. That could have been anywhere. Any place.
The limited slices of Privilege-Cake, or: “why?”
Privilege is a very wobbly thing. It is a platform made of glass that can shatter any moment. Stand on top of it and you can look down on anyone below you. Shatter the glass and you are nothing more or less than the people “below”.
The idea is that there is only a limited set of places on that glass platform, that the cake only has a very limited set of slices to distribute. Secondly, that being there / eating that cake is the most important and defining thing EVER (if you want to be part of “it”).
To have privilege means that you can do things and that you can have things other people cannot. This can be jobs. Special traits. Front row seat at Awesome. It is like a pie of specific size, with a specific set of slices.
The more people have these privileges, the less you will get from that yummy pie. Hell: that pie might even be gone by the moment you are there to collect “your” piece.
So the trick is to keep people out.
What we call “racism” is actually something wider. And deeply ingrained in most societies. “Racism” is just one of many forms of that same beast that is designed to protection the privileges of the few. To keep you out.
Note that Privilege itself is vulnerable and the system of privilege is as much a prison as the things it creates to protect itself. “Falling out of grace” is easy within that system. Break any rule of importance and you lose. No cake for you. Or just the leftovers. This makes the “owners” of privileges a fucked-over group in other aspects: the enslaved of ‘class’ beating the enslaved of lower stature to keep that fragment of fake power they seem to possess.
Keeping you out / keeping you small
To keep you out, I need to make sure you feel small. That you do not organize yourselves. That you do not realize your true power. I need to render you helpless. To make you believe and make you propagate the idea that you are powerless. That any action you MIGHT take on me and my peers is futile to begin with.
I need to make sure you police yourself. That the thought-police that helps oppressing any idea of rebellion is there always. Immediately. Anywhere.
That thought-police is your parents. It is your surroundings. It is you with all those internalized voices telling you you cannot do ‘this’ and should not do ‘that’. They are part of the mechanism to keep you in place. To keep you stupid, even when you are really clever. To make sure you are looking for all the answers in all the wrong places. To make sure you never make that next step: to revolt against the ones that oppress you.
The glass towers of privilege are vulnerable. They are carried by you. On your shoulders. And while one person will not make a difference, when all step away and stop their support, that glass tower will collapse. It will shatter.
So another thing I need to do is to assure you will never attack that thing that represents my power. That thing is the very construction of my privileges. So when you rebel against me, you will still uphold and keep the constructions that oppress you. You will continue to be enslaved people by the idea that when you collapse that very symbol of power, you will crush civilization itself.
So when you strive for liberation, you strive to become like me. You will follow the same lines. You will follow the tracks I set out for you. And when you reach that point where you might be able to make a difference you have been part of that same process that is oppressing your people. Instead of the oppressed you will probably become one of the oppressors as the power and the privileges are too beautiful to give up on.
As long as you continue to re-affirm and recycle the things that keep you a prisoner, you remain a prisoner.
Dropping skin-color as a compass
When you focus on skin-color and when skin-color is a defining factor, you keep that very system of oppression in place.
To differentiate people and traits on skin-color and heritage is building on a system that has two very specific intents: to keep you stupid and to take away your power.
To think you can only trust people of one specific color is the same. To think people of a specific skin color have better traits is the same. It is dumbing down your judgement. It makes you a social idiot. Here is why:
- Assholes are everywhere.
- Idiots are everywhere.
- Unreliable people are everywhere.
- Friendly people are everywhere.
- Sexy people are everywhere.
- Ugly people are everywhere.
- Beautiful people are everywhere.
- Smart people are everywhere.
- Talented people are everywhere.
- Awesome people are everywhere.
You do not have to seek in one specific group of people to find one or all.
Closing thought: cultivating discrimination as a basis for power
“Racism” is as old as people and communities of people are. We distinguish. We judge. We criticize.
The moment this discrimination becomes cultivated, we move in dangerous directions. We start applying structural judgements to people who probably are not at all as we see them.
Cultivation of discrimination moves, I think, in four directions:
- Glorification — Of specific people or groups. Attributing qualities to them they do not possess.
- Empowerment — Of specific people or groups or ideas. Attributing qualities to them they do not possess.
- Disempowerment — Of specific people or groups or ideas. Attributing qualities to them they do not possess.
- Demonization — Of specific people or groups. Attributing qualities to them they do not possess.
I think the concepts and the propaganda to empower this process are as old as culture itself. And probably linked to the mind of the conquerer / oppressor. It helps building a basis of power that will keep things and people in line.
You are not your skin-color
You are not your skin-color. Your skin-color does not give you special attributes. Neither does the skin-color of others give them special attributes. Our ancestors all fucked too randomly with anyone randomly available to make the kind of Eugenics happen on that kind of scale where “human branch X” would have really different from “human branch Y” or “human branch Z”.
So fuck off. Consider yourself human. It is a very nice space to be in, with an incredible huge set of people in many, many different type of mind-spaces.