Category Archives: Race and Racism

Why is no one immune to having racial biases?

Spread the love

I’ll just put this here:

Racism is a phenomenon that emerges from our individual lived experiences and the culture in which we grow up and participate in as adults. A humanistic perspective or a logical mind does not obviate biases in how we know things, and thus, how we perceive or perform as actors in it.

Anthropologist Greg Laden will discuss North American racism as a phenomenon in science and society, its history, and how it is maintained. How do racial, or similar, biases form at the individual and societal level? How are they affected, or not, by societal fixes, great speeches, or education? How can Humanists be better humanists by grappling with this difficult area of human behavior?

Greg Laden is a biological anthropologist, educator, and science writer. His PhD work (at Harvard) was with the Efe Pygmies of the PR Congo, and he has contributed to research on the key features of human evolution, the initial chimp-human split, and the rise of our genus Homo. More recently, Laden studies, speaks, and writes about climate change and race and racism. He is working on a book on falsehoods we know and love.


Spread the love

Make America Gullible Again

Spread the love

What is the meaning of this photograph? I see several young folk, maybe high school or college age, walking along the street. The woman in front is wearing sunglasses, so maybe it is sunny, and she’s carrying what looks like a book and a binder, so maybe she is a student going to class. I see a man in the backgrouind who is smiling at his friend. The woman on the far right, just on the edge of the shot, seems lost in thought. This could be, in black and wight and with dress and hair styles suggesting some antiquity (1950s? 1960s?), a photograph of a bunch of kids who just got off a school bus and are on their way into class.

Continue reading Make America Gullible Again
Spread the love

Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?

Spread the love

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith got all titillated the other day when she thought about sitting in the front row of a public hanging. In the context of her race to be Senator of Mississippi. Which is the state in which the most recent well known lynchings took place, and that probably had more lynchings per capita than any other state. Her opponent, Mike Epsy, is a black man. Continue reading Is White Supremacy and Lynching People Racist?


Spread the love

Difference and Disease: Excellent new book on medicine and race in the 18th century British empire

Spread the love

Suman Seth is associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, at Cornell. He is an historian of science, and studies medicine, race, and colonialism (and dabbles as well in quantum theory). In his new book, Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire, Seth takes on a fascinating subject that all of us who have worked in tropical regions but with a western (or northern) perspective have thought about, one way or another.

As Europeans, and Seth is concerned mainly with the British, explored and conquered, colonizing and creating the empire on which the sun could never set no matter how hard it tried, they got sick. They also observed other people getting sick. And, they encountered a wide range of physiological or biosocial phenomena that were unfamiliar and often linked (in real or in the head) to disease. A key cultural imperative of British Colonials as to racialize their explanations for things, including disease. The science available through the 18th and 19th century was inadequate to address questions that kept rising. Like, why did a Brit get sick on his first visit to a plantation in Jamaica, but on return a few years later, did not get as sick? If you have a model where people of different races have specific diseases and immunities in their very nature, how do you explain that sort of phenomenon? How might the widely held, or at least somewhat widely held, concept of polygenism, have explained things? This is an early version of the multi-regional hypothesis, but more extreme, in which god created each type of human independently where we find them, and we are all different species. (Agassiz, with his advanced but highly imperfect geological understanding, thought the earth was totally frozen over with each ice age, and repopulated with these polygenetic populations of not just humans, but all the organisms, after each thaw).

Seth weaves together considerations of slavery and abolition, colonialism, race, geography, gender, and illness. This is an academic book, but at the same time, something of a page turner. Anyone interested in disease, colonial history, and race, will want to re-excavate the British colonial world, looking at disease, illness, and racial thinking, with Suman Seth as your guide. I highly recommend this book.


Spread the love
Andrew Gillum Greg Laden's Blog

Gillum for Governor, and Racism Everywhere

Spread the love

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum just won his party’s endorsement to run in the general election for Florida’s Governor. He is a strong candidate, a progressive, and we all hope he wins.

He also happens to be African American, which would be a great thing for Florida.

I have two observations, though, that I want to point out.

1) If you google around for the names of candidates that are referred to by name as “Sanders-backed [name of candidate]” you will find pretty much none. Except for Gillum. He is the “Sanders-backed gillum.” His name, today in the news, appears most of the time with Sanders’ name attached to him. Its like he is owned by Sanders. He can’t be his own candidate. He has to be the northern white guy’s candidate.

2) Ron DeSantis, the Russo-Republican Trumpian candidate running against Mayor Gillum, made a horrid racist comment. In case you didn’t know, when an African American speaks in an articulate and intelligent matter, the racist thing to do is to call him articulate. (In the old days, add in “He’s a credit to his race,” but we don’t do that so much any more.) DeSantis did that. You probably know that referring to an African American as an ape, gorilla, or monkey, or making a vaguely indirect reference to such, is also racist. DeSantis did that too. From NBC News:

“You know, he is an articulate spokesman for those far-left views and he’s a charismatic candidate,” DeSantis said. “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

We are not surprised. But I thought you should know.

Send the guy ten bucks.


Spread the love

Donald Trump and the Bell Curve

Spread the love

The infamous policy book, The Bell Curve, relied on the false claim that people of African ancestry are of low IQ (and some other things). That was based directly on the work of J. Philippe Rushton and it is false.

The Bell Curve became, in the 1980s, the intellectualized version of pseud-scientifically based racism. The Bradley Foundation, which paid for the book’s publication and printing, made sure there was a copy of it on every politically relevant person’s shelf, from elected officials to potential candidates to staffers to faculty involved even marginally in politics or society.

When those of us who study pseudo-scientific racism and works such as the Bell Curve hear the phrase “Low IQ person” we know exactly what it means. It means a white supremacist is referring to a black person.

Here is Eugene Scott commenting on this phenomenon:


Spread the love

What is a Republican?

Spread the love

This guy. The one in the blue jacket. Watch every minute of this. Especially the last phase, where we see Representative Jason Spencer attacking a terrorist with his ass.

Trigger warning: Racism, hate, and Trumpisn. In other words, watching this video is like turning on CNN or FOX. Not work safe, not for children, keep the sound down.

From now on, after seeing this, you can never, ever, see the yahoos changing “USA USA USA” again without thinking of State Representative Jason’s Spencer’s ugly ass.

And of course it does not end there. Here are some Republicans advocating the arming of pre-schoolers.

According to recent polls, one of the men advocating for arming tiny children, Dana Rohrabacher, has a real chance of being defeated in this year’s election.


Spread the love

Mass Murder: A Perspective on Young Male Killers

Spread the love

Loyola University’s James Garbarino, author of Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases, addressed the questions (two years ago), why do males do most of the mass killings: Continue reading Mass Murder: A Perspective on Young Male Killers


Spread the love

“basically anyone who’s black and politically active”

Spread the love

That’s who the FBI seems to want to consider as a domestic terrorist, and thus, investigate and repress.

We’ve seen this before. Happens every time there is a fascist in the White House. I’m sure there are plenty of wonderful, thoughtful, politically neutral FBI agents, the do a great service to the country, yada yada yada. (Everybody feeling good about the cops now? How nice.) But the fact is that whenever you get a fascist in charge, at the state or national level, the cops, pretty much all the cops, shift at least a little, and some shift a lot. They get repression boners. They go to town.

From a piece by Kate Irby in today’s Star Tribune,

The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella.

But many national security experts say the designation doesn’t describe a movement at all, let alone a terrorism threat. It’s simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” said Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004 and did undercover domestic terrorism work.

While the practice of labeling certain protest groups as domestic terrorists is not unique to President Donald Trump’s administration, Hina Shamsi, national security project director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said there’s concern that “abusive and unjustified investigations” by the FBI are rising.

“We are worried that protesters are increasingly being labeled as terrorism threats,” Shamsi said.

As observed, predicted, and expected. See this.


Spread the love

Flying While Black #BLM

Spread the love

This just came across my desk. This is bad at any time, but with Jeff Sessons as Attorney General, it is worse; People are sort of on their own at the national level. This is about white supremacy, and American Airline’s policy, or lack of policy, or culture, or lack of training, supporting it.

NAACP ISSUES NATIONAL TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR AMERICAN AIRLINES

(October 24, 2017) – The NAACP, the nation’s original and largest social justice advocacy organization, has released the following statement today announcing a travel advisory warning African Americans about their safety and well being when patronizing American Airlines or traveling on American Airlines flights: Continue reading Flying While Black #BLM


Spread the love

Falsehood: “Voters are kept from political involvement by the rules”

Spread the love

Voting is not party involvement.

We hear a lot of talk these days about “voters” being repressed in their attempt to be involved in the Democratic primary process. There may be something to that, and it might be nice to make it easier for people to wake up on some (usually) Tuesday morning and go and vote in a Democratic or Republican primary or visit a caucus. But there is a difference between a desire for a reform and the meaningful understanding of that reform — why we want it, how to do it, and what it will get us — that makes it important to do what we Anthropologists sometimes call “problemetizing the concept.”

We can start with the statement that in the primary system, “Voters should not be kept from involvement by rules that make it impossible for them to engage in the democratic (small “d”) process.” That sentence seems reasonable, even important, and is essentially a call for open, instead of closed, primaries, or in some cases, for replacing a caucus with a primary. Continue reading Falsehood: “Voters are kept from political involvement by the rules”


Spread the love

Is my penis too small, too big, or just right?

Spread the love

And by “my” penis I mean “your” penis, of course.

This is a perennial question. For some reason, which I do not understand, the feminist perspective (note: I’m a feminist) is often to belittle the question, but really, that isn’t fair. It is not that difficult to imagine how anyone would come to a question about whether or not a particular organ of the body, the head, the breasts, the butt, the thumb, is somehow out of proportion. The penis is just one of many body parts that people may obsess over, and the larger scale issue of the intersection between physical and mental health should not be put aside for the penis, even if it is the Organ of Continue reading Is my penis too small, too big, or just right?


Spread the love

Is this racist? (New Dove ad)

Spread the love

The image above is the tweet that alerted many people to the new Dove ad in which, apparenly, black people can clean themselves up and become white people!

When I first saw this ad, I was flabbergasted and assumed I had it wrong. I assumed that I simply misunderstood the ad, or it was a parody, or something. This, I thought, could not be happening. Then, I finally settled into the fact that Dove managed to produce a deeply disturbing, racist ad.

But then, I learned Continue reading Is this racist? (New Dove ad)


Spread the love