That's basically what I was hoping you'd say, phoenix. It's just that you made it sound like you were agreeing with an argument that goes against yours (eg: "The comment was meant only to emphasize my position that race has nothing whatever to do with anything"), which was a little confusing. Anyhow, I agree with your stance towards "genetic inheritance and environment".
In the case of the Kenyan runners, the obvious question to ask is why being fleet of foot is such a positive value in that society?
I can give you one reason. In many parts of Kenya (as in much of the world of course) you may be the richest person in your town if own a donkey. Thus, being able to run fast and long is certainly a very beneficial ability. One thing I believe is a big contributing factor though is the high altitude in much of Kenya, as well as Ethiopia (which is also mucho famous for its runners).
The difficulty of discussing this topic comes less from history and politics and more from the fact that it's premise is false on it's face. First, you can't define race. The darn thing keeps moving around like the borders between some of those desert countries. Do you use head size and body shape, or do you prefer skin tones? Shall we have a colour chart as they used in Pretoria. (oh, lucky man, to as light as an Asian.....) How about genealogy? No good, we'd have to take the word of that yellow gal that her great-granddaddy was white. So what's a race?
Nobody knows because there are only humans.
Are there groups and tribes and clans and nations? Yes. But those are not races. Any member of any one can change to another, if they can break down what ever Cultural differences that might exist. It's not the same with those who believe in races. Once you are defined as a
somethingorother, you are that, to death, and even after death if there's a lawsuit. Joining all those other groups of people is a voluntary act, and I'll grant you, you can claim to be a member of a race, but that's the same as having an imaginary friend, comforting, but not real.
Second, well, there is no second. We just need to stop going around trying to quess what people are capable of by looking at them. Trying to make judgements by body shape, color and size is something that ought to be left to horse race handicappers and not members of the human race.
Joe of the Nation of Joes
And from the New York Times this morning
Read all the way to the last paragraph.
1. Everyone should go back and read Dyslexia's first post. There is only one race here, Homo Sapiens. The genetic differences that occur within the race are miniscule compared to the similarities between the those with the greatest variations from the mean, mode and median. Our species has spread over, and dominated, the globe. Over long stretches of time, local adaptations have occurred that explain the differences we see today. When the discussion begins to turn on "race" generally folks are referring to eye shape, hair texture, and skin-color. Is there any great physical difference between brown bears, black bears, grizzlies and Polar bears that isn't accounted for by the environmental niche they inhabit?
2. There are virtually NO differences between the extreme variations within the various cohorts that make up what are termed human "races". Few are taller than 7', or shorter than 3'. People from northern China tend to be taller and larger in size than those from southern China, just as Swedes tend to taller and larger than Italians. Does anyone want to assert that larger northern peoples are a different "race" from shorter southern peoples? Do short people tend to excel at basketball, or is it the larger individuals who dominate the sport? Most people who cluster near the median size aren't particularly good at physical sports, but those at the extremes have a distinct advantage within particular sports, or in some forms of physical activity. In any case, it is the extremes within each cohort that tend to "stand out" and provide the examples so beloved of racists.
Though the validity of IQ tests are problematical, for a moment let us assume that a bias free test did exist. Some individuals from every cohort, on a 200 point scale, might score as high as 190 or as low as 10. Most people in every cohort would cluster near the 100 mark. I know that this is something of a bald assertion that is, and probably can not be, proven by a well run experiment. However, there are many other factors that easily account for the "observed", though anecdotal differences between the "intellectual" achievements of the various "racial" cohorts.
Language and culture account for many differences in intellectual achievement. Math is the purist language, and it is a language that is shared by people no matter where they are from, or their "racial" background. The Chinese language is structurally similarity to the logical categorization needed to excel in mathematics, whereas English tends to be less logical. If a person of Chinese ethnicity were raised within Anglo culture with English as their sole language, their math ability would be no different than a person of European ancestry with similar background. To continue with the example, within Chinese culture advancement for thousands of years depended upon academic achievement and excellence within a system based on merit. Even when Confucian principles are no longer politically dominant, the cultural biases toward scholastic achievement remain rooted in the cultural values of most Chinese.
I would like to substitute here the case of American Black culture for greater contrast. American Blacks were imported for physical labor and were denied even the basic education that would lead to literacy. The strictures were enforced by torture and lynch murder, yet some managed to secretly acquire a relatively good education. After emancipation, less than 150 years ago, Blacks were still exploited and discouraged from full development of their intellectual capabilities by the dominant culture. The social separation legislated by the Jim Crow Laws, and the inferior "Separate, but Equal" schools available to Blacks kept most African-Americans from gaining more than a rudimentary education. In the less than fifty years since the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's overturned many of the social and legal restrictions that prevented Black intellectual achievement, the number of Blacks who have gotten college degrees and joined the professions has grown considerably. However, our inner-cities, where most Black Americans are clustered in poverty, remain to haunt us. Within the slums there is hopelessness and a value system that devalues academic achievement as the key to a better life. The successful model for too many young Blacks is the drug dealer and pimp. Violence and force define control, rather than the ability to think in a concise and analytical fashion. Bridging the gap between the dominant Anglo American Culture and the sub-sets (BlacK-American Culture, Hispanic-American Culture, Asian-American Culture, and Amerind-American Culture) has proven far more difficult than we would have believed twenty, or thirty years ago when the "Melting Pot" theory of American Culture was the "Ideal".
3. The foundations of racial prejudice are not so much to be found in any actual differences between the various "races" as it is in group chauvinism. Our group, no matter how defined, always regards itself as the "best" and most entitled to dominate all other groups. Long before written history, chauvinism played an important role in group survival. "The People" had to be a coherent and cohesive force to defend their territory and food supplies from "The Other" who threatened "The People's" very survival. Cultural and religious patterns enforced the notion that anyone from "outside" was not quite human, and that differences were a threat to the group. Agriculturists had to be continually on their guard against nomadic raids. Those groups, cultures, and tribes who failed to maintain themselves against competing groups, ceased to exist. To lose the competition with "outsiders", "The Other", meant death, slavery, and the loss of one's cultural existence. There are still some primitive tribes existing deep within remote jungles whose very existence is threatened by contact with the outside world. European Culture has for a little over 500 years been so dynamic, so expansive that it has smothered and dominated all other cultures. Colonialism and the spread of Christianity have been, and remain a threat to the cultural survival of countless peoples. Until the mid-20th century very few ever even questioned the "right" of one group to dominate and subjugate weaker groups and cultures.
How long will it take for our species to outgrow chauvinism? Does chauvinism still play any positive role in human affairs?
You ask interesting questions there, asherman, one paritally answered above by Phoenix's point about the movement of people, as things increading blur it will be more difficult to see another as the other. Till then we must all work against those who would package us in several boxes as separates, and see ourselves as beautiful beads on the same necklace.
Mark Twain, "I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me for a member".
Oh well, Clemens wasn't in any position to object or sue.
It's damn sad that knee-jerk emotional reactions preclude any worthwhile discussion of this.
In America, people have so many hang ups about race. It's pathetic. I'm not just talking about the racists but also the people who need to belt out the lines to "we are the world" to drown out any discussion that mentions race and who level accusations of bigotry and racism without substantiation whatsoever.
Good intentions makes any discussion about race a screaming match of "WE ALL BE EQUAL!!!".
It reminds me of a parrot I knew, it would try to join in on ESL classes shrieking the only English phrase he knew. When people were having English classes at the school it would scream "I'm hot, hot, hot" and howl in laughter. It wanted so much to show that it could participate that it's "only stock and store" was employed ad nauseum.
That's what it feels like here. Mere mention of race makes some so uncomfortable that they refuse to allow anyone to discuss it, insisting on accusing others of racism and in short just showing that the topic makes them uncomfortable.
To me this is a damn shame. Racism isn't about a logomachy about whether race is the proper word to describe clear genetic differences. Racism isn't about noting said differences. Racism is about the conclusions one draws from said differences.
The ideal is equal rights and respect. Not to try to pretend there are no differences.
It's pathetic that any mention of differences is, in ethnocentric America, drowned out by the specter of racism. Differences exist, and it's not these insignificant differences that constitute racism. Racism is an ignorant mentality but using ignorance to counter it is not going to help. For this reason I dislike that any curiosity about differences is jumped upon. It's overreaction of this variety that makes so many people write off so many fine ideals of tolerance as merely "Politically Correct". Overreacting helps people dismiss the arguments for tolerance.
Making a subject a taboo because of one's personal hangups isn't helpful. It's not racist to note differences and attempt to learn about them. Black people do tend to be darker than I. This is a matter of fact. It's no big deal to me. Black people have different musculature than I do. No worries. It's not the end of the world.
Differences do exist. Why does any discussion about them have to be downed out with a "we are the world" and "we are all so beautiful" chorus?
I think it's missing the whole point about racism to ascribe racism to the noting of differences. People ARE different. Such is life, it is the conclusions based upon the differences that constitutes racism, not the mere acknowledgement of them.
Anywho, rant over. I guess I just miss less ethnocentric places where genetic differences are noted in passing without value laden inference.
I look forward to the hiring by the NBA (is that what your basketball association is called?) of a significant number of pygmies.....they are, I understand, discriminated against in their homelands by their taller countryfolk......
Women are also very much discriminated against in the penis model field. They claim that some seem more equal than others when it comes to carreer opportunity in that field. I think it's important to separate equality in birth from equality in rights.
Oh, I see. It's supposed to be about celebrating the differences amongst us all. Well, then let's have a worthwhile discussion based on the original premise of this thread to wit:
we know that race plays a part in physical ability. because of genetics blacks are generally able to perform better in sports.
so what about intelligence?
We know that the first sentence is true because, well, we just know it.
Don't we? Actually, some of don't know anything of the sort, but we move on. Now "because of genetics blacks are generally able to perform better in sports." is tougher because it's not really a sentence at all, but it does explain everything very well, doesn't it? The reason, there doesn't seem to be any other reason given, that blacks are generally able to perform better in sports is genetics. Right. I'm with that. Along with the right kind of training, effort and luck, and, as has been pointed out, picking the right sport helps as well. Black efforts in bobsledding have, so far, gone badly.
So what about intelligence?
Let's see what if:
we know that race plays a part in intelligence
. because of genetics blacks are generally able to perform better in intellectual pursuits.
Just your usual bunch of Secretaries of State, Supreme Court Justices and attorneys at law, the regular set of Mayors of major cities and leaders of whole countrys and great gobs of Phds and MDs and leaders of corporations here. So that's right too.
Whew, for a second there I didn't think that was going to work out and I was going to have to talk about music production tendencies.
Okay. I'm going to go see who won the recipe contest.
I have no idea who makes the best slaves but recently a comedian
from Calcutta wowed his audience with:
" People from India don't make very good slaves. We can do
your income tax but we would not be good slaves.
If I was a slave and the master said " Pick that cotton !" I
would say to him, "Not a very good idea. I have a better
idea boss. YOU pick the cotton and I will make the T shirts
and my brother will sell them wholesale !"
Slavery relies upon brute force for it's existence. The Master's worst nightmare is a slave revolt, and so any sign of disobedience is met with extreme force. In Rome if a single slave rose to defy his masters, it was not uncommon to crucify every slave on the property. Slave revolts on American plantations by usually by killing those in revolt. Children might be merely flogged, branded and sold. Individual's within the American slave system who resisted their masters, or who were disrespectful, would certainly be flogged. Twentyfive strokes of the Cat o'Nine would leave 225 stripes, many of which would break the skin as deep as the skeleton.
It's nice to think we would resist slavery, but in actuallity most folks would cast their gaze into the dust and say, "Yes, Master". While open resistence is most often futile, indirect resistence and sabotage are much more effective. Slaves are commonly called lazy and given to petty thievery. "Yes, Master, I'll clean the stables with my little whisk broom", and then the task would be put off and performed so slowly and poorly that Ole' Massa will be less inclined to assign unpleasant tasks.