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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Race is the stupidest idea in history

Race is the stupidest idea in history

From the piece:

If you doubt that, try a simple challenge: Define “black people.”

Maybe you think of it as African ancestry. But Africa is a place on a map — not a bloodline. And, as the example of Charlize Theron, the fair-skinned, blond actress from South Africa, amply illustrates, it is entirely possible to come from there, yet not be what we think of as “black.” Indeed, Theron, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008, is by definition an African American. Yet, she fits no one’s conception of that term, either.

Or, you might define “black people” by physical appearance: i.e., people with dark skin and coarse hair. If so, consider Gregory Howard Williams, a pale-skinned American educator and author of the memoirLife On The Color Line, who did not learn he was “black” until he was 10. Or consider Walter White, the former executive secretary of the NAACP, whose 1948 autobiography begins: “I am a Negro. My skin is white, my eyes are blue, my hair is blond.” Consider the people from India who have dark skin or the ones from Asia, the Middle East or Latin America who have coarse hair.

And perhaps here, you are tempted to throw up your hands and paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who famously said of pornography that he might not be able to define it, “but I know it when I see it.”

The difference is that pornography, at least, exists. But there is no such thing as black people. Or white people. Or Asians. Or Indians.

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