National Geographic calls itself to task for its racist past


A lot of people outside those three countries would have trouble telling which one any particular face is from (aside from India). And in China especially, there’s a wide array of differing facial features – including some that others might mistake as “Indian.”

Again, just what are you trying to say? And why are you bringing up different nationalities in a discussion of race?


Let’s break this down to the fundamental issue:

  • ‘race’ is pretty much always tied to observable physical characteristics,
  • those characteristics have a strong hereditary genetic basis
  • genetic analysis can reliably group people into the same clusters we identified as races, by picking up on that basis

To you, @deathisastar, that is important. You believe that this clustering means that races are ‘real’ and, possibly, represents further significant underlying racial grouping factors .

But… does it? Does it necessarily mean anything more than the tautological statement: people that can be grouped by appearance can be grouped by the genes responsible for it?

Is there anything to suggest that these gene groupings have any further significance than the fairly cosmetic ones we’ve defined them by?


So about that “white” category. Bernie Sanders, to the eyes of many, ran as an “old white man” for president. But he was born Jewish in the 1940s, he wasn’t a white kid. Justice Scalia was an old white man and a constitutional originalist even though the founders never would have let an Italian into any position of authority.

Don’t confuse genetic differences that result in different eye and hair colour and different facial features for
race. The biology of a person who looks Irish hasn’t changed in the last 200 years, their race has.

Yeah, this is the one that is false. If you basically looked like a white guy and everyone who saw you thought you were a white guy and your neighbours in Apartheid South Africa found out you were one quarter black, your physical characteristics wouldn’t help you much.

There have always been people in oppressed racial minorities who could “pass” as white. How that was dealt with varied from society to society. But my observation is that in the eyes of white people, usually a small amount of non-white ancestry tends to “taint” people as non-white, even if they are genetically and physically predominantly from groups we would describe as “white”.


Don’t judge a book by its cover.


Je peux. Francais. Preferes. Aussi avant demander.


No, it doesn’t mean any more than that. People simply shouldn’t lie about the evidence. In addition, it’s in vain. If people really think, “hey, if only we can convince people how close we are genetically, there won’t be any racism!!!”, they’re delusional.


Well, yes… I am almost tempted to diagram the relationship between race, culture, appearance, and biology, just so we can all sort out the exact categories we’re talking about.

To a large degree, though, a lot of what people refer to as race is ‘you look like an X’, (with the additional ‘you may not look like an X, but we know you’re descended from X , so we’re counting you!’). And if there’s any kind of physical traits that can be associated with X (if you can look liker an X, then of course there are), then they almost certainly have a genetic basis that can reflect that ‘X-iness’ . The main point I’d like to make, though, is that that genetic clusterability is of absolutely no more significance than the physical clusterability; it’s simply the other side of the exact same coin.


What evidence? We might as well say that brunettes and blondes are races because of the evidence; that being that genetic analysis can tell if people are blonde or brunette, and that it runs in families.

Really struggling to understand your point.


Indeed, and I don’t mean to take away from that point because it is a very good point well made.


All whites benefit from it.


The spread of English as a majority language in the world is a result of racism.


Yet, oddly, Europeans came up with racial designation in order to help justify their rather recent (and in many cases) ongoing domination of the distribution of wealth in the world.

Except that didn’t happen. While whites were most certainly enslaved during history, it was not a racialized slavery.

No, that’s just another ideology at play, which only serves to reinforce racism and ethnic strife.


Or maybe, they actually HAVE helped to perpetuate racism, and are acknowledging that fact of history, an important step in actually moving forward to a less racist world.


You’re wrong.


You probably have. You may not have partaken in an actual discriminatory or oppressive act, but it could come down to what you spend your time on. Do you spend your time trying to dismantle the system and recognize your unconscious biases, or do you say “Well, I was never racist toward someone so it’s not my job” - and continue in your comfortable career that you received, at least in part, because you had the luck of being born white.

Most white people feel exactly the way you do - like they haven’t done anything wrong - and yet systemic racism still exists, and it’s tough to find a statistic or anecdote that says otherwise.

Also, for Nat. Geo. we are talking decadal scales - i.e. the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents. Racism isn’t some obscure historical event that happened and we’re just living with the fallout. It is still happening every day.

“It wasn’t me” is a rallying cry to complacency and living in a bubble of comfort.


Are you kidding? You do realize that people confuse Indian Hindus and Sikhs for Arabs all the time, right? In fact PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED who the murderer thought was an Arab Muslim!

And that often, people’s racial background are mistaken all the time. You know the singer Halsey? She’s half black. You know the actor Rashida Jones? Her dad is Quincy Jones. So know, you can’t actually know by looking at someone.


That is a completely made up idea. And it is diametrically opposed to another philosophy

“When we see injustice, we have a duty to fight it”

Now, the concepts of responsibility and justice are human inventions, but it’s about the kind of world you want to live in @ErnieMac.


Why are you invoking the social construct of hair color? It doesn’t exist. When you use words like “blonde” and “brunette”, you are creating divisions. You are racist. (That’s the idiotic argument you’re defending.)

Like skin color, hair color runs in families, so we know there’s a genetic component. We use the terms “blonde” and “brunette” like we use the term “Asian”, meaning to classify people based on observable characteristics even if they’re not completely homogeneous and we don’t have an exact definition for each term. Are you going to stop labeling hair color? No, you aren’t. Why stop labeling other obvious phenotypic classifications when we know there’s a genetic correspondence, and why lie about the latter fact?


Hey, do you know what the word “guess” means? Also, read carefully what I wrote. You may not be able to get down to the country, but at least the continent. Hindus and Sikhs come from the same continent, right? That fact is not altered by the fact that somebody can’t distinguish an Arab from a Sikh.


I look white… unless I grow my hair out. Then I get called racial slurs.