Re: There are racists; but no races.

Toby Cockcroft (
Tue, 28 Jan 1997 00:28:23 -0400

In article <>, wrote:

>Toby Cockcroft wrote:
>> In article <>, wrote:
>> >Toby Cockcroft wrote:
>> >>
>> >> 2) What are RACES: what is WHITE and what is BLACK? How can I tell the
>> >> difference between one and the other? Upon what criteria do make these
>> >> distinctions; are these criteria legitimate ones and how come?
>> >>
>> >
>> >I'll bite. How can you tell the difference between "white" and
>> >"black?" What are the legitimate criteria, if any?
>> >
>> > Steve Barnard
>> Sorry Steve but is this a question for me or for Bob? The question that I
>> posed was in response to some spew from Bob Whitaker. However, the
>> questions aren't the point the point was that I knew he wouldn't reply and
>> he hasn't.
>> Bob Whitaker is a coward.
>> Toby
>I couldn't agree more with your assessment of Bob Whitaker. Being a
>coward is one of the more positive aspects of his personality.
>Actually, the question was for you. Do you think one can tell the
>difference between white and black? (I do, but it isn't a simple
>question and there are shades of gray, so to speak.)
> Steve Barnard

If one were to esssentialise an entire population based on a stereotype and
ignore the continuity of human variation then yes it is easy to distinguish
between 'white' and 'black' superficially speaking. However what is
ignored in the making of a distinction of this kind is the cultural and
political motivations for making such a distinction.

What I deny is that there is any biological validity to the
compartmentalisation and division of human populations based on
essentialised skin colour alone (racism). What I don't deny is that this
schema has been and is still being used in order to justify hatred and
bigotry. The result is that people who are different are being selectively
denied equal standing. Why not divide the population into those who have
brown eyes and those who don't; we don't because it is simply ignorant, but
this is the same sort of thing that is going on when it comes to skin

We recognise a difference between a person with 'white' skin and a person
with 'black' skin only because we have been taught to recognise the
difference. The colour of your eyes, on the other hand, make no difference
to us. People with different eye colour are regarded as being equal and
essentially the same, except for a superficial difference of eye colour.
But this doesn't hold when it comes to skin colour. Why?

When we as a species learn to consider skin colour as a superficial aspect
of a person then the difference between a 'white' person and a 'black'
person will be measured not by the colour of their skin but the content of
their character.


Toby R. G. Cockcroft MA (in progress)
Dept. Of Anthropology
Univerity of Western Ontario
London, Ontario