Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

Gerold Firl (
5 Nov 1996 01:36:59 GMT

In article <55fosk$>, Ron Kephart <> writes:

|> (Gerold Firl) wrote:

|> > So, you asked why every individual on earth is classified as h. sap.
|> > sapiens, if in fact we have separate races. I guess the best answer is
|> > that since we have no consensus judgement of just exactly *how* the
|> > family tree should be labeled, it's best, for now, not to label it at
|> > all.

|> Is it in fact a "fact" that we have "separate races"?

That's the way it looks to me. Any other animal which had the same
level of physical variation, distributed into local populations each
with their own set of distinct characteristics, would be classified as
having "races" (subspecies).

|> Given the
|> difficulty of getting a consensus about how the taxonomy "should" be
|> labeled, isn't it possible that Mother Nature is telling us something?
|> Like maybe, it "shouldn't" be labeled?

That isn't mother nature talking. There are some people who believe
that we "shouldn't" be classified according to the same standards
applied to other animals, but that's a matter of personal preference,
not a fact of nature.

|> Isn't it also true that there is no clear consensus on the question of
|> whether or not is even worthwhile to construct a racial taxonomy for
|> contemporary H. sapiens at all?

Given the horrors of nazism, jim crow, apartheid, caste, etc etc,
there is a widespread feeling that our skeletons should stay in the
closet. The idea is that whatever benefits might be derived by
illuminating our evolutionary past could be outweighed by the risk of
stoking the fires of bigotry.

The reason there is no consensus regarding the value of a human racial
taxonomy is because some people fear the information would be used as
a weapon of oppression. It's not a question of whether or not human
races exist (in the biological sense); it's a question of whether we,
as a society, as a culture, are capable of using such self-knowledge
in a morally responsible way.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf