Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

Ron Kephart (
21 Oct 1996 12:20:01 GMT (Toby Cockcroft) wrote:

> What are the race deniers denying is your question and the answer is the
> whole notion of 'race'.

Let me come in here with one important qualification to the above.
We, as anthropologists, are denying that it is possible to
organize the present world-wide population of Homo sapiens sapiens
into discrete "racial" categories in any scientific and biologically
meaningful way. For us a much more interesting and biologically
meaningful question is "In what ways does this world-wide population
vary, and what are the adaptive advantages for that variation, if

We do NOT deny that nonscientific notions of "race" exist. Nor do we
deny that these folk classifications, along with their accompanying
ideology, have had sometimes horrendous consequences for those so
classified. For these folk "racial" classifications, the relevant
questions are: "Why and how did folk classifications of "race" develop?;
How does this development reflect different social, political, and
economic patterns (compare, for example Brasil and the US)? How has
this affected the history of the human beings involved?"

We know that Europeans, in their intensive contacts with the Rest
of the world beginning around 1500, raised racism and ethnocentrism
to the level of national policy (10,000,000 West Africans ripped from
their homelands and forced into the service of European capitalism on
plantations in the "New" World, for starters). The justification: the
Africans were not Europeans, so it was OK.

And so on. Of course other people will think of other questions,
but these are the ones that come to my mind right now. To close, the
important thing to keep in mind is that there is no biologically
definable "white race", or, "black race", or any other. But there
certainly are people who classify themselves and others in these ways,
with important effects for all involved.

Ron Kephart
University of North Florida