Re: Identifying Race

Jesse S. Cook III (jcook@AWOD.COM)
Wed, 21 Aug 1996 10:07:11 -0400

On 20 August 1996, Gary D. Goodman replied:

>Last night Ralph L Holloway <rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU> wrote:
>RL>On Mon, 19 Aug 1996, Gary Goodman wrote:
>>> A "human race" supposedly refers to a specific designation of a human
>>> population or isolate within the species Homo sapiens sapiens, that is
>>> distinguished by apparent phenotypic differences that are ecologically,
>>> geographically, ethnically, religiously, or socially distinctive, and in
>>> turn genetically correlated. Whereas in all other species, these
>>> distinctions are chromosomically and physiologically distinguished into
>>> clearly separated groupings of the members of the species, this is in
>>> truth not so with the human species currently, and rarely, or to a very
>>> limited extent in the past 30 - 100 thousand years since Homo sapiens
>>> sapiens evolved as a distinct (sub) species.
>RL>You've certainly confused me with this statement. Homo sapiens sapiens is
>RL>a subspecies of what species and what arethe other subspecies? Are you
>RL>thinking of neanderthalensis? But since when did phenotypic traits include
>RL>religious, social, ethnic distinctions?
>I specified what species -- Homo sapiens. Or so I thought -- didn't I? I
>should point out this was pulled rapidly together from several different
>chapters of an incomplete text, so maybe that got lost.

Gary: Are you so ignorant of the debate in human evolution that you don't
get what Ralph was getting at? One refers to our species as *Homo sapiens*
unless one believes that we are actually a subspecies of that species, in
which case we are referred to as *Homo sapiens sapiens*. One would believe
we are a subspecies only if one also believed that the neandertals also were
a subspecies, in which case they would be referred to as *Homo sapiens

>"...since when did phenotypic traits include religious, social, ethnic
>distinctions"? Good question. Same question I've asked those who claim
>this -- remember the "supposedly"?

Who are "those who claim this" that you have asked?

>To racialists these are somehow genetic! Of course they are not.

That's not a good enough answer.

>But try to explain that to WhiteAryanResistence members, David Duke
>followers, Aryan Church and Odin and Wotan (and Hitler) worshippers! The
>John Birchers and too many in the faux militia movement. Or, alas, too
>many of the rest of the people of this planet; who DO believe that these
>alleged "racial" aspects ARE "biological" somehow

I would even try to explain anything to the likes of these; have you?

>or means -- innate
>characteristics refected in skin color and hair type. (Right Arthur?)

Who's Arthur?

>Touchy touchy Ralph. Don't jump to conclusions on me.
>Who indeed *are* to judge?

Shouldn't that be *is*?

>Physical anthropologists only? Those declining numbers of physical
>anthropologists still clinging desperately to what is known as
>"scientific racism"?

Do any exist to your certain knowledge or are you just being rhetorical?

>Or the new Social Darwinians? The Hereditarians?
>The Eugenists? The demagogues and racist rabble-rousers and nationalists
>and nativists? The Census Bureau?

The Census Bureau?

>Whom indeed...
>And who the hell said human biology is in any way "trivial" Dr.
>Holloway, in the ANTHROL-L list? Damn silly thing to say for sure! Not I
>certainly, nor anyone here that I am aware of (though I have been
>skimming posts to try to catch up).

Maybe you should get completely caught up before jumping to the conculsion
that Ralph is being silly.

>Just that certain characteristics of
>the human variety of phenotypes have been given far too much weight in
>the pigeonholers' need for subdivisions of the subspecies we call us.

Oh! Are you one of those who think we are a subspecies? What is your basis
for thinking so?

>Perhaps also that culture has to some extent superceded strictly
>biological evolutionary parameters. That cultural selective pressures
>are possibly becoming paramount in evolution for humans. Any
>disagreement with that possibility Ralph?
>>> At best, since there is biologically but a single human race, we must
>>> drop down below a variety, into terms of little generally accepted
>>> meaning with regard to humans especially, to place the classifications
>>> generally termed "human races." This is an infraspecial taxonomic
>>> classification not quite officially recognized: the Sub-variety (or
>>> perhaps a "microspecies" or Jordanon): signifying populations with minor
>>> regularly recurring variations within an isolate that can be generally
>>> passed along, only within selected and separate interbreeding groups of
>>> that isolate due to physical (or in the case of humans -- cultural) barrier
>RL>Another way of looking at this is to get rid of the notion that we are one
>RL>"race". We are one "species", and we pattern into exactly the sorts of
>RL>smaller units you discuss above. The point I am suggesting is that there
>RL>are hundreds if not thousands of them, so why bother cataloguing them?
>RL>Especially since their frequencies fluctuate with each generation.
>EXACTLY my point Ralph -- why are we arguing on this? Or are we?

You've got to be kidding: EXACTLY your point? As he pointed out, we should
not say that "there is biologically but a single human race" as you did.

And, any resemblance between your gobbledegook and what Ralph said is purely
coincidental. What "is an infraspecial taxonomic classification" anyway?
And what does it mean to be "not quite officially recognized"?

>I think that "race" needs to be taken away as far as possible from its
>"biological" aspects. Or perhaps more accurately "pseudo-biological"
>aspects. But this will be a slow process; because of the common usage,
>cultural reinforcement, dated texts, and the enshrinement into sociocultural
>mindsets the re-definition will be resisted, as it has been here.

What "has been resisted here"? And what or who does "here" refer to?

How do you propose to take "race" "away as far as possible from its
'bilogical' aspects"? How do you propose to redefine it?

>Not to mention mandated governmental policies to be overcome

What "mandated governmental policies" did you have in mind?

>without tossing
>the babies out with the bathwater (though "Welfare Reform" seems to have
>done just that!).

Ah, now we are into political punditry.

>Here is a task that Anthropologists (including us budding ones) need to

You mean you are not an anthropologist yet?

>But if people realized [cut] That natural
>selection is NOT the glacially slow process short-sighted evolutionists
>in the early part of the century managed to get firmly fixed into our
>textbooks. And as a result too many of us who really should know

For a "budding" anthropologist, you are pretty cocky. You really should
know better. That debate has been raging among those who *do* know better
ever since Eldrege and Gould published their paper on "Punctuated
Equalibria" in 1972. And the debate has by no means been settled.

>I suspect we agree on most of this Ralph, but I really want to hear your
>thoughts and the others here. Even you Jesse (if you get them
>cockleburrs from under yer saddle).

I'm afraid the "cockleburrs" are still there, or hadn't you noticed?


Jesse S. Cook III E-Mail:
Post Office Box 40984 or
Charleston, SC 29485 USA

"Our attitude toward others is not determined by who *they* are;
it is determined by who *we* are."