Re: Racism <comment>

David T. Hughes (dthughes@CS.TWSU.EDU)
Sun, 31 Mar 1996 13:03:55 -0600

On Sat, 30 Mar 1996, Read, Dwight ANTHRO wrote:

> would be of the form: Group G has (purportedly) attribute A; X is a member
> of group G, therefore X has attribute A. Examples of this kind of argument

I've been working with NAGPRA and tribal religious issues for the past
couple of years, and agree with the basic tenet of your definition of
racism, Dwight, but also think that it needs to be expanded to
institutionalized racism. An example of what I'm referring to that we
find codified under contemporary law has strong links to the
sociobiological theories of the last decade tied to the racial theories
of the last century.

For example, many policies behind law are based on the idea that American
Indians hold 'spiritual things' more highly than do non-Indians [this
regardless of tribe, membership, participation in a group etc.]. This
is being espoused by many Native American activists. The law in its
efforts to recognize and deal with this then establishes criteria of
"indianness" based largely on blood quanta which is a derivation of the
quatroon, octaroon, etc. system used for classifying degrees of blackness
among descendants of slaves. The result is there are some culturally
traditioanl native communities that fail the blood quantum test and so
are removed from their traditional and spiritual sacred areas, while
others who pass the blood quantum test but have discovered or reinvented
their cultures later in life are secure in those same areas, causing
conflict (at times serious) between two minority groups.

The final result of that conflict is that the two groups devote
sufficient time and energy combatting each other in the courts and on the
grounds that they lack the energy or ability to cooperate for common
resolution and improvement.


David T. Hughes