Friday, May 18, 2007

Race & Skin Color - Guest Blog

Francis L. Holland wrote such a substantial and thought-provoking comment in my entry concerning Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, that I thought it was fitting to make a separate blog entry for it. In essence, Holland, becomes plezWorld's first guest blogger!

The Washington Post says,
The contest for black support in South Carolina mirrors the national struggle Democratic candidates are waging to win black elected officials' support. Many have long-standing ties to the Clintons or Edwardses or others but are nonetheless tugged by racial solidarity with Obama and the excitement they see his campaign generating among their constituents. Moreover, Obama's early fundraising prowess has convinced observers that his campaign will be formidable to the end.
Here's my biggest gripe with that paragraph and with the whole article from which it's excerpted: the word "racial." The word race is a synonym for "species" and the Washington Post is saying that we will vote for Obama because he is the same species as us, just like dogs hang out in packs with other dogs because they are from the same species.

I'm not buying that. I'm not going to let anyone say that I am from any species other than the human species. Let's face it: There's no way we will ever win equality in America for so long as we concede that we are not even from the same species as whites. I don't think "separate but equal species" is our best argument for equality.

Let's face it: What we have in common with Barack Obama but that separates us from whites is not our "racial" species, but simply our skin color. Is that so hard to say and accept?

Of course whites like to exaggerate our difference so they can rationalize the exaggerated differences in the way we are treated. That's why the word "race," that appears no where else in the biological sciences, is applied to the difference in SKIN COLOR between Blacks and whites.

Now, someone will insist that the word "race" is essential to our efforts to gain equality and fight racism. That's like saying that the "N" word is essential to our efforts to fight against epithets! The word "race" is itself a badge and mark of inferiority and the word "racism" unless you accept that concept of "race."

I am never going to use the word "race" again without referring to it as "the disproved pseudo-scientific theory of race." Any argument about Marxism [implicitly] accepts the fact that there was a man named "Marx," which is true. Any argument about "capitalism" is based on the premise that capital exists, which is true. But any argument about racism is based on the premise that "race" exists, which is false. NO ONE anywhere can offer me even a half-baked argument that there is more than one species of human beings!

Just as black cats and spotted cats from the same family are all from one species - "cats," likewise, Black people and white people who all came from Africa originally, who interbreed, who have [blood transfusions], who[se] organs can be transplanted one to the other, we are all from the same species. If the word race is superfluous in discussing differences between animal species, it is also superfluous in discussing differences between humans.

The word "race" serves only one purpose: to gloss over the fact that there is no evidence that we and whites are from different species and to gloss over the fact that we and whites MUST, by all evidence, be of the SAME species, that our only difference is skin-color.

So, what term will we use instead of "race"? How about simply "skin-color"? And what term will we use instead of "racism"? How about "skin-color aroused antagonistic behaviors of individuals, groups, organizations and societies." Yeah, it's a little longer than "racism" but has the advantage that it doesn't concede that we are, like dogs, being from a different species from whites.

If someone asks me, Are you equal to whites?" it does require more letters to write "yes," than it requires to write the word "no," but I think it's worth the extra effort. Likewise, I think it worth taking the extra time to write skin-color instead of "race" because skin color preserves our humanness and equality white "race" negates it.

plez sez: this is a very interesting topic for discussion, since we have lived with "race" our entire lives. we've been defined by it, lauded for it, denigrated for it. i see the point of his argument that it is a ridiculous way of labeling people because the races aren't much different until you add artificial (man made) connotations to it.

it also brings to mind that slavery would have never been justified if there had not been a way to create a different species of man. Native Americans were here long before Africans were brought to these shores, first as indentured servants, and then as life-long servants (slaves). laws creating the Black race and the mis-use of the Bible lended a hand in creating a sub-species of humans that made us ripe for servitude of over 400 years. and the lasting effects of race can be felt to this day!

thanks to Francis L. Holland for his contribution to plezWorld.

17 comments:

DJ Black Adam said...

I feel you Plez, I always state that race is a scientific fiction yet a social reality we have to contend with, I try to use the term ethnicity instead.

tom said...

no doubt that 'race' is a fictional construct used historically to justify oppression of all sorts, but it is not limited exclusively to skin color - the Japanese used the concept of race against Koreans, Israelis against the Arabs, Arabs and Nazis against the Jews, and so on, so I think it is important to recognize that this goes beyond African-Americans and is a global problem of humanity in general.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Hi, Plez! Thank you so much for posting my comment as your first guest blog entry at your blog! I think this is a very important issue and I'm very glad to see that you do also.

In America, our opinions and views are so often ignored, neglected, maligned and denied that we could easily come to think we're crazy - that our ideas were the thoughts of crazy people - were it not for constant connection with other thinking brothers like yourself.

Maybe that's why Blacks are diagnosed as schizophrenic at at a rate two to four times that of whites. They're driving us crazy!

Words like "race" and "racism" insult us daily, but they become such a part of the fabric of America that we even end up using them ourselves and willingly but unwittingly participating in our own ridicule.

The inherently prejudiced and prejudicial words "race" and "racism" and "racist" are used everywhere, constantly in our culture. Yet, when we tell whites (and Blacks) that "racism" is "everywhere," they literally insist that we are insane. Well, racism is at least as onmipresent as the "racist" words "race," "racism" and "racist."

Like I said, the only way I can accuse someone of being a "racist" is if I concede that they are against me because of my "race," which is a concession that, like a dog, I am from a different "race" than white people. So, "racists" actually benefit from the word "racist," because every time we use it we unwittingly reinforce the absurd contention that we are from a different species from white people.

Likewise, if I say, "You hate me because I am a Marxist," then I am conceding two things at once: (1) That "Marxism" exists (it does) and (2) that I am a Marxist. Otherwise, how could I assert that you hate me BECAUSE I am a Marxist?

So, every time we say that someone hates or abuses us because of our "race," we implicitly but completely concede (1) that race exists (even though it is a concept created uniquely to stigmatize Black people and other different people, and that is used in this way for no other purpose in the English language and has no other purpose in discussions of biology), and we also (2) we concede that we are that dreaded "other species" that slaveholders insisted that we were. How can we ever win this argument after making such damning concessions and admissions?" We never can!

For years, whites have been begging us to give up the word "racist" because it is subjective and unscientific. Even among Blacks there is no agreement about who is a "racist" and who is not. Although I never like to concede anything to whites unless there is a darned good reason, I think they are right about this, but for an even more important reason.

We can never win the argument about "racism" because "race" itself doesn't exist. Like "racism," there will NEVER, EVER be an objective way to prove the existence of the tooth fairy, nor can we prove that there is discrimination against the tooth fairy because of her status as a tooth fairy. Once you start talking about tooth fairies, you go so far outside of the realm of what is objective and observable that there is no change whatever that scientific agreement can be achieved - EVER!

So, regretfully, our whole approach to this for the last fifty years - deconstructing our situation based on the imaginary white supremacist concept of "race" - has been an intellectual castle build in the sand, at the beach, and we have been shoveling sh**t against the tide. And we will continue to do so interminably for so long as we insist on using these terms.

It's time for us and white people - all of us - to abandon ALL concepts based upon the fantasy of "race" and use only scientifically descriptive language that refers to biological and physical phenomenon that actually can be proved to exist, like skin color, which can be confirmed and measured cromographically.

For example, instead of the word "race," we can say skin-color, which is all that they police can see when they stop our cars on the highway. They are not profiling us because of our "ethnicity" because they cannot see our "ethnicity". They don't know whether we are African-American or Afro-Cuban and they really don't care. From a distance, they can only see our skin-color, and that, really is ALL THAT THIS IS ABOUT!

I understand the desire to use the word "ethnicity" instead of "race," because sometimes "ethnicity" provides additional cues that tell whites that we are of the Black skin group. For example, even speaking over the telephone we can reveal what color we are.

But, why is it that skin-color-associated ethnicity is the ONLY ethnicity that whites cannot eventually accept and embrace? It's because their rejection of us has nothing to do with ethnicity and EVERYTHING to do with our skin color.

Skin-color aroused discriminated and ethnicity, then are really two different but interrelated things and the concepts cannot really be used interchangeably, nor can we say that whites reject us simply because of our ethnicity. If this were so, then Blacks brought up in Ireland among the Irish, with white culture, would not suffer discrimination in the United States! Can anyone believe that?

As different as Irish are from Germans, Germans from the Polish and Polish from the Jews, white ALWAYS manage to mostly overcome these ethnic differences and accept one another for the most part. The fact that they do not accept us is not because they don't like our "ethnicity," which includes our irresistible music, our irresistible slang that they always adopt, etc. No, they could eventually accept and integrate everything about us EXCEPT our skin -color!

Of course, they want to exaggerate the differences, looking for an excuse and a rationalization for their extreme behavior, like castrating and enslaving us, but the only thing that keeps a Black youth from going unnoticed among white youths today is our skin color, since they have adopted our slang, our music and our dress.

Let's face it! America's problem with us is not our "race" (which is a pseudo-scientific fantasy) and not our "ethnicity." It is, quite simply, our skin-color. Let's call it that and refuse to call it anything else. Let's put them on the defensive and make them defend themselves every time they assert or imply that we are not equally human in the same way that they are. Concepts of "separate but equal humanity" can never be the basis of a struggle for equality. It's time to excise all concepts of "race" and "racism" and "racist" from our vocabulary and replace them with objective terms like "individual, group, organizational and societal skin-color aroused aroused emotions, thoughts and behaviors."

Again, it's a little bit more work to be this specific, but our fight for equality depends on commitment to reality as opposed to pseudo-science. Science and knowledge NEVER advance when we starts from broad and inexact and patently false generalizations and then steadfastly refuse to relinquish them, even in the face of new and disproving evidence.

If we want whites to learn to respect us, we have to talk with them and each other without every using the words "race" or "racism" or "racist" again, because these are concepts that are based on the white supremacist pseudo-science of our alleged inferiority.

Dave said...

Francis,
You are brilliant. I have thought the things that you say for most of my life, but I could never even come close to your ability of expression and elocution. Your logic is air-tight.

It is for me, as I know it is for others, a source of endless frustration that "race" is even acknowledged as a concept.

I know that pluralists will be up in arms over what I am about to say next, because to some, it's all about preservation of culture at all costs, but truly, imho, what we need to do is physically integrate to the point that we are visibly as much the same on the outside as we are already alike on the inside.

What will society do when there is no cover left on the book through which to judge?

Francis, I have seen you around the internet, and I have read some very astute observations you have made in the past, but this, you have me crossing over from reader to fan.

Bronzetrinity said...

Your facinating blog is featured on the Afrospear Online Newspaper at http://www.pageflakes.com/bronzetrinity. This is an online collection of rssfeeds concerning activism, politics, opinion, news, entertainment, beauty, and history for members of the African Diaspora. Please keep writing because we enjoy reading what you have to say! If you know of interesting sites or blogs that we should add to the newspaper then please let us know :)

plez... said...

Francis,

once again, i just have to thank you for blessing my blog with your presence. before today, i had never really given "race" much thought, but i feel new, like a child seeing his first snowfall... i am thrilled and amazed.

i am going to stop using the words "race" and "racist" and "racism" TODAY!

Villager said...

Plez & Francis - I had similiar experience on the 'Electronic Village'. Francis posted his race vs skin-color message as a COMMENT. I think it is a great idea to move it up in prominence as a guest blog. I will do the same thing.

I've enjoyed my visits thru the AfroSphere today. But, for now, I must vanish to spend some time out in the RW with my kids. Peace, Villager

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Plez, thanks again for posting this article, and I would like to take this opportunity to address the question, "If we don't use the antiquated, anachronistic and false terminology, then what will we use to refer to a reality that we all know exists and is pervasive in our society and in many others?"

"I use the term "Extreme Color Arousal," whose acronym is ("ECA"), which is pronounced "EE-cah" or "EH-cah," instead of the conceptually faulty and denigrating term "racism." "EE-cah" sounds bad, right? And it should, because this is a very destructive illness, particularly in its most extreme forms. "

Now that many of us are acknowledging that the term "race" is a pseudo-scientific white supremacists' fantasy word that stigmatizes Black people and other people of color every time is is used, we are also coming to accept that all words that are based upon and that presuppose the fallacious existence of "race" are equally damaging to our struggle for equality in America. This is so precisely because they teach us and white people, every day, that we from a separate "species" than white people. The US Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education that "separate but equal" is inherently unequal. Now, we are coming to realize that for so long as we concede that we are from a separate "race" we will continue to receive separate and unequal treatment in America.

And so the question immediately and anxiously arises, "If we don't call our difference "race" and we don't call antagonism against our difference "racism" then how WILL we refer linguistically to these fundamental facts of our existence? Won't we necessarily discard our analysis of the problem if we discard this fallacious word? Will we have to trade our hard-won deconstructive understanding of our position for denial and childishly simplistic solutions like "color-blindness"?

Absolutely not! We need a new vocabulary that accurately describes and helps us and others to deconstruct, what actually exists in the sciences of biology, sociology and politics, using the renaming process and our new understandings as a starting point for powerful social change.

Today, a reader e-mailed me, saying, "With human nature being what it is, I think a new terminology to replace the words "race," "racist," "racism," etc. would catch on faster if it were concise and catchy. Maybe we could ask for suggestions. Something along the lines of "colorist," "colorism." It's just a thought."

Below, I explain why "colorist" and "colorism," although well-intentioned suggestions, are terrible alternative terms scientifically, linguistically, politically and strategically, and I propose alternative solutions. We do not need a new synonym for an old and false concept. We need a new understanding that can lead to positive and even revolutionary change in America's thoughts and its social order. What we need, in my humble but insistent opinion, is not merely to change the fallacious words but also to change our entire way of thinking and analyzing the problem. We need not just a new word but a new solution.

The reader may be right that a simpler terminology would catch on faster, but I'm not sure that would be better, particularly if it - once again - leads to a misunderstanding of the nature of the problem, or if it relies on the simplistic solutions and denial implicit in proposals such as "color-blindness" (which, thankfully, the reader did not propose). So below, after sorting through this problem scientifically, linguistically, sociologically and politically, I propose some linguistic solutions that are both catchy as well as scientifically, sociologically and linguistically accurate.

The easiest part of this linguistic and analytical problem is naming the visual cue that elicits the negative response in what we used to call "racism." When Blacks are on the highway and are stopped by police at a rate two or three times that of whites, the police cannot see our "ethnicity" and have no access to sublime genetic analysis that would allow them to target a fallacious "race." From sixty or one hundred yards away, the police cannot even distinguish our African facial morphology very well, if at all. And many of us, like Barack Obama, don't even really have strictly African facial morphology.

So, what police perceive visually and what arouses the negative behavioral response in them is, quite simply and uniquely, our "skin color." In this case, there is no need to embellish or complicate a phenomenon which is really quite simple. When police perceive that a person's skin is darker than white skin, be the victims Latino or Black, there often occurs within police officers' brains a series of thoughts and feelings which are then manifested in behavior, like stopping us, searching us, beating us and/or arresting us.

Although white people would like to insist that they are responding to our "race" in such instances, partly because it allows them to imply that there are a series of important but imperceptible qualities that they are targeting beyond our skin color, the hard fact is that it is simply our skin-color that that arouses their attention. When aroused by perceiving the color of our skin, they then often also are aroused to dislike anything in us that is associated with our skin color, even if these cues would be acceptable in others who do not have our skin color. (For example, if the Irish, Jewish or Russians were Black, every aspect of their culture and their persons would come under sustained attack in America, regardless of their "ethnicity.") Therefore we should replace the insulting misnomer of "race" and simply use the more accurate and relevant term "skin-color" instead.

But, if we discard the word "race," then what term which will use for that which we historically but incorrectly referred to as "racism"? Obviously, once we agree that "race" does not exist as between human beings who are all of the same species, we cannot logically continue to use words which depend for their meaning of the fallacious existence of "race."

The alternative term "color-arousal" properly and appropriately focuses on what happens inside the color-aroused person's head at the moment when s/he perceives the color of another, in combination with an awareness of the person's own color, identity, beliefs, ideation, emotions and behavior. And in the head is precisely where the focus of our analysis should be: on what happens inside the head.

Consider this analogy: No "eating problem" like anorexia nervosa or bulimia can be resolved until we consider what goes on in the brain (thoughts, emotions) and mouth (behavior) of the ill person, because those physical areas within the body are the locus of the eating "problem." Over-eating and under-eating involve a decisional process that occurs in the brain and is manifested in the behavior of the mouth. So, to help a patient, doctors study the emotions, thoughts and behavior of the patient. While overeating also involves food, the locus of the problem is not the supermarket; the locus of the problem is in the persons mind, and so it is a "mental problem," not a "food problem."

If you call bulimia a "food problem" (analogous to a "color problem"), then your focus will eternally be on the outside stimuli (food) rather than on what occurs in the head of the person who chooses to binge and purge. When people binge and purge, the locus of the problem is not in the food itself, but in their minds. Ask yourselves this: Could we ever solve the problems of bulimia or anorexia nervosa if we defined the problem as a "food problem" and went looking for the causes and solutions in the supermarket?

We can only discover the causes of anorexia and bulimia by studying the ideation, emotion and behavior of those who refuse to eat or who binge and purge. Likewise, the problem of color-arousal is not in our "race" but in other people's perceptual arousal in response to perception of our skin-color, and then the emotions, ideation and behavior that follow within those subjects heads.

Some few psychiatrists are now studying "racism" (sic) and we should read what they say, as well as the new and revolutionary Position Statement of the American Psychiatric Association. studyingIn the problem of what we used to call "racism," the locus of the problem is actually "color-arousal." So, "color-arousal" is the preferred term because it focuses our attention precisely on what happens when the perception of skin-color arouses extreme emotions, ideation and behavior in sufferers of extreme color arousal disorder (ECA).

To begin to identify, diagnose and treat cases of Extreme Color-Arousal (ECA), "color arousal" or "ECA" is also the preferable term scientifically, because we need to begin to measure quantitatively the level of arousal, the particular circumstances in which it occurs and the ideation, emotion and behavior that follow.

It is impossible to identify or measure "racism" in any individual with any even minimal degree of scientific agreement. However, it is actually quite easy to measure "skin-color-arousal" and many studies are based on this successful measurement. Unfortunately, until recently the psychiatric profession and other professionals had almost completely ignored and discounted Extreme Color-Aroused Emotions, Ideation and Behavior Disorder (ECEIBD) as an area in which patients are in need of diagnosis and treatment.

It is important to note that not all thoughts and behaviors aroused by the perception of skin-color are antagonistic thoughts or are necessarily dysfunctional or negative. When we see someone with exactly our mother's skin color, we may feel good inside without knowing why. The problem occurs when subjects perceive the color of another and this arouses unrealistic thoughts, powerfully negative emotions and dysfunctionally antagonistic behaviors. I call this Extreme Color-aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior Disorder (ECEIBD). But this term can easily be shorted without losing anything to Extreme Color Arousal (ECA), which is pronounced EE-Cah.

Here's another reason why the term "colorist" is a poor substitute for Extreme Color Arousal (ECA): When you add the suffix "ist "to a noun in the English language, the meaning becomes “a person who does or specializes in a certain area,” for example a “biologist,” a “gynecologist,” a “therapist.” The BBC. Are people who experience extreme color-arousal the “specialists” in the disease that ails them or are they people in need of specialists? Isn’t extreme color-arousal characterized by the subject’s extreme denial and ignorance of what is going on within his head and why?

Do we really want to exalt the status of people who are extremely color-aroused, and create a new linguistic and conceptual fallacy, by calling them “specialists in color-arousal”? To the contrary, the specialists in color-arousal ought to be the “psychiatrists” who examine what goes on in the heads of people who experience extreme and dysfunctional color-arousal.

There are also important political and psychological reasons NOT to use the term colorist. The suffix “ist,” when added to a noun in the English language, becomes an adjective that modifies the description of the person being referred to, for the purpose of signifying that that person advocates or approves of the noun to which “ist” is applied. For example, “Marxist,” “Leninist,” “monopolist,” “capitalist” e “leftist” are examples of placing "ist" at the end of a word to signify that the person referred to propounds and advocates these theories.

A person who feels extreme color-aroused animus is clearly not someone who "advocates or approves of color" in the way that a "capitalist" approves of the aggregation of capital. The truth is exactly the opposite. People who have extreme color-aroused disorder often hate others’ skin-color (or their own) and feel intense phobia, fear and anxiety when they perceive skin-color and their feelings are aroused.

Linguistically, to simply add the suffix “ist” to the word "color" would denote precisely the opposite of what is intended, by implying that "colorists" are either experts in or advocates of color, when the exact opposite is true. This would have the effect of further confusing and retarding efforts to better understand, diagnose and treat extreme color-arousal. The same is true of the word "rac-ist."

"I use the term "Extreme Color Arousal," whose acronym is ("ECA"), which is pronounced "EE-cah" or "EH-cah," instead of the conceptually faulty and denigrating term "racism." "EE-cah" sounds bad, right? And it should, because this is a very destructive illness, particularly in its most extreme forms."

I refer to people who experience extreme color arousal and who engage in extreme behaviors as a result as “ECA sufferers,” “ECA patients,” and, when they commit crimes or civil offenses, “ECA perpetrators.” There you go! This is a simple two-syllable term that is also descriptive and accurate and that can serve as the basis of empirically-based studies, diagnosis and treatment.


The "ECA" acronym, when pronounced "EE-cah" or "EH-cah" also has the advantage of sounding very undesirable. Meanwhile, it would be politically and linguistically ruinous to use a word like "colorist," which sounds like it could easily refer to a desirable art-form, like "cubism."

The term "ECA” ("Extreme Color Arousal") directs us in the right direction linguistically, politically and scientifically for our efforts to define, diagnose, and treat the disease and it societal manifestations and sequelae.

Once you agree that conditions that affect and impair the emotions, ideation and behavior are “mental” illnesses, then you must logically accept and embrace the fact that Extreme Color-Arousal is, indeed, a "mental illness." Like other mental illnesses, ECA necessarily has some serious and pejorative effects in society, but those effects are manifestations and sequelae of the mental illness.

You cannot have a problem of alcohol fetal syndrome in society unless you also concede that you have a problem of alcoholism within individual patients. Likewise, you cannot have Extreme Color-Aroused Injustice in society unless you have Extreme Color-Arousal disorder (ECA) in individual members of society.

Everyone perceives color, at least having the ability to distinguish between Black and white. People who cannot distinguish between Black and white are not "color-blind," they are entirely "blind." So, color-blindness is no solution to the problem we face, even if it were surgically feasible and advisable. Surgically disabling our ability to perceive the difference between Black and white (making people blind) is unlikely to be a feasible or politically tenable solution to extreme color-arousal.

Once you acknowledge that ECA is a mental illness, you must begin to use the analogy of other mental illnesses to understand what societal approaches will advance and retard the treatment of the disease. One of the strongest deterrents to treatment both in patients and clinicians is “stigma.”

"From the moment scientists identified HIV and AIDS, social responses of fear, denial, stigma and discrimination have accompanied the epidemic. Discrimination has spread rapidly, fueling anxiety and prejudice against the groups most affected, as well as those living with HIV or AIDS. It goes without saying that HIV and AIDS are as much about social phenomena as they are about biological and medical concerns.

Across the world the global epidemic of HIV/AIDS has shown itself capable of triggering responses of compassion, solidarity and support, bringing out the best in people, their families and communities. But the disease is also associated with stigma, repression and discrimination, as individuals affected (or believed to be affected) by HIV have been rejected by their families, their loved ones and their communities. This rejection holds as true in the rich countries of the north as it does in the poorer countries of the south.

. . . By blaming certain individuals or groups, society can excuse itself from the responsibility of caring for and looking after such populations. This is seen not only in the manner in which 'outsider' groups are often blamed for bringing HIV into a country, but also in how such groups are denied access to the services and treatment they need. Avert.Org
"

If the first step to making progress with the AIDS illness was reducing the stigma and increasing accurate public information to encourage sufferers to seek diagnosis and medical treatment. Although complex and difficult, any realistic solution to the problem of Extreme Color Arousal in individuals and society will require the same mindset.

With ECA as with AIDS, we need more information, more destigmatization, more diagnosis, more treatment and, eventually, a cure. We need social support for those seeking to confront their illness, not reject or ridicule. But, when you refer to Extreme Color-Arousal using a misnomer such as “racism” or colorism,” you create precisely the sort of stigma that has dissuaded the American Psychiatric Association from wanting to acknowledge and treat this mental illness. Resolution Against Racism and
POSITION STATEMENT of the American Psychiatric Association: Racial [sic] Discrimination and Their
Adverse Impacts on Mental Health.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Good morning, everyone!

Some people in the Afrosphere, bless their well-meaning hearts, are asserting that the word "race" may be correct after all, because although Blacks may not be a separate but equal species of humans, it may be scientifically correct to assert that we are a "sub-species" of humans. (If I could remember where I saw this, I would provide a link.) I will NEVER, EVER, refer to us as a separate "race" or a "separate" "sub-species," because (1) it is not scientifically supported and (2) IT IS NOT IN OUR POLITICAL INTERESTS! In fact it is diametrically opposed to our political interests.

My mother, the late Dr. Rachel V. Holland, who died in 1997, was college professor who taught Sociology for 20 years. She focused on teaching about what was then called "racism," but is now coming to be called Extreme Color-Arousal.

Throughout her twenty years of teaching, my mother taught me and all of her students this fundamental principle of Black existence in America, paraphrasing:

"For hundreds of years, whites have perpetuated an argument that Blacks were from a separate and inferior race for the purpose of justifying our enslavement and segregation. Every argument about what "race" Blacks are from and what are the "inherent biological characteristics" of the "Black race" is a politically-motivated attempt by white people to demean Black people, and so you should NEVER engage in arguments about the genetic content of the Black race.

You cannot win this argument, because as soon as you concede that there is ANY scientific reason to engage in this pseudo-scientific "genetics" battle, you have already lost the political war."


There are more whites than there are Blacks in the United States, and many of them have endless energy to discuss and debate the genetic basis of Blacks' inferiority. The discussion itself maligns Blacks and so the white supremacists win for so long as the public believes there is any reason to have the discussion at all. Thankfully, many white now accept the fact that "There is only one race - the human race!" Let's not go backward politically, with Blacks looking to defend the word "race" just so that they can continue to call others "racist" instead of adopting the more scientifically descriptive term "Extreme Color Arousal."

Whites (and Blacks) will NEVER, EVER believe that a separate Black race in nonetheless equal.

So, although biologically we could argue over whether Blacks are perhaps a "sub-species" of humans, it ought to be apparent that that is not our best argument for equality! Language matters. When you concede that you are "sub" you linguistically concede that you are "lower-than" on a hierarchy, even if you could (and will have to) argue for thousands of years that this is not what was intended.

The answer is simple. We must insist that the reason that whites discriminate against us has nothing to do with "race" and everything to do with "skin-color." This linguistic struggle is as important as insisting that we are Blacks instead of Negroes and Colored. Words matter. Defining ourselves instead of being defined by others matters. The way that we choose to define our struggle with whites matters precisely because we assert the right and the power to define our struggle.

We can make a huge step forward in decolonizing our minds if we stop using the term "racism" and instead use the term Extreme Color-Aroused Antagonism. The word "extreme" in this term also makes it clear that we are not calling "everybody a racist," but are clear-headedly acknowledging gradations among those who are color-aroused.

The word "race" is not our definition, it is a white definition that we have passively accepted. To the degree that we have made it our own and let it define us, it is like the slave name that Asabagna rejected when he assumed the name Asabagna. The word "race" is politically analogous to the slave name that Cassius Clay rejected when he insisted on being called "Muhammad Ali." Muhammad Ali no longer wanted to be defined by the badges of inferiority sub-humanity created for Blacks during the time of slavery. When he insisted on being called Muhammad Ali, it was revolutionary in America, just as insisting on being called "Black people" rather than "the Black race" will be revolutionary awakening for Black people as well as white people.

Muhammad Ali did not become "the greatest" simply by winning in the boxing ring. He became the greatest by insisting on defining his own reality in relation to white American.

If Muhammad Ali had the courage in the 1960's to abandon a slave name and insist on defining himself and his relation to white people, surely we can find the courage to insist that we are discriminated against because of our "skin-color" and not because of our "race" and "racism." We can put the locus and focus of this problem back where it belongs - on white people's Extreme Color Arousal rather than on Black people's "inferior "racial" characteristics." In any case, like the name Cassius Clay vs. the name Muhammad Ali, it's our choice to make.

plez... said...

Brother Holland,
this is some fantastic information. are you a college professor like your mother?

Ray said...

New to your spot here, I must say this is quite thought provoking. It is just too damn late 4 me to give a more in depth analysis, but ill be back to check your spot out in the near future.

PEACE!!

plez... said...

ray,
thanks for dropping by, i look forward to your return.

David Sullivan said...

I was on vacation last week so I'm just reading this today.

I wholeheartedly agree that when it comes to the human species, using race to describe anything about humans beyond a way to show the genetic link to where we came from is ridiculous. The true way to distinguish human from human is how they treat other humans and the level of empathy that is employed daily.

I do take offense to your liberal use of the term "they" in describing "whites". At what hue of the spectrum does your skin color make you white or black? Is it somewhere around Puerto Rican? My Japanese buddy Hiroshi has whiter skin than me, is he white? My wife and I just got back from the beach and she is tan and much darker than my friend Marcus who is black.

The true way to equality is $$$$$ and politics. I grew up poor and Irish. My family came to this country after slavery was abolished. They had dislike for the "negroes" because they were both at the bottom of the economic spectrum. When you are fighting for a piece of the pie you exploit whatever you can to get some. (Skin color, amount of drinking etc..) Right next to the sign saying "Whites Only" where signs saying "Irish Need Not Apply". Irish were described as "sub-human" and cavemen. They were often depicted as apelike creatures in political cartoons of the day. Irish immersed themselves in government jobs and politics because that was the vehicle available. That is the vehicle still available today.

What irks me is "Black Culture" and "White Culture" as terms. I am a "wigger" if I like 50 Cent and a black kid that likes "Seinfeld" is trying to be white.

We are all Americans!!!!!!

I have a guy that works for me from Nigeria. He is going for his citizenship test next month. His skin color is at the far end of the dark spectrum. He tells me that he never encounters any racisim due to his skin color, that he is aware of. He gets questions from Americans (black and white)about rhinoes and tigers when he has only seen them in a zoo and that pisses him off because he takes that as people thinking he uneducated.

Sorry, that was longer than most of my posts!

plez... said...

david,
i hope you enjoyed your vacation. and by the length of your reply, it looks like you're buckin' for a guest blog post, huh?!? *smile*

thanks for coming through and sharing your perspective. there would be no learning, if we only had one view and one voice... i love the multicultural exchange around here (and i'm glad that you feel comfortable stating your objections openly).

you make some excellent points about how different groups (of all colors) have experienced discrimination here in America. Black people do not have a monopoly on discrimination, but i do feel that Blacks (specifically the descendents of slaves) have sufffered a lot more than most other groups because of the difficulty in assimilating into the mainstream culture of America (and i would be remiss if i didn't add that at least some of the blame rests at our own doorsteps).

David Sullivan said...

You are 100% on when it comes to being a black person trying to deal with the assimilation issue.

Blacks who were here before 1865 were 100% guaranteed not here in this country of their own free will. Where as my Irish ancestors came here to seek a better life decendants of slaves could not think of America as anything but their master. Where as my ancestors have a national identity, black slaves came from many different African nations, but were lumped together as one race.

My point has more to do with moving on than rehashing history. Using terms as "they" just reinforce sterotypes that breed intolerance.

I do get a kick out of the fact that people think its OK to openly state that all Irish are drunks that fight for the sake of fighting and knock up their wives as often as humanly possible and love the Pope more than God himself.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Plez, no, I'm not a college professor. I used to teach immigration law and Spanish. But I am working on a book on Extreme Color-aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior Disorder.

David Sullivan made some really good points above. It's great that government service was a way for the Irish to integrate into America, but Blacks weren't even allowed to vote at that time, much less hold political office.

David mentions his friend who "never encounters any racism due to his skin color" but is always being asked about the animals in his native Africa. David should read Dr. Carl C. Bell M.D.'s work about "micro-insults."
It's quite possible that every time people ask his very dark-skinned friend about the animals in Africa, this is a subtle way of trying to "get under his skin" and anger him without having to take responsibility for being verbally aggressive. The key to understanding this is looking also at how the African friend feels. In fact, every time they mention the animals in Africa, they are raising the issue of the friend's origins, showing that they perceive Africa only as a "jungle," and the whole discussion probably arises when the see the friend's skin color and they ask him where he's from, i.e., "What's your ethnicity and you nationality that makes you so dark?"

I once went to lobby a state legislator and he asked me three or four times, "YOU'RE A LAWYER????!!!." Now, he never actually mentioned my skin color, but what ELSE could he have been referring to, when I was dressed just like any legislator or lawyer? That was a micro-aggression but, like lynching and segregation, it's intended to always "put Blacks in their place."

Here's something I wrote to continue the conversation above:

Defending the Abolition of the Words "Race" and "Racism" in the Revolutionary Fight Against Color-Aroused Disorder

"Does scientific understanding ever advance without the advent of new concepts and new vocabulary?"

Everybody knows that I fight for Blacks (and women) linguistically, politically and culturally, both in the whitosphere and in the Afrosphere. So, if I fight against the word "race," then I must at least believe that I have a good reason, based on what will most advance our cause. I believe that science that has been our strongest tool in the political fight against our oppression, and we must continue to use science as a weapon against our oppression.

But, is "racism" a science based on observable facts or an ideology based on presuppositions? In empirical science, ideas that are false are eventually disproved when new evidence shows that old ideas are illogical and inconsistent with what humanity comes to know to be true. The idea that the world was flat, and that the Sun revolved around the Earth were incorrect scientifically and so they could not withstand the mounting evidence from actual observation of the galaxy, from astronomy and physics. Once the ancients committed themselves to scientific truth it was inevitable that we all agree eventually that the earth is round and it revolves around the Sun.

"Nicolaus Copernicus (February 19, 1473 – May 24, 1543) was the first European astronomer to formulate a modern heliocentric theory of the solar system. His epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), is often conceived as the starting point of modern astronomy, as well as a central and defining epiphany in all the history of science.

. . . .

While the heliocentric theory had been formulated by Greek, Indian and Muslim savants centuries before Copernicus, his reiteration that the sun — rather than the Earth — is at the center of the solar system is considered among the most important landmarks in the history of modern science." Wiki:Copernicus

Galileo was later placed under a sentence of life imprisonment by the Catholic Church for asserting that the Earth revolved around the Sun, but Galileo won ultimately because he had the advantage that his argument was based on the scientific truth of the matter, a truth that would outlast him personally and that would assert itself at every turn through the functioning of the galaxy.

So, there is tremendous inherent POWER in observing what actually IS and in making all of our arguments based on those observations. Aligning one's arguments with scientific facts means that one will inevitably be proven correct and one's adversaries will be proven wrong, even it it takes hundreds of years. But, arguments that are based on the superstition, (like arguments asserting the "inherent 'genetic' racial inferiority of Blacks"), are eventually disproved by the very weight of the mounting evidence against it and the lack of evidence for it.

The interchangeability of every part of our bodies including blood and organs proved that we are not from a different species. A Black man, Charles Drew, proved us "not separate but rather equal" by inventing the modern blood banks that mix blood regardless of "race." Science was on his side in the fight against white supremacy.

And then, the "inherent intellectual inferiority of Blacks" was disproved specifically by the amazing things that we Blacks are able to accomplish when the shackles are taken off. We proved that there is no biological inferiority of Blacks by our accomplishments, like becoming Editor of the Harvard Law Review. And now, our adversaries are reduced to arguing that "on average" Blacks are less intelligent than whites, but the march of science moves on like a bulldozer than leaves them plowed under wet earth.

Now, most white people acknowledge that "race" does not exist, and this represents a tremendous victory for our forbears, who insisted successfully that we are NOT genetically inferior. Virtually everyone, including bloggers in the Afrosphere like plezWorld, Electronic Village, TheFreeSlave agree that "race" is a fallacy. Even Field Negro, who disagrees with me about abandoning the word "race," acknowledges that he disagrees principally for sociological reasons, not for scientific reasons.

Field Negro said:

"Fascinating stuff indeed. But I have to disagree with Francis, if not in theory, then certainly in principal. Let's look at one description of race: "A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically physical characteristics. ~The Free Online Dictionary~ The key word for me in that description is distinguished. Because even though we may all be from one human family, we can still be easily distinguished by our characteristics, and physical features. Given what has transpired between black folks and those in the majority in this country, I do not think that we can just simplistically dismiss the dynamic of our distinguishing features and characteristics in this debate. To simply say; we are now just one tribe of humans and our differences in terms of how we look, might work when we all get to heaven, (if there is such a place) but it ain't gonna work down here." Field Negro
Field Negro is right that the fight over the "R" word is and always has been a political and sociological fight. Even now, the choice of whether to retain or abandon the "R" word must be made by Black people with reference to what is better for us politically and sociologically.

We must decide whether we will (1) capitalize on the march of science that proves we are equal and mostly alike biologically with white people in order to destroy the sociological remnants of the theory of "race?" Or, (2) whether we Blacks, instead, will ironically be the ones to insist on continuing to use a disproved word, effectively standing in the way of the advances in science that could occur if our arguments are based on what we now know scientifically rather than based on what white supremacists once argued "racistly"?

This is no mere matter of semantics. We cannot create a new future while steadfastly and stubbornly carrying the linguistic baggage of the past. ALL of the vocabulary of phrenology (study of the shape of the skull as an indication of mental abilities and character traits") had to be abandoned to make way for neurology, neurochemistry and neurophysics. It would not have been possible to advance into the future in the neurosciences while clinging illogically to the concepts and language of the past. And so, if you enter a modern medical facility, you will find the practitioners of "neurology," but you will NOT find practitioners of "phrenology." If you see the word "phrenology" at all, it will be found within a quaint in display case of discredited beliefs because, in science, often old structures MUST be torn down to make way for new and better ones.

When we acknowledge the lack of biological evidence for the concept that Blacks are inherently inferior to whites, we disprove the central sociological and biological concepts of "race" and "racism," by showing that, like the belief in the Sun revolving around the Earth, "race" and "racism" are based on ideology, not science.

And yet, although Blacks argue constantly against the biologic determinism of "race," by everything we do in our professional lives and in what we teach our children, we have nonetheless built up an ideology of counter-racism that binds us to the horrid past.

When whites realized that machines guns could shoot bullets much more quickly and efficiently than one-shot muskets, they abandoned muskets regardless of what muskets had done from them in the past. When the learned that bullets could be loaded faster than gun powder and steel balls, they said, "Out with the old and in with the new!" Whites are loyal to themselves and their interests, not to any particular antiquated old tool or artifact that they once used to pursue their interests.

Where once typewriters were essential to the dissemination of news, the Afrosphere now uses computers and the Internet to communicate internationally and instantaneously - even those of us who once believed that typewriters were essential.

But, here is where Blacks have gone terribly astray politically, in refusing to develop new arguments that take advantage of the success of the old ones. If "race" does not exist and never did, then "racism" itself must be an "illness," based on delusions ("they're going to take my wife, my daughter and my job and they are taking over America") and paranoia (the Government favors Blacks in everything these days) and manifested in obsessive compulsive behavior (segregation, anti-miscegenation, anti-literacy law, redlining, "racial" profiling). For a list of the obsessive compulsive segregation and white supremacy laws of ante-bellum America, see Colonial American Heritage: Which Black Exclusion Law Was Most Outrageous? The list goes on and on. Many white people are obsessive compulsive and they suffer from pervasive paranoia, not only in relation to Blacks but also in relation to other people of color.

"Psychiatry" is "a branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders." If color-aroused whites suffer from a "behavioral disorder," that is both "mental" and "emotional," then, by definition, they need psychiatric treatment. If we insist that people who are extremely color-aroused to kill and maim others do NOT suffer from a condition that is "mental" and "emotional" and "disordered," then we minimize the severity of their illness and we join them in their denial. And then the situation DOES become truly hopeless medically, until the reality of lynchings, castration and other acts of insanity forces us to consider color-aroused behavior more realistically.

But if they suffer merely from wrong ideas, then they only need "education." Which of these propositions is most true and which proposition most benefits the struggle of Black people at this time? Haven't we tried to "educate" white people, but found that we were struggling against a powerful unnameable force that resists all information and logic? The name of that force is "mental illness."

We've seen this before. The alcoholic insists that, even though he has lost his job, his wife, his children and his dignity, he does not have an alcohol problem. That is because denial is a symptom of the disease of alcoholism. When the alcoholic disease progresses and he goes into withdrawal, he sees green elephants and his skin peeling away from his flesh. That is because "delirium tremens" and "delusions" are part of the disease of advanced alcoholism. We have learned these things by closely observing alcoholics and scientifically noting our observations with precision. And these observations have become part of the medical science practiced in alcohol treatment programs.

But, we did not always believe that alcoholism was a medical illness, just as many still resist the obvious conclusion that "racism" is in fact a medical illness. Only in 1962 did the US Supreme Court decide that alcoholism was a medical issue in need of treatment rather than a moral issue in need of punishment. White people are not going to punish themselves for "racism" but they might be willing to treat each other medically for the mental illness of "Extreme Color Aroused Disorder."

Acknowledging that alcoholism is an illness and not a defect of character had a number of practical benefits. When we acknowledged that alcoholism is a "progressive disease" that gets worse over time, we realized that prevention programs and early intervention were necessary and government, industry, schools and the medical profession mobilized to offer early intervention programs.

Reducing the stigma against alcoholism, rather than causing it to increase, has cause alcoholics and their families to be more willing to come forward for treatment. It has also cause doctors and psychiatrists to be more willing to offer that treatment.

Because alcoholism is recognized as a medical and psychiatric disorder, insurance companies must pay for alcoholism treatment and corporations must have programs that identify and help alcoholics to access that treatment. Corporations have come to realize that helping impaired workers increases productivity, reduces work absences and therefore helps the corporate bottom line.

Some people have argued that my descriptions of Extreme Color-aroused Disorder are too scientific. But, does science ever advance without developing new terminology to described what is discovered? There is been very little if any biologically based popular vocabulary to describe the problem of "racism." Can our understanding possibly advance while our vocabulary remains stagnant?

All of the possible advances that could also take place in the science of "anti-racism" cannot occur unless we acknowledge that it must be a medical science, not merely an ideology. "Anti-racism" can become a profitable industry for whites, but only if it is medicalized. Before white society can embrace "anti-racism" the way it has embraced the fight against alcoholism and drug addiction, anti-racism has to become a science and sciences cannot advance based on fallacies. Fallacies hold back the march of science like "old baggage" holds back engagement in a romantic relationship.

When you look at the evolved science of treating alcoholism, you realize how far we have to go in the science of treating "racism." We have not even begun. Consider the language of the treatment of alcoholism:

Alcohol - A drug, formed by fermentation, that depresses the central nervous system.

Alcoholic - A person dependent on the continued use of alcohol.

Alcoholics Anonymous - A support group for alcoholics who are trying to abstain.
Alcoholism - Physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Binge drinking - Heavy, episodic use of alcohol.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) - The amount of alcohol in the blood.

Cirrhosis - Scarring and accumulation of fat in the liver; a result of chronic alcohol abuse.

Delirium Tremens (DT’s, tremors) - Symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol; Characterized by sweating, nausea, headache and hallucinations.

Detoxification - Process of withdrawing from the toxic effects of drugs.

Ethanol - The actual alcohol found in beverages such as beer, wine and liquor; produced when yeast changes sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Hangover - Unpleasant sensations experienced after excessive drinking of alcohol.

Inhibitions - Controls or restraints put on emotions and behavior.

Intoxication - The numbing effect alcohol has on the brain, causing loss of control over physical faculties, behavior and mental capacity.

Proof - Twice the percentage alcohol by volume contained in an alcoholic beverage.

Reverse Tolerance - A condition in which the body needs smaller doses of a drug to feel the drug’s effects. CHS.FUHSD.ORG

In truth, we - Blacks and whites and others - have not even begun the effort to develop a descriptive vocabulary to of what happens in extreme color-arousal the way we have with alcoholism. The word "alcoholism" put the focus where it should be: on the "alcohol." The word "racism" puts the focus precisely where it should NOT be: on the disproved biological concept of "racial" inferiority and on Blacks ideological struggle against that disproved ideology. Then, we try to make our ideological struggle itself conceptual the basis of the anti-racism campaigns instead of focusing the campaigns on the actual observable symptoms of the "racists."

White and Black medical doctors and other scientists will never accept this approach, and there is no reason why they should. It simply is not scientific. In fact it's anti-scientific. Like the insistence that the earth was the center of our solar system, it creates an incorrect geography based on which all subsequent maps relying on this ideology will be demonstrably false. I'm not talking now about our understanding of the "racial" politics of America. I'm referring to our understanding of why whites are "racist" in the first place. Although we have developed our "racial" ideologies and learned them well over the last fifty years, we have made virtually no scientific advancement at all in understanding WHY people are "racist" and what can be done about it.

Instead of using our newfound knowledge that racial determinism is false as the basis for new studies about what DOES cause people to have such inordinate reactions when they perceive someone's skin color, we have thrown up our hands, conceding defeat without ever engaging in the struggle to study, understand and treat medically and psychiatricaly the mechanisms of "racism" as we have the mechanisms of alcohism. Have you ever heard of an inpatient racism treatment program? Is racism any less damaging to individuals and society than alcoholism?

The focus on the study of "racism" has been entirely non-medical. The focus in always on how racism affects Black people rather than on how "racism," like any other psychiatric disorder, impairs and disables the sufferer himself. As long as "racism" is a generalized societal description of what the "racist" does to others rather than what racism does to the racist himself, "racism" cannot be the basis of medical research, diagnosis and treatment. The Hippocratic Oath of the medical profession is that "I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients . . ." The Hippocratic Oath

Because we insist on a nonscientific AND therefore ideological definition of "racism," which focuses on what the racist does to us rather than on what the disease does to the racist himself, so the medical profession and science in general cannot and will not join us in the fight to eradicate this historical scourge.

Yet, as though the concept of "race" were a person who fought for us in the past and whom we cannot disavow in the "present," we insist on retaining the word even when its most salient "racist" "biological determinism" underpinnings have been disproved in the eyes of most whites and most Blacks. In this, we need to be more like whites, who overthrew the musket for the machine gun because it was so much more powerful. We abandoned medical treatments based on exorcisms because we discovered that scientific treatments based on our understanding of bacteria are much more effective at actually helping patients overcome their illnesses and the symptoms of their illnesses.

Instead of continuing to insist that "racism" is primarily a sociological concept that disenfranchises and disadvantages Black people, we need to turn on our heels and demonstrate that "racism" is first a medical and psychiatric illness that impairs the thinking processes and functioning of anyone who has the disease and then impairs their contributions to society. Like alcoholism, the disease of "racism" is a disease of the mind that is secondarily manifested in every activity in which the alcoholic person engages, harming family, group, career and society. When "racist" get together and operate in society, what you have is "the lunatics running the asylum."

The other problem that Blacks thinkers have with medicalizing the concept of "racism" is that it comes with trade-offs. If we acknowledge that racism is "an extreme color-aroused disorder" that resides first in the individual's mind, it becomes clear that anyone who reacts extremely to color, regardless of their own color or the color of the person to whose color they react, can be extremely color-aroused.

Here again, we must distinguish between our sociological understanding of societal "racism" and our budding psychiatric understanding of color-arousal in individuals. The concept that whites have more power to oppress because there are more of them and they are more powerful is just as clear as the idea that a bulldozer can do more damage than a wooden-handled shovel. That addresses "racism" at the societal level. But, that only indirectly helps us to understand what goes on in the minds individual "racists." We all know that Blacks can be color-aroused, so let's stop "frontin'"! The insistence that only whites could be aroused by skin color would be no more accurate than the belief that their biases were predetermined by the shape of their noses (phrenology). Nor does the color of our skin or the shape of our noses make us immune to individual color-arousal.

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are no diseases that are defined as illnesses that only one "race" can have. If there were then, in light of America's color-aroused past, surely any such illness would have been defined, fallaciously and unscientifically, as mental illnesses that only Blacks could have. In 2007, would it really be in our political and medical interests to insist that there is a disease that only whites can have? Wouldn't the insistence that biological determinism makes them susceptible to "racism" inevitably turn the clock backward on our understanding that biologically we all function in the same way?

If it is not biological determinism that makes them "uniquely susceptible," then it would have to be their position in society, right? But, psychiatry is not "the study of sociological and anthropological explanations;" it is the study of what goes on within people's minds and why. Meanwhile, we have learned all that we can about sociological and anthropological explanation, so much so that we have all pretty much memorized their contents. Those understandings are essential, but the word "racism" is getting in the way of a better understanding of the phenomenon of "racism."

"The American Psychiatric Association is an organization of psychiatrists working together to ensure humane care and effective treatment for all persons with mental disorders, including mental retardation and substance-related disorders. It is the voice and conscience of modern psychiatry. Its vision is a society that has available, accessible quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment." APA Mission Statement
And so we find ourselves at a cross-roads where we must decide between the exigencies of scientific advancement through the medical definition, diagnosis and treatment of "racism" and, on the other hand, fealty to ideological notions in a way that denies and frustrates the advancement of science and, therefore, frustrates the treatment of the very disease that our ideology was intended to combat in the first place.

The choice is ours: Do we (1) conquer the oceans of Color-Aroused Disorder with scientific facts as the wind beneath our sails, knowing that the march of scientific inquiry will ultimately prove that, just as "race determinism" does not exist, so "racism" is actually a mental disorder that desperately and immediately requires the attention of the psychiatric profession, or do we instead (2) Insist that although "race" mostly does not exist, nonetheless "racism" is mostly a sociological problem, a matter of individual choice, not psychiatric illness and therefore mostly untreatable and unworthy of scientific attention, ours and theirs?

It should be obvious where each of these roads leads. Scientific inquiry leads to discoveries, knowledge, diagnosis and treatment. Anti-scientific ideologies lead to stagnation, inertia, endless and fruitless debates, deadlock, frustration and apathy.

If we want to advance in the fight against "racism," we have to understand it better as a matter of individual psychiatry. If we understand it better, we will inevitably need new words, concepts and vocabulary to express our new understanding. Although well-meaning and based on a profound and unquestionably sincere commitment to Blacks and Black people's political and sociological interests, indiscriminate resistance to new vocabulary is inherently anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, anti-revolutionary and effectively constitutes resistance to progress itself.

I apologize for any offense caused. If that summary sounds harsh or bellicose, then I apologize in advance. My goal is to target and discuss faulty and anachronistic ideas, all the while acknowledging and celebrating the good will, solidarity and commitment of those in Afrosphere with whom we discuss these ideas in the process of deciding what to do about them.

Mick said...

Where as I agree with your contention that "race" has no basis in biology, I also believe it might be going a bit far to say that "racism" lacks any power as a descriptive term.
The fact that "race" has no basis in reality will not stop people believing in it.
Belief in mythical acquired superior "racial" traits makes the believer comfortable, plenty of belief systems have been built around mythical or discredited constructs. Phrenologists in the nineteenth century believed that you really could ascertain psychological characteristics of individuals based on bumps on their head. Phrenologists existed even though phrenology was bunk. Interestingly this theory was doing the rounds in academia at the same time as a lot of equally discredited theories of "race" were equally popular. As such racists can exist, even though racism is bunk.
If one describes a racist as being somebody who simply believes in the discredited notion of race you can discredit racism and describe certain behaviors as racist without buying into racism yourself.
The second criticism is that if we throw away racism then we need to redefine a lot of behaviors that have been lumped in together with racism. Religious, ethnic and caste based discrimination fall into these categories.
If we throw away racism as a descriptive term does that mean that you throw away accusations of racism in so called "racial profiling" where police may profile people because of religious costume?
In conclusion I enjoyed your piece, and I strongly agree with you that there is no rational or scientific basis for "race", but I disagree with the notion of throwing away the term "racism" entirely. I think that racism is a discredited concept, but that does not mean it does not exist as an ideology, an attitude or a political force.