Search This Blog

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

On "Racial Reconciliation Services"

Rev Sam Murrell of Little Rock, AR: Why I No Longer Participate in Racial Reconciliation Services

Rev Murrell makes a very important point, a very Christian point; it is well worth one's time to read the piece.

However, he's just wrong when he says that 'races' -- in the sense that that word has been commonly used since the 18th or 19th century to refer to the broad geographical/continental origins of human lineages -- don't exist. If this common claim were true, then he couldn't use the terms 'blacks' and 'American blacks', as he does, and expect to be understood.

Despite that this is the way it is most frequently used anymore, the English word 'race' does not refer primarily to the broad geographical/continental origins of human lineages; often referred to as "skin color", despite that skin tone is but one of the characteristics in the set which distinguishes this 'race' from that 'race'. Rather, 'race' refers to the many and various ways that one may use sets of common characteristics to group entities into groups distinguishable from other similar groups so distinguished. You will notice that I said 'entities' and not 'organisms'; this is because the word 'race', strictly speaking, is not about biology.

Thus, once upon a time (i.e. before race-mongering was "a thing"), people might at times speak of "the race of fish-mongers". The term, "the race of fish-mongers", refers to all those persons (generally girls and women in times past) who sold seafood (generally caught by their own husbands, brothers and sons) to other persons. For the most part, the persons who comprise "the race of fish-mongers" are biologically related to one another only in the broad sense that they are all members of the larger and all-encompassing race of the "human race".

Similarly, when Darwin named his unreadable tome, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life", while he certainly had biological organisms in mind, he was not speaking of the "skin color" of human beings. That was a different of Darwin's books, "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex", which, incidentally, gave the "scientific" imprimatur to what we now denote as ‘racism’.


K T Cat said...

Jordan Peterson makes a good point - why group people by race? There are much more important characteristics by which you could classify us. Intelligence, beauty, strength, health, even height. When did we decide that race was such a big deal?

Ilíon said...

Most of the time, "skin-color" race is utterly unimportant. But, sometimes, it's very important.

K T Cat said...

I've come to the conclusion that we group people by race because it's simple. In order for a concept to get mass adoption, it needs to be simple, whether it's true or not.

Ilíon said...

Of course it's easy ... and it's easy because there really are different-and-distinct biological races within the whole of the human race.

It's hard, if not impossible, to tell a Welshman from an Englishman. It's only slightly less hard to tell a Frenchman from an Englishman. It's not quite so hard to tell an Italian (i.e. "Mediterraneans", albeit with a Germanic or "North European" admixture) or a Greek (also "Mediterranean" and with less "North European" admixture than the Italians) from an Englishman. It's a piece of cake to tell a Chinaman from an Englishman.