Race is a social construct… or perhaps this notion is the construct

You hear every now and then politically correct people, cultural Marxists or other confused people say there is no race. It is merely a social construct. Some guy with a lot of random isolated letters associated with his name, Victor M. Fernandez RN, BSN, writes on Culturaldiversity.org as follows:

“The concept of race is a social and cultural construction. . . . Race simply cannot be tested or proven scientifically,” according to the policy statement issued by the American Anthropological Association. “It is clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. The concept of `race’ has no validity . . . in the human species.” Race is a socially defined concept that is used to categorize people according to their physical characteristics, and as such, a biologically meaningless category. It would be obvious by now that most people misuse the term “race,” since the ‘pure races’ or genetically homogeneous human populations alluded to, do not exist, nor is there any valid evidence that they have ever existed. Unfortunately, these antiquated racial concepts persist as social conventions that serve to foster institutional discrimination. Race has a social and political significance because of racism, such ideas as biological superiority or deficits among races, the assumption that intelligence, learning ability, physical endurance and such are somehow linked with genetic characteristics that differ systematically between “races,” have often been used to support this racism.

I agree with this statement to the degree that race is tied to culture. To some extent race is simply a decision made by people that a person belong to race A and not B. Race is not purely a biological phenomenon, but it is to a significant amount a biological, as well as cultural, spiritual and intellectual one. Yet not even the difference between cultures cannot be clearly quantified, and different cultures still exist. Even if I play Japanese video games and watch American movies I’m still Finnish. When you compare Japanese and Korean cultures to each other, they are quite different but if you add Germany to the mix Japan and Korea begin to seem more similar. I don’t know what American Anthropological Association say about culture, but I think the same vagueness which affects the concept of race, applies also to culture. Yet both exist.

Culture, and race, cannot be “tested or proven scientifically”, but that only speaks to the lack of sophistication of their science. I would rather argue that culture and race are more aesthetic concepts than scientific ones. You certainly cannot understand culture without trying to understand it from an artistic standpoint. Be it the art, cuisine, music, clothing or architecture of a culture. You cannot reduce it to mere numbers. Race is somewhat more scientific, but not entirely. There is a clear distinction between a Ugandan and a Korean. Anyone with eyes to see can witness this, regardless of what molecular biologists say. Even Chinese and Japanese usually look different to the eye, but when you get down to the nitty gritty details, I can understand that making scientific statements on race becomes difficult.

Later is his article Victor M. Fernandez RN, BSN  says ethnicity is more useful a term than race. Diffen.com comments on the difference between the two: “The traditional definition of race and ethnicity is related to biological and sociological factors respectively. Race refers to a person’s physical appearance, such as skin color, eye color, hair color, bone/jaw structure etc. Ethnicity, on the other hand, relates to cultural factors such as nationality, culture, ancestry, language and beliefs.” If that is the definition of ethnicity I must say I greatly disagree with Mr. M RN, BSN.

His article starts with an account of a nurse describing a patient: “56 year old black male”. Then she asks the question “what is race?”. I think she sees quite clearly that the patient is black, or negroid. She doesn’t see his ethnicity. You don’t see his culture, language or beliefs, unless maybe he’s wearing a shirt with the Norwegian flag and the text “Allah tappaa epäuskoiset” (Allah kills infidels, in Finnish) tattooed on his forehead. Then you can possibly make the distinction that he is a Norwegian Finnish speaking Jihadist. But maybe  Victor M. Fernandez RN, BSN would disagree with this definition of ethnicity since it’s from another website, and not his article.

He says: “While race refers to the categorization of people, ethnicity has to do with group identification and reflects the person’s culture.” Later on he says: “Keep in mind the concepts of race and ethnicity is strictly a cultural construct, and there is simply no physical evidence that ethnic groups are much different from one another.” So both race and ethnicity are cultural constructs? So why is it better to use ethnicity than race again? Who the fuck cares. My point is that one’s race is intricately tied to one’s culture. You cannot look at one’s language and culture without taking race into account. It’s like analyzing ice hockey and the relationship between the movement of the hands of the players and the speed of the puck, but ignoring there is a stick between the hand and the puck. It’s nonsensical.

And finally I got my transition to sports and race. Let’s look at couple of basketball teams from the NBA.

Miami Heat

Seattle SuperSonics

 

Then let’s take a look at two ice hockey teams from NHL.

Chicago Blackhawks

LA Kings

 

Notice anything? I’ll give you a hint: race. Most basketball players are black, while most ice hockey players are white. I’m using American teams as an example since it’s a multiracial country, whereas in Finland most teams are still white whatever sport we’re talking about.

Let’s take a look at ping pong, or table tennis.

This is Ariel Hsing. An American ping pong player who participated in the London Olympics. Hsing sounds Chinese to me.

Let’s look at the scores at the 2012 Olympics. All of the gold medals went to China. Other medal winning countries were Japan, South Korea, Germany and Singapore. Notice slight racial domination?

I know this is nowhere near “scientific proof”, but more like common sense proof. Notice how black people dominate basketball, whites dominate ice hockey, and Asians dominate ping pong? You could argue that this is merely due to a cultural construct. People born to certain ethnic groups are pressured to acquire interest in one sport instead of another. That is certainly true when it comes to Finland. Ice hockey is much more popular than basketball or table tennis, but people still play all three games. So there is definitely a cultural aspect to interest, and probably proficiency in sports. However, somehow I don’t see those small Asian ping pong players doing very well in basketball, nor the big black guys hunching their backs in front of a ping pong table. That would be the biological aspect of race.

Me pointing out the obvious naturally makes me a horrible racist and I hate everybody. As Victor M. Fernandez RN, BSN stated:  “Race has a social and political significance because of racism”. Yet I don’t know. How does it make me racist to say that Asians excel at ping pong, while Africans excel at basketball and Europeans excel at ice hockey? I’m not saying white people are horrible, because they’re not good at ping pong. To the ping pong internment camps for the weakness of their race! Pointing out natural facts; things that exist in nature regardless of what you and me think about, is not an act of bigotry. Some people prefer ice hockey over basketball, but one should not assume, as the media usually tends to, that this means they want to eradicate basketball or ping pong fans. No sane person thinks like this. The fact is there are various races and they are different from each other. If you want to make a value judgment that one is better than another, you’re free to do so, but it still is not racism. But the fact that races exist and one’s individual value judgment are two separate issues.

 

 

Links: http://www.culturediversity.org/what%20is%20race.htm

Ethnicity vs. Race: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Ethnicity_vs_Race

Ping pong 2012 Olympics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_tennis_at_the_2012_Summer_Olympics

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