Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I was right! An Expert Has Written a Book...

I am thrilled to write this post. Today on The Current, a CBC morning program, Dr. Nina Jablonski discussed with Anna Maria Tremonte the concept of race as a political concept and also how and why skin colour evolves.

The way people carelessly bandy about the term race, even applying that term to religious groups (ie the Jewish race) and cultures (as they do in the UK when they refer to themselves as the English race), is distasteful at best and absolutely disgusting in the full.

I am glad to know the scandalous, misuse and sometimes criminal use of a fase concept has received high level study. I hope soon the use of the term 'race' in all its terrible permutations and for all the political reasons, will cease and the term itself will finally die out.

A link to the full interveiw follows. If that link becomes inactive, go to The Current or to the CBC website and search the program archives. CBC also provides written transcripts of its programs. Directions for acquiring transcripts can be obtained by e-mailing or calling CBC directly.

The following is a short excerpt from the interview:

(NJ) "The possession of any particular skin colour is an interesting story of adaptation but it tells us nothing of uniqueness of group membership."

(AMT) "It tells us nothing about race."

(NJ) "That's right. Exactly."

(AMT) "Does your work essentially argue that race doesn't exist?"

(NJ) "Clearly, that is the inescapeable conclusion. Mine is not the first study in which race turns out to be a biological falacy... use of racial labels in any kind of biologically usefull context is a complete nonsense and we already know from a social point of view that race has been very much maintained in our societies as a social construct. And we know, through many lines of evidence, how incredibly destructive that has been."

Dr. Jablonski goes on to point out that humans are one species wearing multiple colours, a point I also made in my post of Wednesday, December 7th. In that post, entitled Falacy of Race, I discussed this very subject.

Race as we use the term in the 'civilised world,' is a means of division, derision and stereotyping. But the values we attach to 'race' are invalid and untrue. Were people to divide and deride on the basis of eye or liver colour, most people would find such division/derision ridiculous. However do they then manage it when that division/derision is based on skin - also an organ of the body?

Here's the link to the interview. I encourage everyone to sit down and have a very good listen.

Here are some additional links:
Wikipedia: Human Skin Colour
Skin: a Natural History (Book) by Nina Jablonski
Profile of Nina jablonski