What’s My Race?

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.26.41 AMThe above chart represents my DNA makeup, according to the DNA test I had done. Understand that all of my life, I was told I was Black (and other representations thereof) despite having promoted myself from Black to Human in my 30s. As a child, I was sometimes told I wasn’t “black enough” because I “sounded white.” I always corrected those people by pointing out that I sounded far more educated than the average white kid.

That sometimes led to fights.

Nonetheless, some decades past, I find that origins, as I intuited all those years ago, are a fiction. Am I still Black, despite only 58% of my DNA coming from “black” people? Am I African American? If so, should I ignore the fact that 34% of my genetic code is from  Great Britain and France, almost the precise percentage as is from my “roots” in Cameroon, Congo, Togo, and Benin? Am I biracial, and if so, should I ignore the trace DNA from Asia and America?

Should I chuck it all and pick and choose the bits I like (since that’s what we’ve done in America for hundreds of years)? I can be Spanish/British like my wife or maybe I’ll channel my extensive knowledge of African history and just ignore all the untidy, non-West African bits. That would be easier, since there have been no “white” ancestors in my line for at least 150 years before my birth.

Let that sink in. I’ll wait.

Are you there yet? How about now? Yes, you’ve got it; race has been a fiction for HUNDREDS of YEARS. So, if you don’t mind, I’ll stick with Human American, species, Homo Novus, the New Man.

Anyone want in my clique?

Y’all don’t hear me.

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27 thoughts on “What’s My Race?

  1. I’m in. I’m pretty racially diverse as you know. I lose count of how many genetic nuances I have. North/South/East European, Middle-Eastern, North African, possibly Indian, and who knows what else. I like it. It makes me feel very much of world actually. No-one has ever been able to guess where I’m from, even though many have tried to tell me where I’m not from. Fuck ’em.

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  2. I had a friend, many years ago, who earnestly tried to get the race category removed from the U.S. Census. Ever since that time, when faced with a form asking for “race”, I choose “Other” and write in HUMAN!

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  3. 1st I look at the purse … that is a song couldn’t help it … I’ve been identified as Chinese Indian Hawaiian Mexican Italian …. with the hurtful derogatory names that go with it …. only when I open my mouth have i been identified as American …. People scare me sometimes …. Really dig that clique …. So spot on …. Cliques are for survival … We’re tribe social people

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  4. ‘Race’ is a convenient label. Often aptly applied~?

    I read somewhere recently that modern humans carry about 1 to 1.8 percent of Neanderthal, which to some might be a bit of a worry.
    Labels are too easily applied, too convenient—people should be judged only from experience (of them). In other words, I judge by values: if someone displays qualities I value, I like them.
    Yet often appearances form the first spontaneous impression. I’ve crossed the street to avoid congregations of Maori youths (almost always uneducated, loud, boorish, and desperate to impress their peers) and Mormon missionaries alike (almost always keen to greet out loud and desperate to impress each other (and Gard) with their proselytising zeal).

    A very complex issue that ain’t gonna go away anytime soon.

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    • I remember being in situations where I was nervous about an approaching group until I noticed they were nervous about me. At the end, it comes down to our instincts to protect “us” versus “them.” Even if the race issue goes away, we’ll find a different definition of them that’s just as onerous.

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      • Very true. I think we as humans are naturally selective and thus prejudiced in our choices. Argus and I had a similar conversation not so long ago. The prejudice is a sliding scale of mean to extremist behaviour that takes as many possibly forms as you can imagine. As you say, take away one issue and it is replaced by another. Every choice we make disadvantages someone, and that in itself could be seen as a prejudice. But as we are a very visual/auditory society, we base our judgements thusly, with all else falling on deaf ears and being averted by blind eyes. When does it stop? It doesn’t.

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          • I don’t think the democratic ideal exists anywhere. It is a myth perpetuated by spin doctors in order to encourage competition with all that doesn’t fit the model, thus defeating the point. We as people are born prejudiced, liking only what fits our model of reality. Prejudice is just a form of ellipsis that has varying consequences and outcomes depending on the degree and nature of selection involved. Reality doesn’t run on ideals, in practise we are all a bunch of hypocrites pretending to be something we are not, in order to kowtow to social measures.

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            • I agree with you. I see us as a pack of silly puppies, waiting for someone to tell us who is in our pack and who’s in the other packs. We, by definition, are the good guys, which automatically defines everyone else as the “not-good” guys. Since there are no ideals, we either lie to ourselves about our perfection, or make up lies about the others.

              At the end of the Human Day, our robot overlords won’t even be able to tell us apart.

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              • That’s what real democracy is right?

                I suppose if we have a natural inclination to be so subjective, then there isn’t anything wrong with admitting that we all exercise prejudice to one degree or another. But the race issue for example is such that we all jump when we hear it spoken about, especially if we ourselves have been at the blunt end of that stick. The question is then, where do we draw the line? What is deemed as good selective behaviour, and not?
                I’m guessing there is no simple answer to that at all. Although to think of it as necessarily negative that we exercise prejudice, or choice, I believe is equally erroneous. I like you’re analogy of us being a pack of silly puppies, and I agree.

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  5. The last form that I was obliged to fill-in ( bank think?) that had a box stipulating race ( yes, even in democratic South Africa the new guys ”need to know”) I scribbled an asterisk * and at the bottom of the form I wrote.
    *Race: Many. Including 10km right up to the Comrades Marathon ( 90km) which I ran three times.

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  6. Many think I’m from another planet, and I sincerely hope that is the case.

    I am forever grateful for the addition of “prefer not to answer” box . . . except on government forms. They really want to know.

    The funny thing is that if there is one organization I think should not be concerned with race, it should be the government. Any government; local, state, or federal.

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    • I agree with you completely. I get why we needed to know, especially coming through civil rights, but hell, we’ve gotten to the place where we should be trying to get people to think “one race.” Doing it the other way just isn’t working.

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