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Pet Sins November 2007

Questioning color labels - the myth of 'race'

I am an African young woman now living in Australia and I am in a long term relationship with an Australian man of Oriental background. Notice that I didn't say that I am Black. There is a reason for that and I will tell you now.

First of I think it is about time that people stopped labeling people as "black this, black that". I mean we don't hear Oriental people being called "Yellow" or "Browns" even though some of the, look more brown than some "Black" people we know, right? You see, this colour labeling is where the major problem lies. It's about time we stopped calling people of African descent/ancestry "Black" because there is no such people who are just "Black". What is a Black person? When does become a "Black" person? When you are dark enough? How dark? And when is one not labeled black? How light skinned do you have to be or what hair type do you have to have? All these irrelevant and stupid details can all be done away if we just take people from face value and find other ways to refer to people.

What I also find interesting is that whilst I may be called a "Black" woman, he is certainly not called "Yellow" and if he was, I am sure that he would be offended by that even though he says he doesn't care if he is called a "Yellow person". So why do we continue to play to that old racist tune? Because the more we do the more we keep that system to rule and divide people alive. This system was brought about by the early European colonialists and slave traders/supporters only two to three centuries ago and we are still suffering from its consequences. There are in fact numerous articles that prove that before the slave trade existed, there was no reference about one' person's race being more inferior or superior to the other. This same race issue also raised its ugly head not too long ago during World War II when the Nazi regime murdered millions of Jews because they considered them as an undesirable race not worthy of human dignity. Are we not somehow playing to the same notes from the original song?

I have found some interesting articles on this issue of race and they are as follows;

The Myth of Race by Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr., PhD, Professor Evolutionary Biology/Life Sciences, Arizona State University West, Phoenix, AZ.

Precept of Dr. Joseph Graves' article: "Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, the founder of the Western science of anthropology, thought that there was no objective ranking to human races and that genes and environment both played a role. The 18th century naturalists do not believe that Africans represent a separate species from Europeans.

Things changed in the 19th century, mainly from the institutionalization of chattel slavery in the British empire and in the Americas. We see a new view arising amongst naturalists. For example, Charles White looked at skulls and sex organs and said that the differences were genetic, not environmental, and that blacks, or Negroes represent a separate species. Georges Cuvier, considered the Aristotle of his age, also said that the Negro is the most degraded of human races. Louis Agassiz, the founder of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, sees the Negro as a genetically inferior separate species."

Also go to the following interesting and funny article by Jefferson M. Fish. Who is a professor of psychology at St. John's University in New York City.

Mixed blood - the myth of racial classifications

Precept of Jefferson M. Fish's article: " Last year my daughter, who had been living in Rio de Janeiro, and her Brazilian boyfriend paid a visit to my cross-cultural psychology class. They had agreed to be interviewed about Brazilian culture. at one point in the interview I asked her, "Are you black?" She said, "Yes." I then asked him the question, and he said "No."

"How can that be?" I asked. "He's darker than she is."

As you continue to read these articles and more, you soon realise that calling people Black or White not only fuels the racial gaps between people who are otherwise more similar than they realise but it continues to perpetuate the same misunderstandings that we are trying to overcome today.

For all of you ladies out there who are in a relationship with an oriental/Asian man. I say good for you. Be proud of who you are and celebrate what you two have, cause it's sweet and unique It's not always the person who "looks" like you who is going to complement as it takes more than that to be complement and completed by the right partner. In life you chose what you are going to focus on or what you are going to let people o society speak into your life. Let what you let into your life and love be positive and enriching and you will find that those differences are really nothing compared to the similarities you will each share with one another like cultural foods, music, art... the list is long.

As far as my boyfriend and I are concerned, we are more compatible with each other than with any other person from the same "cultural" background or same "skin tone". My boyfriend is my best friend and I am his. What more can a girl ask?

Keeping loving the one you love!

T.M.
Apr 04 2007