Racialism


Racialism

Racialism is an emphasis on race or racial considerations.[1] Currently, racialism entails a belief in the existence and significance of racial categories, but not necessarily that any absolute hierarchy between the races has been demonstrated by a rigorous and comprehensive scientific process. Racialists usually reject some claims of racial superiority (such as "racial supremacy"), but may explicitly or implicitly subscribe to others, such as that races have acted in morally superior or inferior ways, at least in certain instances or periods of history.

Contents

Terminology

Racialism is the basic epistemological position that not only do races exist, but also that there are significant differences between them. This is to be contrasted with racism, which also assumes that some races are superior to others; or, in an altered meaning, refers to discrimination based on the concept of race.

In the modern English language, racism is a broad category encompassing many separate claims or impulses, such as chauvinism, identity politics, institutional racism, etc., and it is often used as a pejorative epithet that many would want to avoid for various reasons. When the term "racialism" is used, this is more commonly people describing themselves, or attempting a more value-neutral terminology which is assumed to be more appropriate for (scientifically) objective communication or analysis. Self-described racialists often wish to avoid many of the popular associations of "racism" that are considered pejorative, or involve extremism or illegal activities, such as: hatred, xenophobia, (malignant or forced) exploitation, separatism, racial supremacy, mass murder (for the purpose of genocide), genocide denial, vigilantism (hate crimes, terrorism), etc.

However, this distribution of meanings between the two terms used to be precisely inverse at the time they were coined: The Oxford English Dictionary defined racialism as "belief in the superiority of a particular race" and gives a 1907 quote as the first recorded use. The term racism was defined by the OED as "[t]he theory that distinctive human characteristics and abilities are determined by race", giving 1936 as the first recorded use. Additionally, the OED records racism as a synonym of racialism: "belief in the superiority of a particular race". By the end of World War II, racism had acquired the same supremacist connotations as racialism: racism now implied racial discrimination, racial supremacism and a harmful intent.

Since the 1960s, some authors have introduced a new meaning for the less-current racialism: Black civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois introduced racialism as having the same meaning as racism had prior to WWII, i.e. the philosophical belief that differences exist between human races, be they biological, social, psychological or in the realm of the soul. He reserved the use of racism to refer to the belief that one's particular race is superior to the others (viz., precisely the inverse of the OED definitions).[2]

Cultural theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah criticised DuBois for this definition of racialism in 'My Father's House' (1992) where he defines racialism as "...the view…that there are heritable characteristics, possessed by members of our species, which allow us to divide them into a small set of races, in such a way that all the members of these races share certain traits and tendencies with each other that they do not share with members of any other race."

Racial realism is term similar to the current meaning of racialism.

Racialism and scientific racism

Current racialist positions have moved away from 19th century classifications and rely instead on genetics, studying physiological differences between groups such as race and height, but also more complex, and thus controversial, questions like race and intelligence, race and health, and race and crime.

In the mid-20th century, support for some of the classical terminology of scientific racism declined among anthropologists: scientific support for the "Caucasoid", "Negroid", "Mongoloid" terminology has fallen steadily over the past century. Whereas 78 percent of the articles in the 1931 volume of Journal of Physical Anthropology employed these or similar terms, only 36 percent did so in 1965 (see African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)), and just 28 percent did in 1996.[3]

In February 2001, the editors of the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine asked authors to no longer use "race" as explanatory variable, nor to use obsolescent terms. Other peer-reviewed journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, have done the same.[4]

The National Institutes of Health issued a program announcement for grant applications through February 1, 2006, specifically seeking researchers to investigate and publicize the detrimental effects of using racial classifications within the healthcare field. The program announcement quoted the editors of one journal as saying that "analysis by race and ethnicity has become an analytical knee-jerk reflex."[5]

Racialist vocabulary with inconsistent definitions is still used in medicine to a small extent, even when it has vanished from some census agencies and everyday speech.[6][7][8] Genetics has renewed racialist perspectives, combining with the racialist perspectives of craniofacial anthropometry.[9] Racialism in genetics is criticized as being subjective and otherwise inappropriate.[10][11]

Racialism as pretext for separatism or supremacism

Alleged scientific findings of racial differences have been used to justify racial separatism. Nazi Germany had a racialist policy with its concept of "Großdeutschland" (Greater Germany), alongside its racial ideal based on the nordic race. In the United States in the 2000s, the term racialism has been employed by white separatist groups such as Christian Identity, Aryan Nations, the American Nazi Party, and White Aryan Resistance, though it has also been used by more innocuous groups and individuals.[12]

During the first part of the Shōwa era, the propaganda of the Empire of Japan used the old concept of hakko ichiu to support the idea that the Yamato was a superior race, destined to rule Asia and the Pacific. Many documents such as Kokutai no Hongi, Shinmin no Michi and An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus referred to this concept of racial supremacy.

Racial discrimination against other Asians was habitual in Imperial Japan [13] and the Shōwa regime thus preached racial superiority and racialist theories, based on sacred nature of the Yamato-damashii. According to historian Kurakichi Shiratori, one of emperor Shōwa's teachers: 'Therefore nothing in the world compares to the divine nature (shinsei) of the imperial house and likewise the majesty of our national polity (kokutai). Here is one great reason for Japan's superiority'.[14]

Racialism as a self-descriptor or value-neutral term

In the modern English language, racism is a broad category encompassing many separate claims or impulses, such as chauvinism, identity politics, institutional racism, etc., and it is often used as a pejorative epitaph that many would want to avoid for various reasons. When the term "racialism" is used, this is more commonly people describing themselves, or attempting a more value-neutral terminology which is assumed to be more appropriate for (scientifically) objective communication or analysis.

Self-described racialists often wish to avoid many of the popular associations of "racism" that are considered pejorative, or involve extremism or illegal activities, such as: hatred, xenophobia, (malignant or forced) exploitation, separatism, racial supremacy, mass murder (for the purpose of genocide), genocide denial, vigilantism (hate crimes, terrorism), etc. Some who describe themselves as racialist do support the use of "violent" force by nation states or smaller racially nationalist groups, as a matter of "self-defense" or "survival necessity". As with nearly any human conflict there are differences in standards or applications of "justice", "fairness" or "equality", and "racialists" may be perceived as showing favoritism, putting them closer to the "racist" associations they wished to avoid. Identity politics are often vulnerable to bias resulting from the (subconscious) perception that the undesirable qualities/actions of individuals from the favored group(s), are merely isolated incidents that do not reflect strongly on the favored group, while the undesirable qualities/actions of members the unfavored group(s), are useful for making generalizations about the unfavored group(s). Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers describes this general tendency[15]:

[...]you have the following kinds of verbal things that people do, apparently quite unconsciously. If you’re a member of my group and you do something good, I make a general statement: “Noam Chomsky is an excellent person.” Now if you do something bad, I give a particular statement, “Noam Chomsky stepped on my toe.” But it’s exactly reversed if you’re not a member of my group. If you’re not a member of my group and you do something good I say, “Noam Chomsky gave me directions to MIT.” But if he steps on my toe I say, “He’s a lousy organism,” or “He’s an inconsiderate person.” So we generalize positively to ourselves, particularize negative and reverse it when we’re talking about other people.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., s.v. "Racialism."
  2. ^ Kwame Anthony Appiah summarises Du Bois' position in his book In My Father's House, chapter 3.
  3. ^ Leonard Lieberman, Rodney C. Kirk, and Alice Littlefield, "Perishing Paradigm: Race—1931-99," American Anthropologist 105, no. 1 (2003): 110-13. A following article in the same issue, by Mat Cartmill and Kaye Brown, questions the precise rate of decline, but agrees that the Negroid/Caucasoid/Mongoloid paradigm has fallen into near-total disfavor.
  4. ^ Frederick P. Rivara and Laurence Finberg, "Use of the Terms Race and Ethnicity," Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 155, no. 2 (2001): 119. For similar author's guidelines, see Robert S. Schwartz, "Racial Profiling in Medical Research," The New England Journal of Medicine 344, no. 18 (2001); M.T. Fullilove, "Abandoning 'Race' as a Variable in Public Health Research: An Idea Whose Time has Come," American Journal of Public Health 88 (1998): 1297-1298; and R. Bhopal and L. Donaldson, "White, European, Western, Caucasian, or What? Inappropriate Labeling in Research on Race, Ethnicity, and Health," American Journal of Public Health 88 (1998): 1303-1307.
  5. ^ See program announcement and requests for grant applications at http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-03-057.html.
  6. ^ P.J. Aspinall, "Collective Terminology to Describe the Minority Ethnic Population: The Persistence of Confusion and Ambiguity in Usage," Sociology 36, no. 4: 804.
  7. ^ M.A. Winker, "Measuring Race and Ethnicity: Why and How?," The Journal of the American Medical Association 292, no. 13 (2004): 1612-14.
  8. ^ John Relethford, The Human Species: An introduction to Biological Anthropology, 5th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 126.
  9. ^ R.S. Cooper, "Race and IQ: Molecular Genetics as Deus ex Machina," American Psychologist 60, no. 1 (2005): 71-76.
  10. ^ James F. Wilson et al., "Population Genetic Structure of Variable Drug Response," Nature Genetics 29 (2001): 265-269.
  11. ^ R. Bhopal et al., "Editors' Practice and Views on Terminology in Ethnicity and Health Research," Ethnicity & Health 2, no. 3 (1997): 223-27.
  12. ^ Approving uses of the term were found on the websites of the Aryan Nations website, American Nazi party, and White Aryan Resistance, all retrieved August 18, 2005.
  13. ^ Herbert Bix, Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, 2001, p.280
  14. ^ Peter Wetzler, Hirohito and War, 1998, p.104
  15. ^ Robert Trivers, Seed Video Feature: Noam Chomsky + Robert Trivers, September 6, 2006

Further reading

  • Anderson, Gregory M. "Racial Identity, the Apartheid State, and the Limits of Political Mobilization and Democratic Reform in South Africa: The Case of the University of the Western." Identity 3, no. 1 (2003): 29–52. doi:10.1207/S1532706XID0301_03.
  • Appiah, Kwame Anthony. In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-19-506852-1.
  • Arter, David. "Black Faces in the Blond Crowd: Populist Racialism in Scandinavia", Parliamentary Affairs 45, no. 3 (1992): 357–372.
  • Asante, Molefi Kete. The Afrocentric Idea. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998. ISBN 1-56639-595-X.
  • Dobratz, Betty A. "White Power, White Pride!": The White Separatist Movement in the United States. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1997.
  • Kane, John. "Racialism and Democracy: The Legacy of White Australia." In The Politics of Identity in Australia, ed. Geoffrey Stokes, 117–131. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. ISBN 052158356X.
  • Kennedy, Paul and Nicholls Anthony, eds. Nationalist and Racialist Movements in Britain and Germany before 1914. Saint Antony's College Press, 1981.
  • Lee, Woojin and Roemer, John. Electoral Consequences of Racialism for Redistribution in the United States: 1972–1992 (California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and social Sciences, 2002).
  • Melvern, Linda. Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide. London: Verso, 2004.
  • Ndebele, Nhlanhla. "The African National Congress and the Policy of Non-Racialism: A Study of the Membership Issues." Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies 29, no. 2 (2002): 133–146.
  • Odocha, O. "Race and Racialism in Scientific Research and Publication in the Journal of the National Medical Association." Journal of the National Medical Association 92, no. 2 (2002): 96–98. PubMed.
  • Sanneh, Kelefa. "After the Beginning Again: The Afrocentric Ordeal." Transition 10, no. 3 (2001): 66–89.
  • Snyder, Louis L. The Idea of Racialism: Meaning and History. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1962.
  • Taylor, Paul C. "Appiah's Uncompleted Argument: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Reality of Race." Social Theory and Practice 26, no. 1 (2000): 103–128.
  • Thompson, Walter Thomas. James Anthony Froude on Nation and Empire: A Study in Victorian Racialism. London: Taylor & Francis, 1998.
  • UNESCO General Conference. Declaration of Fundamental Principles concerning the Contribution of the Mass Media to Strengthening Peace and International Understanding, to the Promotion of Human Rights and to Countering Racialism, Apartheid and Incitement to War (University of Hawaii, 1978).
  • Reggie White's Speech before the Wisconsin State Assembly (click 778)
  • Zubaida, Sami, ed. Race and Racialism. London: Tavistock, 1970.

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