Race and Ethnicity Unit 1B: The Limits of Thinking about Race as Biology

What To Do-2

Race and Ethnicity Unit 1B: The Limits of Thinking about Race as Biology Continued

This week, we will continue to further refine our understanding of the connection (or lack thereof) between biology and race.

For this week, do the following, as follows:

  • A– Listen to the uploaded audio lecture and use the PPT slides to guide you during the audio lecture.
  • B-  Read Audrey Smedley and Brian D. Smedley. 2012. “Changing Perspectives on Human Variation in Science.” Race in North America (4th Edition). (class website)
  • C-  Read LA Time’s Article, “Obama’s Slave Link.”
  •  Learning Check #2.

A- Today’s Theme: Race and Biology Continued

• Main Argument Reviewed

• Evolution of Scientific Knowledge

• Smedley and Smedley (2012)

• Biological Determinism in Mainstream Representation

Smedley & Smedley (2012)

• How did Boas’s scholarship reshape the use of “measurements” to describe populations by racial categorizations?

• What does the field of population genetics entail?

 • What further evidence does Smedley & Smedley (2012) advance to undermine the biological basis for race and racial categories?

Franz Boas and Anthropometrics

• Anthropometry and anthropometrics is the study and use of measurements of the body to understand the physical variations among human beings.

• Franz Boas, an anthropologist, undermined the understanding of racial groups as constant by studying how the body changes in reaction to environment.

 • Scientific racism: The idea that race is a biological concept and that human behavior is best understood through the typology of biological characteristics.

The Influence of Franz Boas

• Boas identified themes in his book, The Mind of Primitive Man (1911) that are axiomatic in anthropology.

• What are these axioms?

• Page 294

Smedley and Smedley (2012, 294): Axioms of Boas

In the context of a society pervaded by virulent racism, Franz Boas and his students had begun their research and publications, many of which expressed antagonism to all forms of racism. Much of Boas’s own attitude was summed up in an early book, The Mind of Pimitive Man ([ 1911] 1963), which laid the philosophical ground work for the even more famous social critiques of some of his most eminent students, including, Ruth Benedict , Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits, and Otto Klineberg.

As Leslie Spier ( another of Boas’s students) has claimed, several of the themes of this book are now axiomatic in anthropology. He identifies them as follows: (1) There is no such phenomenon as hereditary racial purity; (2) races are not stable, immutable entities, but undergo changes due to domestication, selection, mutation, and other environmental influences; (3) “the average differences in physical traits between races is small in contrast to the great overlapping of range and duplication of types among them”;(4) there is no evidence that any race is “ incapable of participating in any culture or even in creating it”; (5) there is no identity of race, language, and culture such that physical heredity can be credited with the formulation of language and the  achievements of civilizations “; and finally, (6) some groups” are not primitive by reason of hereditary inferiority but because the circumstances of their life were more static than those of civilized men, the differences being products of their variant history and traditional equipment “ (Spier 1959, 147)?

Smedley & Smedley Continued (2012)

  • What does the field of population genetics entail?

• What further evidence does Smedley & Smedley (2012) advance to undermine the biological basis for race and racial categories?

Learning Check Essay Question: According to Smedley and Smedley (2012), why couldn’t the ABO blood group system be used to create and classify human population groups into mutually exclusive racial groups?

Critical Media Literacy

• The process of critical media studies involves the five following steps:

1. recognition of the construction of media and communication as a social process as opposed to accepting texts as isolated, neutral or transparent conveyors of information;

2. some type of textual analysis that explores the languages, genres, codes, and conventions of the text;

3. an exploration of the role audiences play in negotiating meanings;

4. problematizing the process of representation to uncover and engage issues of ideology, power, and pleasure;

 5. examination of the production and institutions that motivate and structure the media industries as corporate profit seeking businesses (see Kellner & Share,2005).

Making sense of mainstream representations about race

• Kaplan, Erin. 2012. “Obama’s slave link.” LA Times.

• What’s the main claim advanced here?

 • What evidence is used to support the claim(s)?

C-  Obama’s slave link

Tracing a line from the first black slave to the first black president.

August 08, 2012|By Erin Aubry Kaplan

There’s a new twist in the ongoing story line of our post-historical racial age allegedly represented by Barack Obama.

Last week, genealogists at Ancestry.com announced the strong likelihood that Obama is a descendant — the 11th great-grandson, to be exact — of John Punch, who in 1640 became the first black person to be legally defined as a slave. This lineage comes not through Obama’s African father but through his white mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who is apparently descended from children Punch had with a white woman.

The researcher’s conclusions are not ironclad. But even if Obama turns out not to be related to Punch — which is highly unlikely — researchers have established beyond doubt that Dunham’s family has black ancestry that almost certainly can be traced back to American slaves. Which means that Obama is more black than we imagined. A familiar kind of black.

The slaves-in-the-family revelation isn’t in itself shocking — lots of white Americans would find this out if they went digging. But for Obama, it shifts, or maybe even cracks, one part of the personal mystique that propelled him to the White House. Remember when he was hailed as a new kind of black man, a racial bridge builder almost by dint of genetics, because his mother was a white Kansan and his father a black Kenyan?

Mixed parentage is nothing new, but Obama was unique in that he seemed to bypass the common black American experience of slavery and miscegenation that was responsible for the majority of American black folks who look like him. That was politically important because it meant Obama was, for the majority of white voters, a guilt-free black man. His existence wasn’t a reprimand, a reminder of slavery and inequality and all those burdensome things associated with “regular” black people and black names like Washington or Jackson or even Robinson, the maiden name of Obama’s wife, Michelle.

Obama didn’t get a pass, exactly, but his background was a big part of the public fascination that lifted him just high enough above the fray to allow him to succeed. At the height of his popularity he seemed to offer a clean slate, a new black reality arriving in the White House as official affirmation of the possibility of a post-racial age.

But it turns out that not only is Obama not post-black, he’s tied to a seminal moment in the long and sordid history of institutionalized racism in America, the effects of which we’re still living with. One of those is a racially skewed criminal justice system that has its roots in Punch’s story: An indentured servant who escaped from his master along with two fellow indentured servants who were white, Punch alone received a harsh life sentence of slavery.

The revelation raises issues that are bound to make Americans of all political stripes uneasy. The president’s history no longer is simply a story of easy multicultural triumph. Now, in considering the president’s background, we are forced to consider the uncomfortable details of race, sex, oppression and miscegenation that we as a nation would prefer to forget.

Consider this example: The genealogists reported that the white woman with whom John Punch partnered “passed on her free status” to their children. The implication, of course, is that whiteness was an advantage worth preserving for future generations, while blackness was something to hide and discard, if possible.

The truth is, it’s always been tough to spin the complicated history of slavery as something beneficial or empowering; it’s especially tough when it’s part of the personal narrative of a black president who’s battling for reelection in a country averse to addressing race and blackness at all.

The White House has said nothing so far. Neither have the Dunhams. The only people who seem to be enthusiastic are the genealogists and historians who see this finding as a professional coup, though they also see poetic justice.

“Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related,” declared genealogist Joseph Shumway. “John Punch was more than likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America. But after centuries of suffering, the Civil War and decades of civil rights efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world and the ultimate realization of the American dream.”

find the cost of your paper

Wk 2 Discussion – Metrics and Information Visualization

Wk 2 Discussion – Metrics and Information Visualization The most frequently used measures of central tendency for quantitative data are the mean and the median. The following table shows civil….

4. Read Luke 6:27-31, also known as the “Golden Rule.”

4. Read Luke 6:27-31, also known as the “Golden Rule.” Now consider the 3 major principles of total quality: Customer Focus, Participation and Teamwork, and Continuous Improvement and Learning. Write….

Case Study: Cells and Structures-Based upon the findings presented, which doctor made the correct initial predictio

Case Study: Cells and Structures In this module, you will complete a directed case. This type of case study is designed to enhance your understanding of fundamental concepts, principles, and facts…..