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    nautil.usSteve Paulson7/2/1516 min
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    • Ruchita_Ganurkar9 months ago

      A lot of darkly pigmented people want to look lighter because lightness is associated with higher status. So we have a paradoxical situation where many light people want to be darker and many dark people want to be lighter. Humans are motivated by diverse sets of ideas. They usually aspire to an appearance that confers higher status. Once we recognize that it’s a pretty stupid thing to do, we can adjust our cultural sights and say, “Hey, let’s just live with the skin color that we have. Let’s protect it, let’s cherish it, let’s make sure that we are healthy with it.”

    • DellwoodBarker9 months ago

      Fantastic Read! AOTD deserving.

      To most humans, races are creations of the mind that have social reality and that often have physical traits associated with them.

      So race is strictly a social construction?

      Yes, but that doesn’t make it any less real. When people identify as belonging to a certain group, the biological or philosophical status of the race doesn’t really matter. So race is a very durable construct and people have strong racial identities that are often tied up with physical appearance, but also include a lot of cultural aspects.

      But it would seem there are some physical differences between races. For instance, people of West African origin dominate the world-class sprinting competitions.

      This raises a very interesting question: Would you put West Africans in a separate race? Most people wouldn’t because their biological characteristics have so much overlap with people from East Africa, where people have tremendous abilities in long-distance running but not in sprinting. You can see concentrations of people with certain attributes, but these attributes overlap with nearby and even distant populations. So drawing a definite line of demarcation becomes impossible. And if you’re looking at a characteristic like sprinting ability, this requires biological ability in a person’s skeletal muscles. It also requires tremendous amounts of training, so there’s a huge cultural component. You can’t have just one or the other.

      One of the most disturbing historical developments is how blackness became stigmatized around the world. Do we know when people of darker skin color started to be seen as socially inferior?

      We do. In the earliest recorded interactions between people of different skin color—in ancient Egypt between 4,000 and 7,000 years ago—we see a history of felicitous trading interactions between peoples along the Nile, darkly pigmented and lightly pigmented people trading with one another and having mutual respect for each other’s cultures. In the earliest recorded history of interactions between peoples of different color, we don’t see any prejudicial interaction going on, but simply an acknowledgment of difference.

      DARKSIDE: In Greek and Roman societies, slaves were not darkly pigmented people, but those considered culturally inferior—a trait assigned to slaves from Africa. Getty Images Some of those ancient societies had slaves, but those slaves were not necessarily dark skinned.

      Absolutely. What we see in Greek and Roman societies is that slaves came in all colors. They didn’t share the Greek or Roman culture, so they were considered to be culturally inferior. In Rome, slaves were taken in huge numbers from Eastern Europe to man the agricultural plantations and the mines of the Roman Empire. Slavery was not just for darkly pigmented people. People from Africa were taken as slaves fairly late in the game. Sadly, they became the biggest slave market for a variety of reasons. They could be harvested in large numbers from equatorial Africa through various trading networks. People were also beginning to assign negative personality traits and moral values to their color.

      When did this prejudice become widespread?

      This becomes really potent in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and then in a significant way in the 18th century. It’s mostly associated with the growth of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It becomes very important in the history of colonial mercantilism. A workforce was needed to develop colonial lands, and for a long time European traders tried to use European colonists and convicts to meet this need. This was insufficient for the tremendous demand and so, “Well, let’s get some slaves.” It’s very important that you create slaves as an inferior class as people. You dehumanize them by saying they are inherently immoral, inherently incapable of developing true human qualities. They are sub-human. This makes the whole slave trade much more palatable.