Friday, October 5, 2018

Melting indicators, melting identities

Quite a while back, I read a comment by Spencer Wells, the director of the Genographic Project at the National Geographic Society.  The Genographic Project uses DNA analysis to indicate the path one's ancestors took from central Africa, where we began, to more recent locations.  Wells commented that the human world is getting mixed up and intermingled and that before long, one's genetic markers will not correspond to geographic markers.

This past Monday, I listened to a presentation in Waupaca's Winchester Academy about the dissolution of race.  The vice president of Lawrence University for diversity is Dr. Kimberly Barrett. Dr. Barrett is Afro-American and is the wife of a Caucasian man.  She gave figures on the expanding US census category of multi-racial citizens. The number is rising, as the intermixing of people from all over the world proceeds.  Dr. Barrett envisioned being a mother but she imagined that she would have a child that was recognized as Afro-American. Instead, her son was light skinned, blonde and had green eyes.  He looked Caucasian and she was sometimes taken to be his babysitter instead of his mother.

In America, despite many high sounding words, there has been a centuries long period of persecution and worse because of peoples' appearance, usually skin color and other features of appearance.  The "whites", "blacks","reds" and "yellows" have not gotten along well. From the superficial bit that I know about, much of the nasty history can be considered the doing of the "whites", the majority group for most of years since European Americans arrived in the Americas.  

I recently read a comment from the anthropologist Jared Diamond that there has never been a society that didn't have grades, levels, classes and other stratifications.  Maybe there never will be. Some of the populist and nationalist movements over the last century have marked segments of the population as different, disgusting and dangerous.  This sort of push to mark as negative is not new. A nobleman in times past was informed that his soldiers had a group trapped but were not sure which were our people and which weren't.  He is said to have ordered the soldiers to kill them all and rely on God to sort their souls after death. I am confident the nobleman believed our people would be passed on to paradise while the others would be sent elsewhere.  How it all worked out is not known at this time.

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