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PBS will start airing a three part series tonight titles Race: The Power of an Illusion. Here is the details about the special it appears to be a great documentary. I hope everyone is able to tune in so that some of those who do not understand race and racism and how it effects the condition and mentality of Black people in America can re-evaluate the issue of this government making moves to repair that which has been broken and correcting the "Original Wrong".

PBS's "Race" is Truly Powerful
By Esther Iverem, BET.com Arts and Film Critic

Posted April 23, 2003 -- Slowly, in movies and books, it has become the norm to talk about race without talking about racism. De-fanged of its institutional nature in works such as the 2001 New York Times "race series," race becomes a benign topic about individual prejudices and personal stories. Reactionary pundits have actually begun using the famous quote by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. - about people not being judged by the color of their skin - to justify attacks on affirmative action remedies.

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It is in this atmosphere of race doublespeak that "Race: The Power of an Illusion" (premiering Thursday, April 24, 10 p.m. on PBS) is one of the most important, sweeping and groundbreaking documentaries in recent memory. Taking full advantage of scholarship documenting how the United States invented modern ideas of "race" and "Whiteness," the producer - California Newsreel - illustrates how racism has been used institutionally, socially and politically, and for what has been, really, affirmative action for Whites.

This is not fancy movie-making - interviews with scholars are juxtaposed with historical footage and photos with narration by CCH Pounder - but it is powerful. Airing in three parts on consecutive Thursdays, the series will either build its reputation over three weeks or see its impact diluted by this questionable scheduling. Hopefully, it will experience the former scenario. The first episode, "The Difference Between Us," follows the progress of a DNA workshop for high school students and illustrates how scientists have proven the lack of genetic difference between human beings classified as being from different races.

But while the show proves that race isn't real on a biological level, it segues into how "race" is very real as a social construct. A history is given of how "scientific" research was used to justify enslavement and attacks on people of color in this country, as well as the violent takeover of Cuba, the Philippines and Hawaii during the era of colonial expansion. These same scientific theories from early in the last century were also used abroad, for example by Hitler in Germany, to build support for ideas of Aryan superiority and the extermination of other populations.

The series really kicks into high gear in the second episode, "The Story We Tell," airing May 1, with a history of the creation of race and Whiteness in the United States. It was easy and convenient, for example, to create a system that equated Black people with slavery and inferiority, and that built a sense of cohesion and new national identity among Whites. Moving beyond Blacks and Whites, this show details the demarcation created between those from Europe and Native Americans, Chinese and Mexicans. This divide would define who would be considered really "American." White settlers would receive land forcibly taken from Native Americans and would be the only ones granted the full rights of citizenship. Even New Deal legislation of the 1930's, considered a step forward for all Americans, would discriminate against domestic workers and agricultural workers - who were almost all people of color - and against skilled people of color banned from all-White labor unions that could bargain collectively for better wages and work conditions.

The final show, "The House We Live In," airing May 8, goes a long way to illustrating why, in the United States, the worth of the average White family is 10 times that of the average Black family. Moving beyond the violence of slavery and Jim Crow laws, it details how the federal government, particularly through the Federal Housing Administration, set in motion a series of laws that allowed for the creation of wealthy White suburbs and impoverished Black communities.

By initiating a system of appraisal whereby White communities were automatically given a higher value than Black or "mixed" communities, and by providing federal grants and tax incentives for the construction of White suburbs that excluded people of color, the federal government not only segregated much of the country's housing, it set in motion a process through which White families have become wealthier, because their homes are worth more. In addition, the equity in these more highly valued homes, and the wealth passed on from previous generations, snowballs into more opportunity, including money to pay for a college education, to start a business or to assist family members.

Race may not be "real" but, when it comes to opportunity, net "worth" and survival, cold, hard cash is no illusion.

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
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There are Negroes who will never fight for freedom. There are Negroes who will seek profit for themselves from the struggle. There are even some Negroes who will cooperate with the oppressors. The hammer blows of discrimination, poverty, and segregation must warp and corrupt some. No one can pretend that because a people may be oppressed, every individual member is virtuous and worthy. Martin Luther King

More to come later! Your Brother Faheem
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Now this is funny, I checked my local listing to make sure this program is airing and to my suprise it is airing at "FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE FUCKING MORNING" (excuse the profanity) But this just pisses me off. Hmm who is up at five o'clock to watch a documentary on a Friday morning mind you. The beast is hard at work. I have seen plenty of documentaries on PBS and not one have I watched at five o'clock in the morning. In most cases it airs the night before and then again at five in the morning.

I read another person say this special is airing at two in the morning in south Florida. WTF is up with that!!

check your local listings

tvguide

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem

[This message was edited by Faheem on April 24, 2003 at 10:24 AM.]

[This message was edited by Faheem on April 24, 2003 at 10:24 AM.]
I will definetly tape the show, I am upset that something like this did not get a primetime slot and those who dont know about it will not be afforded the oppurtunity to tune in by mistake as most channel surfers do most programs they watch on TV. I can not fathom why PBS would air such a documentary so early in the morning, unless they did not want viewers to actually watch it.

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
Taping it is a good idea anyway, even if it comes on at nine in the evening.

One thought about the introduction to/announcement of it--just because scientists have not yet found genetic evidence of race does not mean that it doesn't exist.

While it is intuitive to think that it exists--since there is not yet definitive proof (although just recently I thought I heard information about this that contradicts the heretofore held convention--still it makes sense. Since the different races have characteristics that are passed on intergenerationally, I would think that that means that race really is genetic.

Now, that does not deal with our definitions of race, nor does it allow for a moral conclusion about it. I think that it's wise to be a little cautious about what we say concerning the lack of evidence of a genetic basis of race. I believe that we will find it. The reason that we haven't yet is because it's not simple to find. It will not be a single gene or merely one zone on one chromosome. It will be a constellation of them, the kind of untidy development over hundreds of thousands of years that is the characteristic working of nature.

Just a thought, but I think an inevitable one.
Melesi, I wrote about what you just stated some time go in reference to a site posted by independentman. here is what I wrote;

The concept of race may be new but the distinguishing phenotypes of humans are not new. Phenotype is defined as the physical or biochemical characteristics of an organism, as determined by both genetic makeup and environmental influences. The argument presented to us by web sites like interracial voice says science cannot confirm such a thing as race. I believe the thinking that because scientists have not found the key in our genetic make up as of today that makes us who we are (racially) does not mean it is not there. Genetics itself is still a relative new science. DNA is still being studied and used to find different things that make us who we are. It is premature to say there is no science that backs up the concept of race when science is continually being used to discover new things. It is known and widely accepted that we all have different fingerprints, Scientist of course contribute this to our unique DNA makeup. If our DNA can be used to say who we are and identify us, surely there have to be something in that DNA that says I am a Black man. Scientist do not know what that is as of now but in another 100 years or so it may be as simple as a paternity test to determine the race of a person by using their DNA. As defined in phenotype, our environment has much to do with who we are as well. I do not believe environment have as much of an influence as to who we are as our DNA does.

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
Faheem,

I think that you rae right. Of course, until we know, we can't...know, but it makes sense to me that there is a genetic basis (component?) to race.

Environment no doubt makes a difference, but I think that that depends on what we mean. If I were to move to, oh, Central African Republic, my children wouldn't look any different. But tens of thousands of years from now they would, assuming that the evolutionary pressures remain the same as they have been for a few billion years.

Which is to say that environmental effects take a l-o-n-g time to manifest themselves.

Is this anywhere near what you were talking about?
"excuse the profanity" made me laugh out loud. Anglo speaks with forked tongue. Hates people of color but yet bakes his butt in the HOT summer sun, risking skin cancer, sun poisoning, blistered noses; wrinkled skin like an elephant's butt (by age 25) just to get a "little dab" of coloring; not brown, mind you; but most of the time "Lobster Red", and severe pain. Why is that?? That's called "A Confused Rooty-Tooty"!!!
Dont forget; Part 2 airs tonight.

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By all standards, some creatures are just plain strange, making us do double takes because their compositions or habits or appearances defy our sense of logic and our way of viewing reality. Take the wildebeest, the warthog, the hyena, the brown pelican, the Shar-Pei. These animals, seemingly wrought by committee, make us laugh or shake our heads. Another such creature, of the human kind -- and perhaps the strangest of all -- is the black Republican. "

Bill Maxwell

More to come later!

Your Brother Faheem
Norland,

Your sneering name-calling does no good becuse it's based on no knowledge.

Why do you suppose that white people insist on tanning? To look black?

Sigh.

Remember reading history? The Industrial Revolution was a revolution in more ways than one. At last many people had true leisure. They could go to spas. While there they got...tans. Tans meant health, and health is attractive.

You don't go for the sick and the suffering, do you? And we don't normally go looking for dates in a hospital, right?

So people began to equate tans with health and attractiveness. In a way, it's like ong nails. These were signs of wealth, for a woman with long nails didn't have to do manual labor. She couldn't be a textile worker or a servant, the long nails would get in the way and be broken off, anyway. So long nails on women were signs of suitability for courtship, and tans meant health and suitability for courtship.

It's why so many women would rather live in southern California than in northwestern Oregon--more days of sun and therefore more opportunity to show off their charms with less clothing.

It's not confusion. It's quite deliberate, and it's quite successful. It's also merely one of those cultural ideas about beauty that really has a basis in history.

Your air of superiority is misplaced.
It's why so many women would rather live in southern California than in northwestern Oregon--more days of sun and therefore more opportunity to show off their charms with less clothing.

***is there some kind of census bureau report to back that up? if that was a true statement, i would expect the ratio of women to men to be way out of balance in the pacific northwest compared to southern california. any stats to back up your statement? stats that show the 'rather live'....?

if you don't know your options, you don't have any!
Nykkii,

The census bureau doesn't ask such questions, which is probably a good thing since they can be pretty intrusive as it is. I do not know anyone who has asked that. It comes from the prefectly unscientific questioning that I have done in California, Florida, and Washington (therefore my error rate may be higher than the 3% promised by Roper, Gallup, Yankelovitch et al).

I have talked with women who moved to California--San Diego and Los Angeles especially--and to Tampa-St Petersburg, and this was the reason they gave. All were young and unmarried (which will skew the results if we're looking for auniversal trend, but I was not) and moved from The Seattle-Portland axis (California) because it was "just too cloudy, cold, and rainy up there." In Calif. they didn't have to wear a coat for ten months out of the year. "What is the use of getting in shape for a bikini when you can't wear one?" was a common question.

Now, I would imagine that it is not too different for the men, so please don't get the idea that I think this a mostly feminine phenomenon (say that ten times fast). Men like to show off as much as women do, and where the women go, the men will follow, especially if they're not wearing much. What's the point of showing off if there aren't any women around to show off to? I just haven't asked the men. I guess I'm not quite as interested in them as I am in the curvy ones.

The point was not so much that a flood of women to warmer climes is inevitable or massive, but rather it was the issue of our cultural understanding of beauty, our demands for it, and how we got it. I thought that Norland was being unnecessarily dismissive and derisive, and doing so on the basis of very limited information. A narrowly dogmatic view, I thought.

Does that help?
Melesi, believe me, I have NO air of superiority. I know of which I speak; you don't have to agree. If they were supposed to be tan, they would have been; just like if we were supposed to be blonde, we would have been. That's confusion to ME, to ME, to ME!!! If you don't like what I say, that's OK. If I don't like your reprimand, that's OK too. Life goes on at the moment anyway! Big Grin
Faheem, you got me all excited about viewing this series and our local PBS is NOT even showing it! This is the NYC affiliate of PBS. I'm kind of disappointed about it. But I've been tracking the series on Africana and PBS' websites. Are you going to be heading a discussion on the series Faheem?

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or strategy. We have to keep in mind at all times that we are not fighting for separation. We are fighting for recognition as free humans in this society
Malcolm X, 1965
Norland,

Of course name-calling is offensive, but all name-calling is. It usually isn't right for us to do it just because someone else does--though they may deserve it.

Yes, to you, to you. The trouble is, what we think is right wil affect how we act and react to others and how we think of them.

For example, "supposed to be tan," "supposed to be blond." What on earth does that mean?

The process of adaptation has taken many tens of thousands of years, and we have adapted to our environments.

On the sunny savannah, our skin darkened so that we would not lose folate. UV rays destroy folate in our skin, and when our folate levels drop, then our babies are born with birth defects, notably "neural tube" defects like spina bifida. We don't continue the people when that happens. So we darkened to protect us, our genes that produced more melanin were selected because those who had more had more babies who lived.

Now, as people moved north, they encountered less and less sunlight and less UV. They needed ledss protection against sunlight and in fact needed more sunlight entering their skin so they could produce enough Vitamin D, and so their genes that produced less melanin were selected. The sunlight didn't destroy their folate because in a colder climate they were covered more and there was less UV to encounter. They didn't need the protection from the light. They needed all they could get because they needed the Vitamin D. We got plenty in Africa even though it takes dark-skinned people two to six times more UV to make the same amount of vitamin D as it does a white-skinned person. Instead, we needed the protection from destruction of folate.

It works. That's why there are white-skinned people in places where there is less sunlight and dark-skinned people where there is more.

That's how it's "supposed" to work.
I hear, every now and then, someone say that race "doesn't exist" because there's no "scientific evidence" of it. To me, that is real nonsense. What is race? It's the bundle of genetically passed traits that groups of people have in common by virtue of common heredity. Surely there is no specific "race" gene. But there are certain genetic traits in common, and we recognize them and the differences with respect to them in different groups. Race is our recognition of the fact that groups of people have certain genetic traits in common. There's no "scientific evidence" that United States of America exists. But it surely does. Ditto "race."

I guess my question is, what do people who insist that "race" doesn't exist believe race is supposed to be? How would they deine race?
quote:
Originally posted by Vox:

Surely there is no specific "race" gene.


I know little about this, but I do know that the physical characteristics that define us as 'black people' are carried in our genes. Our genes determine the color of our skin, the composition of our features, as well as our health/longevity outlook. It is naturally in our genes where black folks get and pass along Sickle Cell Anemia, for example.

Bottom line - are we sure there's no "genetic evidence" of race? That sounds rather counter-intuitive. I'm not sure I understand that. I also don't understand "the point" behind arguing about whether race really exists or not.



Now is the time to make real the promises of Democracy.
MBM, whether you know it or not, you just said exactly what I was trying to say, a lot more clearly and concisely than I did.

We have common traits that are genetically passed, as you said. There are genes that carry those traits, as you said. The bundle of genes that create in each of us the traits that define us racially are apparently not enough for people who claim race "doesn't exist." What I was saying was, what are these people looking for? A specific gene that carries "membership" in a race? I don't get it either. To me, the bundle of traits, or the bundle of genes that pass those traits down, is the only kind of "biological" evidence possible re: the existence of race. Our recognition of those commonalities probably leads us to define it as race. Which is fine. I don't see why more is needed in order to determine that race exists.
That has always puzzled me, too. I think that some of those who wish to believe that "race" doesn't exist can use that as an argument against racism, but you'll have to talk to them to make sure.

Race has to be genetic, and I think that we will find out soon that that is so. We have for so long known that not finding proof is not proof that there's nothing to find that I'm a little surprised at the vehemence with which the "no race gene" proponents defend their cause.

To me that doesn't matter. In fact, the more races and the more differneces the better. It makes for a much more interesting world.
quote:
Originally posted by Melesi:
Race has to be genetic, and I think that we will find out soon that that is so.


But your statement here confuses me. What I'm saying is that we already know that "race" exists. I don't understand what more there is to find. We know all about genetics and that genes pass traits on. We know that common sets of traits exist among a group, and that different sets of common genetically passed traits exist in different groups. That's all we need to know. Calling these different groups "races" is just how we define the impact that these different sets of genes has. Why do we need to discover any biological attributes that we haven't already found? Why is more needed?
Vox,

Ah, I see. Well, in a way you are right. I'm not sure what practical good will be gained by the confirmation of the presence or lack of a genetic basis for race, but who knows what good will come out of the next discovery? Discovery is necessary for us. We are an exploring creature; it's in our makeup (and therefore our genes? Wouldn't that be philosophically interesting: our genes driving us to explore our genes), and therefore I do not mind the time and effort expended in finding out just what is in our genes and what is not.

It isn't the exploration that matters quite so much as the conclusions we come to and the uses to which we put them.

If we know why we are the way we are, it will put to rest some of the very silly things people (of every color) say is the "truth"--I prefer to know and live the truth--and we may be able to come up with cures or treatments for genetic problems or at least understandings of our makeup.

The Brits who detected the first radio broadcast (it was merely static, but they didn't think about what it meant) would be rather surprised at the uses to which we put their discovery today. So it will be with genetics.

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