Reporting from Nigeria: Emeka Nweze
History was made in the year 1967 when the United States Supreme Court finally decided the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was pretty stupid and ended all restrictions on marriages between “races”. Less than fifty years ago, a “person of color” could be arrested, detained and even imprisoned for marrying or “engaging in sexual relations” with a “white” person. Now that we have a “person of color” sitting in the “white house”, one might believe that times have changed for the better. But here too, appearances can be deceptive. Only three years ago, while working in Berkeley California, my boss (a “white” man) described how his home was relentless vandalized night after night simply because his wife was black. In retrospect, having a polysyllabic, “ethnic” name like Chukwuemeka Obinna Nweze on my resume probably shot the very foot I was trying to get in the door, but I digress. The point I was trying to make with my boss’s story is that most people really do remain tied rather steadfastly to the delusion that there is such a thing as race and color. Before I definitively demonstrate that “race” and “color” are simply ways of thinking (i.e. of imagining), a brief sketch of the “race-dream” a staggering majority of people unwittingly participate in is in order.
Hypo descent, the automatic assignment of children of a mixed union between socio-economic or ethnic groups to the group with the lower status, was adopted as law first in Tennessee in 1910.
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” – statement made in 1959 by Loving versus Virginia trial judge Leon M. Bazil. According to an April 2008 article in a Pakistani newspaper, Pakistani senators defended the practice of burying young women alive who were judged guilty by tribal elders of having engaged in a relationship with men “not of their tribe”. It is crucial that people don’t see my election as somehow a sign of progress in the broader sense, that we don’t point to me any more than you point to a Bill Cosby or a Michael Jordan and say, “Well, things are hunky-dory.” There is certainly racism here. – Barack Hussein Obama on his election to be the first “black” president of the Harvard Law Review.
Now that we have some context, let us examine the terms “race” and “color”. Lest our opponents accuse us of obscurantism, let us be clear about what it is we are asserting. Race and color are simply products of the imagination. Let us commence with the latter. Color, denotes how things affect this or that human body. For instance, the color of irises actually vary with external conditions. But if the property varies then it is not inherent to the thing as it truly is. A square for instance, does not stop having four equal straight sides and four right angles. The redness or blueness of the square we are examining is what Aristotle called an accident. Simply put, an accident is a property of a thing that is not essential to its nature. The sky for instance, can be imagined as blue, grey, or even red. These properties tell us very little about its nature. At best, it tells us how external conditions affect it and our bodies. Our demonstration, like all clear demonstrations, has universal application. Therefore we can confidently conclude that if the redness of squares is a product of our imagination, so is the conviction that God created whiteness, blackness, yellowness, malayness and redness in this or that object. That is it for color.
Race is a lot trickier because the truth is, most definitions were and still are, loaded with political agendas. For instance, “blacks” were classified as the accursed sons of ham to justify slavery. As soon as science usurped organized religion’s throne of authority, political hustlers with agendas sought to paint their assertions with the veneer of authority by claiming to have amassed “data” proving that the “races were quite distinct and different from each other. Then we have the demonization of this or that group to invoke war like sentiments (yellow peril and the red scare remains a personal favorite). As I warned earlier, most if not all arguments that “race” exists have their footing on irrational grounds. Nonetheless, given the tendency of those who sleep fitfully to lash out blindly, I am hesitant to conclude that “race”, like color, is a product of the human imagination. So please allow me to clarify that I am black and proud (for no due cause mind you) to be so. This is where this entry ends. Some dude hacked my laptop and added these last lines so as a proud black man I can’t be held responsible for what follows:
Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know and you’ll see the way to fly.