Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trying to keep a cool head

So Bf and I nearly had an argument last night about something around which we tend to disagree, and that is... complicated. It's about the nature of RACE.

As a student of Anthropology (particularly cultural), I really have embraced what I've been exposed to about race being a cultural and not a biological construct. Sure, people are different, look different and on some level share common DNA markers with others of the same original geographic heritage, but RACE as a one size fits all, there are six of them (and one more, the one I belong to, "other") and thats "just how it is"?

Excuse me while I laugh and or scream and or cry.


In class the example I used to mention my own confusion about race was my 8 year old. If you saw him, you would say to yourself, "white kid". There wouldn't be any question in your mind on that point. If you saw us together you might have some cognitive dissonance, because most of the time "white woman" doesn't pop into people's heads when they see me.

So, if race is a purely biological construct, what am I? What is he? And what, pray tell, are the millions of people who are all mixed up? Where are the hard and cold facts separating us and who has that list - is it available as a PDF?

The problem last night is that as I was describing (poorly, alas) the lecture, bf said, voice dripping with derision, "oh, is he a biologist?" I will tell you that I very nearly came unhinged at that moment. It felt as though a thousand bees were in my head screaming to protect the Queen. I did swear, friend, and I did use a terribly unfriendly tone, but quickly composed myself.

You see, this is the kind of thing which strikes (sadness? madness?) something deep in my heart. The line, the thin, thin line upon which I have always tread is one which I have had to make myself. There is no one path for a mixed race person to walk, and for me, I have decided to let others do the fighting because no one is happy with my choices. But when I hear that tone of voice implying that I am blind to the obvious facts of the existence of Caucasiods and Negroids (made up terms, friend, cut from whole cloth to suit the needs of a few) - I will tell you, no matter who says it I lose my shit.

As I am fond of saying "I've been to the Caucasus (Armenia is a beautiful place), and the people there? By the standards of our culture (and many others) would not be considered White". I'll get up the courage to tell the story of how the Caucasian "race" came to be, sometime soon, I hope, but for now, please let me guarantee you that not everything we know to be true is an objective truth. And for race, that goes double.

The winners write history, as it's said, and the winners in this case were myopic ethnocentric fools.

We never got around to really discussing this, so I'm airing unfinished laundry here. I'm sure we'll get around to ironing this out at some point. This story (my monologue here) will continue...

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