29 June 2004

"Race" is like an avocado

In my LOVELY social/cultural anthropology class (which I am taking this summer along with a five-hour field botany course), we are studying "race" - or, to be precise - the social construct of classification (i.e. stereotyping) of people based on physical characteristics.

And today I learned that race is like an avacado.

Before I continue, and to leave you chomping at the bit for a minute, I also learned a few other things. Things which we all know to be true, but can always use a bit of reiteration:

1. Race as a biological function is a myth. Read it: M-Y-T-H. That's right - no foundation...

2. So of course, all of those racial categories that we have to check on censuses are based on fallacy. So don't classify yourself. Fill in "other."

3. There is more differences that exist among "racial" groups than exists between different "racial" groups!

4. Anthropology as a discipline denounces racial classification in its entirety - and although some anthropologists operated under the false impression that races DID exist, and in an hierarchy to boot, there have been Anthropologists, like Franz Boas, who have fought against racial stereotypes and classifications since the early beginnings of the science. I love it!

So on to avacadoes...

The article we read had to do with the social perceptions of race in Brasil as opposed to those in the United States. Without going in to too much detail, and thus forcing you to click on the pop up ads, what is considered to be "black" in the U.S. can be "white" in Brasil, although the "black" U.S. individual may be lighter in skin tone than the "white" Brasilian! Just like an avacado is considered a vegetable here (and eaten in salads), in Brasil, it is seen as a fruit, and eaten for dessert with sugar! The avacado is the same, but it is the SOCIAL perceptions of it that change!

How cool is that!?!

I love you all! Go have some avacado - and try with sugar this time!




Liza said...

And that is one of the reasons why anthropology is awesome! In my intro to anth. course we talked about this issue in my discussion class. It was interesting because I remember that that was the first time in public education that I went "oh my gosh! someone's teaching me something about people, society, and history that I actually agree with!" Right on Boas, right on.

Nathan B said...

I took this Ethnic Studies class on communication between cultures, and the teacher showed a video about how race is purely a social construct and not a valid scientific classification. With a class that was mostly all African American, people were blown away, and some even chose not to believe the documentary. And a lot of people looked at me as if I was crazy when I said that I had always been taught that race was something that people made up and that physically it wasn't a reality. To me, the experience demonstrated how deep racism is engrained into our social conditioning.

I wish I liked avacados to try it, but I don't. Can race be like something else?

lizington said...

Sure! Maybe a tomato!

nathonius said...

In response to Nathan B's question "can race be like something else?" I am sad to declare that NO! race is an avocado, and an avocado only. An avocado it has always been, and an avocado it shall ever remain. If you don't like avocados then you are quite clearly a racist.

but i still think you're a pretty cool guy.

Jessica said...

Whatever Nate!