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Nate ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ @thel0rdbyr0n
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"Power affixes the markers of history."
#CurrentlyReading
"Any attempt to trace biological ancestry quickly turns into legend... the sophisticated Egyptian, Phoenician, Minoan, & Persian societies deeply influenced the culture of ancient Greece, which some still imagine as the West's pure & unique source"
Every time I think "man this world is crazy" (and it is...), it only takes a quick look back in history to realize just how bonkers it used to be... this book has me like
"Could oligarchic Greece have thrived without slavery? Could the philosophers and citizens attending to their businesses and that of the state ever have arisen without such a lower class doing the work? Plato owned fifty slaves... No shame attended this brutal business."
"What we can see depends heavily on what our culture has trained us to look for."
"Humanity moves around so much that no clear lines of descent trace back over two millennia... wars and imperial fortunes render political boundaries notoriously prone to dispute; furthermore, cultural boundaries are even harder to pin down."
"Naming does not help either, for we can comfortably reel off a roll call that includes Brandon Riveras, Matthew Feinsteins, and Tamika Washingtons, names that reflect both history and present cultural preference rather than genealogy."
"White race chauvinists are loath to admit that brown-skinned people speak the English language fluently."
"The untamed Germans called themselves Marsians, Gambrians, Vandalians, Tungrians, etc... German-speakers who entered Roman society, however, adopted Roman usage and called themselves Germani, just as Native Americans within the US have found reason to evoke a unifying identity."
"The Roman world and its successors blended the descendents of many a hapless barbarian... Race-chauvinist history depends on Tacitus' ancient Germani and medieval German heroes called Saxons. The race narrative ignores early European slavery and the mixing it entailed"
"the Vikings of the Dark Ages are hardly remembered as the preeminent slavers they actually were... and so embedded were slaves in the economy of the (11th century) British Isles that the Catholic Church, quite a wealthy institution, owned vast numbers of them"
"Slavery figures prominently in the notion of English identity, even in the British national anthem, which vigorously proclaims, "Britons never shall be slaves." Psychologists often label so emphatic a pronouncement a "deception clue," a hint of something concealed."
"over more than a millennium, the vast story of Western slavery was primarily a white story. Geography, not race, ruled, and potential white slaves were nearby for the taking. But then sugar made its way into the Mediterranean and on to Europe..."
"The market for sugar demanded other sources and other slaves, prompting the westernmost Europeans to seize the initiative... Prince Henry the Navigator sent Portuguese sailors down the coast of West Africa, planting sugar on islands like Madeira and Sao Tome..."
"...and in the process, found Atlantic currents running from Africa to the land they would name Brazil. Fairly soon the Americas, especially the Caribbean islands, proved so productive that sugar making became synonymous with America, and with African slaves."
"The relationship between slavery and racial classification brings the beauty ideal squarely into the history of whiteness."
"New York impresario PT Barnum directed his European agent to find "a beautiful Circassian girl" to exhibit in his Museum on Broadway as "the purest example of the white race." In the American context, a notion of racial purity had clearly gotten mixed with physical beauty."
"As this slavery faded, so did its iconography, but ideals of white beauty endured. They had become firmly embedded in the 'science' of race."
According to 18th century White supremacist "scientists", this statue (the Apollo Belvedere) is the pinnacle of human beauty
Apparently, the notion of physical beauty is the beginning of the "scientific" study of "race". Naturally, the Europeans placed themselves on top of this beauty scale, but then began affixing other things to it, like intelligence and value.
We now get to Blumenbach (the guy who came up with the "varieties" of humans, including first calling white people "Caucasian") and the significance of skin color is now finally rising to the top, where things like head shape used to be
Of course, white skin is placed on top of this hierarchy and "pitchy blackness" is placed at the bottom. Then language groups are also brought into the equation, when the Indo-European (Aryan) group is created.
"The judgment of sound scholarship did not suffice to kill off this notion... For determined racists, racial identity and language always coincide, and appearance would always figure in concepts of race."
Blumenbach was obsessed with studying skulls of people from around the world to talk about the "varieties" of humans. "The woman who gave white people a name (Caucasian) had been a sex slave in Moscow, like thousands of her compatriots in Russia and the Ottoman Empire."
Apparently White people are called "Caucasian" instead of "Georgian" because of.. well.. Georgia
Behold the most beautiful people on planet earth... apparently
"Whiteness now takes its place in racial classification, reorienting the science of human taxonomy from Linnaeus' geographical regions to Blumenbach's emphasis on skin color as beauty."

Irony: the *actual Caucasians* "never reached the apex of white racial hierarchy"
And then of course, the real human consequences of this new hierarchy:

According to Blumenbach's colleague, Meiners, who made no bones about it -- "inferior peoples' inferiority justified, even required, their enslavement and the use of despotism for their control."
"Western intellectuals began recognizing the United States as an important white outpost. Race theory there fell on fertile ground, for the emergence of class as a dimension of race thought was already underway."
"The abolition of economic barriers to voting by white men made the United States, in the then common parlance, 'a white man's country,' a polity defined by race and limited to white men."
Still, there were those in opposition:

Crevecoeur, 1782: "never could I rest in peace; perpetually disturbed by the retrospect of the frauds committed in Africa in order to entrap them, frauds surpassing in enormity everything which a common mind can conceive...
...can it be possible that the force of custom should ever make me insensible to the injustice of that slave trade, and to the slaves' miseries, as the rich people of [America] seem to be?"

when folks today say "they were men of their time" to excuse slavery, they lie
David Walker (free Black man, 1829, Boston): "The whites have always been an unjust, jealous, unmerciful, avaricious, and blood-thirsty set of beings, always seeking after power and authority."

He concludes later that murder remains the central feature of whiteness.
"Walker spread his Appeal widely... The incendiary pamphlet so alarmed Virginia's upper classes, any black readers associated with it paid with their lives... He had struck a strong blow against the notion that whiteness, throughout history, deserved to be judged positively."
Hosea Easton with a word. (even today, we hear White supremacists praise "Western Civilization" all the time)
"White supremacy corrupts white people by schooling them in domination and tyranny"
History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Just read this little section on opposition of the immigration of Catholics, and tell me if it doesn't sound familiar.
Not one of Ralph Waldo Emerson's more popular quotations:
Emerson and Carlyle had equated "Americans with Britons and Britons with Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon myth of racial superiority now permeated concepts of race in the United States and virtually throughout the English-speaking world. To be *American* was to be *Saxon*."
Sidenote: reading this book has been extremely enlightening about the "Enlightenment". Why does anyone quote Emerson? The man is disgusting.
Also, there are so many more examples of how someone being an abolitionist doesn't necessarily include being racially egalitarian, at all. Emerson "disapproved" of slavery, but also thought the extinction of Black & Indigenous peoples would improve the human race. Eff this guy
Max Weber, sociologist: "The fortunate man is seldom satisfied with the fact of being fortunate. Beyond this, he needs to know that he has a right to his good fortune. He wants to be convinced that he 'deserves' it, and above all, that he deserves it in comparison with others."
⬆️⬆️⬆️ This is why White people get so fussy when you bring up White privilege. Painter: "no one in favored circumstances wants to admit the chanciness of privilege."
This closing section on the legacy of late 19th century "American leaders in anthropology"... whew
Okay, diving back into this book again. Halfway through and it's heavy and very much needed.
"Any nation founded by slaveholders finds justification for its class system, and American slavery made the inherent inferiority of black people a foundational belief, rarely disputed... 'American' required whiteness."
"This is a White Man's Government"
One of the most nutty things you learn when reading some mid-19th-century "abolitionists" is that they thought slavery was worse for the slavers than the enslaved because it made them lazy and less civilized
"The idea of temperament as a racial trait was based on a perversion of Darwin. With a perfectly straight face, anthropologists reasoned that evolution operated on entire races, that races had personalities, and that physical measurements of heads betokened racial personality."
"All this measuring of heads meant little to most Americans. Slavery and segregation had seen to it that race resided most obviously in skin color, or at least in physical appearance or ancestry that could be classified as black or white."
Dr. Painter is a genius and amazing historian and we are lucky to be able to learn from her. Will be sharing more as I finish this book over the course of the week.
"Franz Boas began to see how hallowed European ways had disabled its scholars. 'We have no right to look down on them,' he said of the Inuit, an almost unique, even heretical, thought at the time [in Europe]... All knowledge, even Western knowledge, was relative & circumscribed."
" 'our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our culture goes.' To know everything worth knowing was impossible. And to know anything about other people required immersion in their world, to become, in a sense, one of them."
"Plessy v Ferguson in 1896 opened the way to the segregation of virtually all aspects of southern life. Such laws & decisions, allied with local practice, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands, tightening a southern grip on federal power that racialized all of national politics."
"Federal policy toward Native Americans & people from Asia also signaled their vulnerability to white cupidity. 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred any sizable immigration of Chinese workers. 1887, the Dawes Severalty Act divided & opened tribal territory to white settlement."
"Southern states, beginning with Mississippi and South Carolina, revised their constitutions in the 1890s, encouraging the enactment of poll taxes, literacy and property qualifications, and grandfather clauses that ended black political life in the South."
"Racism permeated scholarship. Within [anthropology], older leaders quickly rejected Boas' racial relativism... Assertions of Anglo-Saxon superiority continued pouring out... They did not want 'to pollute the United States with non-Aryan elements' [by open immigration]."
"In the short run, US immigration policy hardly changed. Rather the restrictionist campaign petered out in the face of opposition in the form of the power generated by immigrant organizations and their allies. Immigrant neighborhoods created a panoply of institutions..."
"Postponement of immigration restriction from the 1880s to the 1920s, for example, testifies to the clout of congressional representatives of immigrant communities, particularly in New York... liberals were gaining influence in the public sphere..."
But now we come to Roosevelt... the "progressive" who was also a Teutonist, who "savored the hideous brutality of warfare against the Indians" and, along with others, was "jubilantly predicting the universal reign of the Anglo-Saxon at the expense of all other races."
" 'Race suicide [is] fundamentally infinitely more important than any other question in this country.' For Roosevelt, it was a kind of race war pitting [Anglo-Saxons/Teutons] against two groups deemed inferior by dint of their heredity: 'degenerate' poor whites & immigrants."
"African Americans hardly figured in this discussion, as prominent race thinkers had convinced themselves that the Negro was dying out, unfitted as he was to live outside of slavery."
"Italian anarchists especially heaped scorn on American self-righteous blindness, above all when it came to injustices inflicted on blacks in the South. 'Who do they think they are as a race, these arrogant whites? For these, race hatred is a national duty.' [Il Proletario]"
Being white wasn't enough tho, you had to be a special kind of white.. and even then, you couldn't be poor
"Thus began what is called 'negative eugenics', a system seeking to prevent a class of people from reproducing. Meanwhile, Theodore Roosevelt got busy encouraging motherhood among his own 'superior stocks', an approach counted as 'positive eugenics'."
"People at the top of society have always been quick to condemn those at the bottom to perpetual service."
It's crazy to me that the only contribution that so many of these "race theorists" (all wealthy White men) made to this "science" was to go around ranking what they thought to be feminine beauty. Literally, that's all they did, and then tried to attach significance to it.
It's like those dudebros in high school who were always like "hey, 0 to 10, what do you rate her?" And then they decided to make a science out of it.. like, they did research and wrote books and stuff... unreal
"By 1912, when Goddard published The Kallikak Family, several states had already turned to compulsory sterilization [to control] the reproduction of 'undesirables'. Eugenicists spearheaded this movement, but they had support from liberals [and leading social reformers]."
"the prevailing logic was that criminals were born, not made, & society could protect itself by preventing their birth. Wendell Holmes: 'instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind'."
"Eugenic sterilization ultimately fell out of favor. During the 1930s, the Nazis took it up. Civil rights protests in the 1960s & 1970s against the involuntary sterilization of Black, Native, and Latina women effectively stripped the practice of respectability as public policy."
"Nativists had long denigrated immigrants on the grounds of their supposed inferiority." So they started giving intelligence tests
Hugo Munsterberg (German philosopher, influential teacher at Harvard) was "a great believer in the importance of mental testing, ranking people hierarchically, and letting elites make society's decisions."
"[Robert] Yerkes confidently assumed that intelligence testing could gauge mental capacity [and] determine a man's entire human worth." Yerkes, who was a student of Munsterberg, was elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1916.
"[Mental] testing was now quite popular among educators as a means of ranking college applicants."

Another layer of how White supremacy and race chauvinism has impacted education in our country/world.
My favorite (minor) part of this book is how Dr. Painter adds in stuff like "nonsensical", "full of contradictions", & "cockamamie" (yes!) when describing the "science" of these racists. Best line so far: "this emerges as an exquisite example of scientific racism" EXPOSE HIMMMMM
"The Russian revolution didn't persuade Americans to think about labor/politics in class terms, [but rather] interpret human difference as race. Therein lay a crisis. If the Teutonic white ppls of Europe represented humanity's apex, how had they reverted to savagery so easily?"
"W.E.B. Du Bois had an answer: 'This is not Europe gone mad, this is not aberration nor insanity; this is Europe; this seeming Terrible is the real soul of white culture, stripped and visible today.'
One of the most striking realizations that anyone who reads history can have is that we literally do the same things over and over and over again... Some of the same mental gymnastics and terrible ideas have been spinning round & round for centuries. Race theory is no exception.
This should be no surprise, seeing how much the powerful have lied to create what is known as "history".

"Oh hey, I've got this brand new idea!"

"Uh no, actually, that's the same shitty idea that someone else came up with 300 years ago and is still shitty."
Anyway.. back to Dr. Painter...
👀 #DisruptTexts folks, I know y'all looked at Gatsby

The "Goddard" referred here is Henry H. Goddard (prominent eugenicist)
The wordplay is clever by Fitzgerald, to reference two separate men with one name. Also important to note that Stoddard was a Klansman, wrote books about how great White supremacy was, and was literally an inspiration to the Nazi Party chief racial theorist. #DisruptTexts
"In his Teutonist, anti-Semitic jeremiad of 1899, Chamberlain praised Germans, ancient and modern. Dispensing with science to prove Nordic superiority Chamberlain argued that all the great men of history, including Jesus, were actually Nordic."

Jesus...

Nordic...
Btw important to note that the "Chamberlain" mentioned here is Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who, charmingly, is also known as "Hitler's John the Baptist"
And (of course) all these things lead to a "newly invigorated Ku Klux Klan" when they decided it wasn't enough to be anti-Black
OMG "Anglo-Israelitism"
The kinds of cockamamie idiocy that these racists come up with...
Just further evidence of how White churches have been in bed with White supremacy for a longggggggg time. "Jesus was the greatest man ever, and Jesus was white, therefore white people are the greatest! Logic!"
"Not until Nazi Germany awakened American geneticists and social scientists to the import of their scholarship did many realize that what called itself racial science was merely prejudice."

-________-
"Another change was in the air. Earlier studies had taken for granted the factual existence of races. But by the late 1920s psychology & sociology had begun focusing on the subjective nature of racial differences in society. Soon, race prejudice became a subject worth analyzing."
"In 1937, Jacques Barzun had published Race: A Study in Superstition, whose title says it all. Ashley Montague's 1942 Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race called the idea of race 'the witchcraft of our time'."
"Though gratifyingly sensible, the fact that scholars changed their minds about the number of white races did not transform society as a whole."
Now we come to the New Deal.

"The needs of working-class northern black voters, for instance, took a backseat to the powerful southern Democrats' obsession with white supremacy and abhorrence of labor unions. Southerners in Congress kept the New Deal segregated..."
"...black people were largely excluded from policies regarding labor, housing, education. The Social Security Administration excluded the two largest categories of black workers, those laboring on farms and in domestic service. African Americans got the worst of it."
One of America's favorite aviation heroes, Charles Lindbergh:
"It was federal policy that supplied lessons in diversity and federal policy also defined its limits, by means of a rigidly enforced segregation that imprisoned 110,000 Japanese Americans and counted up fractions of Negro 'blood' in order to separate black servicemen from white."
"With 'real American' identity coded according to race, being a 'real American' often meant joining antiblack racism and seeing oneself as white against the black."

Anti-Blackness is at the very core of Whiteness.
(speaking of the New Deal, GI Bill, and other policy) "Were all boats lifted by the government's largesse? No, they were not... Those lovely new suburbs, creatures of FHA and VA mortgages, were for white people only. Federal policy made and kept them all white--on purpose."
Alright now, let's finish this incredible book...
"By the mid-1960s the whole world watched as Americans played out their race drama on television. The angrier the speaker, the more rapt the attention. And no voice was angrier than that of Malcolm X."

Here we goooo
"In The Fire Next Time, an essay that troubled white readers, Baldwin called white Americans' relationship to Europe 'spurious'; they were hypocrites for Anglicizing their names, pretending to be white Americans in recognition that the real America never could be only white."
"Embracing white supremacy and losing their ethnic identities, Baldwin maintained, were the price second-generation [European] immigrants paid for the ticket to American whiteness."

Damn ain't that the truth.
"That was where American whiteness stood [in the 1970s]. White Americans were morphing into Italian Americans & Jewish Americans & Irish Americans. What they had in common was not being black. Basically, white vs. black now sufficed as an American racial scheme--for the moment."
"Every use of 'race' has always been loose, whether applied to black, white, yellow, brown, red, or other. No consensus was ever formed on the number of human races or even on the number of white races. Criteria constantly shifted according to individual taste & political need."
"By the 1990s, whiteness was no longer the invisible norm. Whiteness studies hold white race, ordinarily invisible, in the black/white dichotomy, up to the light. It appears as a powerful social construct letting whites think of themselves first and foremost as individuals."
"Although white people may exempt themselves from race, white privilege comes into view as a crucial facet of white identity... many other characteristics--class, region, gender, age, able-bodiedness, and sexual orientation--all affect the manifestation of this privilege."
"Molecular genetics drove the longest nail into the theory of race. The AAAS concluded in 1995 that, in biological terms, race holds no scientific validity. Its only importance lay now in its role as a social category to strike down patterns of discrimination."
"Shown clearly from [human genome] research: Race is a social concept, not a scientific one. Each person shares 99.99% of the genetic material of every other human being. In terms of variation, people from the same 'race' can be more different than people from different 'races'."
"Then [in 2002] research came to light that sought to lump DNA patterns by population groups. [This is] neither helpful nor accurate. True to racial thinking, differences were stressed and similarities played down. The idea of biological race was reemerging as genetic science."
This is the thinking behind people believing race has an impact on things like disease, rather than the interplay of environment & many different genes. Which of course doctors & pharmaceutical companies try to capitalize on with racialized medicine. (cc @dn_charles)
"To speak in racial terms, incessant human migration has made us all multiracial. Does this mean the human genome or civil rights or desegregation have ended the tyranny of race in America? Almost certainly not. The fundamental black/white binary endures."
The end.

Goodness gracious, what a book. I would recommend it to anyone, but highly highly recommend it to folks who have been racialized as White. Dr. Painter has given us a thousand important lessons in this one volume.
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