Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Race and identity

Because the US is  so race conscious, race matters to people even if it biologically doesn't make sense.  Here are some examples of race and how people identify (or have trouble doing so):

Here are the current definitions of "race" according to the US census:

Here are the changes being considered for the 2020 census:

Here are some articles on the difficulty of categorizing Hispanics:

The Census Can't Fit Latinos Into A Race Box And It's Causing More ...

The Huffington Post
May 22, 2014 - The Census Can't Fit Latinos Into A Race Box And It's Causing More Confusion ... U.S. Latinos changed their race category from “some other race” to “white” between the 2000 ... Latinos Who Don't Get A Race On The Census ...

Is being Hispanic a matter of race, ethnicity or both? | Pew Research ...

Pew Research Center
Jun 15, 2015 - When it comes to reporting their racial identity, Latinos stand out from other ... at least one of the five standard, government-defined racial categories ... This suggests that Hispanics have a unique view of race that doesn't necessarily fit ..... into one group even though a good 20 % don't speak Spanish at all ...

Hispanics Resist Racial Grouping by Census - The New York Times

The New York Times
Oct 25, 2004 - "We don't fit into the categories that the Anglos want us to fit in," Mr. ... of Hispanics who would include themselves in traditional racial groups ...

Here is another example of the difficulty of racial categories:

In The Latinos of Asia, Anthony Christian Ocampo shows that what "color" you are depends largely on your social context. Filipino Americans, for example, helped establish the Asian American movement and are classified by the U.S. Census as Asian. But the legacy of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines means that they share many cultural characteristics with Latinos, such as last names, religion, and language. Thus, Filipinos' "color"—their sense of connection with other racial groups—changes depending on their social context. 
From NPR:


Friday, May 20, 2016

Why racial jokes are NOT okay.

If, after reading my explicit racism post, you thought, "Hmmm, those frat party costumes don't seem so bad.  It's just a joke.  It's just funny."

Think again.  I want you to open your mind with a beginner mind and re-think about those parties after considering this post.

First, from the beginning of the year, we have tried to make Michael Schwalbe's sociological mindfulness a goal.  Even Schwalbe used racial jokes as an example.  In being aware that we affect society, we should realize that we can't see how far our influence goes and it helps to re-affirm or challenge social norms.  In this case, a funny joke might also help to re-affirm stereotypes, make other people feel like outsiders and, even in small ways, help justify violence against others.

Remember that these "jokes" are being conducted in a society that has widespread stereotypes.  As one example, let us consider Donald Trump.  I do not want to attack Trump personally but as a representative of the larger society.  Mr. Trump represents a very real possibility of being the next U.S. President.  He garners enormous media attention.  So he is an important cultural barometer for the U.S.  And despite his large media presence and serious political aspirations, he has said outlandish, offensive, outrageous and erroneous things about minority groups in the U.S.  For reference, from the Huffington Post, here is 9 outrageous things he has said about Latinos, including that Mexican immigrants are rapists and killers and criminals.  So, when these ethnic jokes occur, especially frat parties, realize that they are happening within the context of a country that is already tolerating hurtful, hateful ideas about these ethnic groups. 

Furthermore, think about the ingroup-outgroup mentality that we learned about in unit one.  I believe that often these parties do not involve anyone from the ethnic group that is being targeted.  In otherwords, it is not an inside joke, but it is a group of outsiders making fun of other people.  In many cases, those other people are on the same campuses where these jokes occurred!  Imagine seeing people who are not a part of one of your own groups making fun of that very group.  For example, imagine a group of Latinos dressed up like Donald Trump calling themselves white people and saying "I am white so I hate black people and I hate hispanics."

Friday, May 13, 2016

Race and Anatomy: Don't be mislead by pseudo-science!

Students always misunderstand their forensic unit in anatomy.  Anatomy misleads students into thinking that there are 3 "pure" races based on evidence from hair, cranium and femur.

For clarification, Let us turn to the Lab, the textbook and other resources.

The Lab
Anatomy provides important disclaimers within the lab itself.  However, it seems that these disclaimers get downplayed because students never mention them.  Let me quote from the lab itself and emphasize these points:

It can be extremely difficult to determine the true race of a skeleton. This is due to several factors: First, forensic anthropologists generally use a three race model to categorize skeletal traits: Caucasoid (European), Mongoloid (Asian/Amerindian), and Negroid (African). Although there are certainly some common physical characteristics among these groups, not all individuals have skeletal traits that are completely consistent with their geographic origin. Additionally, there is the issue of racial mixing to consider. Often times, a skeleton exhibits characteristics of more than one racial group and does not fit neatly into the three-race model. Also, the vast majority of the skeletal indicators used to determine race are non-metric traits, which, as stated earlier, can be highly subjective.
 First of all, most of the above paragraph is explaining why race is NOT a reliable factor when it comes to trace evidence.  The paragraph states that race is difficult to determine.  Why would it be difficult if race was biological?  Would it be difficult to determine whether a human, a chimp or a gorilla committed the crime?  I believe it would not because biologically, those three creatures are different.  But because humans are the same species and NOT biologically different, they cannot be separated distinctly into different races.  Secondly, the three race model is an old, erroneous and racist model that biologists, social scientists and anthropologists all do NOT use anymore.  Finally, the non-metric traits are a fancy way of saying that race is NOT scientific.  "Non metric" means it is subjective and based upon the society and local circumstances surrounding the people; it is a social construction.

Anatomy Textbook
I stopped into the ILC and looked at the anatomy text books.  There was NOTHING in the entire book about race.  I checked the table of contents, the index and I thumbed through chapters.  Nothing.  There is even a section on genetics that makes no mention about race.  Not a thing.  The section about craniums and skeletal system makes no mention of any distinguishing characteristics. 

Other Sources
Contexts sociology blog
The press release reports the results of this panel’s initial analysis of almost 500 cases. Most startlingly, it reports that FBI examiners gave inaccurate testimony in 96% of those cases.... As a 2009 review of forensic science by the National Research Council (NRC) put it, “No scientifically accepted statistics exist about the frequency with which particular characteristics of hair are distributed in the population.”

Science Buzz: 
...there’s more variation within any racial group than there is between them...Our genes are constantly moving around the planet. We’ve had 100,000 years of genes moving and mixing and re-assorting in countless different ways. We’re always mating outside our groups. [As a result, there’s] very little variation among us.

Live Science:
there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior - See more at: http://www.livescience.com/47627-race-is-not-a-science-concept.html#sthash.PdEUEzMO.dpuf
...there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior

Innocence Project and Unreliable Evidence:
...many forensic testing methods have been applied with little or no scientific validation and with inadequate assessments of their robustness or reliability. Furthermore, they lacked scientifically acceptable standards for quality assurance and quality control before their implementation in cases...And from NPR,
We’re talking about a technology which the FBI and state and local crime laboratories across the country have relied upon to associate an accused to a piece of crime scene evidence for the last 40 years by looking at hairs under a microscope that they found in a crime scene and comparing it to a defendant’s hair. It turns out that for 30 or 40 years, they were exaggerating the probative value of those similarities such that in, I would say a quarter, of all the DNA exoneration cases, the people were originally convicted in part based on crime lab people coming in and saying the hairs matched.

New Scientist:
With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, no forensic method has been rigorously shown able to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.

The Atlantic
How unthinking racial essentialism finds its way into scientific research.

There is no such thing as race; The troubling persistence of an unscientific idea.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Racial Formation

Today we read Omi and Winant's reading called Racial Formation.  Here are the guided reading questions:

 Read silently and then pause to answer each of the following questions in your group.

Read the questions to ponder section at the beginning, then answer the following:

1.  Is the first question a valid question? Why or why not? Answer below, then share with your group.

2.  We have already learned that gender is a social construction.  Is it possible that race is also a social construction?  Describe why or why not.  Answer below, then share with your group.

Read the first page (9, on the handout).  Then discuss question 3 and 4 and write your answers below. 
3.  What does it mean to be “one-thirty second black”? 

4.  Do you think one-thirty second black should mean someone is considered black?  If so, why?  If not, why not, and what should be the demarcation for being considered black?

Read page 10.  Then answer as a group:
5.  What does polygenesis mean?  What are the ways Europeans would treat people differently based on idea of polygenesis – list at least 3.

6.  How do biologists and anthropologists feel about the idea of race?

Read page 11.
7.  What does the author mean by “race is indeed a pre-eminently socio-historical concept”?

8.  What does “hypo-descent” mean?

Read page 12.
9.  How does classification of race differ in Brazil?

10.   What does “passing” mean?

11. How do people use race in everyday life?

Read page 13.  Then discuss as a group.
12.  What are at least three non-biological assumptions that race provides about an individual in the U.S.?

Read 14 and 15.  Then discuss these as a group:
13.  What role has race played in economics?

14.  What is the author’s thesis? Explain it.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Post 8: Social Class

For this post, we have explored how deviance is relative and how that relativity is related to social class.  We also looked at all of the components of social class that shape an individual's possibilities and problems.  Some things to consider for this post are: Do you see how social class is played out at SHS?  How do you see social class playing a role in your own life?  How are you affected by it? How might someone in poverty be affected by it?   Some sources to consider using are the websites related to social class, the Ted Talk about Monopoly, the reading Nickel and Dimed and the video The Line.