Jun 11, 2022·edited Jun 11, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

From arithmetic to a university degree, I've studied mathematics. Math classes are about its principles, not its history. European mathematicians get no more credit than Arabic ones. An entire university class in Fourier analysis, we never even heard his first name.

I've read about math history on my own. And there was no shortage of references to non-European trailblazers.

This is a dumb tangent.

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With regard to the math context, I feel blessed that my math teachers were not wannabe history teachers. It was never important to me where it came from. The steady white supremacy drone is something else.

I recently read a Medium article that talked about white supremacy in Thailand that caught my eye. My wife watches Thai television over the internet and has mentioned that the "stars" are fair skinned and have Western (white) facial features. Surgery or biracial, probably a bit of both. My brown skinned wife notices. While the changes in facial features are new, the light vs. dark skin thing is old news. Fifty plus years ago she spoke matter-of-factly without disparagement of how the women in Chang Mai were light skinned.

Light and dark unmistakably Asian people have always been a thing and perhaps it's just that I failed to notice it making a difference to them. The vanishing wide pug nose does seem to be an embrace of white beauty standards. She calls it the old Thai face vs. the new Thai face. Could that have something to do with white supremacy? I'm not the right person to answer that. Their history is quite different from ours. The beginning of the abolition of slavery in Thailand began in 1874. Slavery there, as in most of world history had no connection to Trans-Saharan or Trans-Atlantic slavery. They don't have that issue.

When I think of white supremacy, I think of the Ku Klux Klan, and I have no doubt that the use of that label is intended to bring that association. Does the Asian embrace of white beauty standards have anything to do with that? For that matter, does the current trend in black women adopting the long straight hair of their Asian and south of the border sisters have something to do with White supremacism? I didn't try to discuss it with the author of the article because he proceeded to outright racism and I just didn't have the energy for a discussion with someone who labels me a racist because of the color of my skin. An exercise in futility.

I will ask here. Where is the line between actual white supremacy and everything white is white supremacy? Why is that so hard?

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"Where is the line between actual white supremacy and everything white is white supremacy? Why is that so hard?"

As I understand it, white supremacy differs from good old-fashioned racism in that it isn't just hatred, it presupposes that white people are superior to other "races" and works to ensure that white people hold the ascendancy in society through legal and other means.

There's a strong argument to be made that America in particular was built on that premise. The superiority of white, land-owning men was literally built into the constitution.

The conversation we're having today is, have the various efforts to correct that gone far enough? And if not, what else needs to be done? I've yet to hear a coherent policy plan from anybody talking about white supremacy today. It's all, "mathematics is built on white supremacy," or "capitalism is white supremacy."

The question of whether too much emphasis is still placed on the contributions of white people in history is fair enough. Just as the question of whether too much emphasis is placed on the contributions of men. The point J raises about his son drawing blond-haired, blue-eyed "self-portraits" is really meaningful. But describing this as white supremacy, and acting as if all white people today are responsible for the various factors that affect his son's self-image, is a recipe for not fixing the problem.

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The multi-racial have self-image issues beyond those served to them by the zeitgeist. I didn't give enough thought to that for my daughters as they grew up. Now one of them has grown very interested in ancestry. Perhaps on behalf of her children who will have to deal with it.

You probably know who Rhiannon Giddens is, but if you don't, here. She has a levelheaded approach. I think that many white people resist the issue because it is perceived as being served in a goblet of venom. There's an old expression about it not always being about what you say, but how you say it. Some truth in that but not that simple.


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“The multi-racial have self-image issues beyond those served to them by the zeitgeist.”

Absolutely. So do some black people. So do some women. So do some gay people. So do some white people. I don’t think identity issues are unique to multi-racial people. Especially today. Society seems to have become pathologically focused on which group of people in history we should align ourselves with.

I think the belief that our skin or even our genes define us is inevitably toxic, because it tempts us to take credit for things we didn’t do, and to compete with others over things they didn’t do.

I’m much more focused on what I personally achieve than what a black person 100 or 1000 years ago did. I’m much more interested in wisdom in general than the skin colour of the person who expressed it. I object to that skin colour being *lied* about, of course, but mainly because lying about it is simply a different way of focusing on it.

Thanks for the video, I’ll check it out.

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Agreed. Just as the mother in the story paid too much of the wrong kind of thought/action to the issue, I probably paid too little.

As an indication of how much, or little, ancestry/ethnicity can mean to people and how quickly it can change recently happened under my roof. One of my wife's dearest friends (the whole family actually) for over 20 years is Vietnamese. One day my wife mentioned that that friend was Chinese. When I said, she's Vietnamese, my wife said, "That's what country she's from but she's Chinese. Chinese people are all over the place you know." I'm not sure what inspired that, they are still best of friends. No foul. The people of Southeast Asia are more inclined to see themselves as cousins than siblings in ancestral/genetic closeness than outsider can see.

Thanks to my daughter's interest in such things, she did the 23&me DNA thing and asked us to. My wife thinks of herself as Thai with a Laotian paternal grandmother. The DNA said that she is also about a quarter Vietnamese/Chinese Dai. The Dai are from the south of China and are widely scattered throughout Southeast Asea but mostly in Vietnam (the chinese people all over the place). That piece of information changed nothing about my wife's thoughts on who she is. She's never been to Vietnam and has no cultural history there. Her poker face indicated that her Vietnamese friend's history and cultural influence is in Vietnam, she's never been to China, was dissonant with, "She's Chinese." I didn't rub her nose in that, it occurred to her.

Three takeaways from that. We often hold contrary notions so far in the background that it is without cognitive dissonance until a light is shined on it. What is important or unimportant at one moment can change quite suddenly. Your own personal experience and cultural influence is more important than that of your ancestors (your thought above). A very good reason for the conversations you inspire here. Thinking about that mass of contradictions in our heads.

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In Vietnam the white-skinned woman thing is horrifying. One sees a lot of lesions forming on the upper cheeks, and some older women only had the fronts of their faces bleached; from the side they are as dark as ever, Plastic nose bridges are commonplace. Even tiny convenience stores selling little more than vegetables and instant noodles have a rack of skin bleaching packets.

I read about one guy who was talking online with a Vietnamese girl; after many months he decided to come out and meet her and prepare to marry. Her parents got all excited and got her surgeries, nose bridge, bleaching. When the guy arrived at the airport and she came running to the gate to meet her paramour he didn't recognize her, and when she explained he went back to the ticket counter and got the first return flight he could get.

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I was so surprised by this the first time I went to Asia. I'd never heard of face whitening before I went to Japan. I've never seen plastic nose bridges though! What are they for?

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Wow! I'm not aware of skin bleaching in Thailand though years ago I knew a woman who powdered her face to excess.

Given Vietnam's history, French colonialism and American military involvement it is hard for me to imagine a political fetish for white Western beauty standards. From what I have read, the left behind children fathered by Americans were not treated well. That would of course have been political.

There does seem to be a worldwide preference among many for "lighter." I still wonder about white supremacy claims pertaining to that. Am I just blind to it as a white man, even though I am probably atypical on my side about race?

Hopefully I haven't gone on a tangent from Steve's topic but I do think the broadend scope of white supremacism beyond the aftermath of trans-Atlantic slavery may have some truth that I may be missing. I can't just automatically dismiss it, even though I see it often as hyperbole.

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Jun 15, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

"There does seem to be a worldwide preference among many for "lighter." I still wonder about white supremacy claims pertaining to that. Am I just blind to it as a white man, even though I am probably atypical on my side about race?"

I wouldn't call it white supremacy- colorism has a long history in East Asia. My parents, and other elders I've asked have generally attributed it to classism: darker skin = poor people working outside, lighter skin = rich people inside protected from the sun. I think Asian cultures' long history of favoring hierarchical organizational structures probably exacerbates the classism in some way as well, but that's personal speculation.

I've been trying to recall some good sources of reading about the topic, but frustratingly enough the majority of English-language sources or documentation that Google is serving me is stuff that was only written in the last five-to-ten years and either focused on Asian-Americans or trying to blame it all on western colonialism (or both). This is frustrating so I'm going to look deeper when I've got more free time.

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The shallowness and superficiality in the middle and upper classes is hard to imagine here.

The traditional Vietnamese music is being driven out by pop, truly terrible pop; the western stuff is crap nobody over 14 in the USA would listen to, but it's still better than the Vietnamese pop, where all melodies are arpeggios and all tonality is tonic-dominant.

Dark skin is so deprecated that it eliminates any employment above labor.

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"Dark skin is so deprecated that it eliminates any employment above labor."

Do you think this is something mostly seen between Vietnamese people? When I visited Vietnam, I was really struck by how curious people were about the colour of my skin. But it was wholly positive. They were fascinated by it, they kept telling me how beautiful it was, lots of people wanted photos with me or just to chat (though that might have been about speaking English).

There seems to be a marked divide when it comes to racism in parts of Asia, where older people are more likely to be very openly racist, but below 40 or so, people are unusually celebratory of differences.

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I just mentioned skin bleaching to my wife with reference to Thailand and she said, "Yeah, they do that. They want to be white." Sad.

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Oh man, that's sad. I sometimes listened to Vietnamese radio in the 60s. Beautiful music. The vocals were melodic though I never learned any Vietnamese words that had no military purpose i enjoyed it. I don't need to say what some of the Americans had to say about that ;0(

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I like some of the traditional music because it's tonally foreign and very modal. Some modes have a single quarter tone. But it doesn't reach m as it does them.

But the traditional music is only rural now and even here there is a lot of dreary techno. In western-influenced pop they like extremely simple tonality; half the songs sound like The Godfather theme, Aeolian mode (A to a on the white keys)

There were six different traditional modes, three are now extinct. I have a sepia photo of blind musicians who went from village to village performing ... it's dated 1906.

If you were hearing ejoyable singers they were probably Filipino. as are most live performers. Almost all Vietnamese are completely tone deaf.

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I do like modal music. As a banjo player I like music classified as Americana which is a blend of origins (Afro Caribbean and European), like America. The blues pentatonic is formed by dropping the semitones from Phrygian so it kinda sorta survives. Dorian is a more popular minor scale than Aeolian and Mixolydian is popular in music I like. I do have an attachment to a tonic home base and never got into atonal music though I'm fine with key changes to the dominant fifth. Music is the most wonderful thing in the world and it is sad what is happening to it.

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"She calls it the old Thai face vs. the new Thai face. Could that have something to do with white supremacy?" No, unless Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon are over in Thailand telling people that the 'old Thai face' is uglier than the new one. This, and Steve's debater complaining her son drew a self-portrait with blond hair and blue eyes, is a result of American/European cultural exportation. We create content about white people featuring white people, others see it and are influenced by it. Several years ago I Googled "why are Indian men so aggressive/into white women" out of frustration of having been romantically targeted for years in Canada by brown dudes (Middle Easterners too, but Indians are just relentless) and I discovered that they got socialized to respond to white beauty because of pornography, which is produced of course mostly by Europeans and North Americans.

There's a whiteness problem here for sure but calling it 'white supremacy' is inaccurate, since WS is first and foremost about a *conscious commitment to the notion that white skin connotes greater value and that all others are inferior* (Corollary: The same goes for the non-penised). I don't believe Americans or others exported primarily white content to other countries for some sinister white supremacy cause. They made shit about themselves, having not been pushed until recently to diversify, and because it was popular here they exported it elsewhere where it was also popular, esp if it spoke to human values and experiences we all share. The indoctrination to desire white beauty is, AFAIC, a side effect rather than a sinister agenda.

We need a better description for this specific problem than 'white supremacy'. White enculturation? Or better yet, something less racial since it's really not about exporting white values, but, well, simply making money.

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Indian men in the west must have it rough. I've never met anyone, straight woman or gay man, who was attracted to them. They have a reputation for being incredibly obnoxious though I've known many who were gracious.

Get the candor of someone with power to hire and ask about Indians.

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India's a highly diverse country, racially, ethnically and linguistically. They have some of the hottest guys...when I first moved here an Indian friend and I went to see a movie starring the Indian actor John Abraham and I just fell in love with him. Abraham was, at the time (17 years ago) drop dead gorgeous with huge brown eyes...I'm a sucker for big brown eyes. I'm not averse to Indian men (or Middle Eastern ones, they can be pretty hot too) but I'm always on my guard because those are famously misogynist parts of the world. Too often they come to the West without the social skills to handle friendships or relationships with women and they likely run afoul of feminists and egalitarianism.

What do you know about hiring Indians? I used to work for an Indian-owned small company, it was a pretty good multiple-stretches-of-employment except for one phase when my boss sexually harassed me, but I attribute it more to middle-aged dumbass male stupidity than his being Indian, because it happened well into our professional relationship, not at the beginning (when I was several years younger and arguably hotter).

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I have to be careful in responding because an honest reporting of my experiences will have some people screaming "racism!" at me. I'll just restrict it to three observations, all of which I swear to be true.

1) the two best managers I have ever had in over thirty years of software work were both Indian.

2) a few of the best programmers I have ever worked with were Indian (none of these worked from India)

3) every single one of the worst programmers I have ever worked with, both in terms of being programmers and in being coworkers, were Indian. Every single one. If you knew anything about the work I could tell you stories that would have your jaw on the floor,

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I had a manager who led the way to hiring in/from India. My field was not exactly "programming" although I wrote tons of it. It was test engineering where I developed hardware interfaces and wrote software for automatic test of avionics hardware. Early on she brought in programmers who didn't understand the electronics that they were writing software to test. It did not go well. By the time I retired they were taking over much, if not most of the software work I did, except in areas of ITAR and dual use restricted technology. I was still doing the hardware stuff and was the technical lead on projects they were involved in.

I will say that the ones I worked with in the end were competent, hardworking and pleasant to work with. Like Americans and the ones that I worked with from other countries, some were very good and some not so much. But this thread of conversation is about them as people. They were people. In the end, race and culture made little to no difference in my experience with working with them.

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With the exceptions I noted my experience has been starkly different.

I don't want to talk about race. It's a huge country with many distinct ethnicities and languages. What I will mention, at risk of being called names, is work ethic. The coworkers I mentioned who did solid work had been in the USA for some time and picked up the (long dead) culture of excellence in software. Most never did.

Far more common, universal among recent arrivals, was an adamant and aggressive mediocrity, doing the absolute least they could get away with doing, triumphally announcing every (badly) cleared task in email (when nobody else did) but otherwise completely uncommunicative.

In 2020 I was on a distributed team on a project that ultimately died as I knew it would because the guy doing the back end, named Lijo. was completely incompetent and wouldn't listen to anyone. On the daily zoom call (ugh) his voice was three times louder than anyone else's and he insisted on doing a screen share when he had nothing to demonstrate, hijacking our machines so we could watch him wiggle his mouse. I needed analgesics after every call. There were three other Indians on this team and they were soft-spoken and did good work.

Once I wrote a new back end entrypoint in a language called Django I didn't know very well; I asked him to review it and touch up the syntax. He completely rewrote it, very badly, changing the HTTP status codes so the code calling it wouldn't work anymore, reformatted it to his own preferred illegible slop (reformatting others' code is a serious provocation). It was terrible work. I tried three times to talk to him about it, maybe he had his reasons (wrong. A server exception is 500, not 400, and that's not a matter of style) and he never answered. I finally went to management, something I abhor doing, and all they heard was "conflict in the team." Since the company didn't do much testing they didn't know that his back end was going to fall flat on its face as soon as they prepared for release. I knew it because I usually do back end work. They never released, all that work wasted.

I mentioned hiring. OK, back in the days of the HIV epidemic I went to give blood and they wouldn't take mine because I'm gay and even though most gay men didn't have HIV, we were nevertheless more likely to. Well, such was the case in software hiring; sure there are a lot of good Indian developers but most companies tossed any Patel resume in the trash because the probability of getting a Lijo was just too high. OTOH when the hiring manager was Indian, nobody but other Indians was ever hired. Outsourcing to Indian companies risks having them go silent just before the project is done and then having them steal it and market it themselves.

I wrote about my Lijo experience on Medium, omitting his nationality and his name. I made $2500 from that one article. Apparently it resonated for a lot of people. I bought a Moog with the money.

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I'm a programmer (well, retired now), and I'd be interested. In the stories about bad colleagues, that is; I'm not interested in elaboration about their ethnicities unless especially relevant.

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I'd be interested in hearing about them too. Race redacted!

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Well thanks for sharing, however obliquely :) I understand why.

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I think one of the many harms that this new, dumbed-down version of "white supremacy" encourages is the erasure of colorism and other associated forms of prejudicial thinking about physical attributes (shapes of noses, kinkiness of hair, etc). Colorism and its like exists across so many cultures. Perhaps it can all be traced back to white supremacy. But colorism comes to play in white cultures and in black, let alone Asian and Latin cultures. It may be connected to white supremacy, but it is a different thing.

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“Skin colour becomes irrelevant only after we learn to love ourselves.”

It’s the journey toward loving ourselves that gets so damn complicated.

If we are loving ourselves by denigrating someone else, that’s a viscous kind of self love that turns sour when we have the guts to look in the mirror and describe honestly the person that we see. The labeling, the twitter mobbing - all that nasty stuff that makes someone else small so we can feel big.

If we are loving ourselves by seeking the best in us and in those around us, it seems like a cleaner and more genuine self-love rooted in our common humanity.

Not easy for sure - we humans harbor our grievances like precious coins we store in the dragons cave and secretly review whenever we feel threatened or wronged. Rising above the petty takes a real act of moral courage and we need to celebrate it when we see it.

To love as a child loves. To live with wonder and happiness. To embrace each day as a new possibility. To share and to strive together to be better.

Clearly I remain an optimist, and part of that rests in thinkers and writers like you, Steve. As long as there are truth tellers that love themselves and are capable of growing past self-hate to self-love, we are evolving.

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"It’s the journey toward loving ourselves that gets so damn complicated."

Yes indeed. I think that's why some people choose hating somebody else. It's easier. And distracts attention from their feelings about themselves.

J is deeply insecure about his blackness. We've actually had a number of conversations on the topic. But instead of looking inside for the solution, he searches everywhere around him for something to blame. Sadly, it's easy to see how this will unconsciously damage his son's self-image too.

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What a conversation. You can see the threads of inadvertantly setting up her son for failure by focusing on blackness and how everything is steeped in 'white supremacy'.

"They'll break down what each European mathematician "brought us", and let hang in mid air the implication that we need not look beyond that continent for more contributors." WTF? Where does her son go to school, KKK High? As a piss-poor math student I didn't get taught about math discoveries *at all*. I think I knew that Arabs invented algebra, something I still haven't forgiven them for :) But, all kidding aside, I wonder a few things about the notion that we're teaching kids how 'white' math, literature, music or science or anything else is. Speaking from the perspective as a woman, since feminists make the same complaints about gender bias in studies. And also a Canadian, where my adopted peeps seem sometimes to be in a competition with Americans for valuable contributions to civilization. (Frozen fish, Pablum, zippers, basketball, ice hockey [bien sur!] hydrofoils, Gramophones, etc. You're welcome. Remember us in your will. :)

One question to ask is how truly critical a particular contribution is. Some inventions were truly revolutionary (the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, the Internet) and others were valuable but not as civilization-shaking. Speaking American-historically, it's been pointed out by many that black folks and women are playing catchup after hundreds of years of oppression and limits to their education. The first women were admitted to the college in 1849, the first black men about twenty years later. White Eurocentric/American men have a long established centuries-long history of work to build upon, the rest of us less so - we're all using the knowledge base developed by them. As creators or researchers, we're just not as good at it, yet. Our contributions will likely prove to be less valuable (but hardly worthless, just perhaps valuable to niches) for awhile but we'll get better. I noticed this when I discovered a website for female-produced and directed movies, where women were portrayed as women actually were rather than the sexualized wank material they were required to be in mainstream movies. And, having a thing for offbeat indy movies to begin with, I thought, "Cool!" But, reading the descriptions of the movies I could tell they were a little amateurish, or maybe a better word is less-developed. The stories didn't sound quite compelling, although maybe the description writer didn't know how to write a compelling blurb - a sign that this may be an amateurish effort overall. We don't yet have the body of work of female production and direction to build upon, learning from previous mistakes.

Another thing I wonder about the 'domination' of white Euro-American male presence: How much of it depends on written records? Europeans have a long catologued history, as do Asians and Middle Easterners, and I'm not sure where Africa stands in that regard. I'll admit I'm a little fuzzy on pre-colonial Africa but I HAVE looked for a good history book on it and all I seem to find are books obsessed with Africa's slave trade. (Which makes me wonder about this lady who complains that the kids are being taught 'Africa started with the slave trade': Gee, what colour are the people who seem most obsessed with the African slave trade history, and want to predate America's founding to 1619 because, slave ship?)

It's possible Africans invented shit before the rest of us but no one knows because it's not documented. Who invented the wheel? Who knows, happened in preliterate societies. Probably several people in several different places.)

Then there's the guy who theorized heliocentrism 1,500 years before Copernicus: Aristarchus. Humanity seemingly forgot about it and Cop the European is the guy who figured out the truth, right? Why did we forget what Aristarchus taught us? Maybe heliocentrism wasn't the clusterfuck for the ancient Greeks as it was in Christian Europe. Maybe the Greeks were all like, "Yeah, that's interesting, gotta go to the temple now," rather than "BURN HIM!!! BURN HIM!!!"

In the end, math is about the least racist- and gender-possible subject ever. Math is what it is. The numbers are either wrong or right. Math doesn't care what colour you are, what's between your legs, whether you're Einstein or Dr. Oz, or what your politics are. You're either wrong or right.

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"You can see the threads of inadvertantly setting up her son for failure by focusing on blackness and how everything is steeped in 'white supremacy'."

I've pointed to this problem over and over again. It's so depressing that more people can't see it. The current Tate of racial discourse teaches black children that they're doomed to fail. It practically insists that they see themselves as oppressed victims. Regardless of how rich or privileged they are by every reasonable metric.

It teaches them to constantly define themselves in opposition or comparison to white people. And then to feel personally implicated by the areas where black people in general lag behind.

Now, of course, I think *everybody* should be interested in the areas where black people lag behind. At least insofar as some of those disparities were created by a fairly recent legacy of legally-mandated racism (not to mention the centuries long exploitation of Africa and its resources).

But I don't feel insecure because some people believe that black people are inferior or less worthy of credit. I don't tally up the various contributions to humanity by race. I think that's where J is going so very wrong.

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With regard to African history, which Africa ? It's a very big place. North Africa has a different culture and history. Was the trans Saharan slave trade that Westerners trapped into and expanded to become trans Atlantic slave trade about race? I don't know for sure but I suspect that the history of North Africa has a more detailed historical record than that South of the Sahara.

Were there libraries and museums that were destroyed in tribal warfare? When the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya they destroyed the Thai historical record. The destruction of national/tribal history by invading armies has been historically common worldwide. The lack of historical record may be more due to cruelty than neglect.

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Good points. Yes, those are other reasons why there may not be a historical record to show that some African invented something important. I'm not sure I think the slave trade was much about race although I could be wrong. Europeans, having an advanced civilization, tended to regard any other culture more 'behind' than they to be 'savages', esp if they didn't know about Jesus. And of course any group that's 'less civilized' than you is easily enslaved (in the minds of the dominators). I don't think it was that different for whites - the Slavic tribes were heavily enslaved by Europeans back in the day.

This is why i'm getting very sick of hearing about slavery overall. Everyone did it, many peoples' ancestors were slaves regardless of colour, and what's more important is ending the slave trade that exists *today*. However, I do think we need to examine the American slave trade much more as it really does appear to have been a far more brutal system than slave cultures anywhere else. I'm still trying to find an answer as to why that's so. (Not to mention the post-Reconstruction era of brutal lynchings, which sometimes included some near-medieval level of torture. Things that make you go "WTF, AMERIKKKA???")

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I would be interested in solid sources for the belief that "the American slave trade was far more brutal system than slave cultures anywhere else". I am very aware that this is a common theme in racial activism, but I'm interested in the historical analysis to support or debunk that assertion?

I'm somewhat skeptical, given accounts of, say, Greeks tossing slaves into snakepits for the fun of it, slaves being burned alive at master's funerals, the terrible life of a galley slave, stories of torture and slavery pre-Columbian North America, slave labor used by Japan in WWII, Roman slave revolts and their punishment, etc. My unscientific sample of eclectic sources over a lifetime of reading (not focused on slavery per se), would suggest that any time somebody effectively "owns" somebody else as property, there are going to be terrible abuses, period - both systematic and individual (psychopaths owning slaves can be uninhibited). But I'm open to more systematic assessments.

One datapoint in such an assessment would be that over the course of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the territories now included in the United States received about 389,000 slaves from Africa; the rest of the Americas received about 10,300,000 (ie: US received about about 4% of total).

For every enslaved African brought to the US, there are about 100 descendants today (there were about 10 descendants at the time of the US Civil War). By contrast, over 1 million slaves were receive in Jamaica, and there are about 2.5 descendants today for each imported slave.

Slaves were pretty much worked to death and replaced, in the Caribbean and Brazil. Of course, being worked to death is only one form of brutality, but I have been assured that other forms of brutality were also rampant. Beyond the non-US destinations of the Trans-Atlantic trade, I've read of many terrible things done to slaves around the world historically. In some places and for some classes of slaves, life was better than in other cases, but I have seen nothing so far that suggests that the North American slavery was uniquely brutal.

So I'm wondering if your impression that slavery in the US, (or in territory which became the US) was uniquely brutal comes from solid sources, or from something closer to DEI trainings? I'm very open to new sources.

(For the sizes of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, I recommend David Eltis' work, numerically summarized at https://www.slavevoyages.org/assessment/estimates)

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Jun 13, 2022·edited Jun 13, 2022Author

"I would be interested in solid sources for the belief that "the American slave trade was far more brutal system than slave cultures anywhere else""

I'm uncomfortable with the framing of one type of slavery being "worse than" another. But I think there are a number of bases for the claim that are, at least, reasonable.

First, all the various examples you cited regarding other types of slavery (except the snake pits and the burning at their master's funerals), are all true of The Atlantic slave trade at the same time. Slave revolts were brutally and disproportionately punished (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner%27s_slave_rebellion), torture was fairly commonplace, and the Middle Passage was, I daresay, worse even that what galley slaves had to endure (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Passage).

There's also the fact that it happened relatively recently, in what was, comparatively speaking, a civilised country that wasn't at war (unlike Japan). And while black people weren't tossed into snake pits, they were lynched for the fun of it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching_in_the_United_States#Photographic_records_and_postcards), which, in some cases, included being burned alive (https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/slavery/experience/responses/history2.html).

I've spent far more time than I care to learning about The Atlantic Slave trade. There's endless detail about it's brutality if you look online for it. But there's less data on other forms, largely, as I said, because The Atlantic slave trade is more modern and therefore more reliably detailed. There are surviving audio testimonies of slaves in America. Not so from other legalised forms of slavery.

But yeah, ultimately, I think we should all be able to agree, without the slightest hesitation or desire to relativise, that it's one of the most awful stains on humanity's moral history. Certainly its modern history. We should also be able to agree that white people today don't need to feel complicit or defensive about it.

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First off, I find all forms of slavery abominable, and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was indeed very terrible indeed. Nothing either of us says about relative comparisons implies in any way that any kind of slavery is OK. Let's agree on that and move to the areas where we do not have consensus yet.

PgbR: "I would be interested in solid sources for the belief that "the American slave trade was far more brutal system than slave cultures anywhere else""

Note carefully the specific assertion I was questioning, quoted from the comment to which I was responding; it's a current example of a common theme in modern anti-racism. I was not dismissing it, I was asking for solid sources and using examples to explain my initial skepticism, pending such a source.

(1) At question is not whether the US trade was brutal or abominable (see opening), but whether it was "far more brutal" than that of any other culture.

(2) I was talking about the slave trade to the (sometimes future) United States, whose ships carried about 2.5% of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and whose shores received about 4%. I am contending that the larger bulk of that trade appears to have been at least as brutal and very likely more so, than that ending on US shores. This subset of my questioning is not addressed by arguments about the overall TA slave trade.

(3) Brutal slave treatment in the service of a war of conquest doesn't seem to make it any less brutal. The rationale for the slavery was not part of the assertion I was questioning.

Was the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in Western Africa "far more brutal" than the Arabic slave trade in Eastern Africa? They had similar total numbers, albeit stretched over more centuries in the latter case. The Arabic slave trade did enormous numbers of castrations, which had a high fatality rate. Other than that difference, I haven't seen a case made for either being "far more brutal" than the others.

As an aside, in regard to specifically comparing just the Middle Passage and being a galley slave - even though both are horrible histories, the best estimates are that about 20% of those embarking in Africa died before arriving in the New World. As terrible as that is, the fatality rate among galley slaves was essentially 100 percent as they were worked to death on the oars, and the horrors they faced in the galley would last the rest of their short lives.

(Although, suffering the Middle Passage combined with ending up on a Caribbean sugar cane plantation to be typically worked to death within a few years, would be more comparable to being a galley slave).

If we read about the rebellion led by Spartacus, and the massive crucifixions that were used to punish it, it becomes hard to make the comparative case that the US slave trade was "far more brutal" in the way it punished rebellions, or in the conditions which caused people to rebel even knowing the consequences.

Remember, the assertion I was asking for references for was not "was US based slavery terrible and brutal in general" nor "did the worse examples exhibit the same kinds of brutality as the worst examples elsewhere in the world" - but rather that the US slave trade was "far worse than" the slavery in any other culture. Both being really bad does not support the assertion in question.


* I agree that US Slavery was a terrible, horrible and brutal affront to humanity

* I need more evidence before I can agree that it was "far more brutal" than any other slavery practiced by humans.

And I'm not seeing any of *that* evidence in your response.

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"Note carefully the specific assertion I was questioning, quoted from the comment to which I was responding"

Yep, I understood the question you were asking, and acknowledged that I was reframing it slightly because as asked, it's almost impossible to answer. Firstly because what qualifies as "far more brutal" is subjective, and secondly because there are all kinds of examples of slavery throughout history that we don't have good data for. In fact, we don't have very good data for most forms of slavery as they were a long time ago. I couldn't say with any authority how the Egyptian slave trade compared to the Atlantic slave trade, for example.

That's why I compared the Atlantic slave trade to the other examples of slavery you mentioned (I can't believe I forgot, as Nicole mentions below, the various medical experiments performed on slaves, women in particular). There are many things, like those experiments, that we don't hear of in accounts of other examples of slavery. And very few (if any) things we hear about in other accounts of slavery that didn't also happen during the Atlantic slave trade. Galley slaves, for example, worked to death on the oars, African slaves, if they survived the journey, worked to death on the land. This isn't a perfect measure of its brutality, but it's a reasonable basis for the argument.

I didn't mean to imply that you think slavery is okay. Obviously you don't. But rather that it's very difficult for comparisons not to come across as moral relativism or attempts to say "well, other people did it too." I don't think you'd be tempted to do this if not for the idiots arguing that white people are complicit in atrocities that took place before they were born. Maybe I'm wrong about that. But I very rarely hear anybody talk about other genocides when the Holocaust is brought up, for example.

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I haven't done a comprehensive study of slavery in all times and places so I can't swear the American system was THE most brutal and I'll admit I tend to avoid, in most cases, reading too much about human cruelty to others because I find it extremely upsetting. I was furious at my history teacher in college for making us read 'Treblinka' which I figured would at least have a happy ending as it ended with a successful Nazi concentration prisoner revolt, but it was the most brutal thing I'd read to date and I was deeply disturbed by it. I consoled myself that I could put it out of my mind and forget about it, which I did, and all I remember now is descriptions of the 'black humour' (not racial, the very dark humour you find from people in very dark places) and the fact that like 300 pages later, the goddamn happy ending didn't come until like the last three pages. I was pissed.

Worst thing I've read *since* then was intentional, "Hitler's Willing Executioners", which surpasses Treblinka in horror (it makes Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning look like a fucking fairy tale) but I read it about ten years ago, trying to understand the nature of evil and two things that have always struck me as speaking to the core of human evil are lynchings, which Steve has gotten into already and I will add "Ditto, and I read one on Medium a few months back that SO horrified me about what was done to a black woman in the 1930s that I'm like, the ones who just got hung had it easy. The brutality of lynchings post-Civil War are a strong argument for how much hatred white people of the day had for black people for reasons I doubt I will ever understand. Several years prior, I was surprised to find human beings HAD been burnt at the stake here, if not as much as in Europe, and pretty much only black men in particularly brutal killings. No witches in Salem or anywhere else in the Colonies were ever burnt at the stake.

I got my information from Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste: The Origin of our Discontents" which someone gave me for Christmas a few years ago. I thought, "Oh shit, I wonder if this is one of those lefty-extremist things," but I thought it was quite good, even though I would suggest she is a little too lefty on anti/racism for my taste. BUT....I checked out at least a few of her claims and found them valid. Like that the Nazis' Final Solution was inspired in part by the really hardcore, stratified racism found in the US at the time. Wilkerson also pointed out that whites were even stratified amongst themselves in the early 20th century which was another, "Holy fuck, she nailed it," moment as I was compiling and outlining family history on my mother's side with my uncle and I'd laughed with him about how our formerly moneyed family managed to lose it all by marrying the 'wrong people' - not POC, but people of the 'wrong' European ethnic lineage, including one whose family disowned them because he married...<gasp!> AN AMERICAN! What Wilkerson described about the various European castes fit a little with what I found in our family history.

I checked this book out before I read it and I took Wilkerson to be a fairly credible source (I didn't make an exhaustive study of it, but I did the same before asking for '1493' when some nutty black Medium writer said I needed to read it. It's a well-regarded book and I got it for Christmas (it was on my list). Just started it last night.

Wilkerson's bio notes she's a Pulitzer Prize winner and also a winner of the National Humanities Medal, a NY Times bestseller (The Warmth of Other Suns) and a few other non-fiction awards. She quotes minister William Goodell in the 1830s writing that slaves had no right to ever fight back, defend themselves, has 'no protection and no redress," and furthermore was 'not capable of being injured'.

"Whipping was a geteay form of violence that led to bizarrely creative levels of sadism," wrote the historian Edward Baptist. Enslavers used "every modern method of torture," he observed, from mutilation to waterboarding. The chapter on "Terror as Enforcement, Cruelty as a Means of Control" is the most difficult and brutal chapter to read, and I was quite glad when it was done (and it's only like seven pages). It gets into the whipping, so common that some slaveowners would whip 'the last slave to leave the quarters,' just to remind the others who was always in charge. The Nazis, by comparison, mandated 25 max lashes, but would make the prisoner count them and sometimes claim they counted wrong and subject them to a few more. American slaveholders, she says, sometimes went as much as 400 lashes. They were often branded, sometimes on the face, and castrations were common too (I actually know a little about castration from my study of the Middle East back when I was a belly dancer in a medieval society, although that didn't cover, obviously, American history). She describes 14 lb chains with metal horns radiating two or three feet from the skull of slaves who'd tried to escape. (I saw a distant cousin when I visited New Orleans in 2000, a 'slave collar' that fit loosely around the neck and with bells to warn the master if he tried to escape, and make it impossible for him to get far even if he did.) Then there was 'bucking', in whcih a slave was tripped naked, hands and feet tied, forced into a sitting position around a stake and rotated for three hours of flogginw tih a cowhide, as other slaves were made to watch. Then he was washed down with salt and red pepper. There's some other stuff in that I've skipped over, this shit is pretty bad.

When I was in New Orleans I saw a holding pen for slaves near the river in which they'd be crammed, sometimes for days on end, without any room to do anything but stand. When some of them died they just stayed there, propped up by the others until someone let them out. One story I heard - you can find this all over the Internet, but I've been unable to verify *all* the claims - was the infamous Madame LeLaurie, who was found having supposedly performed hideous Nazi-like experiments on slaves (early 19th century) including turning one into a 'crab' by breaking all her limbs and a few others whose memory I have repressed. Evidence, for this, we were told, was the newspaper that reported it the next day and you could buy a reproduction in souvenir shops that detailed the horrors but they were written in French and I really didn't need to read it even if they'd had it in English. There are some problems with the story - they supposedly found a lot of slave corpses inside that no one knew about, which is pretty questionable given how hot Lousiana gets in an era with no a/c. I've Googled this from time to time and while some facts are indisputable (Mme. LeLaurie existed, a slave girl jumped out a second-story window and fell to her death in the street, widely regarded as suicide, the mansion catchign fire, and some evidence of brutality) but some say she was 'no worse' than others of her time, and given the wanton cruelty even for the time alleged to her, I'm not sure what to believe.

American slavery was pretty bad, for sure, and if you an pick apart Ms. Wilkerson's claims you're welcome to. I know plenty of other cultures and times have been very brutal, but remember we're talking about slaves, not everyone in general. It struck me that cruelty and barbarism were used quite specifically to keep slaves in line, and often not even for that, just for the sheer 'fun' of the cruelty. Given how brutal lynchings were afterward, and some of the less violent bigotries Wilkerson describes like 'pollution', i.e., black bodies couldn't be in pools or touch white people lest they 'pollute' them, a quite common bigotry that's also fairly universal. I hadn't heard/read about it with American blacks, and I Googled on it and found yeah, that was a big thing in the early 20th century and then don't you know CNN had a story just a few days later about the history of 'pool politics' in the 1950s.

Like I said, I haven't made a comprehensive study of what was absolutely the worst slave institution ever, but I'd say American slavery is definitely a contendah.

Now let's see if Substack posts this long-ass response without losing it (I have it copied and pasted into email if it does :)

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> "American slavery was pretty bad, for sure"

Let's agree on that.

I was sincerely wondering if you had come across an expert judiciously weighing different forms and making the conclusion that the US had by far the most brutal in history; that would surprise me, but I like changing my mind due to evidence. What I'm hearing is more that you have recently been exposed to some especially wrenching examples from US history.

From what I've come across, slavery has always been pretty bad, everywhere. While the average treatment of the compliant subset of slaves varies across cultures, it seems pretty universal that (1) the treatment of escaping or rebelling slaves is almost always brutal, and (2) individual owners can have unbounded cruelty if they "own" somebody else.

I consider slavery near the top of pernicious practices that our species has adopted, due to a combination of how terrible it is on average and the prevalence of the practice. Sadly, it paid off and so was very widely practiced on large scale. When humans got the idea that they could "own" other humans like they would "own" a donkey, and thus gain control and rights to the fruits of their labor, it was a terrible path.

If you had recently read about how slaves were treated in the Caribbean, you might for a while believe that was the worst form the world had ever known - until you read the gory details of another example elsewhere.

Anecdotes about the worst recorded examples of some single system, or even of several systems, are not a good yardstick for general comparisons of slavery across cultures.

So rather than compare, let's just stick to what you said - we know it was terrible - without need to compare. Finding that someplace else was worse, or better, would not in any way make US slavery any more acceptable.

The only function I've seen for comparison, is in making a case that the worst behavior in human history deserves the most generous compensation in human history. Other than that sort of case making, I see no gain to making dubious comparisons.

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Like I mentioned before, I haven't made a comprehensive study of slavery, and probably never will, it's not my wheelhouse. I'm reading more on race issues than I was before but avoid the 'woke' crap. I'll table my assessment for now because I can't provide a lot of historical analysis for my position, it's assembled over many years of the slavery issue occasionally passing my eyes. I also don't know enough about pre-colonial slavery, and particularly pre-European slavery in Africa, something I've tried to find information about but have not found much except for a Wikipedia article about it. Google it, and almost every result is about post-contact slavery and how bad it was. Since Africa is *still* the centre of slavery today, within as well as without, that would be a quite interesting comparison.

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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

A deep bow to you, Steve, for your unerring and extraordinary vision of the middle way.

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Thank you so much Ruth. You're too kind.

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Another fantastic post.

I see where she's coming from. (Although, in the end, my philosophy is in alignment with yours rather than hers.) But oh man, this part gave me the chills:

"I also don't care to be as "good" at regurgitating formulas as some other ethnic groups -- who are more willing to "succeed" at the cost of self-negating indoctrination."

I assume this is an anti-Asian slam. My God, the casual racism she displayed, and so nonchalantly.

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"I assume this is an anti-Asian slam. My God, the casual racism she displayed, and so nonchalantly."

Yeah, I think so too. But I didn't really read this as racism against Asian people. Maybe I'm wrong 🤔. I read it more as a rationalisation that in order to excel within a "white supremacist" curriculum, you have to submit to white supremacist "indoctrination."

But while I didn't clarify it with J, my comment about Asians and maths was referring to the fact that Asians lead the world in maths *education*. Teachers from all over the world visit Asia (Singapore and China specifically) to see what techniques they're using in their classrooms to get such great results. *spoiler* It's not that they're using their maths lessons as an opportunity to teach Asian history.

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LOVE that point you make here in your last sentence.

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Excellent dialogue. Univariate explanations for everything are inevitably not that useful.

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The identitarian focus on dividing people into categorical groups, and then basing one's self-concept on the historical achievements (or sins) of such groups, seems doomed to perpetual failure as a tool for creating self-esteem.

One reason is that I've noticed that in cultural comparisons, people tend to (often unconsciously) need equal numbers to feel equally respected - not proportional to population. So they feel a need for a similar length list of innovators, leaders, inventions etc - even if the populations are very different. Minorities are in general going to *feel* like they lose the contest, even if they have the same proportionate contributions. (Jews might be a rare exception).

And of course history makes things much worse than this - because of historical unequal opportunities. Blacks and women were (largely) not allowed in the game for much of recorded history.

So making group-based comparisons is a good way to breed permanent (and self-perpetuating) low self-esteem for historically less favored groups, as well as resentments (and guilt on the part of more favored groups).

One response to this is to exaggerate the accomplishments of one's racial or ethnic group, like falsely crediting inventions to such ancestors - a fragile basis for self-esteem, which will either set one up for a fall when the truth comes out, or require one to demonize and discount truth tellers to avoid that fall. And that exaggeration is never enough.

Or there's Aphrocentricism's approach.

Or I hear some who want to believe that African-Americans invented almost everything under the sun, but it was always stolen by their white bosses. It gets a bit weird, but illustrates a coping behavior.


One interesting facet of these approaches to propping up self-esteem is projecting that whites (or males) primarily construct their self-esteem in the same way, feeling OK about themselves because of all the great figures in history who were white. ("My job is dead end and my marriage is falling apart, but at least Euler was a white male, so I can love myself"). I believe this is largely untrue and at most is much exaggerated.


I agree with Steve and find far superior the idea of pooling humanity's accomplishments as part of our heritage as homo sapiens, for all to draw upon (no cultural appropriation needed) and all to feel equally proud of. In this "sharing our common legacy" context, it's great to bring up known origins and historical innovators from all historical and current cultures (and races/ethnic groups), both for honestly and to honor individuals who have made great contributions to humanity. It's also good to have awareness of past or present disadvantages which have lessened the ability of people in some groups to contribute. But there is no value in ethnically tagging them and comparing/contrasting/competing such contributions between groups.

One of the places where the socialist ideal of "to each according to their need, from each according to their ability" can work is the world of reproducible ideas - very much including mathematics. (So far, by contrast, that slogan has had a problematic history in economics). This is not a zero-sum game (like competition for whose group gets the most credit), in fact just the opposite. The larger the "us" the more total contributions we have to share.

If somebody is teaching math by emphasizing the race or sex or nationality of each historic innovator, they are doing it wrong. Your interlocutor may or may not have something to feel bad about in their pedagogical history, but they should not project their own malfeasance onto mathematics itself. Teach it as the tools that we humans have come up, and shared with each other, with which to understand the universe.

The other approach (tying one's self esteem and self-image to the comparative historical contributions of one's genetic ancestors) is an own-goal, a self-inflicted injury for which there is no need.

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Um, I actually think I kind of agree with J on this one. While it is extremely true that teachers shouldn't spend more time teaching the history of math than the subject itself, a lot of non white contributions to math have been heavily white washed. For example, while you did say that you were taught that the Pythagoras theorem came long before he did, the theorem is still named after him. So, I still see it as a western contribution. I live in India and while I definitely haven't faced racism because I belong to an extremely homogenous population, we Indians have a tendency of seeing everything white as better. The word 'foreign' is usually code for white which is code for better. I wonder how much of this would have been solved if we had been taught about our own contributions and taught to take pride in them.

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"For example, while you did say that you were taught that the Pythagoras theorem came long before he did, the theorem is still named after him"

Yes, you're right. But this is true of many different inventions. The abacus, widely viewed as a Chinese invention, was first developed in Mesopotamia for example. Don't get me wrong, I think history should be taught accurately. But I also don't think it makes sense to get hung up on which skin colour was responsible for what.

In fact, we often make this mistake about people of the same skin colour. Thomas Edison don't invent the lightbulb, another white man named Joseph Swan did. Michael Jackson didn't invent the moonwalk, a black man named Bill Bailey did. We can't move past this idea that skin colour matters if we continually focus on it.

As for the idea in some countries that "foreign" or "white" = better, yeah, this is definitely a problem. A hangover from colonialism I think. And again, I think if we're going to move past this very harmful idea, we need to stop thinking about taking pride in the work of others because their skin is the same colour as ours.

So I agree with you (and J) that teaching history accurately is important. Fundamentally, we're just talking about telling the truth there. But I simultaneously think that we need to stop thinking of ourselves as represented by everybody whose skin is the same colour as ours. Racism will always exist as long as we think this way.

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Jun 12, 2022Liked by Steve QJ

I really don't mean to be confrontational😅

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😁 You don't seem confrontational at all. I'm very happy to have your input here. Disagreeing with each other and exploring those disagreements politely helps us all to learn.

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Civilization happened because of the last Ice Age around 15,000 years ago as Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis and Homo Sapiens Denosivan congregated in the Middle East as H.S.Neanderthalis and H.S.Denosivan were pushed out of Europe and Asia to the most northly hospitable climate. H.S.Sapiens happened to be emerging from Africa at the same time as they were being pushed north due to drought. With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, the people of Earth would be mingled beyond recognition as the ice receded and those populations moved back north, taking with them the literal seed of agriculture and civilization with them. Recent genetic studies of Egyptian Phaorohs' mummies shows that they were light skinned with light eyes and dark hair, much like Greeks to their direct north. You have to go all the way to modern Somalia to find the first modern human civilizations that were not mixed with H.S.Neanderthalis and H.S.Denosivan. The biological and anthropological record does not support the idea that any part of the history of Civilizations achievements do not include significant populations of H.S.Neanderthalis and H.S.Denosivan.

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“Recent genetic studies of Egyptian Phaorohs' mummies shows that they were light skinned with light eyes and dark hair, much like Greeks to their direct north.”

Not sure where you’re getting this from, all the information I’ve seen specifically about the Pharaohs says they’re most closely related to people from places like Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. A region formerly known as the Levant. So not particularly light skinned and certainly not light eyed.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that there were numerous, hugely influential sub-Saharan civilisations (https://www.history.com/news/7-influential-african-empires).

But most importantly, who cares?! This is the point I was ultimately trying to make to J. You seem to be making the same argument just from the other side. You have no claim to the achievements of ancient Europeans. I have no claim to the achievements of ancient Africans. What is the point of thinking in this way?

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Interesting link Steve. It's nice that history is becoming available that wasn't when I was young. When I became interested in the history of the East there was little available in libraries and bookstores. Museums were Eurocentric. It is good that more history has become available, and sad that it has become polarizing and controversial.

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My mistake about light eyes, but the light skin is definitely true as there is a huge variety in hues of brown among people from the Levant. My point is that the vast majority of civilizations on this earth originated from the great Middle-Eastern melting pot and include significant DNA of all three major branches of Homo Sapiens. It's foolish for any one group to claim superiority or inferiority based on the accomplishments of these civilizations as they are essentially the same people with some regional variations in skin tone and eye color based on climate-driven factors. The whole idea of racism is flawed whether you apply it as the Nazis did or if you apply it as the CRT crowd does (which is completely different),

Racism only exists as a construct to enable those with control of the fundamental systems of a society (either macro or micro). An example is a high school with a black principal and two black assistant principals who systemically use the exact same mechanisms to hold back students of color from performing at their best to ensure the students continue to fall in the politically ascribed roles of CRT that have been applied to student bodies since the 1990s. These administrators, all with PhDs, harbor the exact same opinion of the student body that they accuse past administrations of harboring.

Racism is a tool used to divide people artificially to maintain class structure, which is far more important to those controlling the systems of society than the color of the skin in each stratum of that class structure. Its most useful function is as a weapon to oppress people who think differently from or are a threat to those in control of the underlying systems. Label someone a racist and oppressed peoples immediately attack that individual regardless of why the person was labelled as a racist. The most insidious use of the term is applying it to all people of a group no matter their beliefs or even ability to participate in the systems of control. This leads to "virtue seekers" who try to prove they aren't racist despite being from the wrong group and then their behaviors cast a pall over the entire society which just reinforces the divides between groups.

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"there is a huge variety in hues of brown among people from the Levant."

Right, but they're brown people. So categorising them as "light skinned" is a little strange. Some of them are lighter skinned than others, but very few of them would be described as light-skinned. You seem quite determined to make this distinction and I'm still not clear why.

Also, I agree that racism is inherently flawed. I hope that's obvious from my copious writing on the topic 😅. And I'm obviously not a supporter of CRTs framing of racial issues. But I think it's incredibly important to acknowledge the vast difference between Nazi racism and CRT racism before comparing the two.

Yes, racism is a tool used to divide people artificially to maintain class structure. And it's been used almost exclusively to artificially maintain a racial divide that subjugated black people. The original CRT writings of people like Derrick Bell were actually fairly sensible, reasonable attempts to address that divide. Obviously, CRT has been rebranded as something else in recent years. But while, as I said, I disagree with CRT as it's understood today, I think it's unreasonable to treat the reaction to a problem as if it's equivalent to the problem itself.

Lastly, I think your hypothetical about the high school principals is very far-fetched, no? Unless it's not a hypothetical, in which case I'm truly horrified. I don't think any principal, black *or* white, would try to ensure students of colour "fall in the politically ascribed roles of CRT." There are a lot of really stupid (and frankly racist) ideas about how to close racial gaps in education. But I don't think any teachers of any colour are trying to maintain them.

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Steve, I was really looking forward to your opinion on this topic: "This leads to "virtue seekers" who try to prove they aren't racist despite being from the wrong group and then their behaviors cast a pall over the entire society which just reinforces the divides between groups."

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“This leads to "virtue seekers" who try to prove they aren't racist despite being from the wrong group”

I think the notion of being from “the wrong group” is already a completely wrongheaded way to lol at any social issue. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, etc.

I agree, of course, that applying labels to an entire group is a mistake (and I think it’s true that this leads some people to virtue signal). But so is grouping ourselves by arbitrary characteristics like skin colour in the first place.

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I was hoping this would be your response! It is all about vanity and the desire to fit in with the correct crowd.

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> Lastly, I think your hypothetical about the high school principals is very far-fetched, no? Unless it's not a hypothetical, in which case I'm truly horrified.

Not hypothetical at all. It is happening now at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, TN. These three administrators ran roughshod through both the student body and the faculty throughout the 2021-2022 school year. Students were berated daily about their choice of clothing and often sent to in school suspension for infractions. During pep rallies, students who had been in either ISS or OSS were sent to the auditorium to watch a movie instead of socializing and building school spirit. To keep a lid on what was happening in the school, they would cancel requests for substitutes and shuffle teachers around during their planning period to ensure the classes were watched. Any student that fell behind in class was pulled from the class and sent to digital learning, where they would have to finish the course online at the school. For students with IEPs and 504s this can be disastrous as there are no inclusion teachers in the classrooms hosting digital learning, and there was no differentiation in how material and assessments were provided, even if the student had specific accommodations requiring such differentiation. The list goes on and on. So, I have witnessed this through my wife who teaches there.

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"Not hypothetical at all. It is happening now at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, TN"

This is horrifying, but is it evidence of the administrators "holding back students of color from performing at their best to ensure the students continue to fall in the politically ascribed roles of CRT"?

It sounds as if there are enormous problems at that school, but you haven't pointed to any evidence of racism or CRT-infused activism here.

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For example, school assemblies, even pep rallies, are used to present guests to the students who are moving forward in their academic careers. All students to have been given ISS or OSS are explicitly excluded. It doesn't matter why. There are students that get suspended for wearing pajamas when they have no clean clothes, or wearing their hoodie in class because they want to hide the fact that they don't have facilities to bathe because they live in a car. These administrators are actually harsher to these students than previous admins. They are ensuring the cycle of poverty continues by robbing these students of their dignity and possibly their future. At the very least, they are not receiving equal access to educational opportunities. As for the digital learning with no accommodations for 504 and IEP students, that is the very definition of students with disabilities not being given their rightful services, services that are fundamental to breaking poverty cycles. If that's not what CRT is supposed to fight for, then what is it?

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RemovedJun 11, 2022Liked by Steve QJ
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""J" appears to have been duped, maybe even by himself."

Yeah, I think this is precisely it. I wouldn't really characterise J as "woke," just confused (although I guess you could argue that all "woke" people are confused😅). And struggling to unravel a web of personal insecurities, lingering societal norms, and the complexities of raising a child.

There are lots of pathways into this ideological thinking. But I think J's motivations are far from "propagating hyper toxic behaviors" or "the revolutionary destruction of capitalism and western civilization."

I thought the conversation was valuable precisely because J lays out his motivations quite honestly. He doesn't think black people get enough credit (or perhaps thinks white people get too much). He worries about the impact this is having on his son's self-image. I think his approach will only make his son more insecure (and may actually be the source of his son's insecurity), but I understand where that insecurity comes from.

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You credit the SJWs with a coherence for which I see no evidence.

The SJWs make the MAGA beards look like the very essence of openmindedness.

Please, don't ever call them "left."


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I think that the reason people, including me, get caught up in associating the [no proper word for them] who are a far cry from classical liberalism is the obvious cultural (oppressed/oppressor) Marxism of intersectionality. Left not being liberalism but something recognized by all of my friends who fled communism. Political labels are corrupted to the point of uselessness except for naming an enemy.

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My own politics falls more into a leftist authoritarianism tempered by benevolence. The fact that we can't do anything about mass extinction, AGW, or guns because freedumb makes me long for a trustworthy dictator, which is of course a fantasy,

To those who revere freedom my advice is to go to a mall and see what splendid use we're making of it.

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I used to joke that the ideal government would be a benevolent dictatorship with me as the benevolent dictator. Authoritarianism tempered by benevolence seems too difficult to achieve in practice thanks to the imperfection of humans.

The struggle is between an authoritarian government which seems to become tyrannical with all that power over others, and anarchy which becomes the realm favorable to the mighty and violent. Opinions, string ones, vary about there a happy medium can be found.

I once lived under a somewhat leftist authoritarian government as a United States Marine. While it worked, it also didn't.

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I think trying to see ideological coherence in SJWism is akin to seeing a face in a cloud. I seriously doubt hardly any of them go beyond mere outrage.

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