“White No More” / Part VI

In using my hypothetical technological scenario to get a better understanding of human nature in general and in particular its racism, for this to be honest contemplation, one must be clear and honest as to the pragmatic nature of technology, of the factual reality of the Dolezal events, and of what is at stake.

Technology has been a good for humanity in almost any way that can be quantitatively measured. As described in Azar Gat’s book, War in Human Civilization, as a result of the industrial and technological eras, material prosperity and progress in human civilization are no longer zero sum games requiring one’s tribe, city, nation, or whatever may be our social group to take forcibly wealth from another’s tribe, city, nation, or whatever in order to progress materially. For the major social players in life now consisting of nation states, there is a power surplus making war unnecessary among them. In fact, war is no longer the best means for achieving power; peace with its sophisticated propaganda techniques and the law as a secular religious monopoly on violence provides the simplest and easiest techniques for the few to achieve power over the many. For the present, war is an option for relations between nation states and failed nation states but not between successful nation states. Eventually war will exist solely between a world-nation and “super-empowered angry men” — and women if sexes continue in the future — known as terrorists, fanatics, zealots, just plain crazy, and the like.

This material progress results from humanity’s struggles to fight and to end the wars of the past and from humanity’s struggles and war with nature to survive it and to conquer it. There is still much of nature out there to be conquered. There is a whole universe waiting to be discovered, explored, and conquered. It is not clear that the new school nature of war as a struggle between a world-nation and the individual will provide the same necessary mentality, skills, and desire to conquer nature as the old school wars have done. No matter how glorified the state of war may have been in the past, workers were always able and willing to change loyalties to whatever 1% won or loss the war as necessary to survive onto the next war; in order to survive there was no getting stuck in the past for workers. Offense was always the best defense for workers. In our future new school war between the state and terrorists, fanatics, zealots, “super-empowered angry men”, or whatever those that want to cause the apocalypse to come early may be called, the state of war will be omnipresence and unavoidable. There will be no possibility for workers to change loyalties from the losing to the winning powers; no past or future states of war requiring an offense to survive but only an Orwellian 1984 omnipresent permanent state of war. There will be no winners or losers, only survivors with no desire to explore, discover, and conquer for fear of defying the powers-that-be that will make up one global 1% with no competition. For workers, the wars of the future will not directly involve material and physical suffering but spiritual, economic, and mental health suffering indirectly threatening their physical survival as the spiritual, economic, and mental health suffering works its way through workers’ communities and lives.

The Boston Marathon bombings are a good example of this future state of war. Two nuts blow up the Boston Marathon eventually causing 5 – 6 deaths and approximately 265 injuries. In the aftermath, thousands of police officers using millions of dollars of equipment and earning millions of dollars of overtime pay shutdown Boston and the surrounding communities and are allowed freedom to search whoever, wherever, and whenever they want. No one complained then or since about that temporary police state — seen both then and now as benevolent and as a pragmatical good necessity. In an average year, Boston has about 40 – 60 murders and about 5000 violent crimes. Usually only about 40 – 50% of the murders are solved, even less of the violent crime. It is only a matter of time before the temporary benevolent police state of the Boston Marathon bombings becomes the norm in order to control the nuts and to eliminate the remainder of the chaos and disorder caused by individual freedom. I am not saying this is good or bad; it is the future and for purposes of this contemplation must be accepted as so for now and as the necessary outcome of technological and thus material progress.

Qualitatively however, technology has not changed human nature. Its true nature comes up in the quiet moments when there is no work nor any other force or need requiring that people cooperate and socialize and get along with each other. It is revealed in the personal moments in which individuals are left only with the “I am therefore I think” of existentialism; their will to power or to hopelessness; and their choice or destined acts on either will. It is this qualitative nature that is brought out by the Dolezal events. Dolezal is a single mother (divorced from a black man she met at Howard University) with two children. One of the children is the son of her ex-husband and the other is an adopted son consisting of one of her brothers. There were no accusations that she was not qualified technically or educationally for her job as head of the NAACP office in Spokane nor that she was incompetent at it. In fact, all indications were that she was good at her job. She lost her livelihood and the ability to support her family simply because — according to the powers-that-be and their white and black friends such as Coates’ black people, tribes, or black bodies or whatever they call themselves to avoid using the word ‘race’ — she was not of the correct skin color. How is this different from racism? It is not. It is politically correct new school racism. If she was hired for the job based on her skills, competence, and qualifications, she should have kept her job regardless of her skin color and cultural, people, tribal, or whatever ‘race’ substitute are used to classify her. If calling herself “black” was a sign of mental illness as some of the politically correct argue, based on human empathy for the misfortunes of others, this should have been just another reason to let her keep her job. The human mentality that was willing to throw her and her family into the street for having the wrong skin color is the same mentality that in the past would have enslaved her or worse for having the wrong skin color.

As contemplated in this series of blogs, technology through a “White No More” or “Black No More” will eliminate old school racism and the wasted physical struggles and wars it caused. It will not eliminate politically correct new school racism and its wasted spiritual, economic, and mental health struggles. As seen with Dolezal, new school racism does not care about creating a pragmatic work culture for future discovering, exploring, and conquering the universe, it wants a hereditary passing of power for being black. Eventually it will cause a substantial portion of society consisting of Coates’ black race, tribe, or whatever to operate in the same way that American Indian Reservations continue to exist and operate: individuals pretending to be Sioux, Navajo, or whatever dead culture and language they want to pretend they are so that a few self-centered leaders have power over a small fiefdom of delusional lives that add nothing to humanity’s destiny and need to discover, explore, and conquer the universe. This will be a waste of lives and resources. If one sees a future benevolent police state as a necessary good, such waste of lives and resources on new school racism is probably harmless in the end just as the lives and resources wasted on maintaining American Indian Reservations are fairly harmless for now. However, if one wants to minimize (I do not believe it is possible to avoid it entirely) as much as possible the adverse effects and power of a benevolent police state so that it does not become the dystopian 1984 of George Orwell, this new school racism and its destruction of the human spirit and the wasted spiritual, mental, and economic struggles it causes are just as much a physical threat to humanity’s survival in its struggle with nature as was old school racism.

“White No More” / Part V

As contemplated in the philosophy of language portion of  sandpebblespodcast.com, studying language is difficult because we are using language to study language and thus we face conceptually the same problem as the “observer effect” of science: do our words affect the words we are studying? To get around this observer effect, we cannot limit ourselves solely to the use of reason as a tool for contemplating the words ‘race’ and ‘racism’. Philosophy of language does give us two truths: there are existentialist words in which the meaning of words is the speaker’s existence; there are non-existentialist words in which the meaning of words is their usefulness. An example of the former is, “I think therefore I am”; “I am therefore I think”; “I am. Therefore, I want more than just to exist”. Examples of the latter are the remaining 90%-95% of the semantics and syntax of language in all its forms be it signs, words, mathematics, or whatever humans use to enforce their will upon reality. To get around this observer effect, in addition to reason, we must use imagination, creativity, analogy, fiction, and most importantly empathy. Also, we must always keep in mind Ockham’s Razor to contemplate either set of truths to avoid the unavoidable consequence of the observer effect if ignored: generating words solely for the sake of generating words. In this contemplation, we must use all these available rational and irrational tools to have a true understanding of the two-way street of racist language: its reality and its created reality of words.

The meaning of non-existentialist words is their usefulness. As stated in Part I, in order to avoid making this contemplation exponentially more difficult by getting into metaphysics, I am not getting into what Dolezal or anyone “thinks” about “race”, we are dealing purely with the use of the words ‘race’ and ‘racism’ in the public language of present day use of those words. For anyone interested in a contemplation of the philosophy of mind, please refer to the recent interview of cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman entitled The Case Against Reality available online in the The Atlantic.

The word ‘race’ has had many uses in history. It is essentially a generalization placing a person into a set of persons based on alleged physical characteristics or traits. The word itself is harmless. As contemplated in a prior writing (Classism v. Racism: Which is Worse? Part I), there is nothing wrong with generalizations when used properly. The word ‘race’ is no longer commonly used as a valid scientific generalization not because the use is unsound or invalid but simply because of its bad insinuations. Other words that mean the same except for lacking the bad insinuations are routinely used both in popular culture and in scientific language. Words such as ‘family’, ‘tribe’, ‘people’, ‘nation’, or ‘kind’ have the same usefulness as ‘race’ in the vernacular and in science except for lacking the adverse inference of racism. The statement “race is the child of racism, not the father” is nice poetic propaganda but a false reality. Using the word “race” as part of a simple, testable hypothesis that can be proven false would be scientific and not related to “racism” except in the way that all public uses of words are related: they are part of the fabric of language we use to enforce our will upon reality.

Science is a technique for predicting future experience based on past experience that uses Ockham’s Razor and the scientific method: simple hypotheses that can be tested and falsified in repeatable, parameter controlled experiments. To the extent ‘race’ is a scientific generalization, scientists avoid the word ‘race’ and use some another word that is more useful due to a lack of racist connotations such as family, ancestry, genes, DNA, population, tribe, natural selection, or whatever. Popular culture forgets or ignores that genetics or DNA is based on statistical generalization, it only gives probabilities or very sound and valid stereotypes not certainty. So, for example, when biologists for a popular audience say that changes in DNA result in evolutionary changes in life, they are not and cannot say there is a cause and effect relationship between DNA and any changes in life nor can they even say there is a correlation between certain DNA and life because there is rarely if ever a direct correlation between a single gene and a single physical feature. Biologists do not even know whether DNA changes individual physical characteristics or whether it is the other way around. When some physical characteristic beats the odds, it is called a “mutation” and they recalculate the odds and call it new DNA or genes.

So, instead of saying the “race” of Ashkenazi Jews has a high frequency of certain genetic diseases, a scientist would say the “population” or an “ancestry” of Ashkenazi Jews has a high frequency of certain genetic diseases. Making this statement by using the words ‘population’ and ‘ancestry’ instead of ‘race’ avoids an accusation of racism against the scientist making it but otherwise the usefulness and thus the meaning of the words is the same. The only difference in the usefulness or the meaning between the words “population”, “ancestry”, or whatever word is used to do the job of ‘race’ without its bad insinuations is a lack of an implication of racism otherwise they have the same meaning.
The word ‘race’ used solely as a scientific word becomes ‘racism’ when the existentialist reality of words gets involved. “I am. Therefore, I want more than just to exist”; we then start fabricating “ought” statements from the non-existentialist words. This is true for all of us including the powers-that-be. We want control over our lives and over the reality out there that is not our lives that is always trying to control us and will eventually kill us. We see a “high frequency of certain genetic diseases” among a “population” or “race” of “Ashkenazi Jews” and we want to predict, treat, or get rid of those diseases for the obvious reason they are a threat to personal and social health and prosperity. As a result of the present quantitative availability of medical science, this usefulness of the words ‘population’, ‘ancestry’, ‘race’ should not be useful for arguing elimination of the Ashkenazi Jew as it was in the less technical and scientific past resulting in the present evil connotations for the word ‘race’.


However, the intention or the qualitative aspects of human nature creating the words ‘population’, ‘ancestry’, ‘race’, or any word have not changed: a will to power. For most of humanity, this will to power is simply a will to survive but with many it is a will for achievement, ambition, and a striving to reach the highest possible position in life. For the powers-that-be, it is a will for power as an end in itself. As contemplated in earlier contemplations, the difference between the vast majority of humanity and the powers-that-be is the powers’ desire and ability to enforce their will for power upon those with less power.

“White No More” / Part IV

According to the supposed non-racists Ta-Nehisi Coates and his many worshipers who wanted Dolezal unemployed, racism and whatever language it creates are creations by racist ‘white’ people through their white supremacy view of the world. The two-way street of racist language is not true of their supposedly non-racist language; they claim to see reality as it really is not as their words make it out to be as racists do. Coates is considered a genius for describing the situation as follows: “race is the child of racism, not the father.” By “race” and “racism”, he is not referring to the use of those words in several millennia of different applications that include tribal, religious, ethnic, national, and many other differences but only as used in his self-centered narrow view of the world consisting of “race” and “racism” based on skin color. According to this line of thought, we will never be able to eliminate the discrimination and oppression of physically perceived black bodies by physically perceived white bodies because of the ongoing legacy of slavery and of a white supremacy view of history, the present, and the future. Thus, their argument is that being ‘black’ is by definition a skin color but also an oppressed ‘race’ forced to accept racism and race as a fact of life. If “race” truly “is the child of racism, not the father”, cannot the father die and we would still have the son that is “race”? This seems to be the implication and is how his thought plays out in practice to create new school racism.

So, for supposed non-racists such as Coates just as for Dolezal and racists alike, being black connotes both a sense experience skin color and also a cultural and social identity that is called being ‘black’. Coates further complains that the “black bodies” created by racism are in need of protection from those who call themselves “white”; of whites casting of him and his “people” into a black “race” that knowingly glance at each other at airports and know they share a special bond; and of the reality, unity, and language of his black “people” and “tribe”. Unlike racists though, for supposed non-racist Coates and his worshipers this ‘race’ identity is defined not solely by skin color but by skin color combined with oppression, slavery, and discrimination by whites based on black skin color. This is why he need not get into issues of mixed heritage; his focus is completely self-centered into a simple white and black distinction: white is bad; black is good.

The logic is as follows: white people by their white supremacy oppression and discrimination of black bodies, especially through slavery, created and create anew every day “black bodies”, and a black “people”, “tribe”, or “race” that are now in need of protection from this oppression and discrimination by white people, therefore white people such as Dolezal should not be allowed to pretend they are ‘black’. If they do, the only proper connotation for them is a derogatory ‘wigger’ or ‘putting on black face’ because such pretension is just more oppression — taking the good created by the struggle of being ‘black’ and making it ‘white’.

Actually, this logic makes sense from a defeatist perspective. Since their premise is that omnipresent white supremacy physically, socially, and culturally makes “black” inferior and thus American culture and society will treat ‘black bodies’ unjustly as an inferior ‘race’ of black bodies, Coates and his worshipers conclude they must accept they are “black bodies” of a black “people”, “tribe”, or “race” and as a defense mechanism exclude anyone from being one of them who are not “black bodies” in a black “people”, “tribe”, or “race”. If they do not watch out for each other, no one will is a valid defense used by religions, ethnicities, tribes, nations, and so forth throughout history and often is the mechanism used to create or empower the identity of the ethnicity, society, culture, and so forth. Does it work the other way with their version of ‘race’? Since according to Coates and his worshipers we live in a world of white supremacy in which white people are by definition the oppressors of blacks, are black bodies unable to call themselves white?

For example, President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice has led a life of prestige, privilege, and power among the powers-that-be. She was born in Washington, D.C., of two black parents consisting of a Cornell University economics professor who was also the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System and an education policy scholar. She is a three-sport athlete, student council president, and valedictorian from National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., an upper class private girls’ day school, and is a graduate of Stanford University and New College, Oxford. She served on the staff of the National Security Council and served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term and as UN ambassador. She is married to a white guy ABC television producer. She has two kids. Based on culture and social relations, to any working class kid such as myself she appears to be modern upper class and a very powerful member of our modern ruling class intelligentsia who would screw me and give the orders to kill me and my entire family (doubt if she would do the killing herself since new school powers need not bloody their hands with the actual killing) if need be to keep her family, friends, and other members of her 1984 Orwellian Inner and Outer Party in power.

Since by definition she is one of white society’s oppressors of black people, can I call Susan Rice a white woman? Can I call her a white woman who happens to be black (as I usually do)? No, this would be racist because she is physically black and calling her white implies that being a ruling class oppressor is acting white which is racist though true according to Coates. What if she went to “Black No More” and changed to a white skin color? Is she still black? According to Coates and his worshipers’ logic, the answer is yes because she was born black and thus shares in the legacy of oppression, slavery, and discrimination that is being born ‘black’.

Thus, the logic of Coates and his worshipers works both ways: under no circumstances can a white be black nor a black be white. Our technology of “White No More” and “Black No More” thus would do nothing to solve this problem. Even if skin color stopped being a genetic marker fixed at birth and became just a fashion choice and thus we could eliminate the concept of skin color ‘race’ and associated racism entirely to replace it with an -ism against persons who choose black as the fashion choice of skin color, all of this would still be racist. Being ‘black’ is a race, people, or tribe created not by skin color but by racism; it is a legacy of racism and slavery that is a birthright to all who are black. Any attempt by whites to be ‘black’ hijacks that legacy and is an attempt to hide it and its responsibilities (such as reparations) and is racist.

In the fabric of language used by the supposed non-racists who wanted Dolezal to lose her job, by Coates, and by his worshipers, just as with the language fabric of racists, the initial fabric tread or stitching that associated being black with skin color at some point has become disassociated from skin color. For Coates and his worshipers, ‘black’ now means a legacy of oppression, slavery, and discrimination because of black skin color. It is a legacy handed down from black generation to black generation as a genetic birthright regardless of the circumstances of the birth, the actual skin color, or of the life circumstances of the child: thus we have new school racism. This change in language tread and stitching is a substantive and essential change in the use of the words ‘race’ and ‘racism’. If “race” truly “is the child of racism, not the father”, the father can die and we would still have the son — regardless of technology. Having race around allows for it to become a racist father itself of new school racism as contemplated in some of my prior blogs dealing with new school racism.

Why such a defeatist view of life? Racist whites put persons with black skin color into an unjust black race so they must accept and continue being in an unjust black race? Historically, when such a defense mechanism is accepted, it is done either by the powers to keep a group in their place or as a smokescreen for hidden intentions for power by the ambitious. Which is it for Coates and his worshipers? For this contemplation to progress in anyway, we must forget the polemics and deal with a further contemplation of the nature of language and its meaning: its usefulness. Coates is definitely a genius poet as poetry is defined by the philosopher Nietzsche: “the art of creating ripples in shallow water to give the impression they are deep.” Such genius serves only the selfish interests of the poet and to confuse and to obscure the actual meanings or usefulness of words.

“White No More” / Part III

I am using a hypothetical scenario on whether technology will provide the solution to racism, either real or imagined, to get a better understanding of human nature and the present nature of racism, both old school and new school racism. Once the cosmetic surgery or genetic engineering of a “White No More” or “Black No More” becomes widespread allowing skin color to be just another fashion decision for adults and a parental choice of attributes for babies, people will be whatever skin color they want and therefore racism should disappear. After all, once there is no such thing as genetically decided permanent skin color anymore, people will no longer be able to place anyone in any white or black race category based on sense experience skin color. Or will they? The logic seems simple enough but the events of Rachel Dolezal show it may not be that easy. It is easy enough to determine why racists would want her to lose her job, but why supposed non-racists wanted her — a single mother with two kids to support with one of those kids the son of a black ex-husband and thus definitely black by political correctness standards — unemployed is confusing and difficult to grasp.

To a racist living the delusion of a genetically socially and culturally superior white race and an inferior black race, Dolezal was a fraud and a traitor to her true superior white color by pretending to be an inferior black; thus, she should be punished by the loss of her job. A racist might also say that as a fraud and traitor, she deserves to live and work with the inferior black race and thus let this loser keep her job; essentially expel her from the ‘white’ race. Either way, the reasoning is based on their delusion of white supremacy and black inferiority. To a racist, Dolezal’s qualifications, competency, education, and job performance would be irrelevant to deciding her fate, the only material issues are skin color and the appropriate punishment for her denial of her “true” skin color that is physically associated with the superior attributes of a white race.

Our predicted technology would be able to eliminate this old school racism because there will be no “true” skin color to betray nor to misrepresent and thus no superior or inferior attributes to be associated with any particular skin color. Once being white or black is not a genetic attribute firmly established at conception, a racist will eventually lose the ability to make racist associations and until then will lose the ability to do anything about any racist associations they do make because they will not know who is truly white or black by their or their relatives’ physical appearance. Saying a person is black and therefore inferior so that one can discriminate against or oppress that person because the person is full, ½, 1/4, 1/8, or whatever ‘black’ is useless if the full, ½, 1/4, 1/8, or whatever ‘black’ may in fact all be white and the same is true of the converse. In order to maintain their racist language fabric in this new technological reality, racists would actually have to establish a correlation at the DNA/genetic level between skin color genes and whatever physical, mental, social, or cultural attributes they consider superior or inferior. This is logically and empirically impossible. The best they would be able to do would be to discriminate against and oppress people who choose to have black skin and thus the issue of whether they are full, ½, 1/4, 1/8, or whatever black is irrelevant, the only relevant fact would be their fashion choice of skin color. There would be no white or black ‘race’ but only sense experience of white or back skin — which is the situation we want.

This latter situation is substantively not racism but a new type of -ism. It is not discrimination and oppression of persons who are of a ‘black’ race but of persons who choose to wear a certain fashion or cosmetic trend. It would be the same as discriminating against persons who have breast enhancement, nose jobs, wear bow ties, wear white after Labor Day, or any of the infinite number of ways people discriminate against each other because they do not like each other or view each other as inferior to them. It would not be an issue of a superior ‘white’ race and an inferior ‘black’ race, but simply of a superior or inferior fashion style.

A non-racist would also consider Dolezal a fraud but not a traitor since supposedly to them there really is no ‘race’ to betray. As far as they are concerned, she is a physically white person pretending to be a physically black person in the same way that a sighted person would be a fraud pretending to be blind or a physically healthy person pretending to be disabled in order to get handicap parking stickers would be a fraud — or the other way around. To a supposed non-racist, the supposed important fact is that she lied about her skin color or pretended to be black when she is not; she was a wigger, which is a bad thing. Thus a non-racist would conclude Dolezal deserves to lose her job for being a fraud regardless of her qualifications, competency, education, and job performance in the same way that any employee lying to their employer should lose their job based on fraud — regardless of whether or not she really believes or identifies with being black. To a supposed non-racist, her identification as black is simply a sign of mental illness, such as a hypochondriac who is not ill always believing she is ill only in her case she did not believe in an illness but a benefit as she saw it.

In the latter case of supposed non-racist reasoning, where supposedly there is no racism, our technology should at least be able to keep Dolezal employed at the NAACP, right? Assume she goes to “White No More”, views their choice of skin colors from Plessy Black (in honor of the octoroon from Plessy v. Ferguson who could pass as white) to Zulu Black (their darkest available color), and she chooses Zulu Black. She then does the surgery/genetic engineering at her own expense and is now of Zulu Black skin color. She can now honestly apply for employment at the NAACP, tell them she is black since they seem to care, and honestly get employment as a black person, right?

That should be the case based on the supposed non-racist logic for throwing her out into the street, but it does not seem to be the case. Such a color change would be called “putting on black face” and is considered more racist that being a wigger. This is where I lose the logic of the fraud basis for making her lose her employment. If someone was only pretending to be blind but is then blinded, they are no longer pretending, they are blind? What is different about the supposed non-racist definition for supposedly nonexistent ‘race’ and its relation to the sense experience of skin color that does not allow for a person of physical white skin to become a person of physically black skin — or the other way — without being called racist?

“White No More” / Part II

The below diagram is taken from one of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s contemplations on the nature of language and is called a duck-rabbit (it is covered in more detail at www.sandpebblespodcast.com):


If you have any life experience with ducks and the word ‘duck’, when I tell you the word “duck” while you view the above diagram, you should see a duck. If you have any life experience with rabbits and the word ‘rabbit’, when I tell you the word “rabbit” while you look at the diagram, you should see a rabbit. What someone who has had no experience with ducks or rabbits would see in the above diagram is up for grabs. This diagram and similar diagrams and contemplations cannot be ignored as dealing with “optical illusions” otherwise all of reality should be ignored as optical illusions since you have no way of telling when you are in the position of someone whose limited sense experience sees neither a duck nor a rabbit or only one but not the other. How do you know there is not another animal in the above diagram that you do not see because you have no word for it?

The point of this diagram and the associated philosophy is to establish that once the human mind is sophisticated enough to create and think with rational symbols such as words, the thinking is a two-way street between sense experience and words. Reasoning consists of a “fabric of language” as the philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine beautifully described it. At the exterior is the sense experience that acts as the starting threads of our language but almost instantaneously the threads are intertwined with words describing that sense experience; some or all other experiences and words; and the relationships between some or all other experiences and words so that almost instantaneously it becomes difficult and perhaps impossible to separate the words from the sense experience. As empiricists in a scientific age, we must assume that all of us have the same sense experience for the above diagram and its reality does not change as different individuals view it, but such is not true of the words used to describe it. Eventually, words become their own reality and create sense experience that seems to be there and to be as true as the initial sense experience that started the threading. The essential job of modern Western philosophy is to point out when we are confusing or making the reality of words into something more real than the reality of reality. As Quine beautifully and concisely stated in his essay The Two Dogmas of Empiricism:

The totality of our so-called knowledge or beliefs, from the most casual matters of geography and history to the profoundest laws of atomic physics or even of pure mathematics and logic, is a man-made fabric which impinges on experience only along the edges.


It is because of the above problem that science uses the scientific method to become pragmatic and differentiate itself from non-science or pseudo-science. If you want to get into these issues in more detail, I suggest any book by the philosopher Norwood Russell Hanson or starting with the philosophy of language and science podcasts at www.sandpebblespodcast.com.

Even through just a casual inspection of the language of racism, we can see the above two-way street at work. Somewhere in human history, there may be a thread of the fabric of racist language in which white skinned people for the first time met black skinned people and for the first time used the word ‘race’ as a differentiation between white-skinned and black-skinned bodies. Whenever that first thread stitching occurred, it is now lost among millions of other threads in modern language and perhaps was removed and replaced with another thread and is gone. This is evident even in the simplest uses of the words ‘race’ and ‘racism’.

For example, the Plaintiff Plessy in the post Civil War 19th Century Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson that established the separate but equal doctrine of Jim Crow laws was an octoroon, he was only 1/8 black by birth and could have easily passed and did pass as white — he could have and did ride in the front of the train in the segregated Old South any time he wanted. That is why he was chosen as the Plaintiff for that case. The Plaintiff Counsel were trying to show how irrational the concept of race was and that therefore how irrational and thus unconstitutional legally enforced segregation must be. For reasons discussed in my book The Law Illusion, the brilliant Injustices of the Supremes disagreed. Even before the 19th Century, the word ‘race’ for racists had uses way beyond just for reference to someone having ‘black’ skin. If Plessy was ‘black’ because one of his eight parents/grandparents was black, what about if he was 1/16 black? How far back does or should a racist go to define race? It is evident that for racists, words such as ‘race’, ‘racist’, and ‘black’ mean much more than skin color. They are used to create a word reality of social and cultural relations much of which has little if any relation to the actual reality of human social and cultural relations.

How this word reality becomes more powerful than reality and in fact contorts reality to fit the words is evident in the obsession by Nazi jurisprudence and legal culture to differentiate their Aryan Herrenvolk or master race of the Volksgemeinschaft or “people’s community” from their slave Non-Aryan races such as Jews, Romani, Slavs, Poles, Serbs, Blacks, and so forth. So, for example, some in the Nazi legal culture argued one was Jewish if one was only 1/16 Jewish blood. Eventually, the criterion for being Jewish was set at having at least three Jewish grandparents; two or one rendered a person a Mischling leaving open the possibility of your extermination to the discretion, mercy, and wisdom of the judiciary — you can read in history the results of this reliance. These arbitrary standards became law in the same way anything becomes law: through the arbitrary and random ethics or will for power decisions of a bunch of bureaucrats.

How about our modern supposedly non-racist politically correct opponents of racism, those that condemned Dolezal for using ‘white’ to mean only a “biological identity thrust upon her” that she can change as she wants thus resulting in the loss of her livelihood? How do they use words such as ‘race’, ‘racism’, and ‘black’? Are they a two-way street for them? It appears they are schizophrenic on this issue as I will contemplate next.

“White No More” / Part I

This contemplation is inspired by an almost forgotten great book: “Black No More” by George S. Schulyer. Mr. Schulyer originally came out of the Harlem Renaissance and continued to be a notable writer, satirist, journalist, and critic until his death in 1977. Unfortunately by then because of his opposition to almost all mainstream black leaders from W.E.B. Du Bois to Martin Luther King, he became an outcaste and estranged from mainstream black writers and now must be rediscovered to be appreciated. His novel “Black No More” was partially science fiction but mainly and substantively a study of human thought and character. His premise was that medical technology had developed the ability to make black skin white so black people could become white people. I will not give away the events nor end of the story. The science fiction portion of the story should no longer be considered fiction. If science can change the physical attributes of gender, generate clones, grow biological organs, and much more, I suspect that somewhere there is a lab experimenting with changing skin color and it is only a matter of time before the results are not only successful but successful in both ways: changing black skin to white and also white skin to black. Science will soon be able to make ‘people of color’ of whatever color they want: white, black, or anything in between so that a white person need be “white no more”.


Then what? Will technology finally end racism? Or, will this technology only make it worse by further isolating natural ‘black’ bodies from ‘white’ society? The certainty of this technology raises conceptual questions about our society’s use of the words ‘racism’ and ‘race’ that are interesting to contemplate and to answer.


These issues partially came up last year with the events of Rachel Dolezal, the former leader of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter. She is the former head because the NAACP discovered she was white: both parents were listed as Caucasian on her Montana birth certificate and all her known ancestors had a complete Caucasian descent of mixed Czech, German, and Swedish origin. She did attend and graduate from Howard University, described by Ta-Nehisi Coates as the “black Mecca” though he was not able to graduate from there in five years of trying as Dolezal  did in the time usually required. She eventually admitted she was born “white” but considered herself “black”. She “identified as black” and felt constrained by the “biological identity thrust upon her”. Clearly, she did not consider being “black” only a sense experience issue of skin color but a rational construct of social and cultural relationships, and she wanted in on it. As could be predicted, she was universally condemned by the politically correct as a wigger and forced to resign. The liberal and feminist philosophers who provide the philosophical intellectual foundation for individual identity gender and sexual orientation constructs such as transgender, third gender, genderqueer, or whatever terms they create to make self-gratification sound intellectual were unwilling to honestly take their logic to its necessary conclusion in Dolezal’s case. (I do not mean to ridicule self-gratification. In reality, self-gratification may be the substantive motivating factor of all human life. I am just ridiculing the rationalizations done to avoid using the word ‘self-gratification’.)


Why were they unwilling to do so? To what extent if at all does being “black” define more than just skin color but also a social and cultural group of exclusive membership to those born with black skin? Why is ‘wigger’ considered to be a derogatory term while words such as ‘Italian-American’ are not? A wigger is a white person who tries to emulate or acquire cultural behavior and tastes attributed to black people. Seems fairly harmless, yet it is not. Why Not? This problem gets exponentially worse when we throw in persons of mixed heritage. If one out of two parents is black, is the child black? One out of four grandparents? One out of eight great grandparents? So forth? Only if the child looks black? Why do we have such a word as ‘Italian-American’ that has usually good but some bad connotations yet no word for mixed white-black Americans other than mixed or people of color? How much color makes you a person of color? Being a black person is supposedly a basis for illegal discrimination and oppression by white persons in the United States. Why was Dolezal not commended for her attempts to join an oppressed group and to help them? If she called herself Tibetan and joined a bunch of Buddhist monks in a hunger strike against China, she would be commended; how is calling herself black and joining them in their battle against oppression any different? Dolezal never claimed she had black skin, she was claiming to be “black”. Other people than assumed she had some shade of black skin or had black ancestors — why did they make that assumption? What if she claimed to be African-American? There are plenty of white African-Americans — whites born or descended from whites born in Africa. For her, such a claim would most definitely have been fraud and not the same as “black” because she was not born nor had any known relatives born in Africa, yet the same would be true of many black Americans that prefer to be called ‘African-American’ and are so-called. How is the meaning of the word ‘black’ in ‘black person’ distinct from the meaning of the work ‘black’ in the words ‘black skin’?


Can the philosophy of language help make sense of this mess? I want to try. If anyone wants to share in this contemplation, in order for it to make sense, we should share an understanding of some basis concepts in the philosophy of language. The first is humorously known as the “duck-rabbit” problem that I will contemplate next. In contemplating the nature of language, one must always apply Ockham’s Razor to avoid losing sight of the forest that is language by concentrating too much on the planting and growing of words as its trees.