Towards a humanistic approach.
These are just my personal thoughts as I am working through all this complexity based on my experiences growing up Asian American in America. Consider this as a verbal meta-thinking dump of my ideas:
The genesis of the thought
After some reading of my best friend Nietzsche the other day, I came across a phrase which I found interesting:
“The European Race”
Which made me wonder:
Why don’t we ever talk the American Race?
Or why is this even not a concept?
Race vs Ethnicity vs Nationality
First of all, let us consider we are all the ‘human race’. I can have a child with an African-American woman, a Latina woman, or a Cuban woman. I can have a child with a South-Asian woman, an East-Asian woman, or a (very beautiful) Lebanese woman. There is nothing which prevents humans from begetting children with any other human regardless of race.
I cannot have a child with a dog (although perhaps some have tried).
Thus when it comes to ‘race’, perhaps better for us to just think of us all as the “human race”.
‘Ethnos‘ in Ancient Greek means a group of people, a tribe, a family. It also pertains to a nation or country.
Typically when we talk about ethnicity, I think we mean to talk about some sort of geographical-region, with certain customs, religious beliefs, or political-social beliefs. For example, the ‘Korean‘ ethnicity. In terms of ‘race‘ (let us assume this pertains more to biological DNA or genetics), then Koreans have descended from Mongolians. And certainly sooner or later, all humans have descended from Africa somewhere.
The strange thing with globalization and world-capitalism:
You are no longer allowed to be ‘nationalistic’.
For example, it is considered bad taste for Germans to be proud of being German. Or it is bad taste for Americans to be proud of being American. Certainly the vibes is:
It is okay to be proud of being a certain nationality… but just don’t say it too loud.
Perhaps the best way to conquer racism is to promote nationalism.
For example, I am Korean-American. But I was born in America [San Francisco]. I grew up to Costco hot dogs and Hot Pockets. I went to Boy Scouts [became an Eagle Scout]. I was educated here (UCLA). I grew up to rap and hip hop music. Even though in my household and family I grew up with Korean-Confucian norms and social beliefs, I am all-American.
“What is your favorite ice cream flavor?”
If I meet a stranger somewhere in the states, typically we have more in common than I would with a random guy I meet in the streets of South Korea. For example I can ask any American the following questions (depending on age, etc):
- What is your favorite Pokemon? (Works for those of us who were born in the 80’s, the 90’s, even the 2000’s)
- What is your favorite ice cream flavor (or your most hated ice cream flavor?)
- What is your favorite free samples from Costco?
- What breakfast cereal did you grow up to? What comics or TV shows did you grow up to?
If I asked these same questions to a South Korean (in Korean) I would only get puzzled looks.
Towards an ‘American’ Race
Let us consider:
America has been around for ~300 years. This means [according to the Lindy effect of Nassim Taleb] that there is a high likelihood America will continue for another ~300 years or so.
Then let us consider — what will ‘race’ or human morphology look like 300 years from now?
A future ‘whiteness’
Let us consider … the trend seems more towards racial intermingling and interracial marriages and babies. We get lots of Caucasian and Asian folks [East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian] having kids. One of my best friends [Irish and German heritage] just had a baby with his Japanese-American wife. I wonder– will this kid be considered “white”, “mixed”, Japanese-American, Asian-American, or something else?
And let us do this thought experiment after around 3 generations. Sooner or later, there will be no more ‘racial purity’ in America. Even most of the people whom we consider ‘white’ are a combination of Irish, Polish, German, Dutch, etc. Based on when I talk to my “white” friends (or strangers) the rule is:
If you got European blood, and enough inter-mixing of Indo-European blood, you eventually become “white”.
For example, when talking to some kids in college who self-identify themselves, they call themselves “white”. But their ancestry was part Irish and German, or Slavic. But once upon a time, the Irish weren’t considered “white”. Same goes with the Germans or Eastern-Europeans or Slavs.
Thus perhaps “whiteness” is more of a class thing, or more of a morphological thing?
Certainly there are morphological differences between those from Europe and those from East-Asia. Anyone can spot this. But once my kids kids kids kids inter-marry with all different ethnicities, races, and nationalities … ain’t they gonna look something totally different? America is truly the melting pot; South-Korea and Japan may continue to be quite racially homogenous (they don’t like to inter-marry so much), but America will sooner or later become perfectly rainbow ice cream flavor.
What makes one ‘white‘?
I was looking at the US Census website the other night, and discovered this interesting thing:
When it comes to the ‘white’ racial category, it also involves people from the Middle East or North Africa. This includes Lebanese, Arab, or Moroccan.
Which is Uber-interesting to me, because technically Turkish people are ‘Caucasian’ (from the Caucasus region where a lot of Americans would consider the ‘Middle East’, include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia [the country], Russia, Iran, and Turkey.
So certainly needlessly to say; ‘whiteness’ is socially-constructed. To be ‘white’ is not a race.
You should be able to choose your race and nationality
It seems in ancient Roman times your genetic-racial-morphological makeup didn’t really matter. What mattered whether you were a Roman citizen or not.
For example, Seneca was a Roman (although from Spain). He wasn’t a “Spanish-Roman”; he was just Roman.
In America, perhaps we should stop classifying ourselves based on our heritage. Perhaps we should just call ourselves ‘American’, or better yet … not even classify ourselves at all. Just consider ourselves by our first and last name. The idea that you choose you.