Rachel Dolezal’s exposure, and her subsequent declaration of racial self-identification coined as “Transracial” is compelling American society to examine the Race construct with a level of brutal honesty that arguably has never been applied to the topic. The concept of Race is a part of the very fabric of the United States of America, playing a large part in determining social norms, which in turn greatly influence social classification, education, wealth distribution, policing, criminal justice, etc.
But how sound is this concept?
In 1950, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth. This was a summary of the findings of an international panel of anthropologists, geneticists, sociologists, and psychologists. In its Response to OMB Federal Directive 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting, the American Anthropological Association in 1997 stated that during the past 50 years, “race” has been scientifically proven to not be a real, natural phenomenon. More specific, social categories such as “ethnicity” and “ethnic group” are more salient for scientific purposes and have fewer of the negative, racist connotations for which the concept of race was developed:
“OMB Directive 15, Census and common sense treat race and ethnicity as properties of an individual, ignoring the extent to which both are defined by the individual’s relation to the society at large. Consider, for example, the way that racial and ethnic identity supposedly “predict” a range of social outcomes. The typical correlation is that by virtue of being a member of a particular racial or ethnic group, imprisonment, poor health, poverty, and academic failure are more likely. Such an interpretation, while perhaps statistically robust, is structurally and substantively incomplete because it is not the individual’s association with a particular racial or ethnic group that predicts these various outcomes but the attribution of that relationship by others that underlies these outcomes. For instance, a person is not more likely to be denied a mortgage because he or she is black (or Hispanic or Chinese), but because another person believes that he or she is black (or Hispanic or Chinese) and ascribes particular behaviors with that racial or ethnic category.”
The American Anthropological Association’s report is clear: Race is a non-scientific, sociopolitical construct that was created as a prerequisite for the concept of Racism.
Racism properly defined is a social system that provides for manifestation of racial superiority/inferiority in all areas of said society. Absolutely prerequisite to the social system of Racism as it exists presently is the “color code” system of Race. German anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), being one of the first to explore the study of mankind as an aspect of Natural History, divided the human species into five “racial” groups in 1779:
- The Caucasian or “White” race
- The Mongolian or “Yellow” race (East and Central Asians)
- The Malayan or “Brown” race (Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders)
- The American or “Red” race (American Indians)
- The Ethiopian or “Black” race (sub-Saharan Africans)
Blumenbach propagated the “degenerative hypothesis” of racial origins; that the Original Humans (ie, ‘Adam and Eve’) were Caucasian/”white” and that the other races developed as a result of “environmentally-induced degeneration.”
French aristocrat and author Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882) is considered the father of modern Racial Demography, and is credited for developing the Aryan Master Race theory in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races. His literary work is considered among the first examples of “scientific” racism. A diplomat for the second French Empire, Gobineau believed that race created culture, and that the distinctions among the three races of “black”, “yellow” and “white” were natural barriers, and that race mixing would lead to disaster. Gobineau believed that only the “white” race descended from Adam and Eve, and that the other races did not share a common ancestry with them. Gobineau believed the white race was superior to the other races in the creation of civilized culture and maintenance of ordered government. He believed European civilization represented the most successful of the progression of ancient civilizations and held the most superior attributes capable for continued survival. His primary thesis was that European civilization flowed from Greece to Rome, and Germanic to contemporary. He thought this corresponded to the ancient Indo-European culture, also known as “Aryan,” which included groups classified by language, for example the Celts, Slavs and the Germans. Of course much Gobineau’s ideology was eagerly adopted by the Nazis.
Racism is a social system, and as a system it is faceless, thus largely intangible, yet it impinges on reality in a phenomenological way, because its intangibility, coupled with all racial groups (in this case ‘black’ and ‘white’) buying into it, renders it quite capable of setting real events into motion. Integral to the function of Race/Racism is the perpetual and automated racial superiority/inferiority machine; in this country this is most readily seen in the presumed criminalization of “black” men. It is this institutionalized presumption that directly influences the fact that individualized instances of “black” criminality are almost always treated as a blanket indictment on the entire racial group, while when the opposite occurs it is always seen as “the exception,” with the added suggestion that the perpetrator was “disturbed,” “on psychotropic meds,” or “was abused/traumatized in his childhood.” Thus the system of Race/Racism, to be perpetuated, must reinforce the psychoanalytic of the system’s inferior racial group (‘black’) while avoiding at all costs a psychoanalysis of the system’s superior racial group (‘white’). The reason Euro/Anglo-American society-at-large must avoid any honest conversation on the system of Race/Racism because such a conversation constitutes a psychoanalyzing of the system’s superior racial group, which would lead to a collapse of the system itself.
But again, for the system to operate properly, all involved must “play their role,” hence those that subscribe to either/all racial groupings in the system naturally acquire the nature, quality and character of the label of that racial grouping. The component of Critical Race Theory that relates to this mutuality is Interest Convergence, where members of the “white” racial group only support the racial advancement of members of the “black” racial group only when it also promotes the self-interests of the “white” racial group, and will not support any policies, ideas, etc., that may threaten the superiority status of the “white” racial group. Conversely, members of the “black” racial group support the racial advancement of members of the “white” racial group only when it supports the self-interests of the “black” racial group, avoiding supporting any policies, ideas, etc., that may threaten the inferiority status of the “black” racial group.
Is this as incredulous as it sounds?
It is very easy to see the advantages of being a member of the system’s superior racial group, but there are “advantages” attributed to being a member of the inferior racial group that its members have grown to, or been conditioned to, appreciate, enjoy, and protect. The general “enjoyment” is that of a social, economic and political non-responsibility, and the limited liability that comes with it. So while the system’s “white” racial group depends upon and exploits the presumed criminality of the system’s “black” racial group, the “black” racial group depends upon and exploits a presumed social, economic and political helplessness, thus enjoying freedom from the responsibilities that a collective engagement in such affairs demands. Both conditions are now considered “normal” in American life, and thus both racial groups have “skin” to lose (pardon the pun) in any serious discussion of the issue of Race, and therefore at present, neither the system’s superior racial group or the system’s inferior racial group deem it pertinent to seriously discuss.
Rachel Dolezal’s example illustrates simultaneously the fluidity of Race and the permanence of Racism, as the ability to successfully “self-identify” along racial lines belongs exclusively to the superior racial group. Racism does not allow for the inferior racial group to “self-identify” as the superior racial group; a member of the “black” racial group cannot become a member of the “white” racial group.
In layman’s term the color-code categorization system of Race is a myth, yet our belief in this myth allows for Racism to exist. The color-code classification of Race was constructed specifically to facilitate the very real system of Racism/”White” Supremacy. To put it quite bluntly, if you subscribe to the color-code classification of Race, whether you identify as/labeled as a member of the superior racial group within the system (‘white’) or the inferior racial group (‘black’), you are supporting, advocating, and perpetuating the system of Racism. If you identify as “White” you are a “White” Supremacist. If you identify as “Black,” you are a “White” Supremacist.
Identity walks hand-in-hand with Purpose. Where there is an absence of Identity you will also find an absence of Purpose. If the people labeled by the myth of Race as “black” are not in fact “black” (or negro, or colored, or Ethiopian, or the culturally-ambiguous ‘African-American’), then what are they? How are they to be identified?
Civilized people all over the world are primarily identified by national descent, not race. During the time of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the entire Northwest and West coastal area of continental Africa was controlled by the Moroccan Empire. Thus, regardless of tribal or ethnic affiliation, the people in America now labeled “negro”, “black”, “colored”, “Ethiopian,” “African-American”, etc., are descendants of Moroccans and born in America, or Moorish Americans. The first man to return the knowledge of National Identity to the American-born descendants of Moroccans was Prophet Noble Drew Ali, the founder of the Moorish Divine National Movement via the religious and civic organization called the Moorish Science Temple of America, and through this strategy confounded the language undergirding racialized exclusions. Prophet Drew Ali taught his followers that the racial labels of negro, black, colored or Ethiopian are totally inappropriate for any part of the human family; a man cannot be negro, black, colored or Ethiopian. Noble Drew Ali did forward a racial categorization, but one that is much more scientifically sound; he taught that there is but one race-the Human Race, yet subdivided into Asiatic and European. He instructed that the time has come that every nation must worship under its own vine and fig tree, and every tongue must claim its own. He taught that through proclaiming Nationality the members of the “black” racial group would then return to the respectable state of honoring their forefathers in name and principle, and also answer up to the constitutional qualifications for the enjoyment of full citizenship. Prophet Drew Ali forwarded a view of the “black” racial group in America as both deserving of and entitled to American citizenship and privileged by an ancient and proud heritage. Holding these twin poles in a productive tension, he constructed a space between assimilation and separation.
Prophet Drew Ali brought and taught all these things in 1928, and his message is not only as fresh today as it was then, but given the recent events in American society, his message is even more vital today than it was then; it is Prophetic.