The Absence of Race: In Science, In a River Bank 9,300 Years Ago, In a Political Cartoon This Week

In a prior post, a comment by Warrington Faust sent me to research Kennewick Man, the name given to a man who lived 9,300 years ago and whose remains, discovered in 1996 in the bank of a river, became the subject of a legal tug-of-war between archeologists and the Native American community of the state of Washington. One of the articles I found ended thusly.

The political battles over the Kennewick man were framed in a large part by people who want to know to what “race” he belongs. Yet, the evidence reflected in the Kennewick materials is further proof that race is not what we think it is. The Kennewick man, and most of the Paleo-Indian and archaic human skeletal materials that we’ve found to date are not “Indian,” nor are they “European.” They don’t fit into ANY category that we define as a “race.” Those terms are meaningless in prehistory as long ago as 9,000 years–and in fact, if you want to know the truth, there are NO clearcut scientific definitions of “race.”

Cliff Monteiro has objected to Jim Bush’s cartoon [scanned image courtesy WPRO] in the Providence Journal on the basis that Gordon Fox is “multicultural”; i.e., part African-American.
My reaction upon hearing this bit of information was, really? Who knew?
Let’s see, looking at him, he could be Italian. Or Spanish. Sure, you could see Portuguese. Or is he French? French French, though, not Canadian French – you can tell by his hair.
To this rather silly train of thought, the vast majority of us respond – who cares? We judge him solely on his political values, his conduct in office, how he has used his power.
It is those qualities, not any irrelevancy, which inspired this cartoon, a clever and revealing encapsulation of the top-heavy structure of Rhode Island’s government as well as of the history and character of two of its key players. Any hint of race or racism therein has been projected from the mind of the reader, not placed by the pen of the artist.

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Roland
Roland
11 years ago

So Cliff Monteiro can object to a cartoon that makes no reference to ANY race? Is he just against shiny shoes? If the cartoon shown Fox planting his lips on the derriere of Murphy, would he laugh or yell ‘hate crime against gays!” ?
Yet he was one of the first to cry “RACISM!” when a police officer Crowley, who was only doing his job, had the misfortune of encountering the now known race baiting opportunist like Professor Gates?
Where’s the equity in thought, Just Cliff Monteiro?

steadman
steadman
11 years ago

I think people like Monteiro do a disservice when they scream racism at something such as this. By attacking issues like this, Monteiro and others make real racism and real hatred seem unreal and just as silly as this political cartoon. When will leaders in the black community take on real issues? While the black community suffers just as much or more in this economic crisis, what issues has monteiro spoke out publicly about? The only times I have seen/heard him is this and the RI name change joke. At what point will we stop screaming racism at nothing and ignoring the real racism/classism in our state? This cartoon isnt racism, half a brain could tell you that. Discuss and bring to public light real racism/classism/croonyism that affects the black community and the whole community at large, not some fake issues used to get contributions and attention for your organization. Monteiro is a fraud

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

“Cliff Monteiro (of the RI NAACP) has objected…”
Since when does the NAACP care about white people being depicted unflatteringly? Fox is half Cape Verdean, half Irish. So why do some say he’s “black”? Why can’t he be “white”?
Oh, by the way, we have another politician who is half “white” too. But yet he’s the first “black” president. Not the 44th white president. Why?

Aldo
Aldo
11 years ago

Monique,
This would make a great contribution to the Projo Op-Ed page…

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Here is my take on “race” in politics. It is a wonderful emotional issue, like all emotional issues thoughtful reflection is not required. You can just “come from the gut”. Everyone feels qualified to voice an opinion.
More important, a discussion of a candidates race outpaces the need for thoughtful consideration of the real issues. Consequently, the candidate need not address them.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

About Kennewick Man, Monique’s quotation is accurate as far as it goes. However the concern about race is important to the Indians and is the cause of their legal battle to prevent examination of the remains found. It is very likely that it will be found that there is no connection to present day Indians, thus they would lose their claim to being “Native Americans”.
Although research has been hampered, it seems likely that Kennewick Man was caucasian. This does not mean European. It was thought that he is probably most directly connected to the group which became the Ainu of Japan. Distinct from other Japanese as being Nordic featured, but with dark hair. In an early James Bond novel, he is sent to Japan “undercover”. To accomplish this, lacking oriental features, he is disguised as an Ainu.
If they “conquered” America where is the validity in claiming to be the victims of “conquest”. I think there is a Walt Whitman poem about this.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
11 years ago

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s racism. If the sun doesn’t come out these stupid clowns are ready to cry racism.
Someone ought to give Cliff, a copy of “The boy who cried wolf.”
The problem with these NAACP types is that they view everything in terms of race. Now tell me, who are the racists??

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Just thought I would tack this one on here. National Review’s take on Colombus Day:
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTViOWFkM2NjODVhY2EzZTVlNDA2Mzk3NWIyYzk3ZTE=&w=MA==
Another historical tid bit, most of the later “Spanish” explorers were from a region of Spain settled by Roman Legions forbidden to return to Rome. I suppose you could speculate that they were “Italian” too.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Two other ironies of the NAACP:
The words “colored people” is in the name of the group. But imagine if some prominent white person referred to them as “coloreds” or “colored people”. He’d lose whatever job he had immediately.
Or what is really ironic is that they say they’re “colored”, yet actually white is all colors and black is the absence of color. So technically speaking, white people are the true “coloreds”.

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