Race Is Immutable?

In the eyes of the law, your race is considered immutable because it cannot be changed from its natural state.

This made me laugh. Being mixed the perception of my race is very mutable. People often have no idea what to make of my skin color, hair, or facial features.The day-to-day decisions I make influence that perception. The day-to-day decisions I make influence what I consider myself.

Some days I consider myself more black than white. Some days I consider myself more white than black. Some days I consider myself more mixed than either. Some days I consider myself neither black nor white.

The article does address this:

Race is an elusive, fluid concept, and the courts have been manifestly reluctant to define it. What, in the end, makes a person black? The 11th Circuit wrestled with the idea in its ruling, dredging up old definitions and emerging with nothing more definitive than that “race” is nature, not nurture.

 

Half-Blood

As I have previously written here, I am biracial. One parent is European descent while the other is of African descent. When I was born, I was the first biracial child many had ever seen. Thankfully, it was just the start of a trend, so these days plenty are around for people to notice us.

This morning, I noticed several different book series all with protagonists who are of mixed blood. One even has a character who is half human and half dragon, which ought to be interesting for the parents to explain conception. (For the D&D nerds out there, in AD&D 2nd Edition some dragons could transform into human shape, which is how half-dragons became a thing. I had a few NPCs as a DM who were half-dragons.)

Pretty consistently these half-blood characters found rejection in larger society in not fitting one race or the other. Society wants them to choose. Really, it is a false choice as the characters, like I did, find honoring both is the only real viable path. Rejection of one or the other just leads to painful experiences. The reality is I am neither white nor black and can never be either. So I will always be something in-between. That’s OK.

Well, that’s what I have to explain to some people.

Anyway, fantasy and science fiction novels were a great source of reading about half-anything. Some of my favorites:

  • Spock from Star Trek who was half-human and half-vulcan.
  • Tanis from Dragonlance who was half-human and half-elf.
  • Smash from Xanth who was half-human and half-ogre.

Maybe with these new books I can find a few new favorites.

 

Book Review: Single & Happy: The Party of Ones

Single & Happy: The Party of OnesSingle & Happy: The Party of Ones by J. Victoria Sanders

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Back in late 2011, I ran across the Single & Happy blog. WordPress.com had drawn me in, but I started looking at various tags including dating. Lots were people talking about current dates and especially the horror that is online dating web sites. Single & Happy was a better, maturer different.

My only other experiences with blog writers who publish a book is to collect the best blog posts, give them to an editor, maybe expand a bit upon them, and publish the collection. Instead we get an actual book influenced by prior work and so something new and exciting.

While not a single black woman, I am single and almost black. I strongly sympathize with the plight of attempting online dating. The dating stories seem eerily familiar. And the advice Victoria gives on being a friend to yourself is good advice. It happens I a friend posted on Facebook on why she hates the question, “Why are you single?” so I referenced a quote from this book.

Somehow after decades of being single, I think I am happy. Well, happy-ish. There is room for improvement. It is good to know there are others out there working on the same issues willing to talk about the challenges.

View all my reviews

Am I Suspicious Now?

Surely the GBI isn’t looking for anyone about 6’3″. That is a lot of folks out there…. Even me. Maybe my only saving grace is not looking like I weigh 240. Hopefully Bankhead’s quote was taken out of context? 

While Zinkhan could have changed his appearance, [Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John] Bankhead advised people to look for his build – 6-foot-3, 240 pounds. “He can’t change his height. He can shave, he can dye his hair, but he can’t change his height,” Bankhead said. Zinkhan a no-show for flight | News | OnlineAthens.com

This would be a good time to be black. Oh… Wait… I am… Sorta.

TED Talk: Picking apart the puzzle of racism in elections

By Nate Silver

A less than convincing point… The list of states with voters reporting a racial bias only well matches the Obama-Clinton difference map because Nate draws the audience to the states he’s picking on: Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia (5 hits). He totally ignores the strong race bias in South Carolina, Alaska, Missouri, or Indiana didn’t translate into more votes (4 false negatives). Also Wyoming and Oklahoma both had no reported racial bias and voted more against Obama (2 false positives).

The Digital Switch

The Long Tail claims consumers, given more options, will reflect their widely varied interests. Physical stores cannot fill all of the demand, so bytes stored on disk are the fastest, cheapest method for getting stuff to consumers. We see a mostly example of this shift in the shift to digital music.

Vinyl records were the first physical music media form I used. Later, cassette tapes (1980s) and compact disc (1990s) achieved dominance. In 2001, I started the transition to digital music. There were some stumbles along the way because of technology changes and trusting vendors saying Digital Rights Management is good for consumers. At present, I only listen to digital music when using my own collection.

Digital video seems more complicated. Web sites streaming and on-demand television have the potential to fit the Long Tail model where consumers have access to insanely varied content when they want it. DVRs neither fix the when (just shift the airing to another time) or the insanely varied content. Movie rental distributors like Blockbuster and Netflix are moving toward distributing digital movies and TV shows in setups similar to on-demand. Nothing has even come close to winning.

Digital books may yet get some traction. Computers screens cause eye strain. Laptops don’t feel like a book. PDAs, Blackberrys, and other handhelds with small screens require a ton of scrolling. A recent solution to this is “epaper” which doesn’t constantly refresh. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony Reader are the biggest players. (The Long Tail is not available for the Kindle but is for the Reader. WTH?)

Remaining issues for me:

  1. Ownership is dying.
    • I really like the idea of playing music on my iPod or from CDs. I play DVDs on my computer because I can’t play my DVR stuff in a hotel. So streaming and on-demand only solutions bother me as long-term solutions. If it is easy for distributors to store it because it is just bytes, then it is easy for me to do so as well.
    • I have books from 20 years ago I can still read. Technology changes too much to depend on something I buy today working tomorrow. So maybe “renting” is a way better approach for digital media?
  2. The black markets for music and movies prove consumers want everything any time. Companies must embrace consumer demand and make it easier for consumers or suffer. I think companies changing to accommodate consumer demand is the only reason the music companies have survived. Litigation cannot solve it.
  3. Hardware investment gets expensive every few years.

My solution? Wait and see.

Merge Historically Black Colleges With White?

Retention is one of those numbers higher education leaders tend to review to determine how effectively the faculty reaches the students. Historically black colleges and universities were created because students found it difficult both to get into “neutral” colleges and graduate from them. That latter part sounds like they were created in part to solve a retention issue.

Enter Georgia Senator Seth Harp who suggests a couple HBCUs in Georgia should merge with their neutral neighbors. The idea is to save money by not having more than one college in a town. Are black students as successful at “neutral” colleges as their white counterparts? If not, then the reason these schools exist has yet to be solved.

If we want to eliminate HBCUs, then we should have colleges and unviersities where all students succeed regardless of race (or gender, religion, or other factors).

Haven’t Been Called Middle Eastern In a Long While

Was invited to dinner at Nasrin’s last night. Some others from the neighborhood were invited as well. I got to tell the story I formerly blogged about in the Melungeon post:

Laurie: Ezra, where are you from?
Ezra: Right here, born and raised.
Laurie: Oh… Where are your parents from?
Ezra: Dad is from here. Mom was a military brat, so she’s not really from anywhere.
Laurie (Getting visibly confused… Long pause.): Okay, I’ll just say it. Why do you look like that?
Ezra: Oh, okay! I understand now. My father is black. My mother is white.

There was shock on various faces. More so on the trio who had never previously met me. None had thought I was black. They had thought me maybe Middle Eastern. Like maybe I was related to Nasrin? ROFL

The only time anyone has ever thought I am from the Middle East was back in college. Rahat, I think, who was from Saudi Arabia wanted to know when I was going to apply for my work permit to stay in the US. LOL It turns out he knew I knew so many people from the Middle East, he assumed I was as well.

Labels

This started out as a comment to Adrian, but I it got so long it may as well be a post on its own….

The significance of racial labels is not in identifying the genetic makeup of individuals. The significance is in how the labels were used to enforce segregation long before the American Revolution. Before slaves in the United States were freed in 1865, defining who was Black was to identify who was eligible to be held in slavery and have ownership of property. There were grave concerns about mixing owners and slaves resulting in slaves gaining their freedom, especially once capturing them from Africa was no longer allowed. Defining race was about control then. Even in the more than one hundred years after the slaves were freed, defining who was Black was about control. Instead of who could be forced into slavery, the definitions of who is Black identified who could be excluded from power.  The fear was mixed people using the laws to somehow get access to power. Only since Affirmative Action has it become in any way beneficial for others to have less than pure European descent.

Adrian remarked many of us have ancestors which keep us from being purely from one or another group. Chatting with George and Lorenia yesterday, George pointed out even in Europe, southern Spain and Italy confounds the stereotype. Our increasing understanding of genetics and culture invalidates race as a useful means of describing individuals. Individuals have genetic markers linking them all over the globe. We are one species. My favorite example PBS show indicating the women described as Amazons moved to western Mongolia.

“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” – Baha’u’llah

Shoghi Effendi Internet Quote

Many Baha’is hold this quote predicts the creation of the Internet.

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity.
— Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 203

Perhaps what we know as the Internet is a pre-cursor? After all, the Internet does not yet embrace the whole planet, is very much restricted by nations, and has many issues to work out to reach perfect reliability.

Probably it will in time.