June 11, 2008

"RACE: Are We So Different?"

Mashantucket Pequot Museum exhibit explores race and racismIt is well known that people look different. It's easy to tell a white person from a black person, or an Asian from an Arab. It's obvious that people have different skin colors, eye shapes and hair textures. But are these differences racial? What is race, anyway? Is it real?

These questions and others about the myths and reality--and unreality--about race and racism in America are explored in a new high-tech multimedia exhibition at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, called "RACE: Are We So Different?"

Probing the complex topic of race through science, history, human variation and everyday experiences using videos, still photography, artifacts, iconic objects, interactive components, computers, local programming and graphic displays. It challenges how we think about race, or human variation, and about the differences and similarities among people.

Displays fill the museum's 4,200-square-foot Mashantucket Gallery. On entering, visitors are confronted with the question, "What is race?" Once inside, the topic is addressed in dozens of presentations from multiple perspectives.

One called "Human Variation," differences are explored through height, molecular science, genetics, health and the broad spectrum of skin colors.

"When you begin to understand the biology of human variation, you have to ask yourself, 'Is race a good way to describe that?'" said Janis Hutchinson, a biological anthropologist. The display includes a video of scientists discussing their research about human differences and their conclusion that there is no biological basis to race.
The roots of race and racism in America:"History: The Story of Race," asks the question: How did the idea of race begin in America? A movie and timeline of events beginning in the 1500s with the advent of European settlers provide an overview of how ideas in science, government, culture, pop culture and politics have played a role in shaping our evolving understanding about race.

"Race is so deeply embedded in our lives, it appears to be the natural order of things. We must challenge that notion with all the power of science and society," Yolanda Moses, an anthropologist, says in one of the exhibits.
And in New England:A special supplemental exhibit called "RACE Matters in Indian New England" explores the history of Native communities in New England "through race-colored glasses." The less someone "looked Indian," the easier it was to claim Indians no longer existed. The exhibit uses census records, historic photographs and a series of print advertisements that reveal how the dominant culture has viewed Indians.

An old print ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes, for example, has an illustration of an Indian holding a hatchet attacking a white man with the words: "Nature in the raw is seldom mild." The cigarette company is boasting that the tobacco in its cigarettes is toasted, unlike the "raw" nature of the Indian.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Highlights of the US Report to the UN on Racism.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Wow, how interesting it is that the Pequots are posing that particular question. 99% of them are Black and other races rather than being of Pequot descent. Somewhat like Americans trying to claim nationalities rather than their now current identities as Americans. "I'm part English and part Irish," or the like is what writerfella has heard for a very long time in his excursions among other American peoples. That kind of insecurity mainly is what is dividing the balance of Americans at this time. Which is why writerfella has published articles that maintain that there is no American culture, because most Americans are in denial that such a factor exists...
All Best
Russ Bates

dmarks said...

"It is well known that people look different. It's easy to tell a white person from a black person, or an Asian from an Arab."

Telling an Asian from an Arab is like telling a Pole from a European. Or an Asian from an India Indian. Arabian is a mostly Asian ethnic group, and Saudi Arabia is an Asian nation (as are Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Qatar, and others).

Granted, northern Africa is Arab too, but this is due to the long-ago conquest of these lands by the Arab empire out of Asia.

Rob said...

I don't know what percent of the Pequots are "black and other races," but they all have Pequot blood or they wouldn't be Pequots. That's how the system works, anyway, although the Pequots could enroll someone without Pequot ancestry if they wanted to.

Needless to say, Russ, you don't have any evidence for your egregious claim. It's about as worthless as your other claims about who's an Indian.

Rob said...

As for whether Arabs count as Asians, it depends:


Given the scope and diversity of the landmass, it is sometimes not even clear exactly what "Asia" consists of. Some definitions exclude Turkey, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Russia while only considering the Far East, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent to compose Asia, especially in the United States after World War II. The term is sometimes used more strictly in reference to the Asia-Pacific region, which does not include the Middle East or Russia, but does include islands in the Pacific Ocean—a number of which may also be considered part of Australasia or Oceania, although Pacific Islanders are commonly not considered Asian.

dmarks said...

The "political geography" map of Asia is the most accurate. The only real vagueness is at edges, such as the East Indies, the Urals, the Bosporus, and Sinai.

The ethnic/racial group often called "Asians" is best called "East Asians". Generally, if Arabs are from the countries from Egypt westward, they are Africans, and if they live in the countries from Palestine/Israel and Saudi Arabia eastward, they are Asians.


Russ: I am not a member of the Pequot nation. Because of that, whatever I think, it really does not matter. It is up to each tribe/nation to determine its membership rules. Are you a member of the Pequots? No?

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The evidence for my 'egregious' claim comes from you and my own uncle T. Dan Hopkins. According to this blogsite, the Pequots were granted tribal status by Congress and not BIA process of accreditation, thus meaning they were a group and not a tribe at all. Plus, you are famous for saying that anyone the US Government identifies as Native is Native as far as you are concerned and that Natives should have no say at all about who is and isn't Native. writerfella concludes that it was rather white of you to say so. My film actor uncle Trilby spent a few months among the Pequots while acting in their historical docudrama, THE WITNESS. And he never met person one who claimed to be Pequot and was identifiable as Native to him. They all were Black people, he said.
Interesting that "egregious" transliterates as 'excellent choice from a herd...'
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

Re "you are famous for saying that anyone the US Government identifies as Native is Native as far as you are concerned and that Natives should have no say at all about who is and isn't Native":

Wrong. What I've said is that anyone the government identifies as Native after a rigorous examination is Native and that America's tribes support this identification process. In other words, Natives recognize the same people the government recognizes.

Unless the Native is you, that is. You think you know better than the 560-plus tribes who accept the federal recognition process. That's mighty white of you, apple.

Nice of you to shill for the white supremacists who would deny the rights of recently recognized tribes. These people claim to be anti-gambling, although many of us suspect they're anti-Indian as well. What's your excuse for opposing tribes recognized by other tribes--i.e., for being anti-Indian?

Rob said...

As for your uncle, I could point to dozens of instances of Pequots claiming to be Indians. He must've been hiding in his trailer if he didn't meet any of them.

And what does your worthless "identifiable to him" clause mean? A Pequot doesn't have to meet your stereotypical idea of who's an Indian to be an Indian.

Here's the basic point you're still too dense to grasp: Tribes are political entities, not racial entities. They can and do have people with mixed "blood." Many tribal members are mainly white or black; they're less than half Indian by "blood."

And...so? Tribes recognize these people as Indians and so does the federal government. Why? Because these people are linked to Indians culturally or historically even if they've diluted their Indian "blood."

In short, your racist assumption that all Indians must look and act like full-blooded Kiowas is just that...your racist assumption.