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Cain, Racism, and the loaded question

Let me start by pointing out the obvious.  There is no such thing as race.  Maybe this is not so obvious to everyone, but take it from someone who has studied the biology of race, it really is skin deep.  We humans look at the face of another human, and we tune into things like nose width, skin color, hair, and we think we can tell something about the person we are looking at.  Maybe we are right about two thirds of the time, and that reinforces our belief that we can tell something about another human this way.

But it is not true.  There are more differences between people of the same race than there are similarities, from political beliefs to enzyme structure and everything in between.  Race is just a construct that holds together because most people in Europe have light skin, and most people in Africa have dark.  You really cannot tell anything by race.  Even skin color–caused by a pigment called melanin–is chemically the same in every person (except maybe albinos–who exist in all “races”)  When I look at skin through my microscope, I cannot tell European from Asian from African.  We are all the same color in chemistry.

So when someone asks you about the “Black Vote”, anything you say can be misconstrued as negative racism.  Even if your name is Herman Cain.

Anyone who knows anything about Herman Cain knows that this man is not a racist.  We look at him, and we believe that he is of African origin, but really he is just another American.  And we are all so used to hearing MSNBC talk about the “Black Vote” that we forget that the entire concept of a “Black Vote” is completely racist, because it does not take into consideration that dark skin does not imply voting preference.  the “Black Vote” is shorthand invented by the liberal press for economically depressed inner city populations that tend to be mostly dark skinned.  I have plenty of relatives–of all skin tones–who would fall into the “Black Vote” category.

So, was this a gaffe?  Do we call Herman Cain a racist for falling into the the trap of trusting a term created by liberal racists?  Surely not.

The problem is this:  Race relations exist.  We fool ourselves into believing that there really is a group called “Blacks” and a group called “Whites” and another called “Hispanics”.  We forget that almost nobody fits perfectly into any of these groups.  Yet we use these categories as a short hand way to identify people, or groups of people–because our brains like to categorize.  But race is a construct, and it no more predicts voting behavior than the “Tall Vote” or the “Ginger-Hair Vote”  (although I have heard that most gingers vote independent–kidding!)

We cannot discuss race relations without toeing the line of racism itself.  And there is no way to teach our children not to be racist, without addressing the issue of race relations.

Opportunists will scream “RACISM”.  When they do, it is almost always themselves revealed as racists, bigots, and opportunists.

The only real way to end racism is to end racism.  No more reporting about the “Black Vote” or “Black Unemployment” or “Black Poverty”.  Illegal aliens are illegal aliens whether from Germany or Mexico.  And need based scholarships go to individuals in need, without regard to skin color.  These steps we can take to end racism.  A government that discriminates, and treats people differently based on race is a racist government; a government that insists on putting race on census forms, college applications, and death certificates is a racist government.

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