My usual answer to that question is: anything but motorcycles. :wink:

LINK TO COLUMN: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/653/what-percentage-of-black-parentage-do-you-need-to-be-considered-black

I am a firefighter in a large US city. Recently i took a promotional exam. The test asked me to declare my race. (being a smartass, and white, i was going to mark African American…then say my greatgrandfather was SouthAfrican if questioned.) My question is whether or not th fire dept. could legally question or challenge my answer? Oh,the fire dept in question does promote according to Affirmative action guidelines. So an African American or Latino that scored a97% could be promoted prior to a white FF scoring a 99%. I am not against affirmative action. I ammarried to a black woman, have two children with her and will definitely teach them to check African American on any such form where it may be in their best interest to do so.

I really wish there was a way to make automatic links to columns when a poster opens a thread about one. What the devil are you talking about?

The classic column due to be posted Monday. If you sign up for the weekly SD e-mail, you’ll get this in advance, like DORFMONT and I do.

My question about the 1/8th rule (which used to be, at least, the legal standard for affirmative action etc.), was always this: I’m black if at least one of my great-grandparents was black. Fine. How do I determine if one of my great-grandparents was black? After all, they may have all looked white, but maybe one of them had a black great-grandparent … This rule, given the assumption that it’s recursive, is actually equivalent to the one-drop rule. And since the human species evolved in Africa–we’re all African-American, baby! Power, brothers!

Look, it’s really simple. A bunch of bastards (and, ultimately, traitors) needed a rationalization for their crimes. So they came up with a systematic suite of lies as an excuse, to plaster over the black holes where their consciences should have been. And you’re looking for logic in it? Well, here’s logic for you, the only logic that applies in these cases: in any system that contains a contradiction (such as, “All men are created equal and white men are superior,”) no proposition can be disproved, everything is as true as everything else, and the fight against ignorance is futile, because everything is ignorance.

When my brother was a police officer in southern California, while filling out a report he put “Port.” in the “race” field. His partner said “What is that?” He said “Portugese.” His partner was upset about it so my brother erased it and put “Mex.” That was, in his partner’s opinion, better. Acceptable even.

Good column.

A suggestion: The paragraph beginning with “Recently a retired D.C. official…” should be in ital, just like the rest of that letter to Cecil.

Fixed. I got to stop doing these things at 3 in the morning.

Note that one letter in that column was from Frank Kameny:


Honestly, I have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

I think he’s explaining the mentality of the slave states. In my politics class I was told that it was actually a minority of states that desired slavery but the actual split was over their threat to secede (the treachery referred to). I also read recently that one of the defences of slave labour was that indentured slavery and wage slavery weren’t much different? Anyone know if the slave holders held that view?

Good catch! I’d never heard of him before - quite a gay rights pioneer.

This reminds me of my time in the Navy. It seemed like any time I had to fill out a form, I had to check an ethnicity and race box. Luckily they always provided a “none” and “other” box (those are the boxes I checked at least). It always seemed to me that if they were going to continue the practice they should at least provide “American” and “white” boxes as “Germanic”, “caucasian” or “Samoan Islander”, “black” didn’t really apply. Hell, my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.

Okay, I can see that. But I was also thinking maybe it was a diatribe against affirmative action.

I think he wouldn’t be that loose with his terms. As far as I’m aware proponents of affirmative action haven’t actually declared war on the US Government, so they wouldn’t be traitors. It also isn’t actually contrary to the Constitution to say that men are born equal but the circumstances surrounding their upbringing aren’t equal, so I don’t think affirmative action is even unconstitutional. I don’t think affirmative action is really an effective technique though, a better approach would be to set an absolute limit on gifts and inheritance, since the working class background has probably been more consistently selected against than any other.

Race is a social construct that sort of kind of depended upon a specific phenotype that relates to skin color. But, race wasn’t the color of your skin, it was your position in society. That’s why Mark Twain’s Puddin’head Wilson could be a story about two children who looked identical, but were of two different races. As society changed, the definition of race also changed.

The point is that the whole racist philosophy is a system of lies created by the damned slavelords as an excuse for their atrocities, and that there is, therefore, no point in wondering why the system is inconsistent. Lies always are.

It is true, however, that some slaveholders pointed out that wage slaves weren’t much better off than chattel slaves.

Oh yeah, I suppose chattel is the more accurate term (since indentured implies a limit and the slave masters could literally work a slave to their death). I read in “Capital” that some slaves were actually restricted to 45 hour weeks under competition laws, whereas factory workers that basically had the option of working in a factory or starving could end up working 72. Course, I’m glad that now appalling conditions for our dark skinned brethren are exported out under the principle of neoliberal globalisation and we get to witness happy smily Nike adverts instead.

That said, racial “theory” (bunkum that it is) may have had its roots with Gobineau, a man that never actually owned slaves.

But it’s not like hyperbole is unknown in political discussions. There are people who routinely call liberals traitors.

Derp, I just noticed that I made another fundamental error… I was referring to the principles of the Declaration of Independence as if they were in the Constitution. Oh well, it’s not scripture. :stuck_out_tongue: