'Race' Is A Social Construct, But Color Differences Aren't
What if we acknowledged genetic diversity with friendlier (and delicious!) labels?
Oh no! Not another 'Race is a social construct' debate!
Yet there I was once again, this time on Substack, debating with my fellow writer SteveQJ whether 'race' is a social construct or not.
Scientists, for sure, don't talk about 'race' anymore, they speak of 'ancestry', like 'Sub-Saharan African' or 'Northern European'. But still. It's a thing.
"So," sez I, since no one can ever answer this question, "What's undeniable is that our skin colors are different. We've customarily called it 'race', but if not that, then what?" Since most of us don't parse genetic hairs like scientists.
Steve, a really reasonable, rational, middle-of-the-road black writer on race issues, was the most recent in a long line of others who couldn't offer any better labels. Do we even need any? Of course we do. In a neutral sense, we discriminate between differences. It's not 'speciesist', for example, to point out penguins are different from ostriches and canaries, yet they're all birds.
Chances are, if I say the word 'bird', the first image that pops into your mind is a generic small flying critter, since that's what's customarily flying around our 'hoods.
That's quite stereotypical, you speciesist! Penguins, ostriches, kiwis, and flamingoes are canceling you on Twitter right now!
There may truly be no such thing as 'race', but there are clear superficial evolutionary human differences. You know this by the questions of small children, who often ask, as I did as a little kid in a park, why 'those children over there have slanty eyes', leading my mother to talk to me on the ride home about 'Oriental' people as we called them back then and how you must never say 'slanty' eyes and why. World War II, Japan, 'slant-eyes', etc.
A kinder, tastier vocabulary
Leave it to a sugar hound like me to suggest 'flavors' as a replacement for 'race' or 'color'.
I submit dessert flavors as a friendlier, gentler way to refer to clearly different humans.
'Flavor' is such a friendly word, rarely used in a pejorative sense. Maybe in Harry Potter, where Bettie Botts All-Flavour Beans occasionally come in Vomit, Dirt, Ear Wax, Booger and Rotten Egg.
When we speak of flavors we're thinking positively: "7-Eleven Slurpees: Now featuring Tutti-Frutti, Tangerine and Pina Colada!"
When I think of human varieties I think of ice cream: Chocolate, vanilla, caramel and butterscotch!
What's the diff between caramel and butterscotch? Thank you for asking.
Butterscotch is Asians, Caramel is those between Butterscotch and Chocolate.
And Rocky Road for those who are brown and white and a little nutty!
Or Neapolitan for the more-than-two-flavors multiracial.
We can't forget Jews, who feature heavily in fevered white supremacist nightmares but whose skin color defies categorization. So I've assigned them Honey, since honey cakes are a big Rosh Hashanah staple.
Racist language sounds a lot sillier when the labels sound friendlier.
"If we do not stand now and perform our god given duty to keep OUR country clean of all the ̶B̶l̶a̶c̶k̶s̶, Chocolates, ̶J̶e̶w̶s̶ Honeys, and ̶Y̶e̶l̶l̶o̶w̶ Butterscotch scum from Asia, WE are just as bad as the enemy, if not worse. We are trading our race for that of an inferior form of trash." - Protocols of the Elders of Zing
Vanilla supremacy? Trust, me no one wants vanilla to rule the world. It's just too boring. And butterscotch 'scum'? I don't know if there's any such thing, but I'll bet it's delicious, just like the chocolate scum at the bottom of a Bosco's bottle.
"Slowly fear and the Marxist weapon of ̶J̶e̶w̶r̶y̶ Honeyists descend like a nightmare on the mind and soul of decent vanillas." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampfeecake
Mmmm, waffles with honey and ice cream!
Now let's hear from racism's Ground Zero, Twitter:
"Obama only won because he's ̶b̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ chocolate. Romney would have made a much better president as he actually has morals unlike ̶n̶-̶-̶-̶-̶r̶ nutter Obama." - Madonna
"It's a Friday, it's raining, almost a perfect combination. I'm staying away from ̶A̶s̶i̶a̶n̶ butterscotch drivers." - Plastic Jesus on Twitter
"Who's the more annoying #Raptors fan? Drake, or the fat ̶I̶n̶d̶i̶a̶n̶ caramel guy with the underwear on his head?" - KB58 on Twitter
"I'm a bit sleepy but when I wake up I'm going DefCon 3 on ̶J̶E̶W̶I̶S̶H̶ ̶P̶E̶O̶P̶L̶E̶ HONEY PEOPLE. The funny thing is I can't actually be anti- ̶S̶e̶m̶i̶t̶i̶c̶ schmendrick because ̶b̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ chocolate people are actually ̶J̶e̶w̶ Honey also. You guys have toyed with me and tried to chocolateball anyone who opposes your agenda." - Kanye West
And now, from butterscotch San Francisco police officer Jason Lai, busted in 2016 for being a flavorist asshole:
“I hate that ̶b̶e̶a̶n̶e̶r̶ caramel, but I think the ̶n̶i̶g̶ choc is worse.... [Indian] ̶p̶p̶l̶ caramels are disgusting....F--k that ̶n̶i̶g̶ choc."
Lai didn't like gay officers either, describing them as 'flames' or 'flaming'.
So, while we're assigning flavors, let's go off-color for a moment and suggest Rainbow, since LGBTs get about as much hate as non-vanillas.
Humans: We're magically delicious!
I'll admit my association with flavors to humanity may be rooted in an early childhood experience.
I was maybe three or four years old and my parents and I were at the beach. I saw a black lady on a lounge chair, slathered in oil and stretched out to catch the rays. She reminded me of a chocolate Easter bunny.
My mother had talked to me about race and racism, or 'prejudice' as we called it back then, and I understood color differences and why black people should be treated the same as others. (In Orlando at the time, there were almost no caramel or butterscotch people).
I thought of her for the rest of the day as the 'chocolate lady'.
As an adult, I used to be friendly with a guy who, I admit, made me hungry for devil's food cake.
And others who made my mouth water for Bit O' Honey, Kraft caramels and butterscotch toffee ice cream.
Look, sorry, I'm from a French family, and everything reminds us of food. Most of you eat to live, we live to eat!
I'll admit I've never met a white person who made me long for vanilla ice cream, but does anyone ever long for that? Maybe Howard Johnson's vanilla, which was actually worth eating on its own in my childhood, without toppings to jazz it up. Don't know if it's still around, or still as good. Anyway, there are very, very few genuinely white people. Maybe South Africans. Or Michael Jackson, shortly before he died. But they never made me think, "Mmmmm, Howard Johnson's!"
I do have a fondness for French Vanilla, which is less ethnocentric than it sounds. French vanilla is close to my HoJo memories of yore, pretty damn good on its own. I occasionally call myself French Vanilla. That's definitely ethnocentric.
Our conversations about ̶r̶a̶c̶e̶ flavor are schizophrenic. We used to strive to be 'flavor-blind', but Critical Flavor Theorists decided that's impossible because of 'implicit biases' and 'vanilla privilege', which is like original sin or something. Claiming you're 'flavor-blind' is usually found on every far-left chocolate 'antiflavorist's list of annoying things vanilla people say. 'Identity politics', once the purview of vanilla supremacists, has now been adopted and reconstituted on the left and is fine as long as you discriminate against vanillas only.
I'm reminded of that famous chocolate leader who wanted his kids to be judged not by the flavor of their skin but by the ooey-gooey goodness inside.
It's disingenuous to expect people to not talk about color because it's not 'politically correct' anymore. There's too much baggage in everyone's past, and not just slavery legacies (although that's one almost certainly everyone's family shares, so pervasive is one of the earliest human rights abuses). People suck, and always have. We've found countless ways to abuse and hate on each other as a convenient excuse to destroy others. The earliest known murder victim is some poor Neanderthal schmuck who suffered 'deliberately inflicted blunt force trauma' to the head in a Spanish cave 430,000 years ago.
I wonder if he called someone a bad name, or suggested his mama was from the 'wrong side' of the Atapuerca Mountains.
While it's paramount to acknowledge the mistakes of the past we need to focus on the present and the future which we still have the power to change. Instead of pretending The Social Construct Formerly Known As Race (or Color) doesn't exist, because the differences are there regardless of what you call it, let's create a friendlier language that unites rather than divides us. Pretty much everyone can agree that things that taste good are, well, good things. Even if you don't like sweets, perhaps you've got your own set of fave tastes--potato chips or smoothies or deep-dish pizzas.
Our color differences exist, and if we use friendlier terms, the natural good feelings we harbor for tasty flavors create positive associations in our brains for our fellow humans. No one much cares if you prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla or rainbow sherbet over everything else. With friendlier labels, we may find ourselves reacting less negatively to implicit biases. Instead of reacting on some subconscious level with fear at a 'black' guy [night, darkness, predators, fear], we can speak of color differences without setting Twitter aflame (that's now Elon Musk's new job until Trump returns).
No one will ever believe again that 'vanilla' should be supreme. I just Googled it: Howard Johnson's vanilla ice cream, which really was superlative on its own, is gone, along with the other 27 flavors of my birthday celebrations. Case closed on vanilla supremacy.
It's harder to believe that 15 million Honeys actually rule the world clandestinely or that Caramels are all rapists.
And ye shall know the homophobes among you by those who refuse to eat multicolored sherbet.
Flavor differences are as plain as the cone, cup or bowl under which they rest, regardless of whether you call it 'race', 'color,' or 'flavor'. The wokenati think they can erase discrimination by pretending clear biological differences don't exist and it's flavorist to say otherwise; yet people are undeniably different and instead of denying reality like a MAGA on January 6th, it's time to drag the 'woke' kicking and screaming back to Reality World to confront the evidence of their own denying eyes.
Buddhists say the only way to rid yourself of your harmful mental constructs is to confront them, see them, label them and challenge them. Then throw them away because they're useless now.
Or better yet, embrace flavorism as the most awesome social construct ever!
When I'm not going off my diet en route to saving the world from silly-ass constructs (the sacrifices I make for you people!), I help women and others reclaim their power on my website Grow Some Labia.