white storytellin’ & nawlins

Various American researchers have cranked away over the decades trying desparately to show that blacks are naturally inferior to whites, and so, by implication, deserving of the pile of shit continuously heaped upon them. In recent incarnations of this program– that attempt to correlate race or “racial” genes with IQ, the natural-race researchers studiously avoid Stephen Jay Gould’s trenchant critique that no one has any idea what IQ measures. Does it measure natural intelligence? Does it measure inequality? We don’t know.

All we know is: Someone should study how much funding and research time, over the last century, has gone into trying to show that blacks innately deserve bullshit. I’d bet those figures would be impressive. I’m all for researchers getting funding. Getting funding just for retelling the American myth with slightly different operationalizations of race and fitness is, however, moldy and pathetic.

Likewise, the white folks’ “the blacks were irrationally, randomly violent” storytelling industry (official and otherwise) always has been a staple artifact of living in the US.

Yet American blacks have almostly uniquely, steadfastly opposed human degradation–fascism–throughout American history. While congratulating themselves on the size of their cars, adopting the mantle of “honor” for fighting wars on behalf of economic elites and advertising their propensity to prayer, most other American groups cannot claim the big-picture moral clarity that blacks can.

Today a Russian immigrant coworker forwarded an email, supposedly from a letter by a paramedic, “Brian”, to his father. The letter described all sorts of New Orleans Soddom ‘n’ Gomorrah, including the rabid aggressions of the crazed, dark poor, and ended depicting a New Orleans reporter chastizing politician Jesse Jackson for “playing the race card.”

A coworker replied with a report on that email circulation by the urban legend email busters at http://www.snopes.com/katrina/personal/sells.asp. While largely unverifiable, much of the “Brian” email was of course a fake.

Slowly, we begin to see acknowledgements of the traditional white storytelling process in the case of Hurricane Katrina:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1563470,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/29/national/nationalspecial/29crime.htm

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9505323/

http://ladybunny.net/blog/2005/09/black-people-loot-whites-find.html

The interesting question is always: What specific racial/political/economic interests is the apocryphalia serving this time? For starters, see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/hurricanes2005/story/0,,1585353,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1577324,00.html.

Update on genome research and human genetic variation:

Culled from the article by Wade, Nicholas. 2005. “Genetic catalog may aid search for roots of disease.” The New York Times, October 27.

The “hapmap” are the human genetic findings of a research team which observed that 95% of the human genome is passed on to offspring in chunks of genes, rather than in the transfer of individual genes.


Other genomic regions bear strong marks of natural selection but contain no known gene, a highly perplexing outcome that suggests, Dr. Altshuler said, that “our current ability to predict the function of DNA is very flawed.”

The common variation picked up by the hapmap is much the same in different ethnic groups, because most of it is inherited from the ancestral human population before modern humans are believed to have dispersed from Africa about 50,000 years ago. The four ethnic groups studied so far have yielded four million sites of common variation, from which the total number in the world’s population is expected to be 10 million.

The hapmap researchers have found that the Chinese and Japanese genomes are so similar that they can be grouped together for many purposes. The genetic differences between Europeans, East Asians and Africans lie mostly in the relative abundance in each of the common DNA mutations. But the hapmap team has found a handful of fixed differences in the first million mutations it studied – 11 between Europeans and the Yoruba, 21 between Europeans and Asians and 5 between the Yoruba and Asians. The role of these mutations is unknown.

The few fixed differences tend to emerge on the X chromosome, which is more highly differentiated between ethnic groups than are the other chromosomes. The reason, Dr. Altshuler said, could arise from the fact that men carry only one X chromosome and so, unlike women, have no backup copy if a gene on their single X is inactivated through mutation. That puts the X chromosome under heavier pressure of natural selection, and the different environmental pressures experienced by various ethnic groups may have forced the X chromosome to differentiate more than the other chromosomes.

The hapmap team believe they have created a powerful new tool for exploring the human genome but they advise researchers to be careful about publicizing their work, especially when exploring genetic links to human characteristics that are not medical. “We urge conservatism and restraint in the public dissemination and interpretation of such studies, especially if nonmedical phenotypes are explored,” they wrote.

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