Lascelve ‘Muggy’ Graham | Skin colour as a weapon of mass destruction
Skin colour, race, is a topic, like religion and politics, that evokes strong emotional feeling, passion. Many would prefer that it were not touched, discussed, or debated, treated as taboo, as if we suddenly became colour blind.
However, we have trichromatic colour vision so that we see all the colours in the visible spectrum of light. It would be make-believe to act as if colour didn’t exist.
Skin colour has become a sensitive subject because white supremacists and their surrogates and apologists are the power brokers of this world and so would like to see the status quo remain as is. They have duped the common man into accepting the hype, the yarn, the myth that skin colour evolved in tandem with other capacities of the mind, etc, thereby creating races of people who are biologically, physiologically unmixable and distinguishable.
In other words, skin colour affected, or was affected by, changes in other DNA features of mankind such that lighter-skin people are superior to darker-skin ones, with the lightest being at the top of the hierarchy. If skin colour, race is not discussed, then, eureka! Mission accomplished, no guilt re: slavery, atrocities, ill-gotten wealth, systemic racism, reparations, etc, and things go merrily along in the lopsided manner that they are. The status quo survives.
HISTORICAL AND SCIENTIFIC TRUTH
Notwithstanding and perhaps especially because of the above, we must research and discuss skin colour to bring to light historical and scientific truth (there has been unbelievable distortion, warping of both in the drive to validate the oppression of dark skin people) and to gain a better understanding of how the current state of affairs developed, where skin colour has brought to the fore man’s inhumanity to man, giving rise to such brutality, injustice, self-hate (bleaching, etc.), hardship, tribulation, suffering, devastation and death, and became a weapon of mass destruction of darker skin people.
There have been numerous massacres, lynchings, burnings, genocides, torture, structural hardships visited on peoples, rationalised simply on the basis of skin colour. For example, it is estimated that during the transatlantic slave trade, in the region of two million Africans lost their lives directly from the trip to North America and the Caribbean, with the mortality rate at times being as high as 30 per cent. This, of course, just refers to the so-called Middle Passage and does not include the many deaths while on the plantations, and subsequently, brought about by the inhumane treatment and injustices meted out to slaves and their descendants.
Anthropology, “The science of humanity”, is the study of human societies and cultures and their development; the study of human biological and physiological characteristics and their evolution. It is the study of what makes us human. Anthropologists consider the past through archaeology to see how human groups lived hundreds or thousands of years ago and what was important to them.
A very distinguished and renowned professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University, Nina Jablonski, known particularly for her seminal work on skin colour, gave a lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on September 27, 2018, in which she clearly demonstrated that skin colour came about by way of natural selection, based on one’s proximity to the sun, and, therefore, intensity of solar radiation experienced.
She connected the dots which showed that as people migrated farther away from the sun, darker skin, which was necessary to filter out, modulate the harmful UV radiation of the sun, was no longer needed but became an impediment to human reproduction. So skin became clearer, and cultures developed dietary practices to augment, support the biological, physiological processes that strong sunlight alone had formerly facilitated. Hence, biological (skin colour) and cultural (e.g., diet) adaptations conspired to ensure healthy human proliferation.
For example, in ancient Scotland, where one experienced very low light, very low solar radiation, some of the most highly depigmented skin abounded. However, this was not enough to keep them healthy, so their diets consisted of staples like cod and cod liver oil, which are very rich sources of vitamin D.
SKIN COLOURS HAVE EVOLVED
She showed that vitamin D, which performs multiple functions in the body and prevents disease, needs some UVB radiation from the sun for its synthesis by the body. On the other hand, folate, which is required for good reproductive health, is degraded by UV radiation. Skin pigmentation evolved as a balancing mechanism to maintain the levels of these vitamins.
Prof Jablonski demonstrated that similar skin colours have evolved independently, multiple times, under similar ultraviolet radiation conditions. Similar skin tones evolved independently of other traits. Skin pigmentation genes evolved unrelated to other genes. “Race” packages of biological traits don’t exist! Discrete boundary packages of genes don’t exist! Race is a social construct. It has no basis in science. That is a myth! A fallacy! A fantasy!
We affix a value to colour through acculturation because of exposure to people who have views about colour. In ancient Egypt, where there were gradients of UV intensity and hence people of different levels of pigmentation and skin colour, people living along the Nile traded with each other, with no value associated with colour.
No value, no connotations were affixed to skin colour for most of human history! Methods of differentiation among people, such as language, dress, perceived barbarity etc., were applied equally, regardless of skin colour.
This gradually changed when Europeans began their explorations and in particular their exploitation and plundering of Africa.
As Prof George Beckford disclosed in his work, Persistent Poverty: Underdevelopment in Plantation Economies of the Third World, religion and then religion and skin colour, the foundation of the theory of racial inferiority, emerged as rationalisations to justify slavery, in particular, the transatlantic slave trade.
FOUR DISTINCT ‘RACES’
In the mid-1700s, this common European will was burnished, buttressed, concretised, given full expression, legitimised when the concept of race was created by a few powerful light-skin men on the basis of their own opinions.
Immanuel Kant, one of the most highly thought-of philosophers of Western civilization, was the first to conceptualise, create four distinct “races” that were unmixable, completely separate entities, that had different capacities for civilisation, with his, the white race on top. The Scottish philosopher David Hume agreed with Kant. The Hume-Kant view was tremendously influential. Races, they said, were physically and culturally distinct from one another and pronounced the supremacy of the white race.
The pseudo-scientific accounts of races by Hume and Kant supported, strengthened the hand of the slave traders. Pseudo-science also bolstered by religious accounts championing biblical support of slavery, indicating that some humans, dark skinned, following the Curse of Ham, are destined to serve other humans. There were race definitions associated with colour, racial stereotypes, colour memes (associate particular skin colour with particular patterns of behaviour), which led to psychosocial templates for racism.
Once again, as has happened so often throughout human history, popular, powerful figures, by being wrong and strong, brought, and continue to bring, physical, mental and psychological suffering, anguish, and death to myriads others.
Africa continues to be raped, devastated, and Africans and other dark-skin people continue to suffer physical and psycho-social injustices and mass destruction simply because nature used the sweaty skin to ward off the ill effects of solar radiation!
In maintaining the psychological onslaught, which has manifested itself in different ways with time, and to add insult to injury, the victims are then blamed for the condition in which they now find themselves and told to pull themselves up by their own boot straps, take responsibility and move on!
The psychological warfare has been persistent, consistent, pernicious, relentless, thorough, and effective. So much so that the concept of race and its consequences have been accepted and intertwined into the fabric of societies, with the common man, light skin and dark, unwittingly at times, facilitating, being agents of its promulgation.
The deadly lie continues unabated although rubbished by science and notwithstanding the fact that history is replete with multitude examples indicating that all peoples are the same/similar. It is their circumstances that change, and hence, account for their actions and outcomes.
Dr. Lascelve ‘Muggy’ Graham is former captain of the Jamaica senior national football team. Email feedback to email@example.com.