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Tags language , racial issues , semantics

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Old 25th July 2020, 02:15 PM   #1
Minoosh
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Colors assigned to races have never made sense to me

Even as a little kid it was obvious to me Indians didn't have red skin. Asians never looked "yellow" and only extreme outliers were "black" or "white." It seemed to me most people were either beige or dark brown.

In reading books on China I've read that Englishmen were considered to have "red" faces which is somewhat true depending on individual coloring.

I don't really know if there's enough here to discuss, but has anyone else thought the same thing?
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:19 PM   #2
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There are some very extreme levels of pigmentation that do get close enough to legit "black" that the term makes some sense, but in general I agree with you, especially with red and yellow.
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:25 PM   #3
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I don't know if it happens when you reach a certain level of atheism, or a certain level of skepticism, but this inability (refusal?) to distinguish between literal meaning and figures of speech has never made sense to me.
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:27 PM   #4
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Eventually color got conflated with "race" and these labels only work within some melting pot countries.

East Asians and Western European whites have similar skin tones so we gotta have some label to differentiate them.
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't know if it happens when you reach a certain level of atheism, or a certain level of skepticism, but this inability (refusal?) to distinguish between literal meaning and figures of speech has never made sense to me.
But it doesn't even work for me as a figure of speech.
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:44 PM   #6
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I was taught this, like so many young children, in the song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." They kind of pound that into you as a little kid. Without that song, it wouldn't have ever occurred to me. Instead, as I aged, I wondered how the heck anyone saw a similarity between the colors mentioned and a person's appearance.
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Old 25th July 2020, 02:53 PM   #7
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There was always an "us" and "them".
The will always be an "us" and "them".
Doesn't matter what words you use or how sweetly it is put - it will always come down to "us" and "them".
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:09 PM   #8
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People that many Americans call "brown" are actually white or consider themselves white in their country (Brazil, Argentina, Syria, Turkey, etc.) again to emphasize how inconsistent these labels are in the first place.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:12 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
There was always an "us" and "them".
The will always be an "us" and "them".
Doesn't matter what words you use or how sweetly it is put - it will always come down to "us" and "them".
Yeah I think that pretty well sums it up.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't know if it happens when you reach a certain level of atheism, or a certain level of skepticism, but this inability (refusal?) to distinguish between literal meaning and figures of speech has never made sense to me.
I think it's supposed to be found charming and/or deep.

Reminds me of a bit in a Ramona Quimby book where Beezus reflects on how Ramona's "cute" answer to "what color are your eyes" is "brown and white". The old ladies found this so sweet. Ramona found it clever. Beezus found it exasperating. I found it grounds for wondering whether the houses on Klickitat Street had been tested for lead.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:18 PM   #11
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My father is what was called in the African American community "High Yellow" (if you don't know, look that one up). Also, my skin is always called "olive" or "hey, where do you tan?". All of this is ********. We are all blood packed skin pods. The same. I could never understand the **** I got as a kid...and adult... just for the difference in melanin.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MoeFaux View Post
I was taught this, like so many young children, in the song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." They kind of pound that into you as a little kid. Without that song, it wouldn't have ever occurred to me. Instead, as I aged, I wondered how the heck anyone saw a similarity between the colors mentioned and a person's appearance.
I would say this was backed up by Sly and the Family Stone.

Oh, well.. Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
In reading books on China I've read that Englishmen were considered to have "red" faces which is somewhat true depending on individual coloring.
I think the generalised racial slur from Chinese people against white people is ‘ang mo’, which means red hair, rather than red face. I get called that at least once a week. Mostly amicable.

I reckon my wife has light brown skin, while I have very pink skin, but our daughter - especially when I hold her with my pink arms - does look rather yellow. Oddly, when she was newborn and had baby jaundice, she was bright red.

One-offs aside, it’s lazy stereotyping which everyone seems to do.
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by chrispy View Post
My father is what was called in the African American community "High Yellow"...
Don't you mean "high yeller"?
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Old 25th July 2020, 03:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by gypsyjackson View Post
I think the generalised racial slur from Chinese people against white people is ‘ang mo’, which means red hair, rather than red face. I get called that at least once a week. Mostly amicable.

I reckon my wife has light brown skin, while I have very pink skin, but our daughter - especially when I hold her with my pink arms - does look rather yellow. Oddly, when she was newborn and had baby jaundice, she was bright red.

One-offs aside, it’s lazy stereotyping which everyone seems to do.
I always found it grating that the Andorians would call humans "pink skin", especially since there were people of color right there on the Enterprise bridge. Oh wait, T'pol didn't count because she was a Vulcan. And Travis didn't count at all, in the show. I forgot about Hoshi until I looked it up.
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:06 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Don't you mean "high yeller"?
As long as they don't call you "old yeller". They shot old yeller.
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:36 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by rockinkt View Post
As long as they don't call you "old yeller". They shot old yeller.
That explains US police then.
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:55 PM   #18
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The colors used to describe different people were about as scientifically accurate as assigning them into “races” in the first place.
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Old 25th July 2020, 04:56 PM   #19
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When I was 8 years old my mom had a heart attack and after she got out of the hospital she couldn't do anything around the house, so she hired a maid. I don't think I had ever seen a black person, at least not one up close in real life (I would guess I must have seem them on TV). I looked up at her and exclaimed, "You have the whitest eyes I've ever seen!"
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Old 25th July 2020, 06:03 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Don't you mean "high yeller"?
If you have a Southern twang, sure!
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Old 25th July 2020, 06:04 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
That explains US police then.
*rim shot
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Old 25th July 2020, 06:57 PM   #22
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I once worked in forestry, so at one point or another I learned something around roughly 150 tree species, although my direct experience was just about all with about 30 or 40 of them. The single biggest category of English common names for trees is names that include a color, so they give us lots of examples of how colors are used in naming.

For example, just among ashes, there's white ash, green ash, black ash, blue ash, and I think red ash. Sometimes a whole category within a genus would also be color-named, such as that pines are split primarily into the white pines and yellow pines, even if their species names don't mention it (shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, slash pine, loblolly pine, lost pine), which of course some do (eastern white pine, western white pine). Oaks might be the worst about this; not only are they mainly split between the white oaks and red oaks, the latter of which is also the black oaks, but also, the white oak group includes species called "white oak" and "swamp white oak" among others, and the red/black oaks include species called "northern red oak", "southern red oak", "black oak", and "blackjack oak", among others. Various tree species also often get Latin or Greek color words in their scientific names.

As strange as such names sound at first, they got the way they are for real-world reasons. Sometimes it's the leaves; put a blue ash leaf next to other ash leaves and you really will see that its shade of green is a bit bluer than theirs, red oak & red maple leaves really do turn especially bright & intense shades of red in the fall, and silver maple leaves really are so much lighter on the bottom that a gust of wind turning the leaves over really does make the whole tree look like it's shimmering/glittering. Sometimes it's based on the wood; white pines are actually darker on the outside than yellow pines but make a paler wood. Sometimes it's based on the bark, the fruit, or even the cambium (the thin layer of living cells between the wood and the bark, which produces both of them), and sometimes you can't even tell which because there's more than one explanation that would work; black cherries have both bark and fruits that are darker than most other cherry species (maybe darker leaves too; I don't know), and red oaks have both intense red fall leaves and a redder cambium than most trees have (although that still means reddish brown instead of just brown). Yellow pines also have not only yellower wood than white pines but also yellower bark, although if both pine categories were named for the bark, white pines would be black, not because it actually is black but because it's significantly darker than most other barks.

Still, even knowing what kinds of things to expect to be behind color names, there are some oddities that can only be called random minor deviations within those big general patterns. The very same waxy coating on some spruce species' leaves is what both makes white spruces white and makes blue spruces blue. The ash species with really unique fall leaves (light purple or orange-&-purple) got named "white" because some other not-so-noteworthy thing about it is ¼ of a shade lighter than other ashes. The one species that really stands out from the crowd, more so than any other tree on the continent, in two different color-based ways (its orange fall leaves and it truly white-white, not just lighter than average, bark on its branches once the brown peels off), is named for neither of them (sycamore).

So, what's the big picture about how color names work? Two things: they're based on something that really is real, and they nearly always (except with "red" referring to truly red fall leaves) refer to small subtle shifts from the expected or average shade. "Blue" doesn't mean it's literally blue; a slightly bluer shade of green will do. "Yellow" doesn't mean it's literally yellow; a slightly yellower shade of green for the leaves or brown for the bark will do. "White" and "black" don't mean it's literally white or black; just being lighter or darker than most others of the same type will do.

And really, even somebody who doesn't know a bunch of tree identification is already familiar with those color-name rules, because nobody really thinks anybody ever thought violets were actually violet, all roses were red/pink, black raspberries were actually black, red grapes were actually red, white grapes were actually white, the Black Sea was black instead of just dark and/or surrounded by dark rocks & shadey forests, the Red Sea was red instead of just surrounded by orangish-brownish-red rocks, Blue Ridge was actually blue instead of just often misty with a slightly bluish but primarily white mist, the Black Forest was actually black instead of just well-shaded, the Smokey Mountains actually routinely kept producing smoke all the time instead of just often having fog/mist, Silverado was actually silver, the Colorado River was actually scarlet red, and so on.

So, on to humans and our melanin... there are different versions of it. Some are redder and some are yellower. Different people have different ratios of the different types of melanin, which makes such people either a bit redder or a bit yellower than average, just like having more overall makes people darker and having less overall makes people lighter. Was any of this utterly absolute? Not usually, but of course, as we all already know from practically all other color-based names in the world, that's never been required for naming, so the names are not a claim that the colors were ever that simple & straightforward. They just mean the same kinds of things that colors always mean in names for everything else: "a lighter/darker/redder/yellower shade of brown than the others of the same type, to one extent or another".
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Old 25th July 2020, 07:12 PM   #23
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Is the Moon white? Is the Sun yellow? Is the sky blue? Is the sea blue? Is red hair red? Is orange juice orange?

Answer, well sometimes, possibly, kinda... in some countries and cultures they will be assumed to be a different colour, there will be a different number of colours in the rainbow, the Green Man in Japan is called the Blue Man, etc...

There are approximations which become useful and culturally enforced because they are mutually intelligible to people.

Perhaps black, white, red and yellow, while not exactly accurate are more easily comprehensible than "beige", "cream", "peach", etc...
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Old 25th July 2020, 08:03 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by MoeFaux View Post
I was taught this, like so many young children, in the song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." They kind of pound that into you as a little kid. Without that song, it wouldn't have ever occurred to me. Instead, as I aged, I wondered how the heck anyone saw a similarity between the colors mentioned and a person's appearance.

Don’t forget, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” As if you could.
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Old 25th July 2020, 09:02 PM   #25
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I find the term 'people of colour' funny. Because, to me, pinkish with bluish highlights seems more colourful than a monotone brown.
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Old 26th July 2020, 02:46 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
People that many Americans call "brown" are actually white or consider themselves white in their country (Brazil, Argentina, Syria, Turkey, etc.) again to emphasize how inconsistent these labels are in the first place.
People often cite Star Trek as having the first interracial kiss on US television, which rather re-writes the fact that in the 50s Desi Arnaz would not have been considered white.
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Old 26th July 2020, 04:56 AM   #27
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People might be surprised to learn that the concept of 'white' as a race is a modern one. Whilst to the British eye, there has always been a black peoples or 'yellow/red' peoples, they never ascribed themselves as a race per se, other than English or Anglo Saxon or whatever (Scots, Welsh, Irish). Shakespeare himself regarded women as being 'white' and men - including himeslf - as 'brown', so obviously not a race thing for him but more to do with levels of refinement. OK for men to go out in the sun but not ladies unless they were low class.

Then came all the #blood and soil' stuff of the Nazis who predicated a lot of the stuff on the forerunners, the eugenists and phrenologists. It started by 'doctors'going around obsessively measuring people#s skulls and noses and soon there were about eight or nine different 'races' in Europe alone. For example, 'alpine' or 'mediterranean'.

So of course today we are informed that 'white' is one big happy race which is just the other extreme of the neo-nazi racists. For example, people like Tommy Robinson or Katie Hopkins who believe they are of the English race and have a kinship with a 'white' race.

Some genealogist took DNA samples of an English village which was proudly 'English' and less than half of them had 100% British DNA. Here's the thing, far from the population of the UK welcoming this finding, the sheer amount of anger and outraged displayed in the tabloids shows that people prefer to imagine they are a pure English race regardless of what the science - or even the history - shows.

This proves race is all in the mind. It is whatever you want it to be.
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Old 26th July 2020, 05:16 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
People might be surprised to learn that the concept of 'white' as a race is a modern one.

People might (not) be surprised to learn that this claim is simply made up.

The term "white race" or "white people" entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, in the context of racialized slavery and unequal social status in the European colonies. Description of populations as "white" in reference to their skin color predates this notion and is occasionally found in Greco-Roman ethnography and other ancient or medieval sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_people



Quote:
Some genealogist took DNA samples of an English village which was proudly 'English' and less than half of them had 100% British DNA.

There's no such thing as "100% British DNA". Anyone who knows anything about genetics and their relationships to fluid population movements around Western Europe (not to mention earlier migrations from Southern Europe, the Near East, and East Africa) would know this.......
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Old 26th July 2020, 06:22 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
People often cite Star Trek as having the first interracial kiss on US television, which rather re-writes the fact that in the 50s Desi Arnaz would not have been considered white.
It’s actually pretty much the opposite. Back then, people classified people from Latin America of European ancestry (as Desi Arnaz was) as white. If there was some indigenous American or African ancestry, they were considered non-white. A lot of people suspected some indigenous ancestry for most people from Latin America, so there was generalized prejudice, but Desi Arnaz was widely considered white.

More recently on TV, an episode of Mad Men showed this. Pete was considering hiring Manolo as his mother’s caretaker, and he said something like “unless he’s pure Castilian Spanish, she won’t accept him.”

These days, while Americans generally pay lip service to the idea that Hispanics can be of any race, in casual use they are all classified as “people of color”.
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:11 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Is the Moon white? Is the Sun yellow? Is the sky blue? Is the sea blue? Is red hair red? Is orange juice orange?

Answer, well sometimes, possibly, kinda... in some countries and cultures they will be assumed to be a different colour, there will be a different number of colours in the rainbow, the Green Man in Japan is called the Blue Man, etc...

There are approximations which become useful and culturally enforced because they are mutually intelligible to people.

Perhaps black, white, red and yellow, while not exactly accurate are more easily comprehensible than "beige", "cream", "peach", etc...
But in truth they fail miserably even at that crude level. There is an incredible range of hues and tones across people identifying as Chinese, ranging from very pale white to pretty dark brown. Even more so across Asians as a whole. Very few, even stretched as far as a racist might wish so as to lump people into broad categories, could possibly be considered “yellow.” If a 19th century racist identified someone in San Francisco “as a member of the yellow race” it was likey because of assessment of physical features other than skin color.

The “race colors” were indeed ways to broadly “brand” people into color coded groups but I don’t even see them as approximations. They were crude categories that, once established, were only perpetuated by squeezing, twisting, and shoe-horning people into color groupings they didn’t actually fit.

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Old 26th July 2020, 08:23 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
People often cite Star Trek as having the first interracial kiss on US television, which rather re-writes the fact that in the 50s Desi Arnaz would not have been considered white.
But did Lucy and Desi ever kiss on screen?
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:27 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
But it doesn't even work for me as a figure of speech.
Right. Because you're taking it literally. Which is an approach to figures of speech that doesn't make sense to me.

Are there other figures of speech that don't make sense to you?
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:35 AM   #33
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The worst racism is the prejudice that color of skin is related to other traits. Lazy Mexican? I never met one. Stupid blacks? Not a higher percentage than stupid whites. My Neurologist is a black man, best doctor I ever had.

That is genetics. Societal problems, fersure. The way people raise their kids has a ton to do with outcomes. If your kids hear all their lives that Daddy is a victim of racism, what are the kids going to think as adults? Will they even try? Will they have ambitions?
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:39 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Right. Because you're taking it literally. Which is an approach to figures of speech that doesn't make sense to me.

Are there other figures of speech that don't make sense to you?
The pot calling the kettle black? My pots are all stainless so it doesn't make sense. But my cast iron frying pan is black. Stupid, lazy pan- it just sits on the stove hoping to burn my egg whites.
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:43 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by LondonJohn View Post
People might (not) be surprised to learn that this claim is simply made up.

The term "white race" or "white people" entered the major European languages in the later 17th century, in the context of racialized slavery and unequal social status in the European colonies. Description of populations as "white" in reference to their skin color predates this notion and is occasionally found in Greco-Roman ethnography and other ancient or medieval sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_people



There's no such thing as "100% British DNA". Anyone who knows anything about genetics and their relationships to fluid population movements around Western Europe (not to mention earlier migrations from Southern Europe, the Near East, and East Africa) would know this.......
That refers to the use in censuses in the colonies to differentiate the slaves from the planters. On British mainland there was no such differentiation as slavery was illegal anyway. The English certainly did not see themselves as the same 'race' as Scots, Welsh and Irish and this is reflected in the law of the time. For example, it was OK to press gang any of the latter but any English child had to be returned to England immediately if transported.

There are plenty of people with 100% British DNA, almost all of them Scottish or Irish. Populations in mainland England have intermixed so frequently with the French and Germans, genealogists can not distinguish between French, German and English. So they just use the label French/German. They do not appear to have an 'English' designation. But there is a British one and this is distinguishable from French and German.
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:47 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
But did Lucy and Desi ever kiss on screen?
Heck, in those days babies were made by keeping one foot on the floor and the camera fading.
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Old 26th July 2020, 08:57 AM   #37
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I recall seeing some Asians referred to as being "olive-skinned". Not sure where I encountered that.

Originally Posted by casebro View Post
But did Lucy and Desi ever kiss on screen?
They didn't have to. Everything was implied by the title.
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Old 26th July 2020, 09:11 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
That refers to the use in censuses in the colonies to differentiate the slaves from the planters. On British mainland there was no such differentiation as slavery was illegal anyway. The English certainly did not see themselves as the same 'race' as Scots, Welsh and Irish and this is reflected in the law of the time. For example, it was OK to press gang any of the latter but any English child had to be returned to England immediately if transported.


Are you just continuing to make this up as you go along? There were more than enough African and Indian ethnicity people in the UK (especially England) by the 18th Century for the distinction to be drawn between the "white race" and "black/brown races", and additionally the racial differentiation - as indicated by skin colour - between the "black" slave populations and their "white" masters was very well known and understood back in the UK too at this time (ie c18). In short (and to repeat): the concept of a "white race" (and a "black race") was common currency in the middle classes of the major cities of the UK as far back as the early 18th Century.




Quote:
There are plenty of people with 100% British DNA, almost all of them Scottish or Irish. Populations in mainland England have intermixed so frequently with the French and Germans, genealogists can not distinguish between French, German and English. So they just use the label French/German. They do not appear to have an 'English' designation. But there is a British one and this is distinguishable from French and German.

And again, this is simply nonsense. There. Is. No. Such. Thing. As. "100% British DNA".

I suggest that, instead of perhaps relying on the BS propagated by those pay-to-play DNA "analysis" companies, you ought to read an actual academic document on the subject. Such as this one:

http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/settlers/

You're welcome!
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Old 26th July 2020, 09:18 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
There is an incredible range of hues and tones across people identifying as Chinese, ranging from very pale white to pretty dark brown.
A large part of that is total sun avoidance. My pale Chinese in-laws turn brown when they visit here (Florida), without trying. My wife complains that she's "dark" all the time, even after weeks without sun.

When my wife and nephew get quite dark, strangers try to start conversations with them in Spanish.
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Old 26th July 2020, 12:13 PM   #40
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It was in the sitcom “Frank’s Place” set in New Orleans some years back that I first heard of the “Paper Bag Test” among African-Americans.
The notion was that if your skin color was as light or lighter than the typical paper bag... This conferred higher status....
(Great show, BTW....Starred Tim Reid)

We also know this is the case in various Latin countries, where to have more “Spanish” features conferred higher status.
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