Monday, August 07, 2006

Darwin and the slave

My remarks on the Charles Darwin discussion page on Wikipedia (the English version), referred to in an earlier post, attracted rejoinders and counter-response.

How am I being offensive? I'm asking for people to be treated as human beings and not labelled as colours!

May I respectfully raise two questions:

1. Are we to specify the race of everyone on wikipedia? Or only that of those called "blacks"?

2. What terms are used for describing those who are neither "white" nor "black"?

The gentleman's skin colour might well be perfectly described by the word "black". However, I don't think the word describes the gentleman himself. To repeat, I have no hassle with a person's _race_ being pointed out, where relevant (and it has been highlighted as relevant here). The word "negroid" describes a race; "black" does not.

I believe that words are central to the way we perceive our world in the first place, and (re-)interpret it in the second. My edits were fuelled as a personal campaign against the usage of the words "black", "white" and many such others to refer to human beings. The techincal racial terms are (obviously) fine. Skin may be black! The extension from skin to person is the sort of linguistic short cut which I object to, for it tends to shape how we think - in addition to the far more intuitive flow of our thinking influencing words we choose.

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