I am of dual and conflicting thoughts on humanity and its role as a technology. On one hand, I firmly believe we are an “organic technology.” We were created from something else, we evolved (upgraded/updated) as needed to fit our environments, we can glitch and malfunction biologically, we have some purpose in the grand scheme of things. Do I know what that purpose is? Absolutely not. Because on the other hand, I’m an extreme nihilist who knows nothing about “purpose” or “destiny” or “consciously adapting to changing situations as needed for one’s own health.” Whoever heard of such a thing? Ridiculous…
But, my firm belief in “organic technology” stands. Every adaptation serves its own purpose within our units (bodies, societies, culture). Like patches in a game or app. Race, I believe, is one of those patches. History of humanity wise, there was a biological, evolutionary reason for different races. I hope at this point in time there’s no question of where humanity came from (pssst…it was Africa). As early modern humans (EMHs) migrated from Africa, the different races came into being as necessary for the locations those EMHs migrated to. Race is another cog in the machinery of a human. From there, you’re in genetic markers and Punnett Squares territory; children inherit their parents’ “patches” who inherit their parents’ “patches” and so on.
Blue eyes are a mutation, but dark skin is not. It has a purpose. It is important. It is not version 2.0; it is an original technology in humanity’s motherboard. If you look at it in that light, light skin is version 2.0. But the invention of the concept of race (which is fairly modern at a few centuries old) removed the complexities of true biology; not the bull biology Europeans began spewing. The concept of race began when white Europeans (who were classified as British, German, and Nordic only at the time) began using disgustingly faulty and biased “biological science” as a means of justifying superiority and colonization. From the concept of race came a concept called “racial smog.” “Racial Smog” is cultural images/messages that support the assumed superiority of whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color. It’s akin to smog because sometimes it’s so thick that it’s visible and other times it’s less apparent, but still present and being “breathed” by all of us.
I’ve always kind of prided myself on being able to separate logic/reason from emotion. I believe there are times and places for overt emotional displays. 2020 is not a year for that separation. In 2020, we are dying of smog inhalation. What is in reality an evolutionary technology has been mutilated into something some people deem as lesser because white people centuries ago were selfish, bigoted assholes who thought themselves better than those they were oppressing and needed a reason to keep oppressing them. And in turn, this country has been mutilated. We have been blinded by and used to the smog for so long that when people began saying, “hey maybe this is bull and we can work to stop centuries of bull?” those people who still think themselves as more important and/or better because of what became a technological advantage decided it’s better to keep smothering everyone than try and be decent human beings.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
2 replies on “race as technology”
This is so well written. It led me to more questions than answers. It makes me want to extend the “smog” metaphor to every aspect of American life. Race and sex are not real. They are inventions that make life easier for us. We have tricked ourselves into thinking they are real. Just as we sometimes mistake the pollution of smog as clean air because that is all we have known. Smog affects the body in many ways. Does the technology of race affect the body in similar ways? Can it be the causation of our deaths? Does it make it harder for us to breathe? Does it make familiar things look foreign?
I really like your belief on humans as “organic technology”. Especially when you talked about how we have evolved, but more than that we upgraded and/or updated–likening us to technology. It puts our human evolution into a different perspective and one that not many people think about.