A Beige Future

There's an interesting discussion going on down in the Light-Skin Brothers thread over whether we'd all be better off if everyone looked like Vanity and Shemar Moore:

I agree that the "beige future" is rather far off, especially if the growth rate of interracial mating doesn't skyrocket.

I also agree that it sure would be nice if we got rid of prejudices in the meantime.

And I agree that even in a beige future, people might focus on minute differences in the shade of beige, just as they do with different shades of white and black (and others) right now.

But I disagree that the beige future would involve any one race disappearing or "removing the dark-skinned people." The whole point is, if the races actually crossed each others' cultural borders and mated in a more random fashion, and populations were not isolated as they have been for centuries, then the common phenotype would eventually be intermediate and the extremes would become very uncommon.

The really dark-skinned phenotype might vanish, but so would the really white phenotype, along with some other traits. If we're willing to let go of our racial pride and vanity, then nobody should give a rat's ass if the more extreme phenotypes are no longer prevalent in the distant future. I think you may be envisioning a whole swath of humanity being deliberately bred out of existence, when in reality it would just be the inevitable product of evolution----changes in allele frequencies over time----with the more extreme phenotypes fading from view. But of course events in the future could change all that, anyhow, and in 5000 years we could be back to our current color scheme.

I married someone of a different "race," and we had a kid this year. Years ago there may have been a part of me that desired to see myself and some of my recessive traits in my kids. If that desire hadn't been dismissed, I probably would've sought a mate who looked like me, and my kid might have blue eyes instead of brown, or whatever. But that shit really doesn't matter. I understand that having pride in one's phenotype and one's race may be a necessary reaction to racism and prejudice, but it's still vanity and it's still pride. Now, I don' think people should go out of their way to marry someone of another race, but if we cut out the prejudice AND cut out the vanity and pride, we'd see a hell of a lot more of it.

By all means, let's just do away with prejudice. I'm just saying that if racial traits aren't discernible then it's a lot harder to discriminate.

I used to think something like this, albeit from a very different political perspective.  My basic notion was that white supremacy was system of beliefs stretching back into antiquity and popping up wherever blacks and whites interacted, primarily based on physical difference--or something like that. Essentially, I believed that as long as we looked demonstrably different we would hate each other.

There is some truth to that--people tend to discriminate against people who are different from them, and the most obvious marker of difference is phenotype. From this perspective, a black/white marriage is a blow against racism, and our history of white supremacy, because it produces kids who presumably don't represent the phenotypical extreme of blackness or whiteness. The hope is that one day, we'll all be beige hence rendering racism inoperative, hence the "Beige Theory" of fighting racism.

I think to believe that requires a misunderstanding of humanity, history, and white supremacy. I'll start where I'm weakest. I don't know how the great St. Clair Drake's book, Black Folk Here And There has held up, and perhaps its conclusions are outdated. But as I recall, one of  the books most profound arguments was that while prejudice and stereotyping based on--but not limited to--color is pretty natural, white supremacy is not. There is a difference between thinking black people--or any people who are different than you-- aren't that bright, and thinking that any black man should be lynched for having sex with a white woman.

More to the point, there is a difference in between thinking that blacks are animalistic and thinking that blacks are, by edict of God and science, bound to a life of slavery and second-class citizenship. For starters, while we've become accustomed to thinking of animal stereotypes in relation to blacks, it's actually pretty common theme of group vs. group prejudice, black or not. Now, one may follow from another, but it doesn't necessarily. And when it does follow, it's often about something more than naked phenotypical hatred.

Thus the point of slavery, and Jim Crow, was not to express a naked hatred of someone who looked different than you--it was to create a permanent class of free labor.  In the early days of this country, you find racism, but you also find black slaves and white indentured servants running away together. You find them joining Daniel Shays Nathaniel Bacon in rebellion (and presumably buying into his racism against Native Americans.)

You find them fucking and marrying, as humans are wont to do. And when Virginia decides to outlaw interracial unions, you find them organizing against the law. These people looked very different from each other, and while there was considerable racism, they did not, en masse, look at each other the way their kids would look at each other a century or two later. Color prejudice was the means of systemic racism in America, but it wasn't the end.

It may seem, at first glance like the ancient marital beef between blacks and whites extends from how different we look. But it's so much more complicated. And humans being humans, even if we were all beige, we'd find some way to discriminate. Assuming that we can destroy whiteness or blackness, assumes that these are actual, tangible things which can't be redefined, refitted and reformed. But history says otherwise, and I'd argue that should we ever become one race, we'd basically create new ones.

Circling back, it's true that the interracial couple is striking a blow against white racism--but not because they're creating a beige kid. They're striking a blow because they're thinking more about their own individuality, their own humanity, than about convention. We can all applaud that--and while applauding it, understand that the notion of fucking our way out of racism, presumes too much of our good will, and too little of our imagination.