Sunday, August 7, 2016

Can Color Terms be Used to Describe Racial Groups: "Yes".

Races exist. The terms black and white to identify a particular race  are legitimate trms to classify members of a particular race. The precise scientific definition of Black is what ever  people agree on.

In ordinary language--colloquial talk--the above also holds true. But , we must remember that in  ordinary  language  words have  meaning  only when  they are  reducible to  their  definitions  and the  class  boundaries  of these  definitions. As a result, the definition of  of a word may often fail to reflect the meaning of a particular word used colloquially .

 Consequently, precision in language is sometmes lacking –often the colloquial form has little in common with the actual definition of a particular word—yet people accept the usage of a particular word, as the valid definition of a word.

For example, in the applied linguistic course I teach, I often begin the class by asking my students the question “what does the word love mean”.

They respond with various words based on their own interpretation of the word ‘love’ especially my female students.The definitions they give for ‘love’, include, love is respect, love is understanding your mate, and etc.  After I place the words on the board I have someone read a dictionary definition of the word. This definition is: affection and sex.

My students are often surprised that their definitions have nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word ‘love’. I use this to illustrate that the word meanings we subscribe too, based on popular usage may have little validity with the dictionary meaning of words.

This illustrates that in ordinary language words have meanings different from there dictionary meanings and they are not reducible to their book definitions and the class boundaries of these definitions since people may agree on a colloquial definition not included in the book definition. This means that the definitions of words are dynamic and can not be restricted to definitions listed in a dictionary.

Granted the populations associated with the words: negro, blanco etc. are not exact descriptions of the ‘races’ they are used to represent, yet people accept them as adequate descriptors for diverse “races”. This is why based on the color lexemes associated with a particular cultural group there can be more than the three races we find associated with western culture, based on the color a group may use to identify a racial group. No matter the colors associated with diverse races---population groups use to define a racial group—the race and the color people use to describe that race are valid ‘scientific terms’ since they reflect the agreed upon definition/descriptor of a particular racial group by that particular population.

Since people say races exist—there are various races agreed upon by members of a particular society based on their world view. These races are also represented by color lexemes agreed upon by populations who have defined a particular race, by a particular color term. Racial categorizations are therefore based on a groups agreed upon descriptor for a particular population/racial group. Since the term applied to a race is accepted by members of the community that term is real, scientific and valid.

This results from the fact that science is ‘knowledge gained by observation and experimentation’. People observe that other human beings in a particular geographical region share physical features which they group as a race. This agrees with the definition of race:  “any of the major groups into which human beings are divided based on some physical features such as color of hair and skin”.

This makes any population defined by a particular “color” a legitimate racial group for that particular population.

Thusly the ancient Blacks when they came in contact with Caucasians and Mongoloid people they used color terms to describe themselves: Black, as opposed to the new population they came in contact with e.g., the term ‘white’ for Caucasians.

By the rise of the River Valley civilizations we see caucasoids in Mesopotamia/Anatolia. I have seen no iconographic evidence of whites in Africa before 1200 BC. After 1200 BC we see the Hua invading China,and the Peoples of the Sea invading Egypt and Mesopotamia.

First mention of whites is by the Sumerians who note invasions by the Gutians, who they referred to as 'wild men', coming down from the mountains into Sumer.



By Akkadian times, the Mesopotamians began to call themselves sag gi ga 'black people' to differentiate between themselves and the Gutians.

The white group to appear in Mesopotamia which represents the European white type was the Hittites. The Black tribe in Mesopotamia was called Hattic-- not  Hittite.

In China, the Hua tribes came down from the mountains and began to attack the Black people. The black Chinese began to refer to themselves as 'li min'='black people'.

The textual evidence indicates to me that there were no whites in Africa. It also shows that when Blacks came in contact with non-Blacks they used terms to describe themselves as 'dark or black' in comparison to to new folk they encountered in their migrations out of Africa.

Interestingly, these non- Blacks invade the Black nations from montainous areas e.g., Gutians, Caucasus Mountains (caucasians), Huangshan mountains (Hua/Contemporary Chinese people).

The use of sag gi ga in Mesopotania, and li min in China make it clear that Blacks recognized different racial groups. They would have been familiar with albinos in Africa, so they probably would have never referred to themselves by racial terms--unless the Gutians and Hua were recognized as racially different from themselves.

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