Anthropological Implications of Sickle Cell Gene Distribution in West Africa is based around a goal of understanding sickle cell, its disease, and what causes it: in the case of determining this, surveys were utilized to determine the location of sickle cell in West Africa, as well as outside resources, and then connections were made between sickle cell and malaria. The article uses language, agriculture, and human habitation as a means to explore the spread of malaria and its connection to sickle cell, primarily using past research. The conclusion is that malaria and sickle cell are intertwined, and that the settlement of humans is what provided ample opportunity for malaria to strike, which then further exacerbated the prevalence of the sickle cell gene.
“Race” and Sport: Critical Race Theory has a central argument that breaks down the concept of race as a social structure that is used (intentionally or unintentionally) to divide up groups of people with assumptions made based upon physical appearance (skin color). CRT uses sport as a means by which we can understand and diffuse the mythos built up around race by utilizing five tenets that help people to identify the race status quo and be able to examine it in a critical light. Then, CRT advocates for taking action throughout every level of sport by encouraging participation and voice of individuals who are (or have been) singled out due to race, while at the same time not lumping anyone together just because they happen to share the same skin color; this should happen without viewing the issues through a narrow lens or without accounting for multiple ways of handling the issue (the article pointed to globalization and economic democracy as two areas CRT has been criticized for not properly addressing).
Race is linked to other forms of subordination and oppression by adding superficial values and judgments to people based upon their skin color or associated cultural group (whether or not they are actually involved with any such group). The article on CRT used sport as a means to help examine how this happens; such as how it is assumed that black men are good at sports because they are black, while simultaneously neglecting the presence of black women as equal contenders to white women. It is then assumed that because black men are good at sports, they must be lacking in intellectual capacity. On the other hand, white men’s capacities are accepted as they are: it is equally believable for a white man to be good at sports and bad at intellectual pursuits, as he is to be good at both, bad at both, or bad at sports and good at intellectual pursuits.
This challenges the idea of hegemonic values as being objective, merit-based, color-blind, race-neutral and equal in opportunity because it is a negative stereotype that is typically overlooked because it is seen as harmless. Generally speaking, people are willing to accept negative stereotypes because they think of them as being independent of everything else. However, due to the fact that these stereotypes are everywhere, and everyone is susceptible to them, this leads to people who are in positions of influence (be they someone who controls a country club’s rules, a referee in a high school basketball game, or even a mentor in an after-school program) unwittingly (or purposefully) acting out on these beliefs in a way that is limiting to those who are attached to these categories.
These categories can be used to promote social justice by accepting the fact that these negative beliefs about race do act as limitations for people in practice. By identifying how these limitations occur – the CRT article chose to use sport as the means by which this can happen – and by focusing on solutions, change can happen. One such way could be for high schools to be more active in fostering active participation from all students in after school sports programs, as opposed to perpetuating ideas in young athletes about what they are or aren’t good at based upon their associated racial stereotypes. In my own experience, it was rare for black children to be encouraged to play chess, and for Asian children to be encouraged to play football. By encouraging athletic abilities at a young age, there is a higher likelihood for there to be a wider selection of athletes at college levels, and then hopefully professional.
At that stage, in order to give the marginalized voice power without speaking for the group, it is important that media organizations focus on the individual as opposed to the physical characteristics of that individual. One such example, from my own memories of media representation, was Tiger Woods. I never thought of him as a great black golf player, he was just a great golf player. I feel that his success was so unusual that it surpassed the fact that golf is dominated by white people of a certain social class. While I don’t doubt that there was media that focused on his skin color, my memories of headlines and news segments on Woods were centered around his abilities and the reaction of the golf world to his success, as well as his own. To me, his presence proved that a great player is a great player, and the way he looked didn’t matter to that in any way.
I think that in order to approach the topic without relying on traditional viewpoints and perspectives, it’s important for there to be a mainstream acknowledgment of the fact that negative affects of race and racism isn’t limited to the KKK or Jim Crow laws. Even for myself, I always assumed that because I was raised to not discriminate based on race, that I did not inherently have qualities that could be described as racism. It wasn’t until I heard Avenue Q’s song, “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” when I was a teenager that I even conceptualized that racism went deeper than hate crimes and easily identified discrimination (though, listening to it now, I find that the premises of the song – while catchy – are exactly the sorts of issues that this class and the CRT article are trying to address). As a society, we make racism a bad thing while race is accepted as normal and acceptable. I think that if we were to realize that racism is a natural occurrence and extension of race – and accept that everyone plays into it – we might be able to more easily move forward with dismantling it.
It hasn’t been easy for me, with this class, to realize the depth of my own ethnocentrism and race-based assumptions, but I feel that that realization is necessary in order to be conscious of my thoughts and actions and change the patterns that I have formed in order to treat people as people instead of extensions of racial categories. I think that for a majority of society in the US, people do not want to be racist. I think that if they were made aware of the underbelly of race that makes racism impossible to avoid, it would be much easier to make changes in a broader scale.
But, I do not think that it is so easy as finding a new language, method, or perspective. The issue is that we are essentially trained from birth to categorize things and make quick judgments of situations and people. So long as that exists, we will find ways to categorize people on a grand scale.