Small Minds Judge Kiwis by Their Color

Desi roots in New Zealand go back to the late 18th century when some lascars and sepoys on British East India ships stopping in New Zealand jumped ship to settle there and marry Māori women. In the first part of this century, the community grew to over 100,000 with a 68 percent growth rate. When Kiwis got their first desi Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand in 2006, Sepia Mutiny blogged about it and the presumably inclusive nature of the symbolic appointment.

Thumbnail image for jackson.anand.jpg walsh.patel.lal.jpg

But recently that gesture has been overshadowed by a TV host who insisted that Satyanand doesn’t look much like a New Zealander. Add to the mix this week’s media focus on the story of a blue-eyed, blonde Miss IndiaNZ pageant entrant being booed for not “looking Indian” enough, and we have a very Kiwi-flavored reminder about the harms of judging people by their color. I know, I know, it’s 2010 and you thought this was covered on a Wednesday in 1963, but all kinds of people around the world seem to forget. The first time I heard of Paul Henry was in relation to his immature schtik about the last name of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit. He comes across as an intentionally outrageous morning show host, somewhat in the vein of Howard Stern, except I’m pretty sure Stern won’t be interviewing Obama on a state-owned TV network. Henry crossed the line and made racist remarks while asking prime minister John Key about Satyanand’s potential successor (video below), insisting that the Auckland-born Governor-General didn’t look or sound like a New Zealander, even after Key emphasized that Satyanand is one.

Many New Zealanders objected to these remarks and lodged hundreds of complaints with the station, even if NZTV’s initial official statement defended Henry by offensively suggesting that the audience secretly agreed with his views:

The audience tell us over and over again that one of the things they love about Paul Henry is that he’s prepared to say the things we quietly think but are scared to say out loud. (NZ Herald News)

I’m guessing that Satyanand, busy with his officially awesome duties like knighting Peter Jackson, isn’t dwelling on Henry’s comments, (or the ones from a radio host about his physique being “incongruous” for an Indian). But for other Kiwi desis, words like that would hurt and exclude.

“What he was saying was that if you were an Indian New Zealander and you were born here, you went to school here, you went to university here, you practised law here, you became a judge, you became an ombudsman and you became a Governor-General, that a key presenter on national television still thinks you don’t look like or sound like a New Zealander.” -Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres (NZ Herald)

Henry has apologized in his own style and resigned from the network after receiving a suspension. But this story’s not over yet thanks to an upset Henry fan. Serena Fiso tried to defend him by bringing attention to an example from last April of Indian New Zealanders behaving badly and booing her son’s girlfriend Jacinta Lal for not being “Indian enough.”

Lal, the blue-eyed, blonde daughter of a Fiji Indian father, says she entered the Miss IndiaNZ event to learn more about her heritage. Fortunately her comments suggest that she didn’t let the unnamed boors booing her, or the news that a few small-minded people made complaints to the event’s organizer get to her.

My overall experience of the Miss India New Zealand competition was a positive one. I was fully supported by the organisers of the pageant and indeed encouraged to enter, and also had the full support of the Indian community as winner of Miss India New Zealand Central.

I was not aware of any booing.

I believe the media are “mischief making” and have made a “mountain out of a molehill” thereby taking the focus off the inappropriate and offensive comments Paul Henry made on national television. (Facebook)

I think Lal puts the Miss IndiaNZ incident in perspective in relation to Henry’s remarks, and now that her story is in the spotlight it’s another example of the diversity and multiracial nature of the desi diaspora. Her fellow pageant participants included desis with Māori and European ancestry.

If some day my brown-haired, blue-eyed niece enters a desi pageant, I’ll be sure to attend and bring my noisemaker to cheer her on–I carry it in a big purse that might come in handy when small minds make rude remarks. Even better, though, would be for people to let go of exclusionary ideas about “looking Indian enough.”

I haven’t attended any pageants yet. But based on what I see in this video of the event (Lal, by the way, introduces herself at about 4 minutes in), it looks like a chance for young people to learn about handling themselves gracefully in front of a live audience, a skill Paul Henry could certainly work on.

105 thoughts on “Small Minds Judge Kiwis by Their Color

  1. Right, you didn’t say invasion, but by juxtaposing with the Mughals and the English, there was an implication. Either way, like you said, you were just throwing out possibilities, so no worries.

    To your question about the Mughals however: yes, I think Babur himself proffers evidence of what the early Mughals thought of India and Indians. The Baburnama did not have the kindest things to say about either the land or the people (though Babur, in spite of his love for his cherished Samarkand, curiously had no problem sticking around to enjoy India’s fabulous riches). So the question about whether external invasion laid the groundwork for such associations remains open. But judging by Mughal intermarriage with royal Rajput houses in the North and Deccan Sultanate intermarriage with the Royal house of Vijayanagar, such impressions may not have lasted very long. Given that intermarriage between indian muslim royals and persian houses were not unknown or impossible, there’s no reason why rulers could not have imposed strictures against intermarriage with locals (political expedience aside). Classical India, however, had a clear preference against excessive “lightness or paleness”. Pandu himself was considered Pale and Sickly due to his mother’s fright when he was conceived.

    So if we have to sum up. “white” as a complexion certainly wasn’t the standard in the classical period (and arguably isn’t now, with occasional exception among india’s moronic socialites). If any complexion is the benchmark, it’s likely the golden brown or gheru colors that many attempt to aspire towards. But as always, things vary from place to place, and we mustn’t paint with broad brushstrokes.

    As for Sanskrit coming under the Indo-European family, yes, that is correct; however, language does not always coincide with genetics. Maharashtrians and bengalis (as Razib pointed out) genetically have more in common with dravidian language speakers. Indeed within individual south indian families, you can often find a complete range of phenotype expression, from katrina kaif to johny lever (to paraphrase the president). Indeed, the tamil language itself is often attributed to Sage Agastya who crossed the vindyas from the north. Whether or not this is the case, it definitely calls out how language and genetics do not always intersect (as also evidenced by ancestrally south asian commenters on this site). In fact, the autochthonous theory holds that proto-indo european had its origins in india, and the language spread westward, turning AMT on its head. This also partially explains the similarities between Vedic deities and their counterparts in Greek and other pantheons (Dyaus–>Zeus, etc, etc ). So who knows, maybe our white friends on Sepia have ancestors who were just as comfortable in indian clothes as we are…

    • Yes, I am aware. She’s kashmiri on her father’s side…the point was to call out figures who are more commonly known.

  2. In fact, the autochthonous theory holds that proto-indo european had its origins in india, and the language spread westward, turning AMT on its head.

    i do not want to argue this, because i have never found it fruitful on this message board, but i will enter into the record that no one outside of india finds the origin of IE languages within south asia plausible today from a historical-linguistic vantage (perhaps excluding converts to indian religions). interestingly, this was not always the case.

    So who knows, maybe our white friends on Sepia have ancestors who were just as comfortable in indian clothes as we are…

    no. the genetics is rather clear on this. please see page 14

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7263/extref/nature08365-s1.pdf

    south asians are plausibly modeled as a two-way admixture between an ancient group of eurasians who have deep roots in the subcontinent, and from which andaman islanders drive in terms of common ancestry, and, a european-like population. figure s6 makes it pretty clear that south asians are a linear combination of these two groups, and europeans are not a linear combination of south asians and something else (proto-european?). that falsifies the out-of-india theory for the origin of indo-european langauges in india genetically. my main caveat is that i do not believe the indo-aryans were the european-like group, i think the admixture event is older than the indo-european expansion, where ever it came from.

  3. the genetics is rather clear on this

    to clarify: my confidence in the two-way admixture model presented in the paper is modest-to-high. 75% chance that it’s roughly right. my confidence in the proposition that indo-aryans are not the dominant signal is 60%. IOW, i think the spread of indo-european languages in south asia was a matter of elite diffusion, not genetic replacement. this seems likely in most of europe too. it is historically attested in spain, as non-indo-european langauges (tartessian) persisted into the roman period.

  4. “the record that no one outside of india finds the origin of IE languages within south asia plausible today from a historical-linguistic vantage”

    But there’s no question that the Indian branch of this family of languages, originated, developed and spread within India itself. That includes Sanskrit, the oldest of this group. Its literature, script and philosophy developed entirely within India, not in Europe, Central Asia or Iran.

  5. “My experience with desi’s has been the opposite in regards to skin color. ” :Alina

    I've moved in more sophisticated circles, starting with my immediate family. My father bought Will Durant's entire series "Story of Civilisation" , as well as Encyclopedia Britannica and The World Book Encyclopedia.  There were always lots of books to read.  Our friends among ethnic Indians were pretty sophisticated as well.  Skin colur was not an issue, though educational background generally was. However, there was never any real looking down on working people. 
    
  6. Razib,

    The point wasn't about whether the Autochthonous Theory was valid (which, as you note, will not be resolved here), but rather, that the Invasion theory was invalid. Even Witzel, who is the most vocal critic of out of India, has essentially downgraded to a Migration theory. That was the point
    

    “no. the genetics is rather clear on this. please see page 14

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7263/extref/nature08365-s1.pdf

    The point here again, not about the genetic imprint of ANI or ASI on the rest of the world, but rather, that the origin of the Sanskrit language and culture is found in the subcontinent and could have spread outward. As I noted, genetics and language need not always coincide.

    Additionally, my point about our european-heritaged friends on sepia potentially having indian blood can’t necessarily be ruled out on the basis of community wide genetics. There were merchant travelers from both ends of the world. Heck my point about Katrina Kaif is even more valid when one considers the possibility of local indians discovering they have english blood much to their surprise/dismay (jk), just as Vivian Leigh of GWTW fame had Indian heritage. Given the nature of human behavior spread out over millennia (or centuries in the case of the english in India), it’s not impossible for individuals here and there to have a genetic ancestor from the other end of the world. There were jewish, arab, and greek merchants in India and the former two in China. And Indian merchants were certainly not unknown in the mediterranean world. Indeed, ancient greeks even wrote about indian philosophers traveling in their native land as well as in Egypt and Persia. So your point is neither here nor there.

  7. Razib,

    Read your qualifier on elite diffusion v. genetic replacement after I posted, so feel free to ignore contentions from the previous post.

  8. But there’s no question that the Indian branch of this family of languages, originated, developed and spread within India itself. That includes Sanskrit, the oldest of this group. Its literature, script and philosophy developed entirely within India, not in Europe, Central Asia or Iran.

    this seems to be a supportable contention. though please note that there is at least one attested indo-aryan group outside of india: the mitanni of syria. the most plausible case is that one group of indo-aryans went west, and another east. so the indo-aryan/iranian split probably pre-dates the arrival of indo-aryans to india. note that this group is not iranian. though the script is probably has an original root back to the levant.

    er, that the origin of the Sanskrit language and culture is found in the subcontinent and could have spread outward.

    i think the sanskrit language probably did emerge in the milieu of south asia, specifically the region around the five rivers. and it could have spread outward, just like water can possibly flow up hill :-)

    Additionally, my point about our european-heritaged friends on sepia potentially having indian blood can’t necessarily be ruled out on the basis of community wide genetics. There were merchant travelers from both ends of the world. Heck my point about Katrina Kaif is even more valid when one considers the possibility of local indians discovering they have english blood much to their surprise/dismay (jk), just as Vivian Leigh of GWTW fame had Indian heritage. Given the nature of human behavior spread out over millennia (or centuries in the case of the english in India), it’s not impossible for individuals here and there to have a genetic ancestor from the other end of the world. There were jewish, arab, and greek merchants in India and the former two in China. And Indian merchants were certainly not unknown in the mediterranean world. Indeed, ancient greeks even wrote about indian philosophers traveling in their native land as well as in Egypt and Persia. So your point is neither here nor there.

    sure. but let’s be frank: you’re making a trivial assertion. if you go back 2,000 years EVERYONE has ancestors from all over the world, excepting isolated tribal peoples in the amazon and what not. this is most clear for nobility, because they keep good genealogies. you can trace the whole european nobility’s (excepting very recent royal houses, such as that of serbia) ancestry back to muhammed (via a spanish princess whose mother was from an arab family who married into the french aristocracy) as well as a slave woman from west africa who was a concubine to a medici in the 16th century.

  9. lol. i read your assertion that you read my qualifier after posting the previous comment, so feel free to ignore it.

    …back to coding.

  10. Razib,

    In your quest against the trivial, you ignore the obvious –> people have affairs. Additionally, even when nobles marry out, there are name changes and adoptions of host cultures and origin denials. So just a few more things to consider when weighing the somewhat lighthearted remark i made to Lindsey.

    Your opinion about sanskrit culture flowing out is just an opinion. Since you appear to be a geneticist rather than an historian, linguist or archaeologist, it will, likely continue to remain one. As I noted before, language and genetics, though they frequently are, nevertheless, are not always interlinked. Political and religious history also afford an equally valid prism through which to view things. After all, most of us here likely don’t have a single english ancestor, yet nevertheless, here we are …

  11. “the point was to call out figures who are more commonly known”

    OK then, I would like to call out Mallika Sherawat’s well-known figure

  12. The unfortunate thing about this board is that the anonymous posters often talk alot of sense but are marginalised by their anonymity. I encourage people like Satyajit Wry and Varun Shekhar to register. Their opinions, insights and discourse add a much-needed flavour to this board.

    • Thanks! I asked this question once before, how exactly do I register officially on this forum? I have a Canadian service provider, not one of the ISP’s displayed on your registration page.

  13. the travelers are no different genetically from other irish, there have been studies on this.

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about. THere are “dark” Irish people, per WASP eyes. Gabriel Byrne and Colin Farrell are considered “Black Irish” even though their skin is pale in comparison to actual brown folks. That’s what I’m getting at. What is this tool getting at, though? Shiny beads and dark hair can be anything. Until I see some sequencing, he’s nothing brown to me. He’s only throwing around shady, antiquated imperialist terms to weasel his way around.

  14. The unfortunate thing about this board is that the anonymous posters often talk alot of sense but are marginalised by their anonymity. I encourage people like Satyajit Wry and Varun Shekhar to register. Their opinions, insights and discourse add a much-needed flavour to this board.

    this is exactly why i love the anonymizing feature. i check the anons now and then if others respond and what not, but look the character you people have often. you haven’t bothered to register yourself, despite bemoaning the lack of others registering. tool.

    I have a Canadian service provider,

    they don’t use twitter or facebook in kanada? is it too cold? :-)

    Gabriel Byrne and Colin Farrell are considered “Black Irish” even though their skin is pale in comparison to actual brown folks. That’s what I’m getting at. What is this tool getting at, though?

    in the USA i’m pretty sure “black irish” a lot of the time were not irish :-) a friend of mine whose father is a pround irishman by ancestry got his genes sequenced, and to his shock he found that his paternal lineage was native american. similarly, one of my readers is australian, and one of his grandfathers was very swarthy, and claimed to be black irish. doing some genealogical research it became clear that in fact my friend’s grandfather was 1/4 aboriginal. american jews would sometimes convert to catholicism and claim to be black irish as well to hide their past with some plausibility.

    your point is taken about henry putative ancestry. a SNP-chip genetic test could resolve is pretty quickly. even if his grandmother was only 25% south asian ancestrally, not atypical for west european gypsies, that would easily show up in henry’s generation.

  15. I was always under the impression that the term “Black Irish” simply meant an Irish person with dark brown or black hair, rather than having anything to do with skin tone, eyes, or features.

  16. “this is exactly why i love the anonymizing feature. i check the anons now and then if others respond and what not, but look the character you people have often. you haven’t bothered to register yourself, despite bemoaning the lack of others registering. tool.”

    “look the character you people have often” – what does that sentence mean?

    And don’t call me a tool. Surely that is a warning/ banning offence?

    Perhaps, unlike alot of people who comment on these boards, I don’t have a massive ego and a high opinion of myself, and therefore may feel that my comments are not of the same quality as others. On the other hand I am able to support those who I see as providing some great material to the board and highlighting their contributions. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

  17. I was always under the impression that the term “Black Irish” simply meant an Irish person with dark brown or black hair

    yes. to get a sense, see the references in Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland. relative to the british median the irish seem to be more blue-eyed than average, but more dark-haired than average (especially to the south and east of ireland). this contrast effect is probably responsible for the idea of “dark irish.”

  18. Can’t understand why Paul Henry is still employed after his Sheila Dixit comments. I saw the clip of him joking mocking her surname and the worst part of his rant is when he said the “name is appropriate” for India/Indians.

  19. Oops, forgot he (Paul Henry) resigned. But he’ll probably get rehired by a radio station or something like what Stern is doing. (Even though Stern is rough around the edges, I don’t think he’s racist.)

    • “(Even though Stern is rough around the edges, I don’t think he’s racist.) “

      Just sexist.

  20. You just need to watch Indian Idol to see that folks from the North East are tagged as “Non Indian” since they don’t look like “us” – Until they burst out in song and outdoing Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar or Asha Bhonsle — and to top it all — two of them won!!!

    • Er, didn’t a Chinese guy win once while also being accompanied by some self-congratulatory back-patting about the open-mindedness of the audience and a lot of “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani” sentiment?

  21. I’ve moved in more sophisticated circles, starting with my immediate family.

    As well-read as your family may be, I don’t think judging people by education level or “sharpnes” of facial features is any better than skin color. And I don’t think we can deny a significant portion of Indians are who have skin color prejudice against their own ethnic group. Nice to know you’re not one of them, but that leaves millions who are. I’ve never been to India, but if it’s anything like Pakistan, the highways are dotted with fair & lovely billboards.

    Also, does anyone know how/if I can upload a profile pic? I log in with my Gmail account, not facebook or something.

  22. thanks

    and to clarify as to the class/education thing….I can totally understand why people generally have friends who are the same socioeconomic class as them. I can completely understand why an upper class educated Indian or American (or any nationality) would befriend others in their “group”. I’m just saying I don’t think using facial features/education to judge people is much better than skin color, especially in a country with very limited social mobility…like india.

    • What exactly do we mean when we say “judging people” here? Because I’m not sure I’m altogether clear on it.

      Do you mean evaluating them for jobs? Evaluating them for romantic compatibility? Attractiveness? As friends? Or determining whether they’re worthy of respect and dignity?

      Let’s face it, people judge people. They use different standards depending on the situation and what box they want to put them in. When deciding for a job we’re absolutely going to use education. And if that job happens to be Hooters we’re probably going to use facial features too. If we’re thinking in terms of dating we are once again going to use education AND facial features. It would actually be silly not to! These are important components for being happy with someone. Somewhat ditto with selecting your friends. Think about it. How many friends do you have without at least a college or junior college background?

      As for determining whether a person is worthy of respect and dignity that’s kind of a no-brainer isn’t it? (Protip: The answer is “Yes.”)

  23. Legend has it that the black irish descended from Byzantine traders who travelled to Ireland

    • Legend has it that Punjabis and Marathis actually descended from Scythians.

      . . . yea.

  24. Also, I know this is going to sound ignorant, but can someone please explain to me why people want to be “Aryan” so bad?

    First the nazi’s pretended to be aryan, then I always hear iranians get all huffed and say “well we’re the real aryans!” and i’ve heard indians say “no we are!” and even a lebanese girl in college say the same… Yeah I know a bit about their history, but what exactly was so great about the aryans anyway that everyone wants to claim ancestry?

    • The old theory was that all of human progress happened due to “Aryan” influence. This was argued based on some erroneous understandings of history that basically defines anyone who did anything important and whose ancestry could, at any point, be construed to have had any interaction with anyone from the caucasus mountains at all as “Aryan.”

      Then there were a couple 100 years of White supremacist colonialists who ran the world and made a point drilling this Macaulite inferiority complex into the various “mud people” under their purview so that they would be properly deferential towards them. So now the educated colored folks want to try to set themselves apart from their poorer and less cosmopolitan bretherin by using specious arguments to arbitrarily set themselves apart from the lower classes to better curry favor with the international institutions that still sort of get to define the bounds of what it means to be “cultured.”

      • in the generality yoga fire’s comment has a lot of truth to it. a lot of it can be traced back to theosophy, which influenced the thule society, which has a connection indirectly to the nazi party (they were all part of the same occult milieu).

  25. Legend has it that the black irish descended from Byzantine traders who travelled to Ireland

    in the early dark ages greek learning was preserved in particular in ireland. additionally, ireland seems to have received scholars who were fluent in both greek and latin from north africa. some perhaps fleeing the muslim conquests of the late 7th century. but there is no genetic evidence that this was a substantial impact. the irish have been well-typed.

    Yeah I know a bit about their history, but what exactly was so great about the aryans anyway that everyone wants to claim ancestry?

    same impulse which drives dark-skinned south asian muslims to claim arab, turk, or persian, ancestry.

  26. “Somewhat ditto with selecting your friends. Think about it. How many friends do you have without at least a college or junior college background?”

    I judge my friends by two things…loyalty and an ability to be let loose and have a good time. That’s it. education means fuck all to me. Life is short and having fun is my top priority. Of course most of my friends play poker which means I roll with MIT profs as well as rappers, short order cooks, and hedge fund managers.

    Its all good.

  27. First the nazi’s pretended to be aryan, then I always hear iranians get all huffed and say “well we’re the real aryans!” and i’ve heard indians say “no we are!” and even a lebanese girl in college say the same…

    i alluded to this earlier, but in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was still plausible for non-indian nationalist scholars to suggest that the indo-european languages came from india. sanskrit was perceived to a particularly antique indo-european language, arguably with the greatest time depth, perhaps the proto-indo-european language. so the indo-iranian term for their people, aryan, was assumed to have been the term the proto-indo-europeans used for themselves. there were attempts to find cognates for this in other indo-european lanaguges; eirene (ireland) for example.

    some things that changed this were:

    1) the discovery that linear B was greek, pushing that language into the late bronze age

    2) the discovery of the hittite language, which is older than linear B greek

    3) also, indo-aryan words and names in syria at around the same time as hittite

    sanskrit’s antiquity was no longer so special, and for a variety of philological reasons many indian scholars, and all non-indian scholars, do not generally believe that indo-european languages derive from a south asian milieu (or as some indians may say, have “opinions” :-) . but the word aryan was already popularized by that period as a term for the ancient indo-europeans, and the nazis picked it up, and the heirs of the nazis today continue that tradition. kind of like how most people still refer to apatosaurus as brontosaurus. the iranians and indians use it in a different fashion in keeping with their cultural traditions.

  28. @Yoga Fire – of course we judge people when it comes to friendship, dating, hiring an employee, etc…..what I’m talking about is when people genuinely think they’re better than other people ) based on a characteristic like skin color, education, economic background, blah blah…and plenty of people do. Both in America and abroad.

    As for determining whether a person is worthy of respect and dignity that’s kind of a no-brainer isn’t it?

    Glad to see we’re on the same page, but it’s surprisingly not a no brainer for everyone. I saw an angry woman throw hot coffee in the face of a hobo who made a suggestive remark to her in the subway 3 days ago. Granted, he was rude, but i bet she wouldn’t have retaliated like that if he was wearing a tie, she would’ve probably called him an ass and moved on. But plenty of people here in NYC don’t consider homeless guys people in the way they are.

    also no clue why my profile pic isn’t showing up, but i don’t really care that much since i don’t use gmail much

    • [quote]Granted, he was rude, but i bet she wouldn’t have retaliated like that if he was wearing a tie[/quote]

      Well. . .I’m much more likely to pick a fight with a someone smaller than me.

      Just saying.

  29. “but there is no genetic evidence that this was a substantial impact. the irish have been well-typed.”

    That’s interesting. I played in a tournament in Belfast last year, and the subject of the Black Irish can get quite heated…locals I spoke to seemed to believe in the north african/moor/spanish intermarrying theory quite adamantly…and i wasn’t going to contradict them with money on the table :) .

  30. locals I spoke to seemed to believe in the north african/moor/spanish intermarrying theory quite adamantly…and i wasn’t going to contradict them with money on the table :) .

    there is a difference between cultural and genetic impacts. the genes are clear. but the irish celtic language does have particular similarities to the celtiberian dialects of northern spain (the extinct dialects). and there were obviously cultural connections between the two regions, in particular southern ireland and the northern atlantic fringe of spain. and i already alluded to the possible cultural connections between ireland and north africa, unlikely as it may seem (part of the issue seems to be that in the early dark ages ireland was relatively tranquil and wealthy, so elite refugees from the collapsing societies of the west roman empire found it a congenial destination). there is also some secondary genetic signatures which tie together the european “atlantic fringe” nations. but by and large the irish are closest to the british, and there isn’t a “black irish” outgroup that jumps out of the data.

  31. kind of like how most people still refer to apatosaurus as brontosaurus.

    No way, they’re the same?! Hah, the kid I babysit will be so pleased, he had an argument with me over this the other week. Nice to know that on top of bombing my biochem midterm yesterday, a kindergarten kid knows more about science than I do :) also couldn’t bring myself to tell him triceratops isn’t real, it’s his favorite. :/

    same impulse which drives dark-skinned south asian muslims to claim arab, turk, or persian, ancestry.

    well what’s wrong with being a boring ole desi?

  32. That’s interesting. I played in a tournament in Belfast last year, and the subject of the Black Irish can get quite heated…locals I spoke to seemed to believe in the north african/moor/spanish intermarrying theory quite adamantly…and i wasn’t going to contradict them with money on the table :) .

    also, in my exp. when you have individuals/people who have atypical features or coloring there is often a legend or explanation which gets concocted out of whole cloth, especially if it is vaguely plausible. blonde sicilians attribute their blondeness to norman ancestry. dark scotch may claim gypsy. a russian with high cheekbones may claim that his ancestors were raped by mongols (this is a real example btw, i’m not just warped :-) the same thing with indians. kashmiris have repeatedly claimed to me that they’re ancestors are originally from iran. etc. some of this rooted in reality, but a lot of it isn’t, insofar as populations exhibit natural variation (russians do seem to have about 5% non-european admixture from mongolian peoples for example; the irish are no more iberian or north african than the british).

  33. well what’s wrong with being a boring ole desi?

    it’s less prestigious ancestry. unless you can claim to be high caste in origin, like the khoja. that’s how it’s perceived. i can see why people would do it in brownland, but i don’t get these fixations being transposed to the USA. no one cares about that shiz here….

  34. also couldn’t bring myself to tell him triceratops isn’t real, it’s his favorite. :/

    Of course Triceratops isn’t real. None of the dinosaurs are. Jesus put the bones in the ground with artificially aged Carbon-14 to test our faith.

  35. ah yes razib I suspect we’ll be living with the old perception vs reality thing till long after plants, trees and deer take over times square

    • I thought we were all enlightened beings here – perception is reality, didn’t you know?

    • Ah yes, I see how this works. Ignore the anonymous posters when it suits and reply when it suits – simple, but effective.

      Still don’t think the word “tool” should be bandied about at people. What do the mods think? You also haven’t answered my question about what your sentence meant?