Press "Enter" to skip to content

CRT: Individual Identity Forged by Choice, Not Locked by Categories Imposed by Others

The Purdue Online Writing Lab (an excellent research for writers, teachers, and anyone else who cares about using language correctly and effectively) offers a one-page brief on critical race theory that includes this notable definition of the core concepts of intersectionality and anti-essentialism:

Intersectionality and anti-essentialism: These terms refer to the notion that one aspect of an individual’s identity does not necessarily determine other categories of membership. As Delgado and Stefancic explain, “Everyone has potentially conflicting, overlapping identities, loyalties, and allegiances” (CRT: An Introduction 10). In other words, we cannot predict an individual’s identity, beliefs, or values based on categories like race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc; instead, we must recognize that individuals are capable of claiming membership to a variety of different (and oftentimes seemingly contradictory) categories and belief systems regardless of the identities outsiders attempt to impose upon them [Purdue OWL, “Critical Race Theory (19970s-present),” retrieved 2021.06.29].

No wonder South Dakota Republicans want to ban that theory: it advocates a complicated understanding of humanity, and Republicans hate complications.


  1. John Dale 2021-06-29 07:50

    See “blood libel”. That’s CRT.

    There, I did it in 5 words (okay, 6 without the contraction), and I’ve never been through “the program”.

  2. Ryan 2021-06-29 08:29

    Quotes like this one suggests some decent common sense can be found in CRT, but then again when I googled it to reduce my ignorance, it seemed like one of the prominent pillars of crt is that race is a social creation and not a biological reality. Haha what!? So what’s with all the hereditary, biological, racial characteristics!? Skin tone, hair type, face shape… those features are passed from ancestors to descendants through biology… how can anyone believe race is not a part of our physical biology? I don’t think differences among races are meaningful in making assumptions about behavior of individuals… but… you lose me with the “it’s all in your head” shtick.

  3. Vi Kingman 2021-06-29 08:50

    John Dale you’re ignorance is showing-again

  4. Donald Pay 2021-06-29 08:56

    So, Ryan, are Italians white or not?

    Race is a social construct. Yes, there are various traits that are passed down through genes, but how those traits and the people who have them are grouped into racial categories is entirely socially determined. Italians and other southern Europeans were not considered to be white in America. When the Italians were needed to counterbalance black migration in America, Italians became white. In the Southwest, various miners from European countries were not considered white until these miners were needed to counterbalance Mexican miners. When does an bi-racial member of a tribe become white or black, and not Indian? How many generations does it take?

    Ryan’s ideas of race are outdated, and that’s being kind. Liz is Oglala. Genetically, she has more inherited genetic component from Europe. Whites in South Dakota have discriminated against her, while whites in other states have not. What accounts for the way people treat Liz? It’s pretty clear race is a social construct if people in one place view Liz as someone to be discriminated against, while somewhere else she is just a person.

  5. Ryan 2021-06-29 10:24

    Donald, you are talking about how people treat members of particular races. You are not talking about the dark hair that is passed genetically from one person of italian descent to another. Just because some characteristics are less visible than others doesn’t mean they are socially constructed. Pretending we are all physically the same is not progress, it’s pandering and it’s not genuine, and it’s regressive.

    You can dance around the physiology all you want, but it’s science, man. If my wife and I move to Taiwan and adopt every stitch of the local culture we possible can and then we make a baby – guess what, that baby will share my biology regardless of the social or cultural situation in which he or she is born. Similar for a family from the mountains of Chile. Sure, they can move across the globe to a completely foreign land and assimilate themselves according to whatever local norms they want – but their children will share their DNA, their physical appearance, and other hereditary advantages or disadvantages their ancestors may have had, such as susceptibility to certain ailments or defenses against other ailments. I can’t even frankly believe that somebody can argue otherwise with a straight face.

  6. leslie 2021-06-29 11:00

    We’ve had this discussion here in the past extensively. Perhaps Cory can provide you the link. Happy camper quite often would resurrect it.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 11:27

    Golly Cory, doesn’t Finding Your Roots show on public tv in So. Dak.? I’ve had my own testing done and I’m about as white as you can get, but both my parents were from Norwegian parents. My own kids have a whole bunch of German thrown in plus other eastern European isms. The problem with racism is that many African Americans are in reality more European than they are African and that is where the social constructs come into play Ryan. It’s really simple boy, racism is alive and well in the US of A. What if you move to Taiwan and have a couple of affairs, one with a Chilean. Say your wife or daughter have a few. What race would you call the offspring? Apart from being a whitey I’ve got more Neanderthal in me than my wife. Now that’s just science too. You have to wonder what races were Neanderthals? They lived over a large range of the globe too.

  8. Ryan 2021-06-29 11:41

    Mark, no doubt that racism is alive and well in the US. In countries around the world, too, I’m sure. It’s terrible. People should absolutely not be treated based on the color of their skin. It’s despicable.

    And since you ask silly questions, I will ask one, too. If we randomly selected one person from Ghana and one person from Sweden and put them next to each other completely nude, how likely do you think it is that people would be stumped as to who is who? Pssssshhhh.

    How do you think scientists know where early human migrants came from and to where they traveled? They look at the physical characteristic (the BIOLOGY) of the different travelers and compare them to the physical characteristics of different populations across the globe. That is race. Like it or not, race is biological and it’s actually culture that is the “made up” part. People keep trying to change words so as not to offend, but this is just comedy at this point.

  9. Donald Pay 2021-06-29 12:11

    In the beginning, early humanoids had body hair. Underneath that mass of hair we don’t know for sure what the color of their skin was, but if we can extrapolate from modern primates and other mammals, the skin was white. When humanoids lost body hair, skin evolved to be more protective, and over millennia skin became darker. As humans moved out of Africa they faced different climate conditions, which over time led to a lightening of skin color in those folks. Those are evolutionary changes that were gradual over millennia. Where in that long genetic history does one become “white,” then “black,” then “white?”

    Ryan, you are admitting that race is a social construct, even though you are hide bound to call it “biology.” In reality these changes occurred minimally over the generations in isolated populations. At any one point, no one would call themselves anything like “black” or “white.” They were just “people.”

  10. Ryan 2021-06-29 12:58

    Donald, you are explaining how one species of animal, humans, evolved to include numerous races. You are not at all proving that race is socially constructed. If something is socially constructed, it can be modified further by the social apparatus. How many square dances would a fellow from thailand need to attend before his skin color, or hair type, or facial features construct themselves to look less like his ancestors on the other side of the world? Or how many tractor pulls? Or how many pow-wows? Or how many oktoberfests? Or how many crawfish bakes? Or will his gal-darned biology just be what it is no matter how, or where, or with whom he socializes? Hmmm.

    As our species moves more freely and efficiently around the world, the tell-tale differences between races are becoming more diluted and I think that is a wonderful thing. As our physical differences begin to evaporate, we will all be better off. Then, and only then, can we love and hate each other for who we really are on the inside instead of loving and hating the people racists tell us to love or hate.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-06-29 13:03

    Race as a social construct is central to critical race theory, and it is correct. The founders did not take DNA samples and enslave people based on biological characteristics. They kidnapped a bunch of people from Africa, then constructed a whole social scheme to get the many different settlers from Europe to consider themselves members of something never before conceived, a “White” race, and to accept the continued and lucrative enslavement of those kidnapped folks and their offspring. The practical implications of race for America’s history, economy, and institutions are rooted in social practices, not biological facts. Critical race theory thus is focused on race as a social construct.

  12. blueboy 2021-06-29 13:26

    Do we call left-handed people a race? We could, based on genetics, and we could based on societal treatments in the past, when left-handed were considered “sinister.” That’s a cultural construct.

    We could just stop doing it based on skin color, just like we stopped doing it to southpaws.

  13. Ryan 2021-06-29 13:37

    RACISM is a social construct – determinations about a person’s value or worth according to skin color or ancestry are merely rooted in, and creations of, the human mind. RACE is a description of the real, empirical, physiological differences among groups of people around the world.

    Recognizing that two people are different is not a problem. Pretending differences don’t exist isn’t truthful. Assigning value based on immutable differences is indeed a problem. Conflating these issues is either lazy, naïve, or purposefully incorrect virtue signaling.

  14. Donald Pay 2021-06-29 13:44

    Ryan, humans didn’t evolve into races. From one generation to the next you can’t say when one race begins and another ends. What you consider races are simply demarcations made at one point in time in genetic histories of some genetically isolated populations. Generally those demarcations were done by Europeans, and generally they were done for social or cultural reasons.

  15. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 14:12

    Ryan, if a person from Ghana and a Swedish person were nude together I would look away, its just porn. Ok, so how long does ones family have to remain in one spot or one country to develop it’s “racial” characteristics? 10 generations, 20, 30? Look at the British, prior to those darn Norskys who were just defeated in 1066 those darn Norman’s moved into claim the day. What were those Anglo-Saxons supposed to do? Those social constructs are so easy to see and to catch. Watch any football game and hear the talk of say a quarterback who’s black and one who’s white. The black quarterback is always more athletic, natural, and the white quarterback is always an intelligent commander. It goes on and on. I did it myself, for years I taught kids of Asian heritage and they could all draw really well until I had one who couldn’t and I was confounded and realized it was all within me.
    Again going back to Finding Your Roots, they labeled their slave property by the age and gender, no names and it was illegal to teach any of them to read. Those slave owners knew what they were doing. They were socially de-evolving people who were as capable as themselves.
    CRT is so much more than you are saying. By the way, Henry Louis Gates Jr.s own genelogy is 50/50 African and European. So could he octoberfest with the best of them and yet in America he’s black. You should do your own genelogy and see what leads to your stubbornness.
    You know of course that Neanderthals have become smarter, stronger and so much more amazing ever since we found out we shared DNA with them. How did that happen? They used to just be cavemen.

  16. Francis Schaffer 2021-06-29 14:14

    Eliminate political boundaries then what does one have?

  17. Ryan 2021-06-29 14:45

    Now Francis is asking the right questions! Political boundaries are made-up! Nationalities are made up! People created something where there was nothing, and then they named it.

    Race, on the other hand, is not something we made up. It is something that exists, and we described it. Now, we don’t say that black folks and native americans are different species. That would be wrong. we don’t say they are different subspecies, because that would be wrong, too. Yes, we are all human beings. But… since most of us have eyes that work, we apparently decided we needed a few words to describe the FREAKING OBVIOUS differences in appearance between people. One of those words is race. Are there people whom we find difficult to “label” with a particular race because they exhibit characteristics of several races? Sure! No doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean the groups don’t exist outside of that particular person.

    How about this – one person has naturally bright red hair, one person has dark black hair, and a third person once had hair but is now bald. I can’t tell what hair color this fellow once had. Does that mean that the person with the bright red hair and the person with the dark black hair have the same hair just because a third person doesn’t easily fit one of the two groups?!? Of course not. Does it mean that hair color is a creation of the human mind? Nah. All it means is we noticed a physical difference and named it, as would be expected within a communicative species such as we are.

  18. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 14:52

    Critical race theory is an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices. The theory holds that racial inequality is woven into legal systems and negatively affects people of color in their schools, doctors’ offices, the criminal justice system and countless other parts of life. – Washington Post

    So, how do we fix the fact that racism is woven into every part of people’s day to day existence?

    The laws are fair, for the most part. The procedures used to implement the laws are the big problem. These procedures include the police, gerrymandering, biased County officials, and prejudiced elected legislators.

    The procedures for administering laws were written by wealthy, white males to benefit themselves and their white, male children. Said procedures were devised to lift up wealthy, white males above women, people of color, and the poor and make wealthy, white male lives easier by holding all others down with semi-legal, procedural process.

  19. O 2021-06-29 14:59

    Understanding intersectionality is critical in policy discussions in our schools. Most SD schools have had discussions of poverty and how a poverty background can adversely affect our students. Unfortunately, that single focus glossed over other racial components of academic struggle. Even within that framework of poverty, there are many different factors for different racial/ethnic populations.

    I have always found CRT (or before that Critical Legal Studies) a great check on institutional (even unintentional) racism (or sexism or any other negative -ism). It questions proposals BEFORE moving forward and triggering unintended consequences or allows a revisiting of consequences later.

    I suppose the biggest obstacle for many is that there must be a recognition that policy makers are fallible.

  20. Eve Fisher 2021-06-29 15:33

    Ryan appears determined to make us see that the “freaking obvious differences in appearance between people” – and yes, they exist. So what? Basing an ideology on the differences in skin / eye / hair color is ridiculous, because the other truth is that, eventually, those obvious differences in appearance are attractive, and over time everyone gets to know each other in the Biblical sense and offspring happen.

    Anyway, the result of all this mixing / isolation is that I have 3% Neanderthal genes and another 3% Denisovian along with my Cro-Magnon. My ancestors got around. We all did. We all came from Africa. 1 in 200 men are descendants of Genghis Khan. All men genetically descended from a y-chromosomal Adam from around 50,000-80,000 BC. All women are genetically descended from mitochondrial Eve from around 120,000-156,000 BC.

    There’s no such thing as “pure” races. All the “freaking obvious differences” are from isolation. Take away the skin, and no one could tell one race from another. In an autopsy room, there are only dead humans.

  21. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-29 15:33

    well…obviously people love to talk about race Basically its a few genes out of the billion we have located in slightly different locations on our genome. No big deal. Racism is learned behavior.Mark has a point about “Finding Our Roots. I always try to watch it. Their best case was Suzzanne Malveaux, the news reporter from NBC, whose family has always considered themselves black. Her DNA showed a very different story. Your interpretation of race is a very personal trait. My Mother was all hung up about race. My Father, who had Fox Indian relatives in his largely Irish family tree, could care less.He thought the whole discussion was silly. And he was a Goldwater Republican.

  22. Ryan 2021-06-29 15:40

    Eve, you are supporting my point whether you know it or not. Recognizing that physical differences exist among people is not the problem, so we shouldn’t bend over backwards to pretend that physical differences don’t exist.

    Are the physical differences important? Nope. Are the physical differences a good reason to treat people differently? Nope. Are the physical differences helpful in determining individual behavior. Nope. Are the physical differences socially constructed? Nope. That’s a wrap.

  23. John Dale 2021-06-29 15:45

    Without race, how would race hustlers survive?

    Why see color?

    Why not recognize merit, be phenotypically agnostic, reward content of character?

    I know, I know. Primitive accumulation and everyone’s against me (not that the aren’t, you should just be willing to name the names).

    Gosh I feel so ignorant and inferior for not focusing on “race”.

    Lastly, why do we call it the human race?

  24. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 15:47

    Sure their are racial differences, I watched John Sanders have the second fastest time in the country in the 100 at a race in Highmore. He went on to play in the NFL. Sunshine Bible did well.
    He was a transplanted superstar in our area and he was black. Reinforced all my stereotypes, but I was 16. I know better know, and just being exposed to the reality of racism has done it. I was a Cassius Clay fan when I was 5 or 6. We moved to Highmore when I was 10 and I enjoyed swimming with the students from Stephan when nearly all the other kids cleared out when the bus arrived. I’ve always been woke. My dad worked with a guy named Mario Rangel and I listened to him talk about how he always had to dress very well to get by in public. Its only been within my lifetime that any kind of racial equality has happened and its so nice to see that Blacks won’t back down anymore. CRT is more a conservative construct to allow a conservative backlash because the status quo is challenged by a more equal society. Well conservatives, you’ve been losing the status quo my entire lifetime, good luck trying to re-frame reality.

  25. Ryan 2021-06-29 15:50

    John, I mean this with all my heart – your feelings of ignorance and inferiority are just good common sense.

  26. Francis Schaffer 2021-06-29 16:34

    Thank you for the kind words, I think. I noticed on your posts that you essentially proved race as an observation is a social construct. In one comment you wrote, ‘we apparently decided we needed a few words to describe the freaking obvious differences in appearance between people’. We made it up. In a later post you wrote, ‘Are physical differences important’? Your own answer, ‘Nope. Therefore since we decided we needed these words to explain obvious differences in appearance, can we also decide to quit using words to describe appearance differences in humans?
    Asking for a friend.
    I wonder how race is explained to blind people?

  27. Dicta 2021-06-29 16:48

    I feel like people are talking past one another. True, the concept of race is one of human creation, but it describes very real physiological traits. Biology’s phylum and kingdoms are also human constructs, but they provide meaningful delineation between creatures. Stop trying to miss each other’s points for the sake of argument ya friggin pedants.

  28. Ryan 2021-06-29 17:01

    Francis, you said “you essentially proved race as an observation is a social construct.” which is an incorrect reading of my comment. I said the word race is a made up word. We made up the word to describe the physical differences we noticed among groups of people. This article and CRT suggest that race only exists in our minds. I disagree. And can we quit using words to describe appearance differences in humans? Sure, we could. Will we? I doubt it. Especially not when white supremacists exist, because those scumbags won’t play along, and neither will people who allow their race to be the most important feature of their lives – those people exist in all shapes, sizes, colors, and nationalities. I would suggest that CRT is fostering more division among races than it’s eliminating, although I assume half of the impact of CRT is not intentional or desired, such as its apparent ability to turn republicans into drooling racist idiots.

  29. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-29 17:18

    Well…an excellent story about overcming racist attitudes in South Dakota is found in the book “Cloddy” a pioneer in the integration of NCAA Basketball by Kim Clodfelter, son of Duane Clodfelter, a Woonsocket native who was basketball and gold coach at USD for over 20 years. Clodfelter recruited the Danials brothers, Black guards from Brooklyn, New York to the Vermillion campus in 1957. Within 3 years the Coyotes had won the first NCAA Division II national basketball tournament, led by the scoring of Jim Danials and the playmaking of Cliff Danials. They also had starters from Brookings (Roger Nelson) and Murdo (Maury Hougland). When asked why he was recruiting Negro players from Brooklyn, Cloddy responded “Because I want to win” For Cloddy it was strictly a merit based decision. .Cloddy continued to recruit black players from around the nation and was harshly criticized by alums, to the point that USD President ID Weeks had to step in and advise Cloddy to limit the number of blacks on the team. Cloddy continued to recruit black players (for a long time he had the only black players in the North Central Conference until Morningside and Northern Iowa got on board). His teams were often contenders and always competitive. He always recruited South Dakotans (Jack Theeler from Sisseton, Jay Hennies from Wagner) including Sioux Falls (Bill Bruns) but Sioux Falls alums continued their criticism that Clodfelter was recruiting too many blacks and not enough players from Sioux Falls. South Dakota State recruited no black players during this period.At the 1970 NCAA Holiday Tournament in Sioux Falls USD played a very powerful, highly favored State team in the semi finals and in a surprise before a packed Arena upset the Jackrabbits. The Sioux Falls alumni had scheduled a large party and reception after the game, and in the lockerroom, as the players celebrated beating the Jacks the AD told Cloddy to finish up his remarks to the team so that he could appear at the reception and address the alumni. Cloddy said “I’m going to prepare my team for tomorrows championship. Tell the Sioux Falls alums to kiss my ass”.

  30. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 18:01

    You know Arlo, I decided to order that book for my sister Margie’s birthday, she was head cheerleader at USD the year they won in 1958. I believe that was what made me respect African Americans when I was young. Another great story is that the people of Vermillion coughed up the dough to fly in their mother from Brooklyn on senior day so she saw them play in Vermin town, without telling them of course. It should be made into a movie. They beat Wisconsin in 57 and Wisconsin opened up to blacks the next year. Cliff Daniels died in Novermber of last year, he got his law degree and never stopped helping his community in Brooklyn. It should be a basketball movie. Cloddy was ahead of his time.

  31. O 2021-06-29 18:42

    John Dale: “Why see color? Why not recognize merit, be phenotypically agnostic, reward content of character?”

    John, that is why Critical Race Theory is so important — so those color-blind goals can be met. So If we decide to pass laws, then those laws begin locking up our ethnic minorities at disproportionate rates, we reexamine those laws. If bank loans tend to not be going to minorities, we look at addressing those criteria. If children of color are not making it into colleges, we reexamine those entrance requirements. We reexamine through the lens of looking for unintended (ore intended) components that restrict the ability of any group from achieving success. All too often “everybody” having to so something does not affect “everybody” in the same way.

    This is the point of so much of the voter suppression work being done by the GOP. Under the guise of “everyone” being required to do something — like show a valid driver’s license –lies a profoundly disenfranchising element — many adults of color in the south do not drive (especially in metro areas, they use mass transportation), so do notshell out the money to have a driver’s license they do not need on a daily basis.

  32. Donald Pay 2021-06-29 19:07

    So, who thought up the racial group of Caucasian and what’s distinctive about that classification? Not skin color, because Caucasians have skin color varying from Scandanavian white to Middle Eastern and North African dark brown. Those Northern Africans and southern Europeans weren’t considered white in America. Probably the northern Africans still aren’t. There are a good number of South Dakotans who will have the vapors about being in the same racial group as Iranians.

  33. DaveFN 2021-06-29 19:07

    A great conversation. Wish we were all in the same room to have it.

    The philosophical origins of this debate are, in all likelihood, traceable to the dialectic between the concepts of “essentialism” versus “existentialism’ which latter in particular came into existence through the French (Marcel and Sartre), the German (Heidegger) and the Danish (Kierkegaard).

    In it’s broadest incarnation one might quote the Polish-American Korzybski who noted “The map is not the territory,” where the map is the contingency of culture overlay on the “real” of the territory. This distinction is critical to understanding the dichotomy between essence and existence, and the intellectually misguided conflation of the two which philosophers have sought to distinguish, a conflation lost in WYSIWYG thinking.

    Existentialism has been famously taken up by early 20th century feminists such as Naomi Weistein who critiqued received notions of what is feminine, rejecting the idea there is a feminine essence (as previously expressed by feminist Carol Gilligan’s feminine “ethics of care). Weistein instead deals with our attributions and the meanings we apply to women and men (semiotics) , our received and imposed notions leading effectively to social constructionism of gender. The latter is on the level of existence (attribution), therefore, and not any particular essential quality inherent to either category. It is a social construction not only because done by the socius of discursive practices which are relative to cultures, time and place , but also in the sense that socio-economics imposed on individual lives seek to structure and do structure lived (this is going down the Foucault route of the microworkings of power).

    Aside from feminist studies, as far as race is concerned, any acquaintance with US census records will show limited racial categories in which people have been parked. From 1850 to 1890 “mulatto” was a racial category; from 1910 to 1920 we find “octoroon” and “quadroon.” The fact one may be parked as “white” is but another attribution: “whites” may have assimilated the term, and confused themselves with a linguistic term but they are far from a homogeneous group, whether culturally or genetically.

    Those of us involved in the genetic genealogy community (as well as anthropologists and other disciplines) have moved beyond the idea of “race” as some fixed and absolute category. Neither are we fans of the term “ethnicity,” however much and other marketers have popularized such notions with TV commercials about trading in our lederhosen for a kilt., one ‘identity’ for another. The field and terminology are currently in great flux, although the more recent terminology has stabilized on “admixtures” as a compromise.

    This flux is owing to the fact that microarray technology has enabled us to moved away from phenotypic classifications and traditional Linnean or Darwinian macroscopic groupings, to comparisons made at the genetic level (ie., classifications based on molecular biology). We needn’t understand all birds with webbed feet as related (they may or may not be) when we can examine their genetic material and look for similarities and differences. We can compare the genetic makeup of proteins necessary to life such as cytochrome c which are found everywhere from wheat to tuna to humans, and look for similarities and differences. Generally speaking, the greater the similarities, the more closely related the organisms on vast timescales.

    But it’s not that easy, either. although it’s just as easy to reify genetics as it is gross morphology as something foundational and therefore granting us absolute certainty as to who we are in our ‘being.’ As evidence, Ancestry DNA testing tests for ~700,000 DNA markers across one’s entire complement of 23 pair of chromosomes, and will compare those markers (technically known as snps, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, ie., differences in the DNA at specific loci) with the DNA found in ancient skeletal remains. Out of some 7 dozen archaic skeletal specimens, my snp profile most closely resembles that of Ballynahatty woman, a Neolithic woman from some 5200 years ago from Ireland who was found in a megalithic grave. This is not fiction. Ballynahatty woman’s DNA was first sequenced by geneticists from Trinity College in Dublin and Queen’s University of Belfast from a bone from the base of her skull; this was published in 2015 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

    So do I identify or take on (“assume” in its most literal of senses) the identity (be it cultural, genetic, or otherwise) of Ballynahatty woman as my own, as who I “am” at the level of being, like the guy who confuses who he is with someone who must wear a kilt on the Ancestry commercial? Hardly.

    And there is good scientific reason to not confuse snp markers on DNA with identity. 700,000 snps account for approximately 0.023% of the entirety of 3 billion loci in human DNA, hardly a representative sample. One might counter that humans are 99.99% genetically identical at all markers, which is true. Yet there are nonetheless at least 5 million different snp loci and testing 700,000 of them, as does the Illumina microarray chip used by Ancestry, would yet account for only 14% of all possible differences. Again, hardly representative. (I myself have had all 3 billion of my markers sequenced—whole genome testing–but that’s another conversation).

    But we can go further: a person inherits ONLY 50% of each parent’s DNA and not the other 50%. This is effectively saying a person inherits 50% of each parent’s “ethnicity,” and there is no guarantee that is a representative 50% of their parent’s ethnicity.

    Furthermore, it is possible to assign specific stretches of high-density snp regions on one’s DNA (“segments”) to specific ancestors. I have done this, and have thus “mapped” some 62 percent of my DNA back to specific ancestors in my family tree (performed using DNA matches who also descend from those ancestors; common DNA segments indicate common ancestors). Yet even then, one finds that at most one inherits identifiable DNA segments from ONLY about 120 ancestors at most in one’s family tree. Thus, many ancestors literally fall off of one’s tree in any identifiable genetic sense. The vast majority of my own DNA matches descend as do I from my 9th great grandparents John Perkins (1583-1654) and Judith Gater for the simple contingency that they had some 15 children and thus thousands of living descendants. Had they but one child, 50% of each of their own DNA would have been lost to the ages; it takes about 7 children for the entirety of the parents’ DNA to be transmitted.

    So, what is my genetic identity? Is it what “tells” me it is? Far from it. (I am presenting beginner and advanced DNA Zoom talks at the coming “Germans from Russia Heritage Society” meeting in July if anyone is interested;

    But CRT goes much further than any of the above and insofar as it is “critical” it is subversive and calls into question any fixed notion of identity, far beyond anything which is genetic as in my above examples, whether those notions are imposed or self-assimilated. It calls into question the very notion of identity itself.

    This builds very much on early 20th century psychoanalysis of Freud who told us as much: “The ego is not master in its own house,” where ego, the “I” of each of us, is for Freud nothing but the sum total of our identifications, and those identifications are contingent on accidents of birth, time, and geographical location. Are they arbitrary? Let’s just say “contingent” on factor leading to the idea that all identifications are just as much misidentifications. As elaborated later by Jacques Lacan, our identifications are even contingent upon the very structure of language and its assumed meanings by which we and our world is structured. As Lacan indicated, we do not speak but we are spoken by language. We are structured and shaped.

    With regard to identity, Lacan famously said ““The madman is not only a beggar who thinks he is a king, but also a king who thinks he is a king.” Our identities are fundamentally constructed, but a king who thinks he is a king (rather than a flesh and blood human as everyone else is), is likely psychotic and mistakes himself for a “thing” reified in language, psychotic patients being unable to metaphorize: they take words for objects. Say “I read you like a book” to a psychotic and they will likely identify themselves literally as a book. Absolute certainty about identity or anything else is a foreign notion in existentialism if not a hallmark of psychosis in the psychoanalytic clinic.

    This kind of confusion between the map and the territory is rampant today. It can one one hand be a stabilizing mechanism in the psychotic which forestalls a psychotic break. It can also be a neurotic mechanism (this gets into clinical diagnostics which for Lacan are based on how a patient relates to language itself). This common day-to-day confusion is what we refer to as WYSIWYG, a flattened out understanding of the world which has no depth or alternative meanings, one hungering for absolutes onto which to hang its hat, and this is the stepping of point for Delgado and Stefancic: these fixations, “memberships” in certain assumed, pregiven categories in which identity seeks to park itself, create the very thing Delgado and Stefancic seek to overcome by subverting them.

    [I’ll interject that some such as Gov. Noem seem to think that higher education if not all formal education more-or-less exists to do nothing but reinforce what she taught her kids at home, rather than to open minds and challenge and subvert received ideas. Kind of the Robert Fulghum “all I need to know is what I learned in kindergarten” taken to extremes]

    And no one is immune from this critique by Delgado and Stefancic, whose early papers dealt with structuring laws that carve out various prejudices and categories. Minorities, be they Native American or gay or anyone who who claims membership in any category whatsoever, is missing the mark. Cory’s headline on identity being a choice itself presumes that we may “choose” our identity. In the most critical sense, however, that choice is necessarily a forced choice, for in choosing we forego some other choice and therefore miss out. Going further, our choices are the illusion of choice, one having factors behind it of which we are ourselves unaware.

    [I could write a great more about the reductionism of science which is among the reasons people fall into the identity trap, and many have written on this in the history of the philosophy of science (courses I took at the University of Vienna which critique our received notions of objectivism, for example). Even our received scientific notions in chemistry are just that. We like to think a substance has fixed properties (an fixed and absolute ‘identity’) yet read Chang, Hasok, 2012, Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 293), Dordrecht: Springer. Barring that, see the discussion on the philosophy of chemistry here: ] We like to think science can tell us truth. At best, it imposes a map on the territory, describing it.

    Anyway, I read Cory’s post early this morning, and the above are the thoughts that went through my head during my 10 mile bicycle ride.

  34. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 19:17

    That’s perfect, O
    The Big Liar’s most effective Machiavellian mental manipulation is telling white men they’re being victimized by people of color who are refusing to accept procedures (like drivers licenses to vote) that subjugate them, as a group. White, male MAGA’s claiming to be victims is rampant and ridiculous.

  35. DaveFN 2021-06-29 19:19

    Would like to add to the historical development of social construction the idea of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s notion of “the raw and the cooked” found in his 1964 Mythologiques.

    Sure, there is a “raw” and pre-existent reality, some substrate upon which our existence is predicated, but it is so overwritten by culture and acculturation to the extent it is effectively effaced. In other words, it is “cooked” (and likely in more senses than one).

    Some postulate that mankind is continuously in the process of trying to recover (and cover over) that loss by his/her identifications/misidentifications.

  36. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 20:02

    Hey, Noem. Don’t read this!

    Colorado Outlaws American Indian Mascots at Schools and Colleges

    -Some images are clearly derogatory, commission said
    -About two dozen schools will need to make changes

    Colorado schools have about 11 months to replace their American Indian mascots or face fines.
    The penalty for violating the law: a $25,000 fine for each month the mascot remains unchanged.

    A law (S.B. 116) signed Monday by Gov. Jared Polis (D) sets a deadline of June 1, 2022, to end the Indian-themed cartoons and costumed characters unless schools have a formal agreement with one of the 48 federally recognized tribes with ties to Colorado.

    Polis also apologized to the 48 tribe associated historically with CO and signed a law allowing any Indian with heritage to those tribes to receive in state tuition to any college.
    -Bloomberg Law

  37. Richard Schriever 2021-06-29 21:00

    Ryan – what “race” are the African moors and their Spaniard descendants? How about Arabs and Jews? Both Semites – Same “race” or different?

  38. Richard Schriever 2021-06-29 21:06

    Ryan – are Poodles a different “race” to Spaniels?

  39. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 21:13

    Well Dave, I’ll tell my wife who grew up in Hosmer and is definitely a German from Russia. They also spoke as much German as English in Hosmer for a looong time. We even have the book by Dr. William Bosch, the German-Russians, in words and pictures among more personable tracts.

  40. Richard Schriever 2021-06-29 21:16

    Arlo – one of the payers on that 1970 Coyote team was one of the first people to befriend me when I attended USD – Rodney Foster – 6’9″ and another 10″ of afro. Yes sir, a good day to be a ‘yote.

  41. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 21:28

    I don’t know about your wife’s family, Mark but Volga-Germans are a particularly stubborn and contrary bunch. They’re responsible for the cultural misgivings of SD, in general.
    Noem’s background is Volga-German and it’s obvious what a mean spirited soul she’d be, if she had one.

  42. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 21:30

    Well Porter, I do recall a Native American intermural team in North Dakota that called themselves something like the Fighting Norwegians. That seems to me the best way to fight, but I live immediately next to Venice, Florida and their charming name is a more generic Indians. What can you say? Its a state of Seminoles.

  43. Richard Schriever 2021-06-29 21:33

    Dave FN – “We like to think science can tell us truth. At best, it imposes a map on the territory, describing it.” A great example – the whole “Big Bang” -> an “expanding” universe notion. could just as well have been an IMplosion with all the parts and pieces of the universe shrinking away from each other at the speed of light. Measures are all relative.

  44. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 21:33

    Tell me. I was born in Seminole County, Florida.

  45. Mark Anderson 2021-06-29 21:53

    Dave, your long missive reminded me of a handout I used to give my students at the beginning of each semester, quite a few of the people you mentioned were in that handout. The fall was always the idea that their artwork wasn’t really their own to interpret. The students refused to believe it. It did open some eyes in differing ways, especially the raw and cooked, but after about five years I stopped, we had only undergraduates after all and more basic concerns were still more important at that level.

  46. Edwin Arndt 2021-06-29 22:42

    Ah, Porter, those dang germans, the most hard working, dedicated, persistent,
    persevering group you will ever find.

  47. Porter Lansing 2021-06-29 23:00

    Edwin. What the hell do you know about “hard workers”?

    You lived your life in NE South Dakota, surrounded by Germans, working with white people, and comparing your situation to what?

    Keep telling yourself that German Catholics aren’t what everyone in the world thinks they are, OK?

    There’s no reason for you to change. You ain’t goin’ nowhere, anyway.

  48. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-29 23:15 Julian Hall room mate in 1966 was Horace Robertson, a Coyote basketball recruit from “Bed-Sty” in Brooklyn, an infamous ghetto. He was a military vet, married, and trying his best to get ahead, having left his wife and child in Brooklyn. Cloddy recruited him from Staton Island Community College and he was sitting out a semester before he was eligible. It was a great learning experience for me.He took a civil service test over the summer and went to work for the post office in New York.I didn’t know Rod Foster but had Bill Hamer in a class taught by Dr. Alton Lee. It was a seminar and he was the sharpest guy in the class. South Dakota kids benefit greatly from the diversity they find in our colleges. Realizing its way too limited. Cloddy was responsible for a lot of the very limited diversity that existed at USD in the late 60’s.

  49. jerry 2021-06-30 01:37

    It’s all about the money man. NOem wouldn’t lift a finger, if she didn’t get paid to do it. “Tweet
    See new Tweets
    SD Democratic Party
    Kristi Noem says the deployment of our South Dakota National Guard to Texas “will be paid for by a private donation.” Kristi Noem has turned our military into mercenaries. It is morally wrong to deploy troops for political purposes using private funds.”

    All about the benjamins this is. Follow the money.

  50. leslie 2021-06-30 08:42

    Ryan’s writing is shocking to me. Not a victory, bud.

    “This is a narcissistic society where being right, getting your way and winning is more important than being moral and the greater good over the individual. I think you have to be a foreign national to understand the cultural difference in attitudes….It’s a cult. It’s brainwashing. The partisanship is pathological. I’ve said this my entire 30 years in the US. It was always leading here. My Canadian parents are 79 years old. They’ve wintered in FL. They can’t listen to Fox or conservative hate radio bc of the messaging/tone….Oct 6, 2019
    As an outside observer the disinformation messaging started with the loss of the fairness doctrine (Reagan) and Fox News.” Twtr

  51. Porter Lansing 2021-06-30 09:14

    As we approach America’s celebrations of interdependence it’s worthy to think of Black people and recognize the Fourth of July as what it means to them. They’re rarely anything but dependent to the systemic white supremacy imbedded in the procedures and processes that put a thumb down on every opportunity they are denied.
    Please listen now to Frederick Douglass’ speech read by James Earl Jones. “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?”

  52. Francis Schaffer 2021-06-30 11:11

    I was wondering about people over 7 ft tall?

  53. Edwin A Arndt 2021-06-30 12:41

    Gosh Porter, you’ve got it all wrong! I’m lutheran,
    and then there were the norwegian lutherans.
    Please do some studying.

  54. DaveFN 2021-06-30 16:05

    Mark Anderson

    Thank you for the memories. When I was a young professor I, too, harbored much hope. The scales fell from my eyes decades later when I realized the students wanted to game they system, as did many professors. I don’t believe this was cynicism having taught so long as is usually suggested, but rather a realistic assessment, at least in my particular institution.

  55. DaveFN 2021-06-30 16:16

    Richard Schriever

    I’m not qualified to address the big bang so will leave that to you.

    What captures my attention is the psychoanalytic turn of Lacan. It’s a form of anti-materialism with the paradox that language itself is considered the primary material “stuff” of the individual (Lacan addresses the clinic only but the implications of his ideas extend well beyond it) with our subjective physical world being the outcome. Really threw a monkey wrench into my little world of physicalism in which chemical matter is foundational, matter onto which biology is grafted and ultimately consciousness supervenes as some kind of outer layer. A kind of subjective/objective dialectic chicken/egg problem.

  56. Richard Schriever 2021-07-01 12:58

    Dave FN – yep, we are culturally conditioned to a certain set of perspectives – I.E., that outside in and not inside out is how our world and experience relationship is structured, that the universe’s basic elements are static in size and moving apart and so on. Start first with the reversal of outside in to inside out framing and Voila!! an entire alternate – or several – universes. Have you read P.D. Ouspensky – “Tertium Organum”, “A New Model of the Universe”, and so on? An early 20th century Russian philosopher. Took much the same approach to actually questioning EVERYTHING about our relationship to our own perceptive frame. Good stuff.

  57. DaveFN 2021-07-01 16:17

    Richard — I went through a phase of several occult writers long ago when trying to find my way (which I fortunately finally did, but not in anything occult) but remember virtually nothing of Blavatsky, Gurdjieff, or Ouspensky whom I read. My interests have narrowed down more into the Hegel/Marx area: Do our ideas give rise to our material conditions, or do the material conditions of our existence give rise to our ideas? Presumably that is at least remotely related to our perceptive frame.? The orientation of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and his tripartite structure of the Real, the Imaginary, and the Symbolic with regard to subjectivity is, perhaps, the transmogrification of and resting point my earlier interests in the occultists. (I studied with GIFRIC six years. )

Comments are closed.