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[AstralCodexTen]Book Review: The Origins of Woke

I thought the Origins of Woke was a great book personally, although I shared a few of Scott's criticisms. Namely I thought it was a little weird how focused Hanania was on making sure workplaces be more conducive to finding sexual partners, and how much he cared about funding women's sports received. But overall I thought the book was great and captured a major causative factor of how Woke is so incredibly strong.

When people aren't allowed to acknowledge the flaws of Wokeness in the workplace or their employees will get sued, it creates an immense chilling effect. That's probably not the sole cause of wokeness, there are other factors like supporting impoverished minorities being a very convenient luxury belief to signal how much of a good person you are, but Hanania convinced me it was a major factor.

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There is no “true” set of races that “falls out naturally” from genetic or cultural data, but the US government’s system was especially fake and embarrassing. they declared Hispanics to be an “ethnicity” that you could have along with a different race.

I've heard stuff like this before, that Hispanic is a nonsense category. But I actually think it makes sense, at least as far as anything makes sense in the US legal/cultural system of race.

First, just to state the obvious: this wasn't ever intended to be a rigorous, comprehensive, scientific system. It's just a quick and dirty way to classify people, in a way that any average person on the street can see and more-or-less agree on. You don't want to make up dozens of separate specific categories because that quickly spirals into confusion.

Second, look at the history. Hispanics, in the US, come mostly from Latin America (not from Spain!). And Latin America was colonized long before the US, and much more brutally. One of the very first things Columbus did was to immediately start taking slaves! And on the other side, explorers such as Magellan's expedition were, um, not exactly celibate:

The crew also found they could purchase sexual favours from the local women. Historian Ian Cameron described the crew's time in Rio as "a saturnalia of feasting and lovemaking"

This quickly led to a situation where Latin America was a mix of white conquistadors, indigenous slaves, black slaves imported from Africa, and mixed-race offspring who had grown up there. Pretty soon the Spanish realized they needed some sort of classification system for who was going to be a slave, who was trustworthy enough to rule, and who was somewhere in-between. Eventually they came up with a rather byzantine system:

  • Español (fem. española), i.e. Spaniard – person of Spanish ancestry; a blanket term, subdivided into Peninsulares and Criollos
  • Peninsular – a person of Spanish descent born in Spain who later settled in the Americas;
  • Criollo (fem. criolla) – a person of Spanish descent born in the Americas;
  • Castizo (fem. castiza) – a person with primarily Spanish and some American Indian ancestry born into a mixed family.
  • Mestizo (fem. mestiza) – a person of extended mixed Spanish and American Indian ancestry;
  • Indio (fem. india) – a person of pure American Indian ancestry;
  • Pardo (fem. parda) – a person of mixed Spanish, Amerindian and African ancestry; sometimes a polite term for a black person;
  • Mulato (fem. mulata) – a person of mixed Spanish and African ancestry;
  • Zambo – a person of mixed African and American Indian ancestry;
  • Negro (fem. negra) – a person of African descent, primarily former enslaved Africans and their descendants.

Which made sense for their situation, but stops making sense once you abolish slavery and royal titles and all these people start to intermix with each other. So after a few hundred years of that, you end up with modern day Hispanic people. Some are mostly white, some are mostly black, some are mostly indigenous, but a lot of them are a roughly even mix of all three, to the point where it's an obvious group of its own. You still can't exactly call it a race- it's a mix of other races, and it's hard to tell where exactly is the border between Hispanics and one of the other races. But you can't just say "mixed-race" either, for something that's been so thoroughly mixed for hundreds of years. So they made up a new word, "ethnicity", and called it a day.

Of course all this is awkward to talk about in polite society, and most Americans don't really know the history of Latin America. In Mexico they call it La Raza which makes a lot more sense, but that sounds bad in English and the term hasn't made it here yet. So they decided to classify it on language, "are you from a Spanish-speaking area?" That's... weird, since it includes white people from Spain and excludes people from Brazil or Belize. But it works well enough for the US, where most Latin-American immigrants are from Spanish-speaking areas.

It's certainly not a perfect term, and I think we're moving towards changing it with weird postmodern terms like LatinX or Chicano, but it's good enough for 99% of situations to get the idea across. It's actually a lot less confusing than African (eliding the difference between North, West-sub-Saharan, and East-Sub-Saharan African) or Asian (it's a big continent lol) or white (are Arabs white?). It's also (like all racial data in the US) mostly self-reported. But I challenge you- find a person who self reports as "Hispanic," ask the average person to draw a sketch or select a picture, and see how well it matches. Most of the time, it's pretty close.

Chicano is hardly a postmodern term (it originated at least as early as the 1940s) and as far as I know it only covers Mexican Americans, so it wouldn't apply to a lot of Hispanics anyway.

That's true, it's technically an older term than Hispanic or Latino. Still, it feels more... uh, PC? As in, the only people I hear using it these days are extremely woke people. Plus like you said, it technically only covers Mexican-Americans. And it's just confusing- as a kid I thought it meant someone from Chicago.

It usually connotes inner-city and coastal city/suburb people of "low Hispanic" or Mestizo ethnicity. Albuquerque's Chicano populace has a culture more akin to that of Los Angelinos than the Hispanic / Latino people in the rest of New Mexico, for example.

On a sidenode which highlights the fuzziness of such groupings, I regularly joke, my wife's annoyance, that quebecers are latinos. If latinos "speak spanish in the americas", then you're omitting brazilians. If they "speak a latin language in central and south america" you're excluding mexicans. If it's "speaks a latin language in the americas" you include them both, but also quebecers.

Ultimately to get "latino" to mean exactly who everyone understands it to mean, you end up with a very artificial grouping.

What about just “speaks an Iberian language in the Americas?” Spanish and Portuguese are quite similar to each other (especially given the dialect continuum that exists in certain border regions) and share a clear common linguistic and cultural lineage that sets them apart from French.

And, interestingly, Brazilian Portuguese is much closer to the new world Spanish dialect continuum than European Portuguese and European Spanish, whereas new world French is kind of its own thing with little to do with either of them.

Sure, but they're called "latinos", not "iberinos" :p

Part of what makes it obviously artificial is that hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race, in the US census. So someone can be both hispanic and white, or hispanic and black, or even hispanic and Asian American Pacific Islander! And it was chosen like that because black activists didn't want to lose any influence from black spanish speakers choosing to identify as hispanic over black.

So someone can be both hispanic and white, or hispanic and black, or even hispanic and Asian American Pacific Islander!

So? You can also be white, black, and Asian all at once. They're not mutually exclusive categories.

You can't be all those things in the US census system. You can only choose one. It's only Hispanic that's a both ethnicity instead of a race.

That's why Hanania is calling it obviously artificial.

Edit: as /u/toakraka said, that's old news and they've updated the system to reflect less artificial categories. It's still somewhat arbitrary though.

Possibly worth noting is that Hispanic was upgraded to race status on the Census a month ago (along with Arab).

That makes way less sense than mestizo as a race.

Hispanic obviously means mestizo as a race. Which should be a racial category if we're going to have them. It's just the government is piss scared to engage in official racial phrenology in the modern day, so we get old calcified classifications from when everyone knew asians, whites, and blacks were a thing. I'm surprised they had the balls to change it.

I don't think as many people know this as should, but there used to be very few mestizos/hispanics in the USA. So few no one thought to count them in census regularly. By the time the "hispanic" category was cooked up there was already millions of racially ambiguous people living in the USA.

My church used to (through the 80's, in the preschool and elementary age classes only!) sing a song with the line, "Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."

These Boomer "phrenotypes" have been remixed by Millennials, with "Red" and half of "Yellow" being combined into Brown, and the rest of "Yellow" being merged into White.

I once read an old world-history book, published by the Christian publisher A Beka Book, that listed the races as white (Europe), black (Africa), red (America), yellow (East Asia), and brown (India and Oceania).

Some of that, plus "mestizo" just kinda sounds bad in modern-day English. It's like (that scene)[] from archer: "well what's the word for it? you freaked out when I said quadroon!"

I didn't realize there was an update, thanks for letting me know