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There are five races a man a black race the white race the red race the yellow race and the brown race. Mankind is one and divisible. You have only to look at them to see if they're different. There's no more difference in people because of the color of their skin than there is because of the color of their hair. Well there's never been a negro who accomplished anything that didn't have at least some white blood in him. Accomplishment is to a great extent a matter of opportunity. I don't care what you say. If there's a drop of negro blood in him he's a nigro. An argument that has been raging in this country for three hundred years or more. Listen as we try to resolve this argument as we continue discussing the last citizen. The last citizen the Negro in America a series of programs devoted to the extension of our knowledge of the largest minority group in the United States its problems and the problems it poses to all Americans. The last citizen is produced by Radio Station WBA university under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational
broadcasters. The discussions are the producer of the series E-W Rector and Dr. Louis Schneider professor of sociology at Purdue University. Today's program color and race. Here now is Mr. Richter. During the last few programs of our series we have discussed prejudice and the images of the negro in the United States a constantly recurring set of notions hinges on race concepts the backbone of much prejudice and the background of many of the images of the Negro which we discussed have been provided by racist theories. There is what you assume a distinct racial separation among groups of mankind and perhaps even more important and terms of our discussions. A negative evaluation of the nonwhite segment of our population. The term Negro itself appears to evoke an immediate image in the minds of many of us. Today we will attempt to answer two questions What is race and what
is unequal to assist us we have with us today Dr. Allonby Burdick Professor of Genetics at Purdue University as well as our regular doctor Lois Schneider. However before we turn to Dr. Burdick Let us first explore briefly the layman's idea of what a negro is. First of all as it exists in the United States and then as it exists in another American nation a large proportion of whose citizens are Negroes in the United States especially where thought is influenced by a Southern outlook a person is considered a negro if he has any African ancestry. This means that even if a man is mostly white in his genetic or biological heritage American convention will tend to mark him as a Negro. Well would it be safe to say that the term Negro as used in everyday conversation has a primarily social significance and does not represent scientific usage. Yes that would be very safe to exemplify the social character of the definition of the
term Negro. I'd like to turn to the person of color in Brazil where we find a very interesting situation in regard to race. But it wasn't the negro brought into Brazil under different circumstances than and in North America. Well he too was brought in as a slave to work the land. But the background of the relationship of the negro and the white was certainly different. For one thing there was the long experience of the people of the Iberian Peninsula Spain and Portugal with the Morris Congress the mourners were evidently dark skinned people who had achieved a high degree of civilization. Although I was conquerors the moors may have been disliked. Still the people of Portugal gained an inevitable respect for them and by that time the movers were driven out of the country. The memory of the person of color as a human being of high status and attainment. Rather than as a so-called savage remained with the porch again. Well this in direct contrast to the assumption of the English speaking population of North America
that color implies inferiority. Precisely it's worth reading also that Portugal was a small country which could not send many people of its own to the new colony of Brazil. Those who did become intermingled freely with persons of color mainly in Negros and Indians also Catholic priests encouraged marriage where interracial unions prevailed where the like of an antipathy to people of color and the early prevalence of unions with them. The ground was laid for a distinctively different view of the Negro from that prevailing in the United States. But do you mean to say that no color distinction exists today in Brazil. Brazilians do use terms referring to color such as Bronco Pardo and pro Bronco of course meaning white and Pardo and Prieto being roughly equivalent to our mulatto and dark. But we know from research done by such men as Donald Pearson that when Brazilians say Bronco or white they intend
such a term to refer primarily to the color appearance of a person. In other words no foreign supposedly racial discrimination of negro as we intended is intended by them. You mean that if a person looks white he is white and Brazil regardless of his ancestry. Yes that's the point exactly. No of course color does have an association with status or income and because historically the Negro in Brazil as elsewhere suffered under certain disadvantages some of which prevail until the present day. But the peculiar situation of the Negro in Brazil today despite variations is well indicated by the saying A rich Negro is a white minor and a poor white man is a negro. Well Thus it would seem that these terms no longer imply race in Brazil but rather the social economic level or social stratification. This is the case and now we come a little closer to the question that was raised a while ago about the definition of the term Negro. For the Brazilians the negro All-Pro
tends to be a person of color who appears to be also of low status. But let's get back to something you said a moment ago that was that a rich negro was white and a poor white as a Negro. Now this would seem to imply that no individual and his descendants are relegated in perpetuity to being either negro or white but that the classification depends solely upon achievement. I think you exaggerate somewhat color still is something of a handicap and things are not the same in all regions of Brazil. But the point is that sufficient achievement can in general greatly modify the force of law called a handicap. And the United States on the other hand once a Negro always a Negro at least in principle especially in southern Prince of well how about an example of this Brazilian principle of being able to rise above color. Why one investigator mentions that I asked Brazilian white girls if they would be interested in marrying men of color. Generally the girls responded negatively.
What if a question took the form how about Dr. Ro varroa doctor of a rela being what I say a famous professor of medicine whose skin was quite dark. Their response was immediately revised for all practical purposes then despite his color Dr. Vera because of his achievements was a white man. Yes all of which illustrates what social scientists sometimes call the Thomas Theorem which states that if men define a situation as real it is real in its consequences. Thoughts. It doesn't matter what all in one sense that many American Negroes are biologically seven eights on more than seven nights why they are still likely to be defined in the American society as Negroes and hence be treated accordingly. Many of the same people defined as Negro in our country would undoubtedly be defined as white Bronco in Brazil. Thus the question of who is a Negro in this way is on equivocally our social not on and depend soley on social definition.
Well this social definition of Negro definitely prevails that in the United States yes. As we pointed out the background of the early relationships of whites and negroes in Brazils was different and Brazil was different from ours. We start with a different set of images of the negro. Even today we are inclined to defy the negro. Not just in terms of skin color or in terms of other more or less easily perceptible physical attributes but in terms of the attributes that have nothing to do with biological characteristics. We are inclined to judge the Negro in terms of his behavior. We create a social situation in which many negroes are virtually forced to behave in ways which we judge negatively then attribute their behavior to their being negroes and from this in turn build a popular conception of negroes as all race. Well this brings us head on and to one of our two major questions for today what is race. Well you just mentioned the popular conception of race. A conception based on
observable differences not only physical but behavioral. Well what would you say was the scientific conception of race Well I would say that one love term is used with some scientific conscience. It should have reference to a biological grouping of human beings. Now in the kind of system of classification that biologists call taxonomy it happens that all living instances of mine would be classified as homo sapiens genus Homo species sapi. It's a number of the species classification you would find existing races of mankind if there are such things. I say if there are such things. Let me say a word in explanation. It's true. The term race is a vague one quite a vague one. One can speak of races one can speak of stocks breeds. One can use any number of such terms but in so far as we use the term race with any degree of scientific accuracy we should strictly mean by in a biological grouping.
There have been certain conventional classifications of racism and apologists a favorite one has been free fall negroid Caucasoid and mongoloid. This is usable for certain purposes. School books often still tell us that the races of mankind are white black yellow red and by Brown a classification of very doubtful value except perhaps for aesthetic purposes. I come back to the same thing. The essential matter here is that race is supposed to be and in strict usage is a biological grouping. Dr. Bernick Now we turn to you. Do you a geneticist have anything further to add to Dr. Schneider's comments or any disagreements. Well I can't offer any essential disagreement with what Lou Snyder has said and a race is very ill defined entity biologically For instance I can just as well talk about the race of people who live across the street from me. As I can talk about the race of people who live across the ocean from me if I wish and
choose to do so. A race generally speaking is a concept that relates to two groups that are less different than species are species or groups that have some biological stature. There are usually groups that are not freely in or breeding and that are distinguishable morphologically and Sarah logically and by other criterion but races are not so easy to distinguish soundly on biological ground while leaving this for a moment let us accept that there are differences visible differences between various groups of people around the world. How did these differences come about. If we say that we're all of one species This would indicate to my mind at least common ancestry is this true. Well yes I think so on. In fact I'm sure we could all if we could trace our ancestry back to a common source. The picture of this is not exactly clear but I can tell you something that approaches what the true picture might be. Perhaps as many as
50000 years before the birth of Christ there was an entity on earth which could have been called Homo Sapiens which could have been called man. So let us say that man began being distinguishable biologically about 50000 years ago. This took place thought out someplace in the Middle East in the Fertile Crescent. From this population men of primitive men there evolved subgroups as a result of certain migrations migrations to Mongolia and to Europe and to Africa and hence to Australia and from Mongolia to the American continents. Now these groups and these sub groups of man became distinguishable one from another as a result of the accumulation of different genetic conditions that happen to exist in the original population. I can't call these groups distinct races on at the present time
but I can conceive of a time when many thousand years ago when they were for example after the mongoloids had been separated from the negroids in Africa for a period of twenty five thousand years these groups probably could have been distinguished relatively easily as fairly distinct biological entities. I mean that initially there was no distinction between these two groups but that geographic do a graphical separation over a long period of time climate and so forth might result in differences. Yes natural selection natural selection acted in different ways in Mongolia than it did in the tropical forests of Africa for instance and was responsible for selecting different genome types that is different bio types in Mongolia than it selected in Africa. So at one time I think these may have been relatively clearly this think three different racial groups. Beyond this
however if we take the period from say 15000 years before the birth of Christ until now the predominant force in human development and evolution has been a mixing of these previously isolated geographical groups racial mixing If you wish so that the present time it's much more difficult than it probably was at some distant past time to distinguish mongoloids from Caucasoids. Absolutely. Hard to distinguish negroids from all other groups. I mean that there has been a shifting of population here and there and of course among these groups which has led to mating mixed offspring and so forth. And then in other words you go as far as to say that there is no such thing as a pure racial strain anymore. Yes I would. The forces of migration the mixing of races go on concomitantly with the forces of differentiation and separation of races. There are both influences exist at the present time and always have existed.
For instance you can see the effect in Scandinavians of the Mongoloid influence. There is a characteristic of Mongolians that almost distinguished them distinguishes them from all others to a lot of people anyway. And this is the Mongoloid fold of the eyelid that is where the eyelid falls and touches the eyelash. There's a fold in the eyelid. Well the genetic system that controls this also exists at the present time and Scandinavians approximately 20 to 25 percent of all Scandinavians have this mongoloid fold. Other groups in Europe also have it to a lesser extent. They have none of the other attributes of the Mongolian group but they do have this attesting to some admixture of genes from the Mongolian group. We can see instances all over Europe and throughout the rest of the world for instance for the American Negro It has been fairly reliably stated that fewer than 10
percent of American Negroes can trace their ancestry exclusively to African sources. Contemporary American Negroes are the result of a certain amount of white and Indian and other mixtures. Well thus far we've discovered that the term race itself is a relatively big one used to describe genetic and biological differences between groups of people. Let's be specific now. Talk about it Would you like to give us your idea of what constitutes a negro. Well no I would not. But if I'm asked to do so and I can say it loosely the Negro is one of blacks Kim whose background goes back to some connection with slavery in the United States. But if you would you would tack on the criterion of black skin. Yes. They're almost all dark skinned African Negro. Now could you distinguish negroes from whites genetically genetically. Well if you give me enough criteria for instance blood group criteria
and various other biological criteria good sound genetic criteria I think I can distinguish in perhaps 75 percent of the cases a negro from a Caucasian I can always be completely accurate. I can't do it with more than 75 percent reliability I would say. But I think it can be shown that there are there is a general spectrum let us say of genetic conditions in the Negro somewhat different than it is in the in the white person. Well would you like to describe some of these differences. The negro has a fairly high frequency of sickle cell anemia which is a genetic condition which has to do with properties of the blood. He has a fairly low percentage compared with whites of RH negative genes. He has an astonishingly high frequency of r h o o genes. It's frequency for the M blood type is slightly higher than it is for the white it's frequency for instance of AB blood types is about three times that of white people
is less likely to be genetically colorblind than a white man is. And I could go on down a list list such as this show that actual differences can be ascribed to these two ethnic groups. So as I understand it you would contend that there are differences when you make a kind of empirical starting point. You distinguish certain people whose skin pigmentation let's say is Rav a dog of him that of all of us you find further that when you examine the genetic traits of these people you do get these empirical associations. And that is the meaning of saying that Negroes differ from whites in certain respects. Let me make the point that I cannot distinguish negroes on the basis of skin color alone because there are many other groups in the world that are not negroes that have almost precisely the same skin coloration. What would you like to identify these groups for as the Melanesians and the Polynesians and the Auster Loyd and Aborigines for instance all have the same skin pigmentation and
sometimes they're darker than negroes. Many Indians Asian Indians have almost precisely the same skin pigmentation. Yet they're not by any means negroes. Well we've discovered that it is possible for the scientists to distinguish between groups of people from whom we might loosely call races on the basis of genetic biological differences. The scientist describes the negro as a biological entity. But Dr. Burdick would these differences lend any validity to the belief that one race is in any way superior or inferior to another. None whatsoever. Now we can look at the Negro in this sense. For instance undoubtedly the white man and the negro both descended from. Ape like. Well mind you I didn't say ape but an ape like. Let us say they both descended from both men and apes descended from a common ancestor. This ancestor chances are had thin lips.
Therefore the negro with his thick lips represents a more advanced type of evolution than the white man does. Furthermore this ape like creature no doubt had hair all over his body and the hairy white man therefore represents a less advanced stage of evolution than the Negro who has very little hair on his body. So in looking at it in this way we can actually make I can actually make my story that the Negro is more advanced evolutionarily than the white man is. However I could do the same thing on the other side I could describe certain characteristics of the white man that are seemingly more advanced at least far more removed from ape like characteristics than those possessed by the negro. My point is simply this that in talking about more advanced and more primitive types of people we're not talking about biologically more advanced or biologically more primitive people the more advanced notice or less advanced. This
has to do with cultural status of the people about whom we're talking. Well in our last program we touched briefly on the matter of intelligence whether or not intelligence tests are accurate and really measure intelligence and whether there is such a thing as a difference in the intelligence say of a white American in a dark skinned American are Negro. What would you as a geneticists say about this Dr. Burdick. Well I'd like to say this. If we take a group of American Negroes in a group of American whites and put them in the same room and give them an intelligence test we'll find in fact a difference in their performance on this intelligence test. However when we attempt to attribute this difference to environmental or experiential causes and to innate or genetic causes we're incapable of doing this. That is just because one group scores less than him in an intelligence test on another group does does not entitle us to say that this group has less genetic and intellectual ability than the other.
Because intelligence is remarkably modified by the environment. For instance we can take two entities that are genetically identical namely genetical identical twins. And if we rear these twins apart under different conditions and at some time later examine them for their so-called innate intelligence. Will find that the test tells us that their innate intelligence is quite different when at the same time we know that their genetic make up is identical. Their performance on this test results actually in their giving the picture that they are different. I'm not offering this as an indictment of intelligence tests as such. I think they're very good and very useful things they do measure in fact. What sort of intellectual activity a person can perform. But they don't by any means measure genetical intelligence as such are inherent to inherent differences and intelligence as such.
But would you say that if you took a mean of each group you might find a difference. Well if I make the supposition that I have a test that will measure genetic differences in intelligence. Now this is purely a hypothetical situation because I have no such test. But if I had such a test and I am in the group of negroes and a group of whites. I have no doubt whatsoever that since their genetic background is quite different. But these groups would show a difference in mean intelligence. I'm not sure however which group would have the higher intelligence. There is no indication as far as I know that would indicate which group has the greater intelligence. Well now where does all this lead us we we've been talking about race for quite a few minutes now we've we've discovered first of all that race can be defined in two ways. We can define it socially in terms of what people at large who are not scientists would call a race the general American idea of what a negro is falls under this definition. The
social definition if you wish. We have another definition which is scientific and based on biological differences between groups of people. Furthermore we have discovered that there are differences between groups of people biological differences but that these differences do not necessarily imply a biological inferiority or superiority for any one of group. And examining the question of race in terms of intelligence for example or in terms of behavioral patterns we've been unable to find any solid ground in which to base an assumption of inferiority or superiority of any group of human beings. I have I summarized as accurately documented. Yes I think so or you're talking about the biological potential of these groups and not what they are in fact negroes are in fact brought up under different circumstances than whites in the South for instance. And when we go to measure intelligence of negroes in the
south and white people in the South we do come up with distinct differences in their intellectual capacity presumably. But this my point simply has been that this difference is a difference that may be almost entirely ascribable or attributable to the environment and not to or auditory differences in the groups. Well Lou would you have anything to add. Yes there are some contemporary Hunter apologists and sociologists who with an understandable but misguided enthusiasm claim that there are no differences among races there are differences of cause. It would be denying the plain evidence of one's eyes for instance to say that Negroes have the same skin pigmentation as whites. But one of the differences extend to native hereditary variations in intelligence are the factors that underlie it I simply don't know. Dr. Bird of things they may well exist I won't even venture
that far. And that's for the people who continue to mull over and rearrange intelligence test results for Negroes and whites without seeking to belittle their endeavors I'm convinced they remain as ignorant as I am. Well thank you Joe Schneider and thank you Dr. Birdie. Our guest today has been Dr. Allonby Burdick Professor of Genetics at Purdue University and Dr. Louis Schneider a professor of sociology at Purdue. Before we leave let us give the last word to Reverend William Borders minister to the largest negro congregation in Atlanta Georgia. If the white man is superior as some of them plain he need not. I get that he need not broadcast that to the INS today. Let him prove it by what he does by the quality of his life by his achievements by his willingness to help others by way by actual concrete implementation of his
Sapir I a day rather than by verbal statement. Now Roth. Will. Go and. You have been listening to Dr. Lewis. Night Mesereau sociology at Purdue University and the program producer director W. Rick they discussed that of this program was produced on recorded by WB with a university under a grant from the Educational Television Radio. And if they got commuted by the National Association of educational broadcast. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Last citizen
Color and race
Producing Organization
Purdue University
WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program explores issues of race and skin color and their importance in the United States.
Series Description
A series of programs devoted to exploring the problems facing African-Americans and how these issues impact all Americans.
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Social Issues
Human skin color--Social aspects--United States.
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Guest: Burdick, Allan B.
Host: Schneider, Louis
Producer: Richter, E.W.
Producing Organization: Purdue University
Producing Organization: WBAA (Radio station : West Lafayette, Ind.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-50-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:13
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Chicago: “Last citizen; Color and race,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Last citizen; Color and race.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Last citizen; Color and race. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from