Monday, December 10, 2007

Support the Writers' Strike + James Watson, Nobelist, Octaroon

I rarely am watching TV these days, save for The Amazing Race and Project Runway, but I do support the Writers Guild of America strike. If you support the writers, here's a great way (from Firedoglake) to demonstrate it: you can click on the link and let the producers of your favorite shows (or just all the shows, which would be even better) know that you want them to stop digging in and negotiate better terms with the writers. All the other staff people who're being laid off or fired will also appreciate the gesture. Ah, the Internets!
Support the Writers


One of the first stories I saw this morning made me fall out of my chair. But of course Nobel Laureate and confirmed sexist and racist boor James Watson's genome would reveal that, in fact, his ancestry contained more than 1/6th African heritage (16%), meaning that short of one Black great-grandparent, there was some mixing of various sorts along the line, and that he has 16 times more genetic material than "most people" of European descent (though I wonder if this changes for people from the Mediterranean, for example, or those many British descendents of the urban Blacks of the 16th-19th centuries, who were at least numerous enough that Elizabeth I called twice, I believe, for them to be expelled).

But then anyone who reads more than a little on how these texts works as well as a little US history knows that Watson isn't the only one with more direct African ancestry than he thinks. Adrian M. S. Piper made this point around two decades ago, even incorporating it into a performance piece that caused a stir. Let me be clear that I'm not suggesting that Watson is Black or anything of that sort, "one-drop" rule (which in any case has always been more complicated than it's popularly portrayed) be damned, just that it's about as fitting an irony as one could envision. Also of interest are the genetic risk percentages his genome shows.

Watson's offensive comments from earlier this year meet their match, however, in the ignorance-laden sewer of comments after the Times UK article, and are the kind of discourse that regularly turns up in comment sections, and which underlines that the vast majority of us are lot less intelligent than we might care to admit.


  1. Mainly, the only television I watch these days are Project Runway and Pushing up Daisies on ABC. The writers, I support them. I must!

    James Watson. I am still laughing at this. It is just funny to me. On another note, you touched on a subject that I have been thinking about here lately. The African presence in the U.K. is a strong one. It has been so since Roman times. Then, I look at all the African Diaspora and wonder. Hey, I love Afro Russian Pushkin (who had no heirs).

  2. I was thinking about Pauline Hopkins today, the preface to Contending Forces, where she speaks about the ennobling effects of white blood. In part because I was reading about my favorite racist of all time Gobineau (apparently, he was also Senghor's favorite racist--I'm not sure about the intellectual company I keep!).

    Anyhow, the point is Gobineau was, if unwittingly, Hopkins's source for the improving nature of white blood. Which is to say, to turn the issue on its head, we could argue, through Gobineau, that it's precisely the higher percentage of white blood in Watson that accounts for his genius, such as it is.

    This is, of course, purely in the spirit of playful speculation.

  3. Uhmmm?

    (Rubbing the eyes)


    (smacking of the lips)


    (More eye rubbing)

    Funny, I never thought that the well thought out charts of racial classification produced by the Spanish and French colonial administrations would creep into our 21st century world so readily.

    But maybe we should dust them off in light of the human genome project. The folly the language and representation present from the 1st Colonial Era (ie. the Americas) could be a fitting background for a discussion on equality and the cultures of the Americas.

    More later J.

    Got final projects due.