Friday, February 23, 2007

Race relations

To get over a broken heart, I joined the Navy as a young man. That's when I learned there were black people. Growing up in Lubbock, I'm sure I had seen black people but it's doubtful we ever talked. Or even acknowledged each other.

Romeo Parker was a tall black guy standing next in line to me at the urinals where the Navy ordered all recruits to pee in a cup. "Hold your cup up," Romeo said. I did.

"Hmmm," Romeo observed as he held his flask in the sunlight next to mine. "Not that much difference between black people and whites."

And that, friends, gets race relations down to basics.

A few days later, Romeo would save me from a serious ass whipping threatened by a giant from New Jersey, but that's another story.

That was nearly fifty years ago but I still remember the clarity of Romeo's statement. There's not that much difference. Not biological, anyway.

Over the years, I came up with the theory that skin color had more to do with where you lived than who your momma was. I'm talking long term. Over thousands of years, skin tone was etched by how close your ancestors lived to the equator where they needed darker skin to protect from the sun's blaze. The further from the equator, the lighter the skin. That's how we got Norwegians.

Damned if some scientists and PhD types didn't come up with the same theory a few years ago.

I like it. That explains everybody but the Eskimos!


1 comment:

ArchGrafiX said...

Ah, but George, I think the light/dark-skinned geographic theory explains the Eskimo, also. I'm guessing beyond the wizened dark face of an adult is a very fair body skin, which almost never sees sunlight. The face does see direct, and also a lot of reflected, sunlight, so it is protected by more pigment.

In a related realm, I've always wondered why the dark skin of near-equatorial peoples -- and some other animals -- doesn't bake them, because dark absorbs heat while light surfaces reflect it.

If equatorial humans didn't invent the umbrella or similar shade device, they missed a good bet.

-- Buddy Lerch

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