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Terms in this set (34)

"Mixed Blood"
The American concept of race does not correspond to the ways physical appearance varies. The racial classification scheme is a social construct. All that exists is variability in what people look like-the arbitrary and culturally specific ways different societies classify that variability. There is more variability within one's race than between races.Skin color is the most salient feature thought by Americans to be an indicator of race, however race is subject to rapid evolutionary change.
Folk taxonomies: the ways people classify, in every culture, things along culture-specific dimensions of meaning
Hypodescent: "blood," a folk term for the quality presumed to be carried by members of so-called races. (includes the way offspring regardless of their physical appearance inherit the less prestigious racial category of mixed percentage)
Hypo-descent is informative about ancestry-specifically parental classification rather than physical appearance.
The Brazilian folk taxonomy is based off of a series of physical features, descriptives terms, in part reflecting regional differences (many different categories). The American system tells you about how people's parents are classified but not what they look like. The Brazilian system tells you what people look like and excludes any information about their parents. In both cases, the physical appearance remains the same, but the way in which they are classified is different.
It is important to understand that different cultures have different folk taxonomies and that thinking in terms of physical appearance helps to clarify the overall confused topic of race.
Elizabeth Fernea
"Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village" is a fascinating memoir written by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea of the two years she spent in an Iraq village in the 1950s with her husband Bob, who was conducting research for his doctorate. During this time, she and her husband lived in a mud house in a conservative Shiite sect where women were heavily veiled and lived "behind walls" in seclusion, not meeting or mixing with men. In beginning this adventure, the newly married Fernea had limited knowledge of Iraq, its religion or culture, but over her two year journey, she came to learn both about this foreign country and about herself.

Living in Iraq, Fernea was able to learn about the complex rituals and customs that dominate rural life and which are so different from the U.S. At first, she refuses to hide herself in the "all-enveloping" abayah, but almost immediately realizes her mistake when she is treated like an alien from another planet. Not only does she wear the abayah, but she also agrees to live like an Iraqi woman, living behind walls and not mixing with men other than her husband. In one scene, highlighting the difference between cultures, Fernea is very excited when two American friends of Bob's are stopping by their house, so she can speak English, play cards, drink beer, and have a good time. However, on an "errand of mercy," her female friends stop by, thinking she will be lonely all by herself, as it never even occurs to them that their American friend would mix with strange men who are not relatives. Fernea is about to shoo the women away but then realizes she can't disillusion them and ruin her carefully maintained image in the community. Throughout her stay, Fernea shows "restrained conduct," knowing, if she does not wear the abaya, or if she sits with the "strange" men and plays cards, or if she mixes with other men in the village - basically if she lives as an American woman - she will be seen as promiscuous and an embarrassment to the sheik, because the Iraqi village does not understand Western culture. On the other hand, Fernea realizes that her Western friends also would never understand the women in the village - that they are not forced against their will to live lives of submission, but are happy and content in their own lives and actually feel sorry for Fernea because she does not have the advantages they do - "[n:]o mother, no children, no long hair, thin as a rail, can't cook rice, and not even any gold." Fernea thinks of herself as well-off compared to the village women, but they see her as a poor, pathetic figure, the two cultures both valuing different things. While Fernea wonders how long it would take "before the two worlds began to understand each other's attitudes toward women," through her own experiences, her attitudes toward Iraq are changed and she does come to learn about and appreciate their culture.

But more importantly, through her two-year stay in the Iraqi village, Fernea learns not just about Iraqi culture but also about herself. At first, Fernea is very unhappy to be in the Iraqi village, resentful toward her husband and counting down the days until their two years in the village are over. She wonders why she should be forced to wear the abayah, "a servile garment," since it is not her custom and she doesn't care what the "illiterate tribal women" think of her. The village women initially shun her, thinking she is "deaf and dumb" because she doesn't know the language well enough to participate in their conversations she just smiles vacantly at whatever they say. Fernea is deeply hurt when the women mock her cooking and think she is lazy, and she struggles to find "some common humanity between us" despite their differences. Although it is a mysterious process, eventually the women do take her in, particularly Laila who adopts her as a "friend"" a relationship in rural Iraq which is much more intense and important than even the relationship between wives and husbands. Fernea goes to religious ceremonies, such as krayas, with the women, joins in their conversations, and even makes a pilgrimage to Karbala. When the two years is up, she sits in her kitchen and wonders "about the changes in me," dreading the thought of leaving the village, as her life has "slowly but surely been intertwined with the lives of my women friends." When her taxi comes to take her away, one of the women breaks down in tears, and so does Fernia, "passing from one abaya-clad figure to another in a welter of embraces and tears" as her husband looks on with a shocked expression. Clearly, her two years have changed Fernea, as she learns more about herself and her own abilities through the relationships she builds with her female friends.

In beginning her adventure, the newly married Fernea did not know much about Iraq, but in the end she not only gained knowledge of its culture but became an intertwined part of it. If a Hollywood movie were made of Fernea's time in Iraq, the plot would probably show her changing the Iraqi women and them learning from her, but the truth is that Fernea wa the one who learned from her Iraqi friends and in the end she was the one who changed for the experience. In her memoir, written over 40 years ago, she wondered if the two cultures would ever come to understand each other, and sadly we seem to be even further apart now than when her book was written. A particularly striking example of this happened during last year's presidential election, when, at a rally, one of John McCain's supporters said she didn't trust Barack Obama because he was a "Muslim," and Senator McCain replied, "No, he's a good person," implying somehow that Muslims aren't good people. The best part of "Guests of the Sheik" is that Fernea never makes any judgments; she just reports what happens to her, and through her experiences, we can see no culture is better than the other. Yes, they are different, but there is a common humanity we all share.
The intermingling of Native Americans and African Americans combined two diverse worlds into a new mixed race of people who have courageously withstood attempts to erase their unique twin cultural heritage despite the efforts of both black and Indian movements as well as the dominant white society.
Indians were stereotyped-they had to look a certain way (if they looked Black, then they were classified as Black). "It all boils down to the color of your skin."
Blood vs. Culture = 1 drop of Black blood meant that you were Black, but in order to be Native American you had to have a lot of Native American blood
Europeans were afraid of the alliance that could have been maintained between African Americans and Native Americans (placed Blacks in in militia against Natives)
However, African Americans became the eyes and ears for the Native Americans, protecting them by sharing information on the English society.
Pencil Genocide: those interviewed in the film talk of the "erasing of ancestors" that took place when the government singularly designated grandparents or parents as black, Indian, or white (altering documents without anyone knowing)
It is hard to get rid of one's self hate on internalized racial oppression.
African American Indians had to classify themselves as Black, but now they are able to proclaim their native ancestry. It has actually became popular to claim oneself as Native American. "It teaches an invaluable lesson in the value of ethnic pride and it pays beautiful tribute to brave Americans who kept alive their heritage in the face of unparalleled circumstances."