Some more notes on how I use common terms

Here are some more terms I use. As before, I may use the conventional definition and I’ll outline when I don’t.

 

Negroid*: named after Negro, Spanish for black. More commonly known nowadays as Congoid, derived from Congo. Such people have mesocephalic heads (heads that are of medium width & length), wide nasal apertures (nostril bones), & fairly prominent and undulating (wavy) browridges. Often accompanied with an upper jaw that overlaps the lower jaw (overbite), and prognathism (jaws that project forward). The soft tissues often consist of  full lips, dark to extremely dark skin, blunt noses &/or tightly curled or woolly hair. This craniofacial type is often considered typical of “proper Africans”/ “true Negroes”, completely ignoring that many indigenous African groups don’t represent this type.

 

Mexican Olmec head

 

Two guys from trailer of Nollywood’s Phone Swap

 

Gorgeous Muslim sister from Darfur, Sudan

Caucasoid*: named after Caucasian, people who inhabit the Caucasus mountains. Also called Europid and Europoid (both from Europe), and more inaccurately Caucasian. Such people are those with dolichocephalic heads (heads that are narrow & long), narrow nasal apertures, prominent browridges & receded zygomas (cheekbones). The soft tissues often consist of thin lips, light to pale skin, straight or wavy hair (though curly is not excluded) &/or long narrow pointed noses.

Note that light to pale skin is not always applied to Caucasoids like north Africans, Middle Easterners and “not-true-Negro” Africans. This is deliberate, to falsely include their ancient civilisations in general ‘white’ history because thanks to the high-flying antics of US censuses most people think Caucasoid, Caucasian & ‘white’ are the same thing. THEY ARE NOT.

 

Caucasoid type from Pakistan 

 

Fulani man, ideal example of non-Negroid type African

  

Archetypal ‘white’ woman showing pride in her “Aryan” roots

 

Dr Mostafa Hefny: because he’s Egyptian USA classifies him as ‘white’!  

 Mongoloid*: named after Mongol. Such people are characterised by brachycephalic heads (heads that are wide & short), prominent zygomas which combined with the short skull gives a characteristic flattish face, small nasal apertures & absent browridges. The soft tissues often consist of skin ranging between medium and pale, pin-straight hair &/or epicanthic eyefolds (commonly known as single eyelids).

 

Kalmuck Mongoloid type from Russia

Native American woman

 Australoid*: originally called Australioid, named after Australia and used in specific reference to Aborigines. Such people are those with dolichocephalic heads, prominent browridges (even more than Caucasoids), & large jaws. The soft tissues often consist of dark to extremely dark skin &/or wavy hair (but can be straight, curly or even woolly). Although Australian Aborigines are the namesake, this term also encompasses Sri Lankan Veddahs (from whom came the related word Veddoid), Andamanese islanders & many Indian Adivasi groups. This makes Australoid probably the worst-defined of the terms, and seems to encompass features from Negroids, Caucasoids & Mongoloids. From what I can tell Austronesian is similar to, if not the same as, Australoid but possibly with more visible Mongoloid features.

 

Veddoid type Adivasi (possibly Gondi) women

Veddah man from Sri Lanka

 

Australian Aboriginal children

Capoid*: named after Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. It used to be considered a subgroup of Negroid/ Congoid, now it’s considered separate. Pretty much synonymous with the term Khoisanid; as the Khoisans most typically depict this type, it’s basically a form between Negroid & Mongoloid. But remember, they’re NOT ‘mixed race’, they are of completely indigenous African ancestry so it’s most likely that Mongoloids descended from them (though the Chinese government would be sickened at such an assertion).

 

Khoikhoi boy

 

San woman

Admittedly I find these terms somewhat useful, only insofar as they are often clearly identifiable (note: often, not always, not even necessarily usually). I only find them useful to describe skull & facial bone structures, because it’s in the outer soft tissues that the categories are more fluid and thus prove useless.

However, I don’t like them mainly because their historical purpose was to divide humans into supposedly distinct races. Even today they’re still used as such. Just their etymologies (arguably except Capoid) are based on simplistic outdated assumptions about humans. It totally ignores that all these types and their constituent features exist among all so-called ‘races’ (contrary to what race realists & similar people would have you believe). Furthermore, these features exist along a God-only-knows-how-long continuum of possibilities, and some features even change over time (eg. head shape can change within just ONE generation). 

Then there’s the genetics, at which point the categories become totally stupid. Genetically we are all almost completely identical – the genes that account for the different racial phenotypes only total ~0.01% of the whole human genome! See Cavalli-Sforza’s work for more detail, he’s a population geneticist.

Not to mention they’re so raatid pointless sociologically. Why does it matter if someone has an underbite or overbite, or a narrow or wide nasal bridge, or double or single eyelids? How does that matter when we reach the grave?

 

Anders Retzius, Swedish anatomist who  first  proposed and defined the cephalic index (measuring skull width & length)

 ethnic: I don’t tend to use the term at all because it’s so generic and literally applies to everyone. It came from Greek ethnoi, a direct translation of the Hebrew goyim (Gentiles/ the nations). It used to mean everyone who wasn’t Jewish or Christian, now it’s used as a synonym for non-‘white’. And that’s where the problem lies, because ethnicity (as in the ‘racial’ term) refers to absolutely every human on Earth. There’s no person who’s not ethnic! The way it’s used nowadays is even worse than exotic!

Aryan: Nowadays there’s a section of ‘white’ Europeans (eg. race realists, neo-Nazis, ‘white’ supremacists, etc) who call themselves Aryans, derived from Hitler’s understanding of the Master Race. Hitler assumed modern-day ‘white’ Europeans are the pure descendants of Aryans. This is wrong.

In reality Aryans are the light & pale-skinned Persians (Iranians) who invaded south Asia about 3000 years ago, though they were spreading to the southern parts of Europe since about 10,000 years ago. The word comes from Sanskrit ārya/ āria (meaning noble) and referred to the followers of Vedic culture & religion. Mind you, that’s just the Indian-derived understanding; in Iran (where it was airya) it was an ethnic self-identification. Even the name Iran itself means “land of the Aryans”.

Just to be clear:

NOT Aryans

 

NOT Aryans

 

NOT Aryan

 

NOT Aryans

 

Aryan

 

Aryan (Kalasha Pakistani)

 

Aryan

 

Aryans

 

Aryans

TAST: my acronym for the trans-Atlantic slave trade, starting in the 16th century and ending in the 20th. Some claim it’s ancient history and we (‘black’ people) need to get over it. It ended in this part of the world less than 200 years ago, and in world history that’s a MINISCULE amount of time. And other countries, though not practising it on anywhere near the same scale, still do it and possess the same attitude as the original European slavers.

 

Frocarib: my shorthand for Afro-Caribbean, because Afro-Caribbean is too long to type out all the time. A subsection of the global diasporic descendants of the enslaved Africans, dumped on the islands just under the USA. Many Africans still in the homeland don’t know about us, and many of those who do don’t care. As far as they’re concerned, we were the slaves not them. Why should they do anything for us (a fair point considering how screwed over they were in the process)?

 

Haitian-born actor Jimmy Jean-Louis

Crowd showing pride in their Bajan (Barbadian) roots

Afro-American: synonymous with African-American or ‘black’ American, also diasporic descendants of the Africans enslaved in the TAST who were dumped in the USA.

 

Euro-American: ‘White’ Americans like to call themselves just Americans, or even true blue Americans, as if they were never anything else. ALL of them are descendants of Europeans, either those who invaded America in the 16th-18th centuries (including the Pilgrims) & began the TAST or the later migrants who were given preferential treatment by the invaders just for being ‘white’.

 

Sasian: my shorthand for south Asian, eg. Bengalis, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, etc.

 

Bangladeshi woman & man

 

Men in Pakistan

Easian: my shorthand for east Asian, eg. Japanese, Tibetan, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.

 

Tibetan family

 

Women in (north) Korean army. What the raas kind of march is that?

Wafrican: my shorthand for west African, eg. Nigerians, Ghanaians, Malians, Gambians, etc.

 

Schoolchildren using computers in Sierra Leone. Yes, Africa has schools & electronic items

 

Women in Kotu, Gambia. Whoa, they’re hot!!! LOL

 Nafrican: my shorthand for north African, eg. Moroccans, Algerians, Libyans, Egyptians, etc.

 

Amazigh women & girls (yes, all of them)

 

Stela of Henut, 13th dynasty ancient Egypt. Pic from Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, Scotland

 

(I trust you’ve realised by now that my shorthands are pretty much just the first letter of a cardinal direction + a continent. Really handy when all the continents begin with vowels)

 As and when I come up with more terms I’ll either add them here or make a separate page.

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Winter Epiphany

This is one of my short stories. It was entered into the Brit Writers Awards monthly competition back in January. Needless to say it didn’t win so I’m recording it here for viewing. I hope to be doing many more of my short stories & poems on video.
To be honest I’m not totally happy with the recording, I want to redo it. If anyone has any useful tips for improving it, let me know. Oh, and rate up if you like!

Indigenous Africans

Indigenous Africans are members of the human species that never left the continent nowadays known as Africa. According to the Out-of-Africa theory (which says the 1st humans came about in Africa and different groups of them left to inhabit different landmasses over thousands of years), indigenous Africans are the most genetically diverse of all human groups. This means that despite the existence of different skin colours, hair textures, eye colours and the like in other parts of the world, they still possess more genetic diversity than everywhere else.

(However, it’s interesting to note that despite this, humans are one of the least genetically diverse organisms on the planet. There’s more diversity among a single troop of chimpanzees than in all 6.8billion humans alive today, including Africans! Furthermore, contrary to common logic, there is more genetic diversity between humans of the same ethnic group [eg. 2 Hadzabe] than between members of different ethnic groups [eg. 1 Hadza & 1 Lapp]!)

Zulu men of South Africa, examples of what are typically thought of as “true Africans/ Negroes”

Most people think they know what a “proper African” looks like: extremely dark blackish-brown skin, thick lips, wide-set nostrils and kinky hair. However, this idea is based on racist propaganda promulgated from the days of the TAST. Not the fact that such people exist, but the belief that those are the only true Africans is racist. What European slavers did back then was find those Africans who looked most different to themselves and dub them “true Africans/ Negroes”. Any African who possessed features that more closely resembled what they considered typical European was considered mixed (and by extension superior to “true Negroes”). This explains why Somalis for example are to this day considered Arab or mixed with Arab, despite the fact that most Somalis have no non-African admixture and will tell you so. This is also partially why the Kemetics (ancient Egyptians) are believed to be ‘white’, despite the fact that they drew themselves with dark red-brown skin and said they originated from Punt, which equates to the Horn of Africa – ie. the extreme East side of “sub-Saharan” Africa* (Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia & Eritrea).

In fact, in many cases you can very clearly see the differences between different African groups. And there are different groups. Note – some of these terms more accurately refer to linguistic groups, but pre-TAST it was usually the case that languages followed specific ethnicities:

AFRO-ASIATICS: Originally from East Africa (especially the Horn), they now inhabit much of the Middle East & North Africa too. It’s believed that their homeland is where the very first OOA migrants came, thus making them the ancestors of all non-African humans. This group includes the Kemetics (ancient Egyptians), original Arabs (more on this later), Afar (aka. Danakil), Somalis, Hausa, Berbers (which includes Tuaregs, Kabyles & Moors), Harla (aka. Harala), Hamer (aka. Hamar), and Beja.

Rageh Omaar, Somali-British journalist
Ethiopian Hamer girl
Djiboutian women doing raks-al-sayf, traditional sword dance
Imuhagh (Tuareg) girl with decidedly non-afro hair

NILOTES: Their language group, Nilotic, is a huge subgroup of the Nilo-Saharan language group. They mostly inhabit the Nile Valley in the Northeast, the African Great Lakes region in the East, and southwestern Ethiopia. They include the Maasai, Turkana, Luo, Samburu, Nuer, Dinka and Shilluk (aka. Chollo). Out of all Africans, these & the Niger-Congo people are the closest in looks to the “true Negro”.

Salva Kiir Mayardit, 1st President of south Sudan
Sudanese model Angelique Deng. Personally I find her more attractive than Alek Wek

NIGER-CONGO PEOPLE: This group is split into two main subgroups – Niger-Congo A & Niger-Congo B (aka. Bantu). Most modern Africans all over the continent speak a language in this group, because of the Bantu Expansion when Bantu-speaking people spread across the continent from what’s now the southwestern border between Cameroon & Nigeria. This expansion is believed to have begun in 1000BC. In this group are the Wolof/ Jollof, amaZulu, Akan (which includes Asante/ Ashanti, Akuapem, Fante & others), Bakongo (aka. Congolese), Ndi-Igbo, Yorubas, Bubi, Fulani (aka. Fula or Fulbe), Makua, Kikuyu, Shona, NguniManden (which includes the Vai, Soninke, Dyula & Mandinka) and WaSwahili (despite their close cultural & linguistic ties with Arabs). Out of all Africans, these & the Nilotes are the closest in looks to the “true Negro”.

Benin-born actor Djimon Hounsou
Woman of the Bororo people, a subgroup of Fulani
Tutsi man. Note:  there’s disagreement as to whether Tutsis are Bantus or Nilotes. I classify them as Bantu
Gorgeous Ghanaian model Teiko Dornor

Note there are Bantu languages spoken outside mainland Africa too: on the islands of Madagascar, Mayotte & the Comoros (off the Swahili coast, southeast Africa). These languages include the Comorian and Sabaki groups.

KHOISANS: Originating from East & Southern Africa, they now reside mostly in the South & Southwest. Their languages are famous for the click sounds. This group name is a fusion of 2 related groups, the pastoral Khoikhoi (used to be called Hottentots but this is now offensive) & the hunter-gatherer San (aka. Bushmen, also offensive). Nowadays they’re said to be the oldest human group, but that’s assuming better preservation of lineages (which they have) = greatest genetic diversity (which they might have) = genetically oldest, which has not been proven yet. Because of their eastern origins, it’s likely they also contributed to the gene pool of the first OOA migrants along with the Afro-Asiatics. They were mostly displaced by southward-heading Bantus during the Bantu Expansion, and many have mixed with them.

The Damara may be mixed (as they’re a Bantu people who speak Nama, a Khoisan language), or they could be among the first Bantu migrants to the Khoisans’ land. Anthropologists are still trying to work that out.

Group of San adults & cute baby. Khoisanids in general have epicanthic eyefolds like most Easians & native Americans
More San women, plus child

PYGMIES: This is a vague term as it really only means a group whose average adult height is less than 150cm. However in Central Africa, where they originate, there are specific terms for specific groups: Gyele, Efe, Mbuti (aka. Bambuti), Twa (aka. Abatwa or Ge-Sera), and Bayaka. In present-day Congo, Bantus possess pygmies as slaves.

Baka dancers in Cameroon
Mbuti pygmy Ota Benga. He deserves his own post, but for now just read his story here
The big orange strip in the north  is the Sahara desert. See Wikipedia for a more detailed explanation

AUSTRONESIANS: technically not an indigenous African group but I’ve included them for completion’s sake. This is represented by the Malagasy people of Madagascar. The traditional story says Madagascar was uninhabited until Austronesians arrived on canoes around 1500-2000 years ago, with native Africans arriving later, but that is being contested and revised.

* Now about the term sub-Saharan Africa, which you may hear bantered around a lot nowadays. It sounds innocent and rooted in geography, but it’s another Eurocentric and unnecessarily divisive term, a synonym for “black Africa”. It claims to demarcate a clear racial distinction between North Africa (currently inhabited by Africanised foreigners &/or their mixed descendants) and the rest of the continent. It also claims the desert somehow isolated ‘blacks’ from the rest of the world (the Saharan barrier theory, or as I call it  “true Negroes are scared of sand”). It’s inaccurate and misleading for at least these reasons:

1- There was once a time when the Sahara desert itself didn’t exist. It used to be forestland but over centuries became arid sand and spread further south, some of which the Kemetics & Nubians witnessed in their lifetimes.

2- Even after the desert came to exist Africans didn’t consider it a big deal. There were and still are native Africans living there (eg. Tuareg, Gnawa), and other groups who’ve travelled and done trade through it like any other piece of land. That’s why the African Union doesn’t consider it a barrier, more like a bridge.

3- Female circumcision originated in Egypt and spread almost all over the continent. If the desert were a barrier it wouldn’t have spread anywhere.

Then there are the stereotypes that go along with the term. Funny, that. If ‘sub-Saharan’ were so innocent why are stereotypes attached at all? It’s where HIV/AIDS is rampant, children die from starvation daily, destitute poverty is the norm and where Westerners are always chucking aid money with no results. None of this is the norm anywhere in Africa (except maybe the last one), but that’s how stereotypes of non-‘white’ people typically work. However, Africa is gaining economic strength and international prestige, and Africans are fighting the stereotypes, so they may just finally regain their previous glory in the world. I hope…

I hope to add more posts on specific African cultures, people, individuals, countries, empires, societies and the like. But later.

Skin colour has no impact on vitamin D status

To explain this, a bit of background science is needed. This is quite technical so if you’re not so scientifically minded, you can skip this bit:

The body produces a fat-soluble prohormone called vitamin D3, aka. calcitriol, which has numerous benefits for the body. It is a precursor of other vital hormones, enables proper absorption of calcium & phosphorus from the gut and proper “cementing” of them in the bones, prevents cancer (yes, even skin cancer, as long as you’re not letting yourself burn & expose yourself to the sun regularly), and regulates the immune system.

We can get it from eating mushrooms (they contain ergocalciferol aka. D2, which we can convert to D3), fish (WITH the bones!), beef liver, egg yolk or foods fortified with it such as milk & dairy. However, the absolute best way for us to get it is through being exposed to the sun or by going on a safe tanning bed. The body naturally makes vitamin D3 in the skin from cholesterol* (or more specifically 7-dehydrocholesterol), which circulates in the blood until it reaches the liver where it is converted to calcidiol, then is turned into the active form calcitriol either by the immune system or the kidneys.

 

* Yes, cholesterol is important for many many functions in the human body. Despite what the media and supermarket ads say, there has never been a proven link between cholesterol and heart disease. Most people don’t even realise that about 75% of the cholesterol in the body is made by the body – meaning only 25% comes from food!

 

There’s a common belief that the darker your skin is, the more difficult it is for your skin to produce D3, especially in less equatorial/ less sunny climates. The common explanation is that melanin dramatically decreases the amount of solar UV radiation that reaches the layers of the skin where cholesterol is converted, and this is an adaptive response to stop excess UV rays being absorbed and causing sunburn. However, according to the articles below this is flawed. Melanin seemingly bears no correlation to D3 production, as traditionally living African groups (Hadzabe & Maasai were the ones studied) had on average 115nmol/l (nanomoles per litre) of D3 in their blood – well above the currently accepted safe upper limit of 80nmol/l. Also, it seems genetic factors other than pigmentation account for the D3 status of ‘white’ people (ie. variants of genes controlling cholesterol synthesis, hydroxylation & vitamin D transport).

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8735073 (note – this one is just an abstract)

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5284/traditional-living-provides-more-vitamin-d

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3086761/

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60635-6/fulltext (note – this one you either have to sign up to The Lancet or pay to view)

It’s little snippets of new research and scientific findings like these that advance human knowledge in the right direction. However, it’ll likely take at least 20 to 50 years for this to become common knowledge. Although new things are discovered by science pretty much daily, it takes ages for that to change the normal social paradigm and propaganda. This is my little contribution to that.

quirky actor, script & story writer and poet spreading insights, old and new, from unconventional sources

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