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).
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.
Curly, also called coiled, spiralled or type 3. Though some like to think so, I don’t really think of afro hair (also called kinky, nappy, type 4 and less commonly crisped, woolly, fleecy, frizzy or crinkly) as separate from curly. To me it’s just the extreme end of curly so I refer to it as such, although it too can be divided into further gradations.
Wavy, also called type 2.
Straight, also called wiry, lank or type 1.
This is partially because the follicles they grow from come in different shapes; curly & wavy hair grows from oval follicles, straight from circular ones. However, at least for some, hair naturally changes texture because the hair follicles change shape (though why this happens is unknown). It’s also partially because of the proteins in the hair strands themselves, which are joined together by disulphide bonds. The more of these bonds, the curlier the strand.
Though type 4 hair is most common in indigenous Africans and their diasporic descendants, it is not exclusive to us nor is it the only texture we possess. As for type 1, it is most common in Easians but not exclusive to them nor is it their sole texture. Types 2 & 3 are pretty much the norm everywhere else.
Chinese girl exemplifying type 1 hair
Hair also comes in different colours; black, brown (aka. brunette), orange (aka. ginger), yellow (aka. blond/e) and overlaps. This is because of different amounts of a group of pigments collectively called melanin, of which there are 3 types – black eumelanin (technically isn’t black but very dark brown), brown eumelanin (more obviously brown, like reddish/ chocolate) and phaeomelanin (yellowish-orange). Globally black is the most common hair colour, followed by brown, blond/e and ginger. White and grey hair can result either from old age (during which the hair typically produces less melanin of any kind) or from congenital lessened or aborted melanin production, such as the more extreme forms of albinism.
So what’s all the fuss about? All people naturally have hair, right? Why should a post be made about it?
Well, here’s the deal. For ‘black’ people (especially women nowadays) it is often a self-esteem issue. Our story starts from the trans-Atlantic slave trade (TAST). When ‘white’ people captured Africans one of the first things they did was shave their hair. This may be no big deal to us but in some African belief systems the hair is on the head, and because the head is the highest part of the body it is therefore closest to God. This effectively meant that head hair was a symbol of connection to God. Therefore for the hair to be cut off and discarded like filth was, in a word, traumatising.
However it gets worse. Soon after the slave trade started both ‘white’ and ‘black’ people were being worked like nobody’s business. However, while the elites started passing laws to stop them uniting and rising up they tried to find ways, no matter how trivial or fantastical, to justify the laws. They thus declared Africans to be naturally inferior and fit for eternal service, and one of the MANY ways they ‘evinced’ this was to pass judgments on the differences between Africans and Europeans. Nose shape, skin colour, language differences, lack of Christianity* and the like were all used (and this is also when the negative stereotypes started being invented), but for the purposes of this post we’ll focus on hair texture. The respected scientific minds of the time espoused that our natural hair texture was more bestial (beast-like), suited for jungle & wilderness and overall hideous and revolting. The church authorities agreed, claiming that our hair was part of the curse of Ham – even though the Bible doesn’t mention the nature of this curse.
* This was ignoring the newly converted slaves, and that Christianity came to Africa about 500 years before Europe.
As such, many ‘black’ people were convinced that their natural afro hair was cursed and ugly. They could have tried styling their hair, but as slaves they barely ever had the time and usually just covered it in a headwrap. The only way for them to have hair closer to ‘white’ people’s (what became known as “good hair”, a very common phrase in USA & the Caribbean) was to have children with a ‘white’ person. This meant that either:
1 – ‘Black’ men would have to have children with ‘white’ women (which as far as I know never happened back then. It would’ve been absolutely forbidden and the man could be killed/ mutilated for it), or,
2 – ‘Black’ women would have to have children with ‘white’ men (this was very common, and pretty much always happened without the women’s consent – in other words ‘white’ men raped ‘black’ women and their mulatta children, especially in the southern states of USA. And were never punished because raping ‘black’ women wasn’t considered a crime).
Almost ironically, the ones who worked indoors (who were usually the products of rape anyway and thus had “good hair”) were the ones who had the time to style.
Al Sharpton, ‘black’ man with straightened hair. Yes, even at that age
Even after the TAST was abolished and the Civil War had ended, the psychological damage therefrom was ignored. This damage has been passed down to near enough every member of the African diaspora since. The desire for straight hair gained strength and prominence in mainstream media since the 1900s, when it was considered a sign of prestige and changing from “country” life to city life.
Note: the desire for straightened hair infected the men’s and women’s minds.
This explains why so many subscribe to the belief in euro & mixed hair as good & afro as bad. Obviously not all of us believe it but we all are familiar with it, and most of us know why. The Black Pride movement of the 50s and 60s worked well to counter this damage – for the time being. However it didn’t last and the ‘white’ media pushed the image of straight hair as beautiful with a vengeance. This is why the vast majority of ‘black’ women now either straighten their hair* or wear weaves/ pieces. Funnily enough, ‘black’ men no longer do it (except Al Sharpton) but most of us have been brainwashed into preferring our women with long silky straight hair.
* To do this they can use hot combs, but the much more common – and more damaging – way is chemical straighteners. Some ‘black’ Americans call it creamy crack, because its use is compulsive despite the health problems often brought with it. See Chris Rock’s Good Hair for elucidation, as well as its psychological & financial effects on ‘black’ women. And ‘black’ men, even though most of us don’t use it.
Because of colonialism and globalisation, even many women on the African continent itself (especially in the industrialised areas where Western media flourishes) hide their natural hair texture under blatantly fake weaves. Luckily, natural afro hair is making a comeback throughout the African diaspora, through the sporting of African/ afro-hair-friendly hairstyles or not styling at all. Most ‘black’ women are somewhat scared to do this because they think afro hair doesn’t grow and therefore looks manly. Afro hair can grow to awesome lengths, you just have to know how to look after it.
Even short afro hair looks good and feminine
LONG natural hair
However, there’s another phenomenon taking place. It’s highly counterproductive and I don’t know how prevalent it is so I’m not going to call it a trend, but there are cases of women with naturally non-afro hair (including ‘black’ women) getting it chemically treated to resemble afro hair! What the hell?
But anyway, long story short (tee-hee!), everyone should love their natural hair texture, ‘black’ women especially.
Many of these I also use or have used to inform my own understanding. It’s exhilarating and enlightening to learn things that go against conventional views or are just generally unknown, it makes for truer wisdom.
For those who don’t know, a sexuality is a state of sexual attraction. It can also be called sexual preference, sexual expression or sexual orientation. It is not the same thing as sex or gender. Sex refers to what one is biologically; male or female (plus a barely-known 3rd category called intersexual). Gender refers to roles that society, families and peers influence people to adopt (or reject), which starts happening at a very early age. Sexuality, on the other hand, refers to one’s likes/ sexual urges.
Most people in the West have been raised in a paradigm that says one’s sexuality (whatever it is) is genetically determined and therefore immutable. Despite the search for the “gay gene” or any genes that are related to sexuality, none have been found. See NARTH for further reading.
Dean Hamer, American geneticist who tried (and failed) to find
a definitive biological origin for sexuality.
Though he admitted his failure, nowadays the gay lobby claims he succeeded!
Anyway, here they are:
heterosexual: also known as straight, hetero or het. Its prefix hetero- is from Greek heteros and means other/ another. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the opposite sex (ie. female liking male, male liking female). This is and always has been the norm for humans; we wouldn’t have made it to 6.8 billion without it!
homosexual: also called homo, gay* or bent. Its prefix homo- also comes from Greek, homos, and means same. This is when one has sexual attractions for someone of the same sex (ie. female liking female, male liking male). However, in common usage it tends to allude just to the male variety.
* Note: until the 1940s gay meant happy, merry, joyful. This meaning hasn’t completely died out.
lesbian: specifically female homosexuality. As far as I know there’s no male-only equivalent.
bisexual: also called bi, ambisexual and ambisextrous. This prefix is from Latin – bini which means double or twice, while ambi- (Latin) means both. This refers to when one has sexual attractions for both sexes, and is often seen as a kind of crossroad/ state of “confusion” between gay & straight.
transsexual: more of a sexual/gender identity than a sexuality. Also called tranny, transie, transgender, MTF (male-to-female), FTM (female-to-male), transman (FTM) and transwoman (MTF). The prefix trans is Latin and means across, beyond or through. This means someone who either has been surgically altered to have the features of the opposite sex or wants to be, often because of a belief of having been “born in the wrong body”.
Note that surgery only affects physical appearance, it can’t affect one’s sex (because sex is genetically fixed) and doesn’t necessarily affect sexuality. MTFs can like either women or men (or both), as can FTMs.
(Note: intersexual is not synonymous with transsexual. An intersexual is someone whose natural phenotype [physical features] can’t be pinpointed as specifically male or female. This can be because of intrauterine [in the womb] hormonal imbalances or unusual chromosome combinations that cause genetic females to exhibit male gentials – or vice versa. This is to do with biology and therefore doesn’t affect sexual attraction. Also be aware that intersexuals are not the same thing as hermaphrodites, though they used to be. Hermaphrodites are organisms [most likely not humans] whose genitals work just like those of males and females. This is completely normal in many invertebrates)
pansexual: means someone whose sexual attractions aren’t limited to any biological sex or gender identity (ie. includes intersexuals, transsexuals and everyone else). This means they’re more inclusive than even bisexuals. The prefix pan- is Greek and means all or every (as does the Latin omnis). Synonyms include gender-blind and omnisexual.
LGBT: an acronym for lesbian, gay, bi and transsexuals. It’s effectively a catch-all term to mean pretty much anyone who’s not straight.
Here are some sexualities that are usually ignored or not known about:
asexual: someone who has no sexual desires. This is not the same as being celibate or virgin. Celibacy is when someone chooses to abstain from sex for whatever reason, but this doesn’t mean they stop feeling sexual desires. A virgin is someone who’s never had sex (yet).
demisexual: a person who only gains sexual attraction to someone they have strong emotional attachments with. Part of the grey-A, which describes a range of states between sexual & asexual. Sounds like the perfect romantic, but in practice it doesn’t quite work like that because sexuals often initially see them as ‘just friends’ and thus may not see them as potential partners.
antisexual: a person who believes sexual activity or sexuality is wrong. This is pretty much the same as celibacy. Such people may still have sexual impulses but just ignore them. Funnily enough, it is possible for antisexuals to form romantic relationships – they just don’t include intercourse.
Alfred Kinsey himself.
Look how he’s eyeing up that woman!
Remember in About me when I called myself Kinsey 0 heterosexual? This refers to the Kinsey scale (aka. heterosexual-homosexual rating scale), a method of assessing one’s sexuality named after Alfred Charles Kinsey. This scale goes from 0 to 6 (plus an 8th category called X):
0 = completely straight
1 = predominantly straight
2 = somewhat more straight than gay
3 = slap-bang in the middle, ideal bisexual
4 = somewhat more gay than straight
5 = predominantly gay
6 = completely gay
X = asexual
As you’ve seen, there are many more sexual preferences and identities than are accounted for on this scale. Mind you, this is only 1 of over 200 sexuality rating scales. See Wikipedia for more info.
So there you have it, sexualities. Note that due to its behavioural/ psychological nature sexuality is unfixed and can be changed, though often with considerable effort. In fact, NARTH specialises in helping gays become straight if they so choose, and advocates recognition of the mutability of sexuality (which the American gay lobby wishes to deny). To some this sounds ludicrous, or even homophobic, but it’s a truth that’s being very actively suppressed.
(Update: as I wrote this post back when I was Muslim, I revoke this last part about NARTH. I wasn’t aware of the harm gay conversion therapies inflict, not to mention the moralistic/ condescending Christian undertones. Of course people can in theory choose to change their sexuality, but the issue is why they want to change. That still works on the underlying assumption that some sexualities are “wrong”. Regardless of the nature-nurture debate around sexuality, it’s wrong for anyone to say any of them are wrong. As long as the attraction/ activity is between mutually consenting adults and no physical/ mental harm is caused, it’s all good.)
As I often write about race-related issues, many of these terms will be about the so-called races. Sometimes I use the commonly understood meaning of certain terms (common to people living in England). Note that my research has led me to form my own judgements about certain terms, explained below.
race: technically there’s only one – human. Scientifically speaking race = species. What we often describe as races are probably better described as meta- or panethnicities, or in some cases just ethnicities or phenotypes.
‘black’: a person of mainly (>50%) or exclusively (100%) indigenous African ancestry and possesses phenotypic features typical of such people (especially brown skin). This includes their diasporic descendants, e.g. Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Latinos, African-Americans, ‘black’ Britons and Siddis.
Note that I also include Negritos, Aborigines, Dravidians, Melanesians and similar looking peoples even though they have no recent African background. In their origin countries they are seen as ‘black’ too.
(However, if it weren’t for the confusion it would cause I’d only define as ‘black’ those people with the darkest possible skin colour regardless of ethnicity. See darkest-skinned below)
A beautiful ‘black’ woman of diasporic African descent -and with her natural hair to boot!
‘white’: a person of mainly (>50%) or exclusively (100%) European ancestry and possesses phenotypic features typical of such people (especially peach/ pink skin). This includes their diasporic descendants, e.g. most Americans, most Australians, most Latinos, Sephardic & Ashkenazic Jews, and Africanised Europeans (e.g. Afrikaners & Boers). I also include Aryans, by which I mean the Persians who went to India thousands of years ago, not modern-day Europeans who scream “‘white’ power” or “‘white’ pride”.
(However, if it weren’t for the confusion it would cause I’d only define as ‘white’ those people with the lightest possible skin colour regardless of ethnicity. See palest-skinned below)
Yvonne Ridley, an English journalist who was capturedby the Taliban and became a Muslim (of her own free will)
Ali G – let’s move on
Young Kalash girl, looks like a typical European but is actually Pakistani!
(I put black & white in quote marks because they’re inaccurate. No-one on this planet has literally black skin, and maybe apart from some albinos no-one has literally white skin. Also note how geography, ancestry and culture have no impact on the above definitions. Contrary to common thought these terms don’t refer to ethnicity or nationality. Sociologically they’re just colour metaphors for race, as are ‘red’, brown and ‘yellow’ though these are more accurate insofar as they refer to literal skin tone)
Asian: a person of mainly (>50%) or exclusively (100%) Asian ancestry with cultural ties to living Asian people. However, phenotype is almost useless to define them by, not to mention it means different things in different places. In USA it usually means East Asians (Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.) but in UK it usually means South Asians (Pakistanis, Indians, Srilankans, Bangladeshis, etc.). Thus I say Easians for the former, Sasians for the latter.
For Asians from Indochina, I find it most logical to call them Indochinese as they’re geographically, genetically & culturally between India & China.
A man of East Asian background (Korean, not Chinese)
Helen Doreena, a gorgeous Indian actress living in…you guessed it, Malaysia
mixed race: personally I don’t like it because it’s too generic. In UK it most often means a half-‘white’ half-‘black’ person but this ignores the fact that many ‘white’ & ‘black’ people have some degree of admixture regardless of appearance. I use more specific terms like mulatto (half-‘white’ half-‘black’ – or ‘grey‘ since we’re using racial colour metaphors), dougla (half-‘black’ half Indian), pardo (someone who is visibly between ‘white’ and ‘black’), melungeon (mixed ‘black’, ‘white’ and native American), Garifuna (mixed Afro- & native Caribbean), etc. However, I never use half-caste as it’s offensive and meaningless.
Vin Diesel: part Italian part ‘black’ American
Family of melungeons, once tried to pass themselves off as “dark-skinned Portuguese”!
African: a person of indigenous African background with cultural ties to such people. I include ones whose Africanness is sometimes doubted, e.g. Somalis, ancient Egypians (Kemetics), Nubians, original North Africans (Moors, Berbers & Kabyles) and Khoikhoi & San. All of these groups I also regard as ‘black’ (except Kabyles). Note: I usually don’t count members of the African diaspora as Africans – most of us had our original cultures, names & languages beaten out of us (literally) and replaced with those of ‘white’ people. Plus it makes it easier to distinguish in conversation.
San (I think) woman and baby. That baby is so cute!
However, there’s one group I’m confused about – Amazighs. Some say they’re native Africans, some say they’re Africanised Europeans (Greeks). I’m not sure so I’ll include them as Africans for now, but regardless they’re still ‘white’.
Arab: this is a confusing word, because the definition is very changeable. Contrary to what most think, Arabs are not a unified ethnicity. Arabs used to just be anyone who spoke Arabic (at least as a first language) regardless of ancestry and phenotype, now it refers to anyone with cultural/ linguistic ties to Arabised people even if they don’t live in the Arabian peninsula. Some argue that Arabs used to be a distinct ethnic group or groups primordially of East African background but became more fractured as they mixed with others. The USA classifies Arabs as ‘white’, despite the fact that most Arabs have medium to dark brown skin. Me, I’m not sure so I’ll keep my mouth shut for now.
Note that Arab is not synonymous with Muslim, and Arabs (however defined) existed thousands of years before Islam came to Arabia. Many Arabs were and still are Christians & Jews.
Mahri Arab man
Group of Jordanian Christians
native American: a person of predominantly (>50%) or exclusively (100%) pre-Columbian American ancestry. By this I mean North Americans like Ojibwe, Algonquians, Cherokees & Sioux – but I also include Canadians, Caribbeans and South Americans like the Inuktitut, Taínos, Aztecs, Tapirapé, Arawaks, Wayúu & Caribs.
I do not call these people Indian. That was Columbus’s screw-up and the fact that it still hasn’t fallen into total disuse shows how bad ideas can live on for ages. Like racism. Amerindian/ Amerind is even worse, a fusion of a correct & incorrect label.
Indigenous Brazilian man
Nowadluk, a native from Alaska
darkest skinned: self-explanatory – people with the darkest possible skin colour (almost literally black), with no regard for ethnic/ geographical origin.
Darkest skinned Tamils
dark skinned/ chocolate skinned:
RIPPED Tamil man!!!
medium skinned/ tawny skinned:
light skinned/ barely brown/ fair skinned:
(from what I understand ‘black’ Americans may also call them high yellow, which I think sounds stupid so I don’t use it)
palest skinned: self-explanatory – people with the lightest possible skin colour (almost literally white), with no regard for ethnic/ geographical origin.
Guess which one demonstrates palest skinned
(Of course all of these have gradations and distinctions in between, and I admit these are oversimplifications. However, I think they are useful and I stick with them. For now)
nigger: a particular subgroup of ‘black’ people (fortunately the minority, unfortunately a very vocal & overly noticed minority). Their distinction is not in ancestry or bodily traits, but in mental & behavioural traits like perceptions, speech patterns and beliefs. They’re the type of ‘black’ people who habitually live up to the negative stereotypes ‘white’ people have of us, i.e. wantonly violent, nymphos, lazy, averse to education, etc. The problem with niggers is not ignorance per se. It’s willful ignorance; they make the stereotypes part of their identity. They’re even stupid enough to equate all ‘black’ people with themselves and see nigger as a term of endearment! Usually men are called niggers but the term can apply to women.
Synonyms include nigga, niggah, nigguh, nig, nucca, nyukka & niggar.
The Boondocks‘s Riley Freeman, a nigger-in-training saying dumb s*** a nigger would say
whigger: a particular subgroup of ‘white’ people who act like niggers. It’s bad enough when they’re just copying what they see on the media and make it part of their identity (trying to be “gangsta”), but it’s far worse when they claim such behaviour makes them ‘black’. See Ali G for a perfect example. As with nigger, whigger is most often used to refer to men but can be used on women too.
Synonyms include wigger, wigga & whigga.
An Italian-American whigger (aka. guido)
I’m sure there are native American & Asian versions of niggers & whiggers but I have no idea what to call them. I’ll add more terms in later posts.
Randomly rhyming words, a few random thoughts, and an empath's emotional rollercoaster. In other words; Ramblings, Poetry, Soul-Food, Haiku, Narrative, Poems, Life, Transcend, Snow-leopard, Spoken word