Racial identity is a biological nonsense, says Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah
Appiah says race and nationality are social inventions being used to cause deadly divisions
By Hannah Ellis-Petersen

Society still largely operates under the misapprehension that race (largely defined by skin colour) has some basis in biology. There is a perpetuating idea that black-skinned or white-skinned people across the world share a similar set of genes that set the two races apart, even across continents. In short, it’s what Appiah calls “total twaddle”.

“The way that we talk about race today is just incoherent,” he says. “The thing about race is that it is a form of identity that is meant to apply across the world, everybody is supposed to have one – you’re black or you’re white or you’re Asian – and it’s supposed to be significant for you, whoever and wherever you are. But biologically that’s nonsense.”

It’s not new information, but for Appiah it is essential to voice it. Despite growing up mixed-race and gay in Ghana, then moving to the UK aged 11, Appiah says these supposedly conflicting aspects of his identity were never a problem for him until he moved to the US. As a student at Yale in his early 20s, others began to define him entirely by his race, and even questioned whether having a white mother made him “really black”.

“If you try to say what the whiteness of a white person or the blackness of a black person actually means in scientific terms, there’s almost nothing you can say that is true or even remotely plausible. Yet socially, we use these things all the time as if there’s a solidity to them.”

Appiah is at pains to point out that, while society has made race and colour a significant part of how we identify ourselves, particularly in places such as the UK and US, it is an invented idea to which we cling irrationally.
No pepper todaySophie Botros finds Cosmopolitanism, Kwame Anthony Appiah’s optimistic account of facts and values, a refreshing antidote to today’s scare-mongering pessimism.

Appiah’s lecture explores the notion that two black-skinned people may share similar genes for skin colour, but a white-skinned person and a black-skinned person may share a similar gene that makes them brilliant at playing the piano. So why, he asks, have we decided that one is the core of our identity and the other is a lesser trait? …

"Ha csak napi 20 percet foglalkoznal a kemiaval, meg tudnád tanulni. Ha csak napi 20 percet gondolkoznal matek példákon, könnyebben ertened az új anyagot."" Ha egy nap legalább.." na itt álljunk meg. Ez mind szép és mind jó. DE!! azt senki sem nézi hogy egy nap 7-8-9 óránk van. Szóval ha eltekintunk a dolgozatoktol, felelesektol, szamonkeresekrol és a felfogasi szinttől, és napi 20 percet foglalkoznank mindennel akkor osszunk-szorozzunk. 7x20 az 140 perc. Több mint 2 óra. Plusz még az a 7-8 amit az iskolában töltesz. Az már több mint 10. Tegyük fel 6kor kelsz reggel és 10kor fekszel mert ugye a 8 óra szépítő alvás kell, nehogy már karikás legyen a szemed... Akkor 16 órát vagy ébren. Abból 10 megy el a tanulással. Marad 6. Abból vonjuk ki a reggeli háromnegyed óra keszulodest és háromnegyed óra utazást. (és itt most nagyon a minimumra törekedtem!!) marad 4es fél órád. Ebből mínusz egy menjen el sportra. Akkor 3 és fél óra. 3 és fel kibaszott órád van közösségi életet élni, táplálkozni, a családdal lenni, otthon segíteni, kirándulni, gyereknek lenni, érezni és úgy egyáltalán élni.

Life is controlled by numbers, that are dictated “good enough” by society.

The numbers are everywhere. If our number is too high, or too low we are labeled as.. Less than. We deserve less, because society says so.

As women, if the number of people that we have allowed access to OUR BODIES is greater than 1, then we are a slut, but if it’s 0, we are a prude. Yet men are seen as gods, the higher their number reaches. They’re seen as superior, because “if a key unlocks many locks, it is a ‘master key’ but if a lock is unlocked by many keys, it’s a 'shitty lock’.” But we aren’t LOCKS our sexuality isn’t this special thing that should be cherished as a prize to be won by a man. Our virginity isn’t this sacred thing that we need to hold on to in order to be pure. As if “losing it” somehow makes us less of a person.

Society tells us that if we step on the scale and the number on it, equals a number higher than 24 on a BMI chart that we are somehow less of people because we are “fat”, which somewhere along the way turned into such a dirty word that no one should ever be. God forbid if you’re BMI is under 18, because then “ Real men like curves, only dogs go for bones.”

We are taught that if we are too SOMETHING then we may as well be NOTHING AT ALL because who wants something that strays from anything but “perfect.”

Life becomes all about the numbers.
The number of times you step on a piece of plastic and metal, for it to show you a number that you pray goes down until you waste into nothing. Numbers on boxes, cans, bottles and bags. You count the numbers and suddenly you’re a statistic. If the number of calories you consume is too high you’re a glutton and if it’s too low you’re an anorexic and that is that because society says so.

We are unknowingly brainwashed into believing that these numbers define us. We are burdened into thinking it is okay to let people rate us on a scale from 1-10 and if you’re anything under an 8 on someone else’s scale, you’re ugly and less than and nothing, because someone thinks that categorizing the body you inhabit with a number, somehow decides if you’re beautiful or not.

We have to stop letting numbers define our worth.
We can’t let them dictate on if we are good enough in the eyes of society.

We are not all these numbers that we are programmed to think we are.

We are so much more than a math problem for society to rip apart and try and find the answer to.

I am not a number. I am not defined by numbers. Numbers don’t determine my worth, or anyone else’s.

Stop treating us that way.

-Maranda Boyd

“I think as an artist you are also just doing your job like everyone else in a way, even if you don’t have proper funding for it, or the space, all these elements that would justify your intervention in a public space. Sometimes you just have yourself and your own breath. You just do something because you are driven to do it. And again, sometimes it is pointless. Most of the time it’s pointless, and that’s ok. In this case, the public aspect of the work was very important for me because it could engage with my questions regarding the role and position of the artist in society. There is a need to speak, to be shown, to scream, to be there. But that’s not my attitude. I don’t necessarily want to be public. I am interested in questioning how artists do what they do, and how they are shaped by different elements from institutional frameworks to their own personal backgrounds as part of their work.”

Blow by Alina Lupu.
Interview by Cristina Buta (2/4)
After Habitat III: a stronger urban future must be based on the right to the city
Innovative and agile cities are better placed to solve major global challenges than national governments – in thrall to the momentum of the last century – but the fight must start now, argues Barcelona’s first female mayor
By Ada Colau