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Thicker than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie

Tukufu Zuberi
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 220
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttcnc
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  • Book Info
    Thicker than Blood
    Book Description:

    In this timely and hard-hitting volume, Tukufu Zuberi offers a concise account of the historical connections between the development of the idea of race and the birth of social statistics. Zuberi describes the ways race-differentiated data are misinterpreted in the social sciences and asks searching questions about how racial statistics are used.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9345-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xii)

    For years we have understood that race is, biologically speaking, an exceedingly complex matter and that preconceived biases much more than biology govern the way people think about it. The statistics that are publicized these days in which race is prominent treat it as an objectively determined collection of discrete categories. Because the premises about race are false, the conclusions must be also; as the saying goes,garbage in, garbage out. Moreover, adding to this problem, many researchers—who should know better—argue that race causes a person to be in a certain condition or state, when the most that...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Racial Statistics
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    At the dawn of the twenty-first century the problem of the color line remains with us. Since Du Bois’s declaration almost one hundred years ago, there has been a flood of writings about racial classification and the meaning of race. Some writers deconstruct race as a social concept with no physical basis, while others see in race the biological differences of humans. My aim in writingThicker Than Bloodis to point objectively to the problems related to the statistical analysis of race, which lies at the heart of racial formation and classification.¹ I will attempt to demonstrate how the...

  6. PART I Birth of a Problem
    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 1-4)

      While Africans were becoming the dominated subjects of the West, the European-origin population was experiencing a revolution in its own thoughts about freedom and equality. While Africans were enslaved, Europeans were arguing for democracy. The period of Enlightenment was distinguished by the establishment of European colonies in Africa and Asia and European settlement in America, Australia, and South Africa. When Africans were emancipated, colonization and Jim Crow dominated the day. These apparent contradictions needed justifications. Such justifications were developed. And these gave birth to the study of race in biology and social science.

      The idea of biological differences was born...

    • CHAPTER ONE Racial Domination
      (pp. 5-16)

      Beginning in the fifteenth century, Europeans experienced a flood of new contacts with peoples in faraway lands. European notions about the natur of the world were turned on their heads by “new knowledge” gleaned about plants, animals, and peoples in places such as Africa, Asia, and the Americas. European scientists attempted to fit this mass of new information into a logical framework that explained the world they lived in and the world they wanted. Race became a particularly important “scientific” notion. African colonialism and enslavement were two important moments in this process of racialization.

      The concept of race is rooted...

    • CHAPTER TWO The Evolution of Racial Classification
      (pp. 17-26)

      The racialization of social and economic stratification required the classification of human beings by their physical characteristics.¹ The physical classification of human populations took on added meaning during the process of racial colonization and slavery. Both racial slavery and colonialism required a dehumanizing discourse. One of the first intellectual articulations of this discourse was the Great Chain of Being. The classical idea of the Great Chain of Being ranked all creation, including the Creator, hierarchically. The Chain of Being classified creation from inanimate objects upward through lowly animals, women, and men, to God. In the European mind, the use of...

  7. PART II Racial Statistics
    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 27-32)

      The story of the numerical analysis of race is inextricably linked with the history of social statistics, touching on all the major themes of statistical methods. It provides insight into what has driven social statistics and perhaps what inspires social statisticians. Racial statistics are at the heart of an intriguing saga of tragedy, courage, brilliance, and cunning, involving all the greatest heroes of statistics.

      In writing about this history, I have chosen a chronological structure that begins by describing the genesis of race. I have tried to illustrate this chronology by connecting the various characters involved in the process of...

    • CHAPTER THREE Eugenics and the Birth of Racial Statistics
      (pp. 33-57)

      Understanding the history of social statistics is as important as understanding its logic. In fact, as Karl Pearson and Ronald A. Fisher note, context, especially historical context, is as important as the mathematics of applied statistical analysis. Social statistics begins at a point when mathematical statistics and evolutionary theory meet in the eugenic mind of Francis Galton, one of the most important statisticians of the twentieth century.

      Francis Galton is the father of social statistics. His ability to translate evolutionary and social ideas into statistical logic set the stage for the major developments in social statistics. Prior to Galton most...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Eugenics and Racial Demography
      (pp. 58-79)

      The central concept in demography is the idea of a population change. The forces of demography are both biological and environmental. Biologically, demography is the study of the processes of mortality and reproduction that determine the rate of population change. Environmentally, demography is the study of the forces that resist these biological processes and further regulate the rate of population change. Malthus, Graunt, Huygens, and Gompertz were all interested in population dynamics. The foundations of demography are both mathematical and theoretical. Demography shares its mathematical ancestors with inferential statistics.

      Mathematically, the roots of demography began with John Graunt’sObservations upon...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Noneugenic Racial Statistics
      (pp. 80-98)

      Racial statistics are not a fact of the past. Du Bois was of the opinion that the best minds should study racial statistics. He thought that statistical analysis could help in the development of a concrete understanding of the social status of the African American population. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case, because until the 1940s, social statistics remained closely identified with the racial reasoning of the eugenics movement. As the movement lost favor, most scientists, even the most dedicated eugenicists, moved away from any direct association with the movement’s name. Nevertheless, genetics, statistics, and demography developed in...

  8. PART III Beyond Racial Statistics
    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 99-104)

      The purpose of statistical analysis is the reduction of data. Census or survey microdata are of such a quantity that analysis is impossible without some process of summarizing the data. The human mind cannot look at 250 million individual records of information and make any conclusions. The mere bulk of the data is incapable of entering the human mind. The object of statistical methods is to replace this bulk of data with a relatively few numbers that will adequately represent the entire population in the original data. The object of racial statistics should be to help us understand the process...

    • CHAPTER SIX Challenging Race as a Variable
      (pp. 105-122)

      Race continues to be seen as a biological and demographic variable by many scholars, even though it has been argued for years that race is, biologically and demographically speaking, an exceedingly complex matter and that subjective predispositions and biases, more than biology or demography, govern the way people think about it. Racial statistics are not biologically or demographically based, because both demography and biology developed ideas about race under the sway of the eugenics movement. This continued bias results from the acceptance of the statistical definition of race as real rather than as a simple reflection of the classification process...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Deracializing the Logic of Social Statistics
      (pp. 123-140)

      Much of the field of statistics developed as the study of population variation, and most social statisticians are primarily concerned with the cause of this variation.¹ Discussions of causation in social statistics accelerated after Otis Duncan’s introduction of path analysis in 1966.² Within these discussions, explanation, prediction, and causation are often mistakenly seen as synonymous. In the following, I will address myself specifically to the use of race as a cause in social statistics. For the most part, the analysis extends with no difficulty to gender.

      In statistical analysis the issue of causation is not a simple matter. In theory,...

  9. EPILOGUE: Toward a New Analysis of Difference
    (pp. 141-144)

    The parents of social statistics are political arithmetic, mathematical statistics, and efforts to describe trends and patterns in social data. In the past this legacy has placed social statistics at the center of some of the most controversial issues of our time. These issues have ranged from Malthus’s “Second Essay,” in which he dealt with the Poor Laws in England, to our more recent discussions about the role of biology and inequality in population dynamics. Demographic structures and processes have become increasingly important for social science theory. Social statisticians are concentrating more on models that incorporate the entire causal process...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 145-184)
  11. Index
    (pp. 185-194)
    Eileen Quam
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)