When does race refer to skin colour and when does it refer to culture?

I’m so confused.

So I’m seeing all these articles trending about Sasha Calle, who has recently been cast as Supergirl to appear in the upcoming Flash movie.

Embed from Getty Images

And here we see the gorgeous Sasha Calle courtesy of Getty Images.

Like OMG… she is beautiful. And they can keep her brunette and make a great change to the character, not as great as calling her Superwoman, but still worthwhile…but that’s not what I’m writing about today. I keep seeing it written that she’s the first Latina Supergirl and that confuses the fuck out of me because to my eyes, she’s white.

But I am a white South African. I’ve heard and read others arguing about race before… white South Africans who call themselves “African”, and that upsets some native African, i.e. black people. Hence my confusion: Sometimes race refers to colour and sometimes it refers to culture, or maybe sometimes it means both. But when does it mean what?

Am I insulting Latina women if I call them white, or is the label itself used to prejudice against them, treating them as less than equal to white North Americans simply because it allows them to be treated as something other than white? I have a feeling a little of the latter is true, or at least, it may be. But how much?

Likewise, I will not refer to myself as African, ever, because black people born here can and do take offense to that. And this is even though I was born here and this is the only place I know or have ever been. (I have heard some people say we must go back to our countries, but I ignore those because I am fourth or fifth generation here from a mixture of Portuguese, Irish, English and French people. I have no country to “go back to”. This is my country.) So I’ll stick with saying I am South African. It doesn’t help that I’m named Jerome, and people who only know me through writing or other online medium sometimes assume I’m not white… apparently there was some sort of naming convention memo that my mother never read.

But I’m still confused about one thing: When does race refer to colour and when does it refer to culture? Or is that assumption a false dichotomy and is there something else I’m missing. It certainly does refer to social class and standing, always, and as much as some white people like to deny it and pretend that white privilege doesn’t exist, it is always white people at the top of this order. Because of hundreds of years of oppression and persecution, and social pressure.

And this brings me back to someone like Sasha Calle. Why is it important to bring up her being Latina? Why do I, on the other side of the planet in the Southern Hemisphere, have the impression that Latino people are often regarded as being inferior to white people, especially considering that they are often white and the only thing making them not white is a social construct?

I’m going to leave this open and not attempt to answer the questions I’ve raised here, but I do think it is important to use our privilege and teach our children to be aware of it. As long as any of us are more privileged than others because of this grossly unfair social construct, we can not afford to be colour blind. But I hope that we can teach future generations to put this behind them. Let the mistakes of the past be in the past.

Those weird Facebook double standards? (Trigger warning: White supremacy, racism)

I’ve mentioned this group before. And normally I stay away from accusations of hypocrisy, because they are almost always wrong. When people make such accusations in debates, it is almost always a Tu quoque fallacy, but this one isn’t. So I’m writing this reluctantly.

Look at this shit:


I’m not even going to comment on how wrong that is. Just – if you agree with it, fuck right off.

The point is, I and others get banned for calling these people out. We get banned for responding to this type of shit. Our responses violate Facebook community standards, but the original posts do not.

I’ve written about this before, and I will keep doing so as long as it persists… their algorithms detect strong language but are an absolute failure when it comes to detecting actual hate speech, which is rampant on the platform.

I’m currently on a 30 day ban for mocking religion with a “Jesus loves porn” meme that got taken down for nudity, and then put back up when I contested the decision, but they didn’t remove the ban. So I’m banned for a joke, but actual hatred like the meme shown is perfectly fine on the platform.

Two cases of being born with an advantage over others; one of which is condemned while the other is celebrated

This has been on my mind for the last few months, and I’ve been struggling to come up with the way to approach the subject. There are two cases I know of where people are born with an advantage over others, and while both of them have been in the news in the last few months, in one case the advantage is condemned, while in the other it is celebrated – often by the same people.

First of all… What is white privilege? Wikipedia (via Google) tells me:

White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit people identified as white in Western countries, beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.

In other words, being born white, I have advantages over people who are not born white. In my case, it isn’t financial, but it is more in the way people treat me. That is, because I am fair-skinned, and well spoken (I talk “like a white”), I have a better chance at a job interview, even against another candidate who has the same intelligence, ability and experience as myself. It means that in many cases, even black people treat me better than they treat other black people. If I walk down the street in downtown Johannesburg, nobody clutches their wallets with all their strength, in fear that I may rob them. In general, I am treated better than people with darker skin. I didn’t ask for this advantage. I was born with it. That does raise questions such as: If one is aware of one’s privilege, is one not then bound ethically or morally to do something about it? But such questions are not my topic for today… They belong in a more in-depth look at white privilege itself.

On to the other advantage that some people have… Recently the 2016 Olympics were held, and much fuss was made of South African female athlete Caster Semenya. The issue is that she is an intersex person. While she identifies as female, she has testes that produce testosterone.

Thus she has as much testosterone as someone who uses anabolic steroids, which have been illegal in competitive sport for decades. High levels of testosterone lead to higher muscle mass, as well as faster muscle repair, so anyone with high levels of testosterone can train harder, and push themselves to extremes they would never be able to reach without that testosterone. That leads to a performance advantage over other athletes. That’s why supplementing testosterone is illegal.

Of course, in Semenya’s case, her testosterone level is natural. It’s natural because she has internal testes producing it, just like a man. Hence the controversy. Again, as in the case of white privilege, this post is not intended to make any kind of judgement. She has an advantage over female athletes who aren’t intersex. Pretending that she does not have an advantage is disingenuous and involves rationalizing her advantage away using rhetoric.

Instead, my purpose here is to point out that we have two clear cases where someone was born with an advantage over others… and the consensus online is:

White privilege is bad.
Intersex is good.


In my mind, an unfair advantage over others is unfair. Or is it? If Semenya’s advantage is not unfair, then why is white privilege unfair? I didn’t ask for it. I am not responsible for the actions of other white people in the past. Do we not all make use of whatever advantages we have in order to be successful in our professions and our lives?

Again, I will reach no conclusion here… The point is to highlight the disparity between the two cases. It seems to me that it is hypocritical to support an intersex athlete (who is born with an anatomical advantage) but to condemn white privilege, which is also an advantage that some are born with. It seems to me that we should either condemn both or support both, and that anyone who supports Semenya but condemns white privilege should examine their motives and spend more time thinking about the subject.

Update: Just a reminder that this post is opinion. Normally I piss off conservatives – maybe this time I might piss of those on the left. I’ve tried to post this without bias, but that’s difficult. My view is that both advantages are unfair. Sure, the one is inherited and the other is the result of years of oppression of black people – but that does not change that neither advantage was asked for, and no person who has such an advantage is responsible for having it. What you choose to do about it when you know you are privileged is another matter, outside of the scope of this post.