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Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 07:16   #1 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

Okay, first of all I realize how this thread can escalate into racism very fast so I'll be requesting a lock if necessary, but let's see if we can get some meaningful discussion out of here first.


So a majority racism from society, is commited by lighter skin people upon darker skin people. Sure there's a lot of black supremacists and such, but they're usually more seperatists and reactionary hate groups. And this isn't a simple American white vs. black thing. It runs much deeper. Historically East Asians get percieved as higher class than South East Asians. Spaniard Hispanics better than Central American Hispanics. Aryan Indians better than Southern Indians.


And throughout history there's been hundreds of cases of one race subjugating another. And if you look at most of them:

Phoenicians subjugate North Africans
Chinese subjugate South East Asians
Japanese subjugate the local Ainu
Aryans (ie. the original ruling group of Indians) subjugate darker skin Indians
Russians subjugate central Asians

And the most obvious example of Europe colonizing the rest of the world. Even as recently, in Apartheid South Africa, East Asians were classed as higher than South East Asians.

More often than not it's basically the lighter skin people coming in and ruling over the darker skin people.

Now we have slews of reasons for that, many of them established social science theories. So it's not really a huge mystery why the lighter skin civilisations were able to get ahead initially. (If you're wonder, a lot of it is because the lighter skin people came from temperate environments with easily domesticated beasts of burden, allowing more effective agriculture and a faster build up of communities and more spare time of mercantile, social, scientific and technological advancements.)


So I'm wondering, were we just genetically more predisposed to preferring lighter skin, or did our current perceptions originate from thousands of years of world history, in a very Jungian manner of speaking, some kind of cultural archetypes. Or alternatively is it much more recent? Just via influences we recieve directly from when we're born?
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:22   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

You hit upon a slew of issues here that are very very intense. Big understatement.

There's a lot of meaty stuff in your post that I don't think I'm up to the intellectual task of tackling. Your 2nd to last paragraph recalls a lot of Jared Diamond's work, especially with his book Guns, Germs, and Steel but I guess I can add something into the mix.

I'm speaking as a Chinese-American who's trying to retain as much of my Chinese cultural heritage as I can in the states, and I remember that my grandmother told me that she was always made fun of for being darker skinned, as it made her look like a "peasant farmer" who worked in the fields all day and got tan. So viewing this whole issue with this additional drop in mind, there might also be some cultural factors. The elite of any agrarian society will probably have to do less physical work, which would alter their appearance-less constant exposure to the sun without protection? This is all mere conjecture though.
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:33   #3 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

I guess you could say that years of "barbarians" from the east really didn't help.

A good number of ideals, romantic thoughts, struggles, ideas can be tied against non lighter skin peoples.

Our struggles against "barbarians" ravaging from the East, the "great empires" of other people falling to civil war, and petty stakes and claims. (we commit the same crime, but you know..). The petty crimes and uprisings caused by non light skinned people due to lighter skin oppression really hits hard, and stays with us.

so we by the history books could have a cultural viewing of lighter skin people as "advanced" compared to <click, click> "mud hut people"

I wouldn't say its genetic, because our body doesn't perceive melatonin differences as a threat, our mind may however.
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:35   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

Here's my theory:

Most people accept Humans evolved from "Cave Men". However, these "Cave Men" probably lived in what is now Africa. Ergo, it's safe to assume they were Black.

As Humans travelled outward, we encountered new regions, new climates, and new challenges that required greater mental capabilities to defeat.

So, as we moved into Europe and Asia, we became smarter. As the environment was also cooler, we did not need our dark skin to survive, so we lost it.

Now here is where the Racism kicks in; the Cave Men who left Africa became "Bronze Men". The Bronze Men became Iron Men. The Iron Men became Steel Men, and so on. However, the Cave Men who stayed in Africa stayed Cave Men. They had no reason to evolve because they were already top of the food chain; they could hunt, they could survive anything the elements threw at them, and thus there was no evolutionary drive to cause them to change.

This means that the tribes who left Africa were more advanced from an evolutionary standpoint. Eventually, these tribes started doubling back on themselves. When this happened, they found increasingly primitive races of Humanity. These people were, quite literally, the shallow end of the gene pool.


This could well be where the racism against "Blacks" comes from; some sort of ancient racial memory of when we killed our Cave Men ancestors.
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:42   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pepsi
I guess you could say that years of "barbarians" from the east really didn't help.

A good number of ideals, romantic thoughts, struggles, ideas can be tied against non lighter skin peoples.

Our struggles against "barbarians" ravaging from the East, the "great empires" of other people falling to civil war, and petty stakes and claims. (we commit the same crime, but you know..). The petty crimes and uprisings caused by non light skinned people due to lighter skin oppression really hits hard, and stays with us.

so we by the history books could have a cultural viewing of lighter skin people as "advanced" compared to <click, click> "mud hut people"
Well Barbarians didn't tend to be the dark skin ones. Barbarians as in Norse, Huns, Germans, Mongolians etc. were fairly light skinned.

And the important distinction, we also didn't subjugate barbarians, as much as they were hated. They were mostly assimilated or completely killed off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wargamer
Here's my theory:

Most people accept Humans evolved from "Cave Men". However, these "Cave Men" probably lived in what is now Africa. Ergo, it's safe to assume they were Black.

As Humans travelled outward, we encountered new regions, new climates, and new challenges that required greater mental capabilities to defeat.

So, as we moved into Europe and Asia, we became smarter. As the environment was also cooler, we did not need our dark skin to survive, so we lost it.

Now here is where the Racism kicks in; the Cave Men who left Africa became "Bronze Men". The Bronze Men became Iron Men. The Iron Men became Steel Men, and so on. However, the Cave Men who stayed in Africa stayed Cave Men. They had no reason to evolve because they were already top of the food chain; they could hunt, they could survive anything the elements threw at them, and thus there was no evolutionary drive to cause them to change.

This means that the tribes who left Africa were more advanced from an evolutionary standpoint. Eventually, these tribes started doubling back on themselves. When this happened, they found increasingly primitive races of Humanity. These people were, quite literally, the shallow end of the gene pool.


This could well be where the racism against "Blacks" comes from; some sort of ancient racial memory of when we killed our Cave Men ancestors.
Don't really agree with this on the point that you're saying evolutionarily speaking some races are better than others.

And the span of the human race was probably too short for evolution to really affect us like that. And at the end of the day we're the same species. I wouldn't say there are evolutionary differences.

I would say our differences, that is the ones between darker skin and lighter skin variants was because of the initial differences between Temperate and Tropical climates. It's easier for society to accelerate their technology and arise from temperate climates with fertile land ripe for Agriculture.
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:45   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

I remember this coming up in Art History of all places. They were supporting part of what Bob noted. What we favor is tied to fairly abstract ideas about suitability. Light colored skin suggests time spent indoors, and by extension wealth and privilige. So historically, it was closer to ideas of beauty. There was a time when being overweight was held to be attractive for similar reasons, although that one has not really persisted.

And between races I think it is more about the history of the different continents.

I actually find darker skin tones more attractive, but I do not find the normal range of African facial architecture attractive. Odd, really.
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:50   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

"barbarian" in contrast to "civilized" I wasnt speaking of norse, or germans.

While I will agree that mongolians, scythians etc.. were probably more light based, it didnt help matters when others appearing with more dark complexions came in. I suppose you could say more desert dwelling people with tanner dispositions. The Crusades? dominance of a religion spread amongst a widely lighter skinned people? against people of desert dwellers?

the norse/germans/goths/gauls had to be assimilated, look at what they had done to the "civilized" societies. Assimilation was the only way to keep populations up, and sometimes its better to make friends with enemies then enemies of friends (plus they had tendencies to kill when treated badly, dont know why)
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:51   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

In developing countres alot of people work outside. Richer people are often office workers or can afford not to have to work outdoors. Hence richer, more privilaged people have lighter skin colouration. As such lighter skin is found to be more attractive.

The oposite is true in richer countrys where most people work indoor jobs. Being rich means you have more free time to go sunbathing and enjoy out doors activitys. Hence a more tan colouration is aspired too (like here in Australia).

Basicly Khanaris is right
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Old 11 Jun 2008, 08:58   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

I must admit, I've never given much thought as to the why - all I know is that I am just not attracted to dark skin. Its not racist, its just the way it is.

Maybe it is from the reasons WG and Khanaris pointed out, maybe not, but I just prefer really pale skin :P

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Old 11 Jun 2008, 09:08   #10 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: Why are we more predisposed to preferring lighter skin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafe
I must admit, I've never given much thought as to the why - all I know is that I am just not attracted to dark skin. Its not racist, its just the way it is.

Maybe it is from the reasons WG and Khanaris pointed out, maybe not, but I just prefer really pale skin :P
resistance to change genetic structure?

perhaps the lighter skinned people have more similar cases of protection, then the other non light skinned people. Why should the body risk change when the body is set in its environment?

for instance african americans have higher cases of sickle cell anemia. Why? the theory that I read states because of mosquitos and malaria, the body adapted to malaria.

I wonder if the case of AIDS proves relevance to their condition as opposed to ours? in some parts people have brought up studies of European stock being resistant to such a disease, and in such cases even showed resistant genes to bad cases of bacteria consumed through dead bodies.

Now if evolution takes a good while to kick in, I wonder how long these diseases were around for us to build such a resistance. And I can only have an idea why european stocks have a "basic" resistance against HIV/AIDS.



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