Racism and Nerds

I just watched this video set to Carl Sagan talking about the "pale blue dot" that is our home. While watching, I thought of all my years being an omninerd, and everything that life has taught me about science, nature, music, movies, literature, travel, sports, technology and people. And suddenly, I had the following question: Is it possible to truly be a nerd, and still be racist?

My thinking on this issue follows as such:

1) For the purposes of this discussion, I define a "nerd" as someone who values information and knowledge over almost anything else. Once a nerd limits the scope of their intellectual pursuits, or begins to shut out any part of the world, they fall into the category of "geek." Someone who knows a lot about astronomy, but not geology would be a geek, because the two sciences are very closely tied and aid the understanding of one another. Someone who is possibly not a master of any one subject, but well versed in many would be a nerd.

2) Information, knowledge and experience create the death of all bigotry. The more information one has, the more it is clear that though society, economy, geography, and history may give us different life experiences, we are all human, and ultimately all the same.

3) Racism is learned. This is why with each successive generation, there is less and less racism. As our world becomes more connected, and people are exposed to more cultures, information, knowledge and experience, people reject what their parents or grandparents believed. With each generation, and the continuing penetration of networking technology, we all get a little nerdier.

The problems to this line of thinking are:

1) Sometimes, no matter how much evidence to the contrary, people still cling to their beliefs, no matter how absurd or dangerous. (Insert slap against conservatives and religious fundamentalists.)

2) The problem is systemic. The way society is structured can reinforce stereotypes, and thus racism. Especially here in America, black people are kept poor and uneducated because of how the system is run, and as we should know by now (though many people don't), being poor and uneducated is what leads to crime. Add in a legal system that is also skewed against minorities and that stereotype gets even more basis in reality, even if built on controlled and designed "facts". Also, historically, because Europe developed technology faster, they were faster to be corrupted by the enhanced power that industry and technology produces, and then used that technology to become oppressors.

Consider this: More recently in history, Africa has undergone localized industrialization, and many societies have followed that same pattern of ancient Europe. When Europeans developed the technology, they were corrupted and began taking over the world because the rest of the world was less technologically advanced. Today, African leaders are equally as corrupted, but do not have the ability to travel with their power because that era has passed for much of the rest of the world. If the situation had been reversed, and hundreds of years ago, the history would still follow the same pattern, just with different "world leaders" today.

Consider this:



Notice a pattern? Well at the base of it all, that's all it is: a pattern based on sunlight. Humans adapted darker skin in areas of stronger sunlight as a form of protection. End of story. Why are people from Ireland so pale, easy to burn, and susceptible to skin cancer? Because generations of humans in that area never had to deal with very strong sunlight. Where are humans the darkest? That's right! At the equator. And what else is it rare for black people to get? Bingo! Skin cancer. It's scientific fact.