Interesting stuff from Jesse Bering, but I'm just wondering why I have become numb to issues of race or at leas to the unintellectual and stupid way that they are usually presented and discussed :
When it comes to skin color and the societal friction that characterizes race relations, the most plausible evolutionary account is that we consciously or unconsciously exploit this surface cue as a way to rapidly demarcate ingroup and outgroup members. It is abundantly clear that, since time immemorial, human societies have waged wars and been in conflict with other neighboring groups competing for the same limited resources. In the ancestral past, even the slightest physical, behavioral, or linguistic difference between camps would have served as a heuristic to help determine who was “one of us” and who was “one of them.” Again, evolutionarily, people of different skin colors would not have come into contact in the same geographic space (the divergent evolution of melanin-producing cells between human populations meant that, for the vast majority of our ancestral history, our ancestors would have never seen or known of another person with a skin color dramatically different from their own), other signals included accents and dialects, customs, gaits, fashion styles, and so on. In Northern Ireland, racism is subtly exuded by people trying to suss out the Protestant versus Catholic countenance of surnames, neighborhoods, word pronunciations, and facial features. One of the most startling pieces of evidence demonstrating the innateness of ingroup favoritism, reported a few years ago by psychologist Katherine Kinzler of the University of Chicago, is that, regardless of their nationality, ten-month-old infants actually shun adult playmates with foreign accents and prefer to interact with native speakers.
So it’s only in recent centuries, when the human animal found itself rather suddenly face-to-face with those of an entirely different hue, that this especially salient cue triggered our species’ more general pre-existing mechanism for ingroup- and outgroup-member demarcation. Being “color blind” is a beautiful idea, but unfortunately our retinas are sensitive to light of different wavelengths, and our visual systems cannot help but to process the color of people’s skin.