Americans continue to believe in race—"kind of like [how] people believe in witches," says Princeton historian Nell Irvin Painter. Yet the concept of race as we know it didn't develop until the Enlightenment, and American notions of what constitutes a "white" or "nonwhite" person have a complex history—one in which Carolus Linnaeus, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and (possibly) Barack Obama all play a role. It's the story Painter tells in her new book, "A History of White People," and in her Big Think interview.
It's no secret that the definition of white has expanded over the centuries, such that it now encompasses not only "Anglo-Saxons" but also people of Irish, Italian, Greek, and Jewish descent. But how did this expansion take place? And will it continue in the centuries ahead—or will racial boundaries change altogether? Both, says Painter, who believes that even as the idea of whiteness grows more ambiguous, "the idea of blackness, that is, poor dark-skinned people," will survive as long as fundamental inequalities persist in American society.
Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!
"Earth" features about 30 of the biggest names in entertainment.
- Lil Dicky is a rapper and comedian who released his debut album in 2015.
- All proceeds of the music video will go to environmental causes, Dicky said.
Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.
- A forensic artist in Scotland has made a hyper realistic model of an ancient dog.
- It was based on the skull of a dog dug up in Orkney, Scotland, which lived and died 4,000 years ago.
- The model gives us a glimpse of some of the first dogs humans befriended.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.