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.
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The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."
- A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
- In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
- The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
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