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talljasperman's avatar

Why are "white people" called Caucasian's when most "white people" are different tones of pink?

Asked by talljasperman (21858points) March 9th, 2015

Shouldn’t they be called “pink skins”? Also then are most black people different shades of black and brown?

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8 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The term “Caucasian” was not based on skin color, but an attempt to classify the major races in the late 18th Century. Central to the location of the Caucasian people was the Caucasus Mountains, so early anthropology applied that name to distinguish European and Middle Easterners from Mongols and Negroes. (Note: all these terms are archaic.)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) divided the human species into five races in 1779, later founded on crania research (description of human skulls), and called them (1793/1795):

the Caucasian race
the Mongoloid race
the Malay race
the Negroid race
the American race

Caucasian race (also Caucasoid[1] or Europid[2]) has historically been used to describe the physical or biological type of some or all of the populations of Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia.[3] The term was used in biological anthropology for many people from these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone.[4] First introduced in early racial science and anthropometry, the taxon has historically been used to denote one of the proposed major races of humankind.[5] Although its validity and utility is disputed by many anthropologists, Caucasoid as a biological classification remains in use,[6] particularly within the field of forensic anthropology.

The postulated subraces vary depending on the author, including but not limited to Mediterranean, Atlantid, Nordic, Alpine, Dinaric, Turanid, Armenoid, Iranid, Arabid, and Hamitic.

In 1920, H. G. Wells referred to the Mediterranean race as the Iberian race. He regarded it as a fourth sub-race of the Caucasoid race, along with the Aryan, Semitic, and Hamitic sub-races. He stated that the main ethnic group that most purely represented the racial stock of the Iberian race was the Basques, and that the Basques were the descendants of the Cro-Magnons.[28]

A Possible Explanation Why there hasn’t been much effort to refine the definitions of races since the 1930’s:

Several social and political developments that occurred at the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century led to the transformation in the discourse of race. Three movements that historians have considered are: the coming of mass democracy, the age of imperialist expansion, and the impact of Nazism.[19] More than any other, the violence of Nazi rule, the Holocaust, and World War II transformed the whole discussion of race. Nazism made an argument for racial superiority based on a biological basis. This led to the idea that people could be divided into discrete groups and based on the divisions, there would be severe, tortuous, and often fatal consequence. The exposition of racial theory beginning in the Third Reich, up to the Final Solution, created a popular moral revolution against racism.[19] In 1950, and as a response to the genocide of Nazism, UNESCO was formed and released a statement saying that there was no biological determinant or basis for race.

Consequently, studies of human variation focused more on actual patterns of variation and evolutionary patterns among populations and less about classification. Some scientists point to three discoveries. Firstly, African populations exhibit greater genetic diversity and less linkage disequilibrium because of their long history. Secondly, genetic similarity is directly correlated with geographic proximity. Lastly, some loci reflect selection in response to environmental gradients. Therefore, some argue, human racial groups do not appear to be distinct ethnic groups.[20]

~from a variety of Wkipedia articles

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think you meant to ask: Why are Caucasians called “white people” when most “white people” are different tones of pink?”

Because of the way you worded it, you are going to get responses about the term “Caucasian”, and not responses about why we are not called “pink people”. You might want to edit your question accordingly.

I don’t know why we’re not called “pink people”. Possibly because white is seen as the direct opposite of black, and we don’t tend to use the term “white people” unless it is in comparison to people who aren’t.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

Call me crazy but I don’t know any “pink” people. Maybe someone with a really bad sunburn but that’s it.

rojo's avatar

This kind of discussion always makes me think of something I read many years ago where the author said that because black is the absence of color and white is the presence of all colors that white people are actually colored.

auntydeb's avatar

Black and white thinking. Simplifying to make life easier… Sadly, the whole ‘technicolour’ story is usually too long!

JLeslie's avatar

I’m pink. Pink undertones, and Bobby Brown decided everyone should be yellow, and since then it’s really hard for me to find a good foundation color match for my skin. It’s annoying.

I remember being surprised to learn the dad on Sanford and Son was black. He didn’t look black to me. In my young mind I thought you had to be much much darker to be black. My mom explained that it has to do with how broad his features are and that white people had narrower features. It didn’t make much sense to me. I thought in terms of the crayon box and white skin wasn’t white like the Crayola color either.

If Asians are yellow and Indians are red, then white people easily could be pink. It’s all stupid of course. None of it really matters. My husband is white, but also olive I guess. I think he easily could have been classified as not white if the powers at be decided. It’s really quite arbitrary. Not the undertone color, that can actually measured fairly objectively I guess, but whether or how a government, scientist, or some group, wants to group people by skin color, nationality, ethnicity, or features, changes over time. In the US we tend to measure minority groups, disadvantaged groups, and immigrant groups.

@rojo I like that.

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