Well, Adrienne H. sent in a particularly humorous example: an advertising image from Pajamagram, featuring “hoodie-footies” for the entire family. They are color-coded — pink for girls, blue for boys — all the way down to the dog and cat.
One artifact of this thinking was the “human zoo.” Kidnapped from their homes at the end of the 19th century and into the next, hundreds of indigenous people were put on display for white Westerners to view. ”Often they were displayed in villages built in zoos specifically for the show,” according to a Spiegel Online sent in by Katrin, “but they were also made to perform on stage for the amusement of a paying public.” Many died quickly, being exposed to diseases foreign to them.
This group of captives is from Sri Lanka (called Ceylon at the time):
This photograph commemorates a show called “Les Indes,” featuring captives from India:
These captives are from Oromo in Ethiopia:
A German named Carl Hagenbeck was among the more famous men involved in human zoos. He would go on expeditions in foreign countries and bring back both animals and people for European collections. In his memoirs, he spoke of his involvement with pride, writing: “it was my privilege to be the first in the civilized world to present these shows of different races.”
I’m reposting this piece from 2008 in solidarity with Lisa Wade (no relation), whose (non-white) child was described by his teacher as “the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans.” It’s an amateur history of the association of Black people with primates. Please feel free to clarify or correct my broad description of many centuries of thought.
The predominant colonial theory of race was the great chain of being, the idea that human races could be lined up from most superior to most inferior. That is, God, white people, and then an arrangement of non-white people, with blacks at the bottom.
Consider this drawing that appeared in Charles White’s An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man, and in Different Animals and Vegetables (1799).On the bottom of the image (but the top of the chain) are types of Europeans, Romans, and Greeks. On the top (but the bottom of the chain) are “Asiatics,” “American Savages,” and “Negros.” White wrote: “In whatever respect the African differs from the European, the particularity brings him nearer to the ape.”
Nearly 70 years later, in 1868, Ernst Haeckel’s Natürliche Schöpfungsgeschichte was published. in the book, this image appeared (his perfect person, by the way, was German, not Greek):
In this image, we see a depiction of the great chain of being with Michelangelo’s sculpture of David Apollo Belvedere at the top (the most perfect human), a black person below, and an ape below him.
Notice that there seems to be some confusion over where the chain ends. Indeed, there was a lot of discussion as to where to draw the line. Are apes human? Are blacks? Carolus Linneaus, that famous guy who developed the classification system for living things, wasn’t sure. In his book Systema Naturae (1758), he published this picture, puzzling over whether the things that separating apes from humans were significant.
In this picture (also appearing in White 1799) are depictions of apes in human-like positions (walking, using a cane). Notice also the way in which the central figure is feminized (long hair, passive demeanor, feminized body) so as to make her seem more human.
Here we have a chimpanzee depicted drinking a cup of tea. This is Madame Chimpanzee. She was a travelling attraction showing how human chimps could be.
In any case, while they argued about where to draw the line, intellectuals of the day believed that apes and blacks were very similar. In this picture, from a book by Robert Knox called The Races of Men (1851), the slant of the brow is used to draw connections between the “Negro” and the “Oran Outan” and differences between those two and the “European.”
The practice of depicting the races hierarchically occurred as late as the early 1900s as we showed in a previous post.
NEW! Nov ’09) The image below appeared in the The Evolution of Man (1874 edition) as part of an argument that blacks are evolutionarily close to apes (source):
During this same period, African people were kept in zoos alongside animals. These pictures below are of Ota Benga, a Congolese Pygmy who spent some time as an attraction in a zoo in the early 1900s (but whose “captivity” was admittedly controversial at the time). (There’s a book about him that I haven’t read. So I can’t endorse it, but I will offer a link.) Ota Benga saw most of his tribe, including his wife and child, murdered before being brought to the Bronx Zoo. (It was customary for the people of his tribe to sharpen their teeth.)
The theorization of the great chain of being was not just for “science” or “fun.” It was a central tool in justifying efforts to colonize, enslave, and even exterminate people. If it could be established that certain kinds of people were indeed less than, even less than human, then it was acceptable to treat them as such.
So, there you have it. Connections have been drawn between black people and primates for hundreds of years. Whatever else you want to think about modern instances of this association – the one Wade and her child are suffering now, but also the Obama sock monkey, the Black Lil’ Monkey doll, and a political cartoon targeting Obama – objections are not just paranoia.
(I’m sorry not to provide a full set of links. I’ve collected them over the years for my Race and Ethnicity class. But a lot of the images and information came from here.)
by Gwen Sharp & Lisa Wade, May 29, 2012, at 11:30 am
This is the second of two posts about cruel practices in horse industries. The first was about horse racing.
Yesterday we covered the abuse of horses in horse racing; in this post we discuss a recent video released by the Humane Society. The video highlights an instance of a larger issue, which is how arbitrary human tastes can create incentives for cruelty.
The concern revolves around the Tennessee Walking Horse (TWH), a breed developed in the U.S. in the late 1800s and bred to have smooth gaits, including their distinctive “running walk,” that are unusual in most breeds. Over time, a more exaggerated version became popular among show judges and spectators at TWH shows; called the “big lick,” it requires horses to shift their weight to their back legs and pick their front legs high off the ground. Fans enjoyed the flashy, unusual movements and horses that performed the gait began taking home more prizes. This created a powerful incentive to get horses to exhibit the unnaturally exaggerated gait.
How do you get this gait? It’s possible to get some horses to do so through careful training. But to speed up the process, or for horses that aren’t learning, trainers developed a range of techniques. These first two are still allowed, under varying circumstances, during training and in the show ring:
Using padding and weighted shoes to change how the horse stands and moves its feet (akin to how high heels shift a person’s weight and stance).
Placing chains around the tops of their hooves to encourage them to pick their feet up more highly than they would otherwise (presumably they’re irritating).
However, some trainers use prohibited versions of these two items. This photo shows pads and chains that were not within the allowable height and weight limits:
Place screws or nails in different parts of their front hooves or soles to cause discomfort. While horses’ hooves are hard, the soles are quite sensitive. The screws or nails make it painful for the horse to put its front legs down, so it shifts its weight back, helping to attain the gait.
Intentionally cut the horse’s front hooves so short that the sensitive sole hits the ground directly, which is extremely painful (think of what happens if your fingernail gets cut or broken off too short).
Coating a horse’s hooves and lower legs with caustic substances, then wrapping them in plastic wrap, for as long as several days, until they’re very sore — a process called, aptly, “soring.” This causes the horse to shift weight to its back legs in an effort to reduce the pain from the front feet. This is often used in conjunction with chains, which irritate and rub up against the raw skin.
Many inspectors argue that these practices, once widely accepted in the industry, are still common today. Recently the Humane Society released undercover footage of training practices at Whitter Stables, a facility in Collierville, TN that has been the center of a federal investigation. It is a very distressing video that includes many of the practices listed above, as well as horses being whipped when they have difficulty standing:
In 1970, Congress passed the Horse Protection Act, which outlawed the exhibition of sored horses. So trainers have developed techniques to hide them; they paint horses’ hooves and legs to cover evidence of soring or use boots to cover tacks embedded in their hooves.
They also beat them so that they learn not to show any sign of pain when inspected before a show. They do this by simulating an inspection and then punishing the horse if it shows any signs of distress (e.g., punching or hitting them in the face or administering an electric shock). Eventually horses learn that if they flinch, they get hurt twice; hiding signs of pain prevents the infliction of more suffering.
Trainers may also use a fast-acting but short-term numbing agent to reduce the pain just long enough to pass inspections. Other trainers and owners simply leave a show if word gets out that USDA inspectors were present.
The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association argues that these practices are not widespread. However, in 2006 the last class in the World Grand Champion competition at the Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration (the TWH show equivalent of the Kentucky Derby, in terms of importance) was canceled because of the 10 entered horses, 5 did not pass the inspection and another was removed by the owner without being inspected. In 2009, the USDA issued over 400 violations at the Celebration.
A USDA report states the organization only had the resources to send their own veterinarians to 6% of official TWH shows in 2007; the other 94% were inspected by individuals hired, trained, and licensed by organizations sponsoring shows, a system the USDA found to be plagued by conflicts of interest. The report also noted that hostility toward USDA inspectors is so high that they routinely bring police or armed security with them to shows.
Jackie McConnell, the trainer in the video, has been indicted on federal charges. But without sustained attention and commitment to punishing violators, the problem will continue due to the pressure to produce horses that satisfy the tastes that have become entrenched in the industry. As one industry insider explained to Horse Illustrated magazine in 2004,
As long as the big lick wins at shows, the trainer must produce it to stay in business….The day a trainer stops producing big lick horses is the day all the horses in his or her barn are removed and taken to another trainer. The pressure is enormous.
by Lisa Wade & Gwen Sharp, May 28, 2012, at 11:30 am
This is the first of two posts about the abuse of horses in equestrian sports. The second is about Tennessee Walking Horses.
“In humans you never see someone snap their leg off running in the Olympics. But you see it in horse racing.”
These words, spoken by the equine medical director for the California Racing Board, summarize the truly terrifying absurdity that is horse racing today. A team of investigator reporters at the New York Times has found that over 1,200 horses die at race tracks every year in the U.S. Many of them die immediately after a race, euthanized after their bodies literally crumble underneath them. Their legs break, unable to withstand the forces that the horses exert upon their bodies. People in the industry call it, euphemistically, a “break down.” It occurs 1 out of every 200 times a horse starts a race.
All of these horses are being ridden by a jockey who is pitched off when the horse falls. Moving at upwards of 50 miles an hour, and in the midst of many other horses running at top speed, jockeys are often seriously injured and sometimes killed. Currently there are over 50 permanently disabled jockeys receiving financial assistance from their professional trade association. Jacky Johnson, for example, was paralyzed from the neck down after his horse, Phire Power, broke its leg during a race. He will need a respirator for the rest of his life; Phire Power was euthanized on the track.
Why is this happening?
Because we are making it so.
First, race horses are bred in order to run as fast as possible. Short legs and thick bones slow a horse down, while longer, more delicate legs give them longer strides. Breeders, then, have an incentive to build horses who are both faster and more fragile.
Second, owners may be putting these horses on the track too young. Horses typically start getting raced at 2 to 3 years old, very young for an animal with a lifespan of 30 years. Some argue that the bodies of young horses are not ready to handle the physical demands of racing. This 2-year-old horse, Teller All Gone, broke its leg during a race; it is about to be euthanized:
The owners dumped his body at a junkyard:
Third, there is the drug problem. Many trainers illegally give their horses performance-enhancing drugs. Many of them are experimental and are not yet or cannot be tested for. These include “chemicals that bulk up pigs and cattle before slaughter, cobra venom, Viagra, blood doping agents, stimulants and cancer drugs.” Built for speed and not safety, on the track too young, and amped up on steroids and other performance-enhancers, these horses are pushed to their limits. Just this week Doug O’Neill, the trainer of I’ll Have Another, the horse set to win this year’s Triple Crown, was fined after his horse tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Even more problematic than the doping is the legal practice of giving horses pain-relieving drugs, including cocaine. These mask the pain signals that would otherwise tell a horse to slow down or be careful on the track and also increase that chances that the track veterinarian will miss an injury when clearing the horse to race. The NYT reports that “[a]s many as 90 percent of horses that break down had pre-existing injuries” and they argue pain-masking drugs “pose the greatest risk to horse and rider.” The Louisiana Racing Commission call it “a recipe for disaster.”
The drugs detailed below are what were given to Coronado Heights in the week before he collapsed and was euthanized on the track:
Horse racing is subject to regulation, but these vary by state and are typically very poorly enforced, bringing us to the fourth reason why we see so much tragedy on race tracks. The punishment for violations is insignificant, sometimes only a warning:
Trainers in New Mexico who overmedicate horses with Flunixin get a free pass on their first violation, a $200 fine on the second and a $400 fine on the third, records show… [the state also] wipes away Flunixin violations every 12 months… To varying degrees, the picture is similar nationwide. Trainers often face little punishment for drug violations, and on the rare occasions when they are suspended, they are allowed to turn their stables over to an assistant
When it comes down to it, many owners and trainers are willing to risk a horse’s life for the chance at the prize money and the less likely a horse is to win, the less they’re worth to the owner, so the harder they’re willing to push it.
The economic incentive to run horses till they die may seem to apply to the highest stakes racing but, in fact, it’s at the lowest end that we see the most disregard for the safety of horses and their jockeys. In the backyards of those casinos where racetracks are now part of the attraction (often referred to as “racinos”), horses and jockeys are a dime a dozen, and the money gives people a reason to break the rules. Meanwhile, the casino tracks are low profile, so they receive even less regulatory attention.
The use of the phrase “break down” to describe a horse who has snapped its own bones in the process of entertaining and enriching human beings is an indication of how nonchalantly industry figures approach this problem. It suggests that these animals, and perhaps their jockeys as well, have been thoroughly objectified: cars break down, air conditioners break down, we break down boxes. The language entirely fails to capture what is happening to these horses. It may very well, however, describe what has happened to the industry and to the basic humanity of its most culpable beneficiaries.
Death at the Track:
Visit the New York Times to watch “The Rise of the Racinos” and “A Jockey’s Story.”
by Guest Blogger Deeb Kitchen, Mar 5, 2012, at 12:20 pm
Symbolic interactionism, one of the most common theoretical perspectives adopted by sociologists, explains human behavior through the meanings we place on objects or symbols in our environment. These symbols can be material objects, but they can also be words, gestures, actions, events, as well as people and groups. The symbols’ meanings are not innate. They are created and applied through human relations and interactions. In other words, they are socially constructed. Consequently, our behaviors and relationships change as meanings are altered. Some social conflict is the result of different groups defining objects differently.
This extends to human cognition, as a previous post on cultural differences in susceptibility to optical illusions demonstrated. Another example involves how we hear animal sounds, illustrated in this clip from the television show “Family Guy.” In this segment, we see Stewie playing with a European see and say, a toy designed to teach animal noises. He is frustrated because the animals are said to make sounds that do not ring true to his ear.
For a list of the various sounds animals make in different parts of the world, see this compilation by Derek Abbott at The University of Adelaide.
Deeb Kitchen is an assistant visiting professor at Drake University specializing social movements, the sociology of knowledge and poplar culture. He has done research on higher education, graduate labor unions, and the culture industry.
Philippa brought our attention to a recent ad campaign by the Egg Farmers of Ontario, an organization that promotes Ontario’s egg industry. The campaign, titled Who Made Your Eggs Today?, draws the consumer’s attention to the families engaged in producing Canada’s eggs. The images and videos focus on an idealized image of family farms, emphasizing tradition, family togetherness, and a connection to the land:
But as Philippa pointed out, there’s something noticeably absent here: the chickens themselves. There’s quite a bit of talk about chickens — how much the farmers enjoy working with them, how amazing it is that they produce an egg nearly every day, what they eat, and so on — but I didn’t see a single chicken in any of the videos listed on the Farm Families page.
This ad campaign seems to provide transparency into how food is produced; we get to see into the lives of actual egg producers in Ontario, and hear them speak about their lives and the process that brings eggs to the consumer. And for those of us concerned about how the conditions under which our food is produced, this is an important step, as most consumers have little or no direct experience with farming or the lives of people who raise food. The appeal of farmers’ markets , community-based agriculture, and other alternative food distribution outlets is not just the idea of getting environmentally sustainable produce, but also making a connection to a specific producer, and often a desire to support small-scale family farmers.
But the insight into the egg supply chain offered here is selective. What is carefully avoided in the videos is any discussion of how the hens are treated. We never quite see into the barns to see how the chickens are housed; we don’t hear whether artificial lighting and other techniques are used to boost egg production in ways that cause physical stress to the hens; we don’t know anything at all, in fact, about the chickens.
We enter the story when the eggs have been separated from layers’ housing; we see clean, pretty eggs moving along on mechanized belts or being carefully placed into cartons by hand; our attention as consumers is directed to the people running the farms and away from discussions of the animals or larger concerns about sustainability. As Philippa says, “in giving the egg farmers a public face, the campaign is actually distancing the public from the product they are promoting.”