This is an idea I’ve had rattling around my noodle for a few years now, and while I may be doing the conversational equivalent of licking my finger and sticking it in a light socket, I’m going to take a chance and toss it out there …
A lot of people in the past – and some in the present – object to the idea of “race mixing” – i.e., people marrying/having kids with other people of different ethnic backgrounds. At times, it has been referred to as miscegenation or “mongrelization” – great term, that one; makes it sound like you’re trying to breed prize cocker spaniels or something.
At least in North America, the objectors to relationships across racial lines have usually been Caucasian, which makes no sense to me. What’s so spectacular about having pale skin? (Mine is pale, and I find it rather boring, to be frank.) If anything, it strikes me that other races should object to marrying us, just because we don’t look as good. But I digress.
Here’s where I’m going with this: what if so-called “race mixing” is actually a good idea, for the human species? In fact, what if it actually brings us closer to God’s ideal?
Whether you’re a creationist or an evolutionist (or a follower of “intelligent design” – shorthand for “evolutionist who believes Someone’s running the process”), there is an argument to support … y’know, let’s not call it “race-mixing”, let’s call it “genetic integration.” Creationists believe that the entire human race descended from one couple – Adam and Eve – and from there spread over the whole earth and gradually became the separate “races of man”. So genetic integration would, in a small way, bring us closer genetically to what Adam and Eve and their immediate descendants were like – all those folks who lived for 900-odd years (or at least a darn long time – that’s a theological debate I’m not interested in joining). That would be a good thing, right?
(Also, for those creationists who might object to genetic integration on Biblical grounds: what then are you going to do with Moses and his wife Zipporah, described in Numbers 12 as “the Cushite woman”? “Cushite” means “Ethiopian,” i.e., Moses, the leader of the Jews, was married to a “black” woman. For that matter, what about Boaz marrying Ruth the Moabite, and producing King David’s grandpa? Or Joseph marrying the Egyptian Asenath? Or Paul’s admonition (Galatians 3:28) that “there is now neither Jew nor Gentile … but all are one in Christ Jesus”? God’s criterion seems to be that both parties are believers in Him, not necessarily having matching pigmentation.)
If you’re an evolutionist, you’d have to figure that genetic integration would give greater opportunities for the advancement of the species. I’m no geneticist, but even I know that the more combinations of genes you try, the more likely you are to find improved combinations. (Yes, there will also be more combos that fail, which is bad – take it from someone who may be experiencing that firsthand. I’m trying to look on the bright side here …) The more improved combinations, the better the overall health of the species will usually be, because the successful ones are more likely to reproduce, and the failed ones less likely. If “hybrid vigor” is considered a plus in breeding plants and animals, wouldn’t it also be so for humans?
Let me give you one area where genetic integration shows demonstrable benefits: physical beauty. Now I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder – after all, my wife (aka the Supermodel) was 28 when we married, so a number of guys blew their chance to get this knockout before I came along. But there is a certain amount of consensus as to which people look better than others. And when you start to look into the backgrounds of those people, you find a disproportionate number of folks with mixed parentage.
Here’s a little experiment you can try: off the top of your head, write down the ten most beautiful women in pop culture today. Now … did Halle Berry make your list? Halle’s father was African-American, her mother Caucasian. How about Mariah Carey? Same thing, with a little Venezuelan thrown in on her dad’s side. Salma Hayek? Her father is of Lebanese descent, and she’s from Mexico, which was described by actor Robert Beltran (Mexican-American, and quite a handsome man himself) as “a nation of mestizos [mixed race].” You could also say the same for Cuba, where Eva Mendes traces her origins. Beyonce Knowles has African, French and First Nations blood; Megan Fox, Irish, French and First Nations; Jessica Alba’s dad was Mexican, her mother Caucasian. One of Kate Beckinsale’s grandfathers was Burmese. And when AskMen.com put out their 2010 list of the world’s most attractive women, the #1 spot went to actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, a Canadian whose parents are Moroccan Jews, so who knows what went into the mix there.
I’m not sure who would be on the list of the ten best-looking men, but it wouldn’t surprise me if (even after all the scandals) it included Tiger Woods, the self-described “Cablanasian” (Caucasian/black/Asian; his mother is from Thailand). Or Derek Jeter (African-American dad, Caucasian mom). Or actors Gael Garcia Bernal (Mexican) and Denzel Washington (African-American, which is almost never 100% African).
This theory even runs to entire countries. Think of the nationalities whose people are considered most physically appealing on average. Italians tend to rank high, as do Spaniards, Filipinos, Argentines and Brazilians. All of them are the result of multiple different groups intermarrying and interbreeding. In Italy, the commercial crossroads of much of the world for centuries, there were hundreds of years of relations between Europeans of all stripes, Africans, Arabs, Turks, Jews … and what was the result? Well, among other things, Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Carla Bruni, Monica Bellucci and even Leonardo DiCaprio (not all the good-looking Italians stayed in Europe, after all). Granted, I’m half-Italian, so maybe I’m biased, but you have to admit that’s an impressive list.
Take another area, athletic prowess. Football (the real football, what we Americans usually call “soccer”) is usually considered the sport requiring the toughest combination of stamina, balance, hand-eye (well, foot-eye) coordination and brute force. So what countries produce the best footballers? Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Portugal … you get the idea. Basketball might be second to soccer in terms of athletic necessity, and basketball is dominated by African-Americans (most/all of whom have some Caucasian and/or First Nations ancestors). The exceptions tend to be guys like Manu Ginobili (Argentinian), Pau Gasol (Spaniard) or Dirk Nowitzki (German, but with a Polish name …) – mixtures of one sort or another.
Now, I don’t know if genetic integration would translate into better-equipped people in other areas – intelligence, for one, although I wonder how much of what we usually refer to as “intelligence” is more nurture than nature. (My wife is a teacher; she would argue it’s more about educational opportunity than genes.) Although that ex-senator from Illinois with the Kenyan dad and Caucasian mom is supposed to be a pretty sharp fellow. I may not agree with him on a lot, but he’s clearly not dumb … anyway, there are other areas that may be worth exploring.
But what I’m saying is that so-called miscegenation, that bogeyman of Lester Maddox and Adolf Hitler, may be in fact a good thing, one to be encouraged as being of benefit to the human race. Maybe we should hold up interracial couples as positive examples, not only of their toughness is dealing with the slights of addle-headed bigotry, but of bringing humanity to a better place through their progeny. Maybe we should recognize people by the color of their skin and by the content of their character – but recognize that both are good.
I dunno, I could be wrong — it’s just a hypothesis. But it strikes me as one worth considering at least.