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Obvious Factual Error by ESPN:

I am a big fan of ESPN. As a general rule, I find ESPN's coverage of sports that I follow closely to be better, fairer, and more accurate than the regular media's coverage of the legal and political issues that I'm most familiar with.

Today, however, ESPN.com made a fairly serious factual error. In its article on Cleveland Indians pitcher C.C. Sabbathia, the winner of the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the American League, ESPN claimed that "Sabathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985 — and the first in the AL since Oakland's Vida Blue in 1971." This is clearly false. As any moderately knowledgeable baseball fan should know, black Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez won the AL Cy Young Award in 1999 and 2000, and also won the National League Cy Young as a member of the Montreal Expos in 1997. Martinez's 1999 and 2000 campaigns were two of the best seasons by any post-WWII pitcher, and he had the extremely rare distinction of winning the Cy Young vote unanimously in both years.

While racial identity is often debatable, I think that it's pretty obvious that Pedro Martinez is black. Judge for yourself:

Perhaps ESPN meant merely that Sabbathia is the first black American pitcher to win the CY Young since Gooden in '85 (Pedro Martinez is Dominican). But if that's what they meant, they should have said so.

UPDATE: I should perhaps note that the Associated Press was the original source of the offending article, which ESPN.com reprinted. However, ESPN still deserves some criticism for posting the mistaken material without editing it properly.

UPDATE #2: In reading the comments, there seem to be many people who view "black" and "hispanic" as mutually exclusive categories, such that if Pedro Martinez is Hispanic (by virtue of being from the Dominican Republic), he can't also be black. This seems to me a fallacy. People with different ethnicities or cultures can be part of the same racial group, and vice versa. For example, my being a Russian Jew by ethnic background doesn't prevent me from also being white. Census data and numerous news accounts (see, e.g., here , here, and here) reveal that there are some 1 million people in the United States who describe themselves - and are perceived by others - as "black Hispanics" or "black Latinos." Moreover, Latin American nations - including Martinez's native Dominican Republic - have their own racial divisions between darker-skinned blacks, whites, and people who fall into intermediate categories. In the United States, many black Dominican immigrants are among those who identify themselves as "black Hispanics."

Denying the existence of black Hispanics/Latinos is particularly ill-advised in the baseball context, given baseball's history of racial (but not ethnic) segregation. Prior to 1947, black Hispanics were excluded from the major leagues just as black Americans were, while lighter-skinned Hispanics were allowed to play. As black Cuban Hall of Famer Tony Perez put it, "Like black Americans, we black Latinos couldn't play until after [Jackie] Robinson made his debut." Note that Perez describes himself and other black Latin American players as "black Latinos."

Given the number of people who seem to endorse the view that being black and being Hispanic are mutually exclusive, I was perhaps wrong to say that ESPN's error was "obvious." It is, however, an error nonetheless.

Brian G (mail) (www):
A few months ago, I heard some of the ESPN radio dopes arguing that Sabathia should win start the All-Star game and win the Cy Young so that it would inspire other minorities. I thought, you gotta be kidding me.

ESPN racial-pandering, to me, has become a joke. I don't watch SportsCenter anymore because I got tired of waiting through a 10-minute feature on some poor [insert victim here, usually someone or a group of people] fighting through some injustice so I could see some game highlights.

Sabathia won it because he was a bad ass on the mound all year. I am glad to see it because he deserved it. That he is the first black to win it in some time does not make me feel any happier for him.
11.13.2007 11:28pm
GV_:
You're this big of a nitpicker and you find EPSN's coverage to be better than the rest? Jesus. If the worst thing ESPN did was write black instead of African-American, it would likely be possible to sit through one of its shows. ESPN was great about ten years ago. It's embarrasingly bad now.

If you're going to be outraged at something ESPN does, why not rail on it for continuing to employ sports analysts who apparently know nothing about sports? (See, e.g., Steven A. Smith, Joe Morgan.)

I mean, really, if you want to get pissed at ESPN for something, how about its "Who's Now" segment? The fact that EPSN devoted a segment to discussing whether Tom Brady is more "now" than Maria Sharapova (see previous link) is way more infuriating than its decision to carry an AP story that used "black" as a shorthand for "African-American."
11.13.2007 11:43pm
andy (mail) (www):
am i missing something here? isn't pedro martinez latino?
11.13.2007 11:43pm
talboito (mail) (www):
You're missing the conflation of race with ethnicity.

I'm not sure why exactly it is important (it all seems vaguely "culture warrish") for Illya to conflate the two, but that is what he has done.
11.14.2007 12:20am
Barney (mail):
I'm not sure Pedro is black.

I agree that his complexion is hardly Nordic, but given that many African Americans are more lightly complected than Arab, Asian or Latin-American individuals that we would not consider "black," is it really fair to make the determination on skin color?

African/African-American ought to replace black in popular usage not because it's politically correct, but because it is, as this illustrates, considerably more precise.
11.14.2007 12:20am
Anonobvious:
I can see the headline now: "Somin: Inaccurate News Reports Are Dooming"

Andy, Martinez is latino. He could be classified as black, but that term is usually used to refer to someone with largely unmixed black racial ancestry. It'd be most accurate to call him afro-latino, but I'd suspect that recordkeepers probably err on the side of choosing latino (If I had to guess, I'd imagine that Martinez would self-identify as latino, rather than black. At least, that's the case with the few afro-latinos that I personally know.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afro-Latin_American
11.14.2007 12:30am
Ilya Somin:
Martinez is latino. He could be classified as black, but that term is usually used to refer to someone with largely unmixed black racial ancestry.

By that standard, most AFrican-Americans aren't black because most have at least some white ancestry. Yes, Martinez is Latino. But he is black too. The two groups are not mutually exclusive. In the same way, I am of Russian Jewish background, but also white.
11.14.2007 12:48am
CDU (mail):
African/African-American ought to replace black in popular usage not because it's politically correct, but because it is, as this illustrates, considerably more precise.

Using "African-American" to describe race is considerably less precise than "black" because a great many people who live on the continent of Africa are not racially black. Someone who emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt meets the obvious geographic definition of "African-American", but doesn't have much racially in common with someone who's roots lie in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, a Caucasian Afrikaner who's ancestors lived in South Africa for a hundred years can lay a much better claim to being African than someone who's ancestors were brought to the Americas as slaves centuries ago.

You're missing the conflation of race with ethnicity.

I'm not sure why exactly it is important (it all seems vaguely "culture warrish") for Illya to conflate the two, but that is what he has done.

I'm a bit confused as to what you're saying here. It seems to be that Ilya has specifically avoided conflating race and ethnicity here. Pedro Martinez is definitely Hispanic, but that doesn't preclude him from being black as well.
11.14.2007 12:48am
one of many:
I am pretty sure most would consider Pedro latin instead of african-american. I was wondering if 'black' was acceptable again, since I get irritated with hearing Ghanans refered to as African-Americans, dang it they are Africans. I'm glad Tiger Woods finally agreed to be African-American since it was getting to be a bother to explain he was asian (mostly) and considered himself an asian or sometimes a caucasian/native american/afro/asian.
11.14.2007 12:50am
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
Ilya,

Is this post for real, or were you just trying to incite people into a frenzied response?
11.14.2007 12:56am
Eugene Volokh (www):
(1) Many, perhaps most, American blacks are not of "largely unmixed black racial ancestry."

(2) The modern trend among demographers is to treat Hispanic as an ethnicity, so one can indeed be black Hispanic, white Hispanic, mixed white-American Indian Hispanic, and so on. The Census, for instance, takes this view.

(3) I don't see why Pedro Martinez's coming from the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic (or having some American Indian or Spanish ancestry, if he has that) makes him not black, while someone who looks just like Martinez and has similar ancestry but comes from the neighboring country of Haiti -- or for that matter from Alabama -- would be black.
11.14.2007 12:58am
andy (mail) (www):
I still have absolutely no idea what's going on here. I think I will leave this post be.
11.14.2007 1:07am
Chico's Bail Bonds (mail):
Eugene,

Your points are good as far as they go, but look at the title of this post: "Obvious Factual Error . . " Pedro Martinez is arguably black. But it is not an "obvious" or "factual" error to claim he is not. Exactly how much black ancestry it takes to make someone "black" is a matter of opinion. The post is way off.
11.14.2007 1:09am
Eli Rabett (www):
You and Chuck Griffith
11.14.2007 1:18am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Chico's Bail Bonds: Exactly how much black ancestry it takes to make someone "black" is indeed a matter of opinion -- but I don't think many people would doubt that someone who looks like Pedro Martinez indeed has enough such black ancestry.

What some might disagree on is whether being from the Dominican Republic keeps Pedro Martinez from being black even if someone with the same black ancestry from Haiti or Alabama were broadly acknowledged to be black. And I agree that this isn't a "factual" question. Still, I agree with Ilya that simply asserting that "Sabathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985" is indeed a mistake: It silently assumes that Martinez wasn't black, and this assumption is controversial enough that it shouldn't be silently made.
11.14.2007 1:42am
Ilya Somin:
What some might disagree on is whether being from the Dominican Republic keeps Pedro Martinez from being black even if someone with the same black ancestry from Haiti or Alabama were broadly acknowledged to be black. And I agree that this isn't a "factual" question. Still, I agree with Ilya that simply asserting that "Sabathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985" is indeed a mistake:

It seems to me that the question of whether someone who 1) looks like Martinez, and 2) has the kind of ancestry he has, would be described as "black" in ordinary American usage is indeed a factual question. It's factual in much the same way as the question of whether Eugene and I count as "Russian Jews" in ordinary usage.
11.14.2007 1:54am
whit:
semi-famously (well at least in seattle), there was some hubbub about a (black) local politician not being allowed into the convention center during WTO. he did not have ID and nobody was let in w/o id. claims were made that the cops didn't let him in because he was black. that's of course absurd, but what was funny was that the mayor at the time supported the police (rare enough in seattle) by saying that literally dozens of WTO delegates who were "african american" were let in to the convention center when they showed proper ID.

what was ironic was that these were not "african americans". they were BLACK. they were in fact citizens of various countries and NOT american. some were african african (so to speak) etc. mayor schell reflexively used the PC term for black and thus made a factual error by referring to citizens of other countries who happened to be black as "african american."

and of course is teresa kerry "african american?" she was born in africa and is now american? that's why this term is kind of stupid.

latino (and hispanic) are cultural designations NOT racial.

one can be of asian ancestry even and be hispanic. it has nothing to do with race. if one is "racially asian" (such as your parents being from japan ) but you were born and spent your life in cuba, you would be hispanic, even though you wouldn't "look hispanic" to borrow a phrase.

i didn't realize tiger now considered himself black. last i heard he referred to himself (somewhat jokingly) as cablinasian (caucasian-black-asian). i find it somewhat ironic that many of the same people who would be horrified by blood quanta arguments and such insist (or assume) that tiger woods is "black" when in fact he is of mixed racial ancestry and is roughly just as much asian or white as he is black.
11.14.2007 2:04am
ScottVA:

Using "African-American" to describe race is considerably less precise than "black" because a great many people who live on the continent of Africa are not racially black. Someone who emigrated to the U.S. from Egypt meets the obvious geographic definition of "African-American", but doesn't have much racially in common with someone who's roots lie in sub-Saharan Africa.


A guy I knew in college actually got an African-American scholarship. One of the terms was that he join the BSA--Black Student Alliance. Well, his mom was Danish and his dad a very light-skinned Arab Egyptian, so that probably gives you a clue what he looked like..
11.14.2007 2:22am
Promethean:
I have an idea. Why don't we just decide to think of Pedro, the other Cy Young winner, Tiger Woods, and Cy Young for that matter as people?

And for that matter why don't we stop making victims out of people by tying the anchor of their ethnicity around them as well.
11.14.2007 2:32am
one of many:
If I recall correctly Tiger Woods dosn't consider himself black, he just agreed to let himself be described as African American. He probably got tired of explaining that he was a caucasian/native american/black/asian, and mostly asian, I expect people wore him down.

Some people enjoy their ethnicity, I once had a friend who liked to describe himself as a half-black half-puerto-rican czechoslavakian polock. If someone wants to identify themselves by ethnicity, why not let them? Of course, if they reject being identified by ethnicity there is no reason to force it on them. And some chose ethnic IDs which are hard to accept, Michael Jackson is as much a african american as M&M is.
11.14.2007 3:14am
A.C.:
Pedro Martinez is probably black as a matter of physical description, but he is not African American. I think the problem is that "Black" became a big nationality/identity thing for a while, and that confuses people who are trying to use "black" as an ordinary descriptive term. It seems that big-B "Black" is falling out of fashion in this country, in favor of "African American," but usage isn't stable yet. And "African American" has its own problems, especially when people try to apply it to citizens of other countries.
11.14.2007 5:53am
JSF (mail):
As a Dominican-American, I have to say that Ilya is wrong on this one. Pedro is not "black", at least by the standards of where both he and I are from.

Some commenters have already said that Ilya is mixing "African-American" with "black", and I agree. The problem is that even if we agreed that were true, Pedro isn't "black"; he's Latino (not "Latin").

I don't think this is something controversial or worthy of an apology. But I do think it was a mistake for Ilya to be outraged by the "obvious factual error" without first getting the facts.
11.14.2007 6:52am
Joe Blow:
I'm sorry, but this post is ill-informed. Pedro Martinez is not black; he's Dominican. And FYI, David Ortiz is not black either. Perhaps you missed the plethora of articles earlier this year about the decline of blacks in baseball overall. But according to your logic, there are PLENTY of blacks in baseball. No, there are not. They are mostly Latino. Do you remember when Gary Sheffield was venting about this?

For example, the Yankees actually have only one black player--Derek Jeter. Cano doesn't count; Luis Vizcaino doesn't count. And I could go on. This massive grouping of individuals that you are perpetuating contributes to the ignorance in society on the distinction between different races and ethnicities.
11.14.2007 7:31am
Jorge del Rio (mail):
Actually, it's probably more clear to Americans of non-hispanic backgrounds than it would be to Americans of hispanic background. Full disclosure, I'm an American with parents that were born in Cuba and would be considered "white." To hispanics, the term "black" is usually used to refer to African-americans and not hispanics that are black (additionally, back in the late 80's or early 90's, Haitians in Miami were adamant that they were not "black," but rather Haitian - there is now a designation for them on forms that require this information instead of them checking "black"). As an example, there was a great show put on by PBS in Miami called Que Pasa USA. It was the story of Cuban immigrants living in Miami with three generations - the grandparents still in the old ways (only spoke Spanish), the parents caught in between (spoke mostly Spanish and some English), and the children, learning to be Americans (spoke mostly English and some Spanish). The daughter had a male friend that was a black American and the parents were against it. However, a family friend was coming over who was Cuban and happened to be black. When he arrived the daughter asked why he was ok but not her friend. They responded that he wasn't black, he was Cuban.
11.14.2007 7:47am
runape (mail):
Much of what Ilya says is inflammatory (indeed, he seems to enjoy such points) but not offensive. But there is at least one genuinely offensive point: do you (Ilya) have any idea what Pedro's ancestry actually is, or are you assuming he is of African ancestry merely based on the tint of his skin color? Someone as informed as you surely knows there are many people who "look" white, and indeed many who "look" black. But "take a look for yourself"? You should reconsider being inflammatory just for the sake of it.
11.14.2007 9:07am
Shertaugh:
Seems to me that if the AP writer used "black" to mean African-American, and given his references to Gooden and Blue, the writer did, then Ilya is wrong. [Looks like the writer took the time to review past winners, and I'm guessing that the writer knows what Martinez looks like.]

What Ilya is complaining about, again, it seems to me, is the writer's word choice. Ilya doesn't like it.

But in context (ejusdem generis anyone?), I think Ilya's wrong.
11.14.2007 9:14am
Jackson Benson (mail) (www):
But there is at least one genuinely offensive point: do you (Ilya) have any idea what Pedro's ancestry actually is, or are you assuming he is of African ancestry merely based on the tint of his skin color?

Ilya didn't say anything about "African ancestry," if I'm not mistaken. He said that Martinez is "black" -- which is a skin color that Martinez unquestionably does possess. Indeed, there are a lot of Americans who identify as "black" but who have a much lighter skin tone than Martinez.
11.14.2007 9:22am
Jackson Benson (mail) (www):
I really don't get this, from one commenter:

Some commenters have already said that Ilya is mixing "African-American" with "black", and I agree.

Ilya didn't say anything about "African American." And if he did, he wouldn't be the one "mixing" up the terms. To the contrary, it was the AP writer mixing up the terms by assuming that "black" = "African American," such that if someone is the "first" person who is literally an American of African heritage to do something, that makes him the first "black" person to do that thing.

Which just isn't true. There are lots and lots of people in the world who are "black" but who are not "African American."
11.14.2007 9:29am
alias:
I'm with "GV_." Stick to what you know.
11.14.2007 9:35am
Hoosier:
We have a category for admission to our university: "Hispanic (Not of African Descent)". So here, at least, Prof. Somin would be patently correct.

I am aware that other institutions use the category "Hispanic of Any Race". So those who object to Prof. Somin' analysis are thinking along the lines of this category; one is Hispanic OR Black. Not both.

But these guys from the DR, and other Caribbean Basin states, are descended from slaves who were brought there to work sugar plantations. It's not clear to me how they are made Not-Black by the fact that their overlords spoke Spanish, and so now they do too. Had they been on the other side of the mountains, and spoke French, they'd be black? Now THAT'S "social construction of race".
11.14.2007 9:37am
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
11.14.2007 9:43am
A.C.:
Maybe some of the fuss is because Latin American countries never had a one-drop rule. As I understand it, people who were somewhere in between extremely black and extremely white got their own categories. Plenty of people, including in the Dominican Republic, are much darker than Martinez. JSF, would those Dominicans who appear to be 100% African be considered "black" when they are in the Dominican Republic?

Nowadays, it seems that a lot of the pressure for mixed-race people to identify as black comes from African Americans rather than from white people. But the question of what to call Latinos who appear to be of African heritage is a good illustration of the limits of binary racial categories. The flap over the "multiracial" box on the last census was another one, and I think these arguments will only increase as racial categories get more blurred. I expect we'll ultimately end up with a list of words for skin color similar to the ones we use to describe the shades of variation in hair color. Even then we'll need a term for people of African heritage in the US who identify with a shared history and culture, but that word doesn't have to be an exact synonym for any of the words that describe physical appearance.

At this point I'd be happy if I could get people to stop referring to unambiguously black people with British passports as "African American." They aren't any kind of American. The question of multiracial people from other countries in the Americas is a lot trickier than that one, but even that one seems to be unsolvable in the current environment. Are there any British people reading this who can supply a current, courteous term to fill this gap?
11.14.2007 9:45am
Jackson Benson (mail) (www):
Hoosier -- I think the deep philosophical principle here is that African ancestry = "black," except in the case of people who have a "z" at the end of their last names.
11.14.2007 9:47am
Who cares?:
I had no idea Derek Jeter was black.
11.14.2007 10:21am
RPS (mail):

What some might disagree on is whether being from the Dominican Republic keeps Pedro Martinez from being black even if someone with the same black ancestry from Haiti or Alabama were broadly acknowledged to be black. And I agree that this isn't a "factual" question. Still, I agree with Ilya that simply asserting that "Sabathia is the first black pitcher to win a Cy Young Award since Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in 1985" is indeed a mistake: It silently assumes that Martinez wasn't black, and this assumption is controversial enough that it shouldn't be silently made.


I think that assumption is likely only to be controversial to someone with a limited knowledge of baseball and specifically Pedro Martinez. That's not to say that Volokh or Somin ever claimed to be baseball experts, but within the sporting world, Martinez has long been considered Hispanic and not black. Whether he should be considered a black Hispanic, a Hispanic black, or both black and Hispanic very well may be interesting questions, but the fact remains that identifying Martinez as only Hispanic, even if incorrect, has been the norm for a while and therefore I don't think continuing that norm is controversial.

At the very least, there's no basis to claim that it was an obvious factual error.
11.14.2007 10:32am
Beuks (mail):
"African ancestry = "black," except in the case of people who have a "z" at the end of their last names."

If so, what about Johan Santana, who has won the Cy Young twice since 2000?
11.14.2007 10:36am
WHOI Jacket:
I am reminded of the coverage of World Cup soccer, when the black footballers who was born, raised and living in England were referred to as "African-American" by the American sportscasters. It immediately illustrated the absurdity of the PCness of it all.
11.14.2007 10:43am
Dave!:
I wonder how Pedro Martinez *self identifies*. I have not met that many Dominicans, but those I have met self-identify as Hispanic, and not black... and not, as Eugene pointed out, "black Hispanic".
11.14.2007 10:51am
Just a thought:
I have to agree with RPS's and Joe Blow's analysis and those who don't see the glaring "obvious factual" error. Ilya's off on this one. In baseball, Martinez is not considered a "black" player (using the description "black" the way it is generally used - not as a mere description of skin color but as a description of a certain group of people).
11.14.2007 11:06am
Aaron:
By Ilya's logic, Tiger Woods was not the great black hope of the golfing world - Vijay Singh was. After all, he's just as black as Woods.
11.14.2007 11:18am
karl (mail):
ESPN could have prevented all this baloney by referring to Sabathia as "the first non-caucasian ...".
11.14.2007 11:21am
Hoosier:
Is it the "z"? Or do vowels count as well?
11.14.2007 11:35am
JohnThompson (mail):
Obvious? He doesn't look very black at all to me, quite frankly. More like hispanic I would say.
11.14.2007 11:38am
r78:
Does Martinez identify himself as "black"?

That is the question.

To put up a picture of someone and debate about whether or not he "looks black" is pretty damn offensive.
11.14.2007 11:47am
pcharles (mail):
I find it hilarious that people state that David Ortiz is NOT black and Derek Jeter is black. Who really cares?
11.14.2007 11:59am
tgb1000 (mail):
ESPN is not part of the "regular media"?
11.14.2007 12:15pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
I'd say octoroon, at a minimum.

Put up another picture! I could do this all day.
11.14.2007 12:23pm
Aaron:
Is Ilya advocating a return to the paper bag test? Obviousness of blackitude? It seems to me that conflating "black" with "Black" was ESPN's error. However, by Ilya's logic, A-Rod and Jeter are not black, but George Hamilton is?

Sheesh. Get over it. Beckett lost.
11.14.2007 12:26pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Let's do Mike Lowell next.
11.14.2007 12:35pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Ilya is just upset that the Every Sox Play Network actually did something baseball related without centering it on the Sox. Gave him an excuse to talk about Pedro.

You won the Series, the Pats are undefeated and the Celtics started 5-0. Isn't that enough?


It seems to me that the question of whether someone who 1) looks like Martinez, and 2) has the kind of ancestry he has, would be described as "black" in ordinary American usage is indeed a factual question.


Yes, it is a factual question and under "ordinary American usage" Pedro is a Hispanic or Latino, not black. That may be incorrect but since ordinary American usage supposts the AP and ESPN, it is not an "obvious factual error", it is not an error at all.
11.14.2007 12:40pm
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):

You won the Series, the Pats are undefeated and the Celtics started 5-0. Isn't that enough?


6-0
11.14.2007 12:44pm
A.C.:
I think the group has demonstrated that "ordinary American usage" varies pretty widely. I believe it's in transition, in large part because of immigration from places that use different systems.

Wanna argue about Hispanic/Latino next? I don't think there's a clear consensus there either. And when we're done with that, we can argue about whether Yasser Arafat was the same race as Yitzhak Rabin. "White" can get to be a pretty shaggy category too.

If we're going to have another picture, please make it Jeter. He's cute, even if he is a Yankee.
11.14.2007 12:58pm
jhp (mail):
The US census bureau officially considers Latino/Hispanic to be an ethnicity. It is not considered a race.

The US breaks out Latino/Hispanic by US racial norms. As racial inter-marriage increases, these norms are becoming increasingly inaccurate. The current norm is anyone with African ancestry is considered unofficially black. The census bureau looks for 1/16th to determine if someone has right as Native American. No idea if there is such a standard for African American.

Other countries in the America's have multiple levels describing racial mixture. For example Brazil has Moreno for anyone with mixed race but increased melanin. Other normative combinations are mulatto (black/white), cafuzo (African / Amerindian), caboclo (white / Amerindian), and ainoco (asian / white) source wikipedia. The US tends to use biracial.

As a Halley Barry / Jessica Alba fan, interracial / cultural marriages should be encouraged whenever possible.
11.14.2007 1:00pm
jvarisco (www):
I don't really see why anyone would define "race" by skin color, as it's one of many (quite possibly unrelated) aspects that go into race/ethnicity. Skin color as a category is meaningless. If you want racial categories to have any basis whatsoever, it makes a lot more sense to look at genetics, of which skin color is just one minor indicator. Yes, Pedro has dark skin, but he's not black if you want the term to be at all meaningful.
11.14.2007 1:10pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
It seems to me that the question of whether someone who 1) looks like Martinez, and 2) has the kind of ancestry he has, would be described as "black" in ordinary American usage is indeed a factual question.

Another factual question is whether a cab driver who didn't recognize him and therefore was unaware of his ancestry, would pick him up after dark.

I'm not sure why exactly it is important

Because defining successful people with african ancestry as "not black" is intended to hide evidence of decrease ing skin-color based prejudice in the US. "African american" political groups don't want such evidence to be seen - it raises the risk of onlookers bringing up the unwelcome possibility that their constituents' own behavior might be the real root cause of their problems.
11.14.2007 1:11pm
hozer:
whats wrong with negro, and why did that fall out of favor
11.14.2007 1:19pm
Le Messurier (mail):
A.J.
At this point I'd be happy if I could get people to stop referring to unambiguously black people with British passports as "African American." They aren't any kind of American. The question of multiracial people from other countries in the Americas is a lot trickier than that one, but even that one seems to be unsolvable in the current environment. Are there any British people reading this who can supply a current, courteous term to fill this gap?

True story: An elderly and VERY white, English lady is meeting, for the first time, the Black British born boyfriend of her very whit niece at a family gathering. She querys him with her upper English accent: "And what part of Africa are you from?"

Me? I'm a English-American Episcopalian. Hard to believe with a name like mine. I'm often mistaken for a Frenchman (which I vigorously disavow). Ilya and Eugene don't seem to have a problem being identified as Russian-Jews. They seem to rather like the identity. For me, my identity is as an American, the rest is B.S. and really not important.
11.14.2007 1:19pm
rbj:
I had no idea Derek Jeter was black.

His father is African-American, his mom is Caucasian.

This post and the comments on it are just yet another example of why racial categories are nonsense. Is it skin color that carries the determining factor, or where one's last few generations had been living? Silly either way.
11.14.2007 1:24pm
Bob Montgomery (mail):
This kind of "error" has been around for several years, at least. I've read numerous articles in newspapers and elsewhere bemoaning the declining number of "black" baseball players for several years now; there have been many specifically about the dearth of "black" pitchers. These cropped up all over when Dontrelle Willis first popped up as a rookie sensation in 2003.

It seems odd to me too - but the way "black" is used in this context means non-hispanic black and has been used that way for years now. To jump on ESPN for this, now, is just silly.
11.14.2007 1:31pm
bittern (mail):

ESPN.com made a fairly serious factual error . . . This is clearly false. While racial identity is often debatable, I think that it's pretty obvious that Pedro is black. Judge for yourself:

I learned colors around kindergarten. The parts of Pedro Martinez that show in the picture are medium brown, excepting his eyes, teeth, lips, hair, etc. Only a mistaken person would say he was "black" in color. And, since Pedro is normally not identified as "Black" either in Boston nor in the Dominican, only a mistaken person would say he's Black. In Boston, a mistaken person that pushes his point with "obvious" and "serious" is typically called an "idiot". Just filling you in on the local lingo. Ilya, you don't seem like you've been in this country very long at all.

someone who looks just like Martinez and has similar ancestry but comes from the neighboring country of Haiti -- or for that matter from Alabama -- would be black.

EV, there really aren't many people of mixed Afro-Carib-Spaniard ancestry, or whatever Dominicans are, in either Haiti or old-line Alabama. So you're not really talking about anybody. Usually, EV, you are one that takes a descriptivist line on language, but here you're bucking the tide. Why is that?
11.14.2007 1:35pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Of course, if media types were not obsessed with race, none of this would have happened. Sabathia was simply the best pitcher in AL this year (during the regular season) -- regardless of his race.

If they really want to focus on the racial question, maybe they should use the Nuremburg Laws as template for determining who is "black" and who is not.
11.14.2007 1:39pm
DDG:
The real question is, of course, is is Obama black? The answer changes based on some of the definitions proposed above.

Does one drop of sub-saharan african blood make one black? Or does one have to be the descendant of african slaves in what his now the US to be black? How much does culture matter?

The inanity of this debate demonstrates why nearly all of this racial identity check box stuff is crap.
11.14.2007 1:52pm
bittern (mail):
Eugene, your appeal to authority of the Census Bureau also falls short in practive. Domincans claim they number two million in the city, which is probably too high, since "Hispanic or Latino" minus Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican is 1,493,811. That matches up pretty well with the total for "some other race", listed below. I conclude that most Dominicans are counted by the Census Bureau as neither white nor black nor American Indian.

New York State

RACE
One race. . . . . . . 18,386,275 96.9
White . . . . . . . . 12,893,689 67.9
Black or African . . 3,014,385 15.9
Amer Indian and Alaska Native . 82,461 0.4
Asian . . . . . . . . . 1,044,976 5.5
Asian Inddian . . . . . 251,724 1.3
Chinese. . . .. . . . . . 424,774 2.2
Filipino . . . . . . . . . 81,681 0.4
Japanese. . . . . . . . . 37,279 0.2
Korean. . . . . . . . . . 119,846 0.6
Vietnamese. . . . . . . . 23,818 0.1
Other Asian . . . . . . . 105,854 0.6
Native Hawaii and Other Pac Isl 8,818
NativeHawaiian. . . . . . . . . 1,684
Guamanian or Chamorro . . . . . 1,931
Samoan. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,475
OtherPacificIslander . . . . . 3,728
Some other race . . . . . 1,341,946 7.1
Two or more races . . . . 590,182 3.1
11.14.2007 2:00pm
Ben P (mail):
Gee, what an interesting day to be covering Plessy v Fergeson in Constitutional Law. Homer Plessy fits into this nicely.


EV, there really aren't many people of mixed Afro-Carib-Spaniard ancestry, or whatever Dominicans are, in either Haiti or old-line Alabama.


Perhaps not Afro-Carib-Spaniard, but Creole people are Afro-Franco-Native, or Afro-Spaniard-Native.

Homer Plessy was of 1/8th "african" blood according to the opinion, but if you see a picture of him, he looks a fair bit darker.

Does that make him "black" or "creole?"

People have pretty much said it already, but I think the key problem here is people use two different systems. Although it is a cultural identity, "black" or "African American" refers mostly to skin color. "Hispanic" refers to an ethno-linguistic group.
11.14.2007 2:03pm
whit:
" those I have met self-identify as Hispanic, and not black... "

you can self-identify as martian but it doesn't change reality.

whether or not one is hispanic says exactly ZERO about whether or not one is or isn't black.

they are neither mutually exclusive, nor correlated.

TONS of hispanic blacks in cuba.

all the ['race is a social construct' arguments aside, black is a race. hispanic isn't.

we decided (for whatever reason) to group people who are from spanish speaking cultures into a word called "hispanic".

fwiw, we do the same with french speakers, we just odn't use it as often "francophone."
11.14.2007 2:05pm
The General:
I suppose that would mean that pro basketballers Dirk Nowitzki isn't "white" and Tony Parker isn't "black" because they're both from Europe.

There are a lot of "black" major league baseball players, but very few of them are from the USA. Most are from Caribbean countries. That doesn't make them less black, it just means they aren't from here.

The bottom line is that this entire discussion/argument just further illustrates the stupidity and uselessness of categorizing people by the color of their skin, which is why it should stop.
11.14.2007 2:54pm
KeithK (mail):
Bpbatista has it right. We're talking about baseball here. I seriously doubt that any of the BBWA voters picked Sabathia because he was black or Beckett because he was white. Or didn't vote for either due to racial concerns. Both players earned votes based on their play between the lines.

Professional baseball is about as pure of a meritocracy as you're likely to find in this country or anywhere (players anyway). We should celebrate that fact and not get bogged down in nonsense like "he's the first [race/ethnicity] to win since..." stories.
11.14.2007 3:16pm
Hoosier:
"In Boston, a mistaken person that pushes his point with "obvious" and "serious" is typically called an "idiot". Just filling you in on the local lingo."

Yep. But then in Boston, a black person is often called . . . well, I won't repeat the word. I mean, Boston-proper gave George Wallace a plurality for president in 1968, whereas he came in a very distant third here. So we don't like to look to Boston for guidance on these matters.


But the fact that East-Coasters aren't as nice as we Hoosiers doesn't really affect the matter at hand, I suppose.
11.14.2007 3:34pm
AntonK (mail):
This post in the comments above...

I have an idea. Why don't we just decide to think of Pedro, the other Cy Young winner, Tiger Woods, and Cy Young for that matter as people?

And for that matter why don't we stop making victims out of people by tying the anchor of their ethnicity around them as well.


...is the best comment here, and should outright embarrass Somin and Volokh.
11.14.2007 3:40pm
bittern (mail):
Hoosier, your long-term memory is wicked good. You could fit in in Bean-town just on that basis alone . . . if you weren't so nice.
11.14.2007 3:49pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
"The bottom line is that this entire discussion/argument just further illustrates the stupidity and uselessness of categorizing people by the color of their skin, which is why it should stop."

And making the above obvious would be the "culture war-ish feeling" reason for this post.
11.14.2007 4:32pm
Hoosier:
"I have an idea. Why don't we just decide to think of Pedro, the other Cy Young winner, Tiger Woods, and Cy Young for that matter as people?"

Well, OK I guess. But I will NOT be cajoled into thinking of Ty Cobb as a "person." He lacked at least four of the key components.

bittern--You said "wicked good." You ARE from the Hub!

(I pronounce our state capital "In-dee-an-A-puh-lis," not "In-dee-uh--NA-poe-lis." So I'm clealry from *here.*)
11.14.2007 4:57pm
BuckeyesRule:
Pedro "Martinez" is an african american huh? leave it to a law proffessor to inject confusion where none exist.
11.14.2007 6:08pm
CDU (mail):
Pedro "Martinez" is an african american huh? leave it to a law proffessor to inject confusion where none exist.


Millions of Africans were brought to Spain's colonies in the New World and you claim that nobody with a Spanish surname can be "African American"?
11.14.2007 7:10pm
Ilya Somin:
I am pretty sure most would consider Pedro latin instead of african-american.

The word ESPN (And I) used was "black," not "African-American." There are plenty of blacks in the world - including Pedro - who are not African-American or indeed Americans of any kind.
11.14.2007 8:23pm
Ilya Somin:
And, since Pedro is normally not identified as "Black" either in Boston nor in the Dominican, only a mistaken person would say he's Black. In Boston, a mistaken person that pushes his point with "obvious" and "serious" is typically called an "idiot". Just filling you in on the local lingo. Ilya, you don't seem like you've been in this country very long at all.

I lived in boston for 20 years, and I doubt that very many Bostonians would deny that Pedro is black (though he is ALSO Hispanic and Dominican as well). However, I also enjoy it when morons try to buttress their points by engaging in silly immigrant-bashing or trying to attack me for not having lived in the country long enough.
11.14.2007 8:25pm
DCP:
Charlize Theron is my favorite African-American.

And for those of you who do not regularly interact with the hispanic community, they despise being called black, no matter how dark skinned they are. I used to live in Mississippi, and I've never encountered anti-black racism quite like that from our hispanic friends.

This is especially true of people from the Dominican Republic which shares the island of hispaniola with Haiti which operates as a conspicuous divide between a third world country with some obvious african heritage in the native population of their blood and a third world country that is infinitely poorer, disease ravaged, crime stricken and virually 100% inhabited by slave descendants (effectively a west african country in the carribean).
11.14.2007 8:40pm
Ilya Somin:
Perhaps you missed the plethora of articles earlier this year about the decline of blacks in baseball overall. But according to your logic, there are PLENTY of blacks in baseball. No, there are not. They are mostly Latino. Do you remember when Gary Sheffield was venting about this?

Sheffield (and some of hte articles in questions) specifically lamented the relative decline of American black players, and did not claim that black Hispanics aren't "black." To the extent that some of hte articles may have simply conflated being black with being African-American, they committed the same mistake as this ESPN article. The fact that more than one article contains a given mistake doesn't make it right.
11.14.2007 8:41pm
Ilya Somin:
Perhaps you missed the plethora of articles earlier this year about the decline of blacks in baseball overall. But according to your logic, there are PLENTY of blacks in baseball. No, there are not. They are mostly Latino. Do you remember when Gary Sheffield was venting about this?

Sheffield (and many of the articles in questions) specifically lamented the relative decline of AFRICAN-AMERICAN players, and did not claim that black Hispanics aren't "black." To the extent that some of the articles may have simply conflated being black with being African-American, they committed the same mistake as this ESPN piece. The fact that more than one article contains a given mistake doesn't make it right.
11.14.2007 8:41pm
Barney (mail):

Using "African-American" to describe race is considerably less precise than "black" because a great many people who live on the continent of Africa are not racially black.


Agreed. That's why I listed it as African/African-American. Even those aren't perfect (I recall that an Egyptian-born friend of mine in high school was scolded for submitting an application and showing up to interview for a scholarship program offered for African Americans. They thought he was being funny, he thought they were being accurate). Still, "European" and "African" (and Asian or Latin American) work better than black, white and yellow.

We're intelligent people, we should move beyond the crayon box descriptions that worked for us as toddlers.
11.14.2007 9:11pm
Promethean:
Note: Pedro is actually a sort of brownish color. Hue is, rather inconveniently for this discussion, merely hue.
11.14.2007 9:27pm
Anonymous Hoosier:
Hoosier - I'm unconvinced that "Indianapolis" has more than three or four syllables. But since you're scoring points at the expense of Boston -- and Ty Cobb -- I'll let you slide with six.
11.14.2007 11:08pm
Hoosier:
Anonymous Hoosier: Are you one of those "In-NAP-lis" types?

But you and I agree on baseball. So we are still bretheren.

THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: When Afro-Caribbeans travelled to the Old South to play spring training games, which BATHROOMS and WATERFOUNTAINS did they use?
11.15.2007 8:37am
Hoosier:
"This is especially true of people from the Dominican Republic which shares the island of hispaniola with Haiti which operates as a conspicuous divide between a third world country with some obvious african heritage in the native population of their blood and a third world country that is infinitely poorer, disease ravaged, crime stricken and virually 100% inhabited by slave descendants (effectively a west african country in the carribean)."

WOW! This sentence should drive up the VC in the READING-LEVEL SURVEY! It must be translated from German or something.
11.15.2007 8:39am
neurodoc:
Who among us is truly expert at these things? (Would the proper expert be an anthropologist?) Perhaps we could find one of those out-of-work South African race classifiers to give us the authoritative answer. Though they might compromise with "colored," which be of much help for our purposes here (what are those?), would it?

What I really want to know is whether the guy is Jewish or we have some colorable claim which would allow us to claim him. Maybe we could find out whether his Y chromosome was some of the genetic markers more common among those with Jewish forebears, or some mitochondrial DNA to try to match him up with someone Jewish in his maternal line of descent. It is sometimes surprising to learn that some who self-identify as black have equal or greater claim to being a Jew (e.g., Lanie Gaunier).
11.15.2007 2:20pm
neurodoc:
I hope this doesn't crush Professor Somin's faith in ESPN. Sad if it would, something like that little boy saying to Shoeless Joe Jackson, "Say it ain't so, Joe."
11.15.2007 2:23pm
Phutatorius (www):
I think Ilya is susceptible to ESPN's race preoccupations as well. How else to explain the repeated misspelling C.C.'s last name, inserting that extra 'b,' except that he can't help but think of the pitcher as "C.C. 'Black' Sab[b]athia?"

Or maybe it's just the case that as an Indians fan, I'm "paranoid" . . .
11.15.2007 2:36pm
Hoosier:
Phutatorius--I think your "paranoid" allusion will be lost on most VCers. There are very, very few of us slackers on these boards.
11.15.2007 3:44pm
One of many:
Nit picking on the extended post would point out that it not true that "[p]rior to 1947, black Hispanics were excluded from the major leagues just as black Americans were", although it is a common mis-preception. It wasn't until about 1890 that blacks were excluded from the major leagues (although there were incidents of some blacks being denied on the basis of race, that is not the same as the race being excluded). It is a common mis-perception but nit-picking was brought up.
11.15.2007 3:57pm
bittern (mail):

typically called an "idiot".


I also enjoy it when morons try to buttress their points . . .

In Bean-town, if you get the other guy to give you the finger, it means you win. We both win. Yay.
11.15.2007 5:30pm
Hoosier:
"It wasn't until about 1890 that blacks were excluded from the major leagues ".

Thanks to none other than Cap Anson, the player-manager of my team (the Cubs), and an alumnus of my university (ND). Boy, how proud I must feel about this, huh?
11.15.2007 9:06pm
Ilya Somin:
It wasn't until about 1890 that blacks were excluded from the major leagues (although there were incidents of some blacks being denied on the basis of race, that is not the same as the race being excluded). It is a common mis-perception but nit-picking was brought up.

I am aware of this fact but didn't mention it because it wasn't relevant to the post. If you really want to nitpick it, I merely said "prior to 1947," not AT ALL TIMES prior to 1947. Also, the major leagues did not come to their current form of organization until around 1903 (when the National League forged an agreement with the upstart American League). In the 1880s, when a few black players played in the then major leagues, there were several competing leagues with separate schedules and organizations.
11.16.2007 12:45am