Wikipedia talk:Categorization/Ethnicity, gender, religion and sexuality

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Does the policy re categories regarding sexuality enjoy consensus on the site as a whole?[edit]

Soon after retired sportsman/current commentator Colin Jackson came out as gay, the categories LGBT sportspeople from Wales and LGBT track and field athletes were added. Gregor B and I both argued for removal of the categories, on the grounds that while the first condition (publicly self-identified) was met, the second (relevant to their public life or notability) was not.

Consensus in discussion there was very much for retaining the categories, with arguments either totally ignoring the second clause, or based on the assertion that publicly announcing his sexuality meant that it was relevant to his public life.

To some extent, the quality of the arguments in that example are irrelevant: when this policy is tested on real articles, it does not have effective consensus. Review needed? Kevin McE (talk) 23:06, 9 September 2017 (UTC)

Publicly announcing his sexuality on the public record does mean that it's relevant to his public life — no higher standard of relevance is required than "person has come out on the public record", as opposed to "person's sexuality is sourced to rumours or unverified hearsay". The people who typically argue that coming out isn't enough in and of itself never actually follow up by explaining how much more "relevance" would be enough to satisfy them — what specific kind of content would be required to satisfy these people that it had now become "relevant" enough is a question that never actually gets answered, thus igniting my suspicions that the real argument is that nothing would ever be enough and such categories simply shouldn't exist at all. Bearcat (talk) 23:59, 18 November 2017 (UTC)
Well, it does kind of raise the question, doesn't it? Why do we have categories for gay writers, etc.? An argument can be made that this isn't appreciably different from "Category:Writers who like rubber outfits and thigh-high stiletto boots" or "Category:Writers who are into muscular brunette men" or "Category:Writers who don't have a known sex life at all and seem to be loners" or "Category:Writers who are furries". Notability is largely disconnected from sexual preferences/activity/identity. If someone's notability it intimately entwined with LGBT activism, there are categories for LGBT activists. If we continue to have categories for gay writers and lesbian businesswomen and so on, however, it seems weird and pointless to exclude people who have publicly "come out", just because someone on WP wants to exclude them. Either have and use the categories, or don't have them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  02:42, 19 November 2017 (UTC)
There are nuances which it's difficult to legislate for on Wikipedia. It's still quite rare in many quarters (and percieved as damaging to careers etc) for people to be open about being non-heterosexual. It's still almost completely unheard of for sportspeople to be openly non-heterosexual, particularly when they're still playing/competing. So unfortunately 'coming out' is usually defining. On the other hand, there are still too many people on Wikipedia that like categorising for the sake of it, for example the growing category tree of Category:Women nurses (when 90% of nurses are women). We recently failed to get that 'tree' deleted at Categories for Discussion. Sionk (talk) 14:47, 19 November 2017 (UTC)
No argument from me. I've opposed retention of such categories before. We don't need a category for male models, male nurses, female pool players, female doctors, based on gender percentage in the field in question. Male nurses are increasing in number (dunno about models); female doctors and pool players are too. We don't need these categories, because the same people can be categorized in some other more appropriately gendered one like the applicable subcat of Category:Women by nationality or Category:Men by nationality. I tried to CfD Category:Female pool players as pointless and basically sexist, and got attacked as a sexist for it! There is no win–win scenario here. Part of the issue here is that, in simple terms, conservatives and centrists just don't care, but liberals who do are sharply divided. For every progressive who wants to make a point of a subject being a female doctor, to honor the struggle that person went through in a male-dominated field, there's another who's deeply offended by this as perpetuating patriarchal stereotypes that it's a "normal" default to assume a doctor is male. For every one that wants to categorize transgender people as such, because they're convinced (whether the subject in question feels this way or not) that being TG is something special and different that needs to be highlighted, the next one over is firm in the belief that anyone self-identifying as female (or whatever) should be treated as such in all ways and all respects (and may even go to hyperbolic lengths, like the accusation that highlighting someone's TG nature in any way is a form of attack). It's the same kind of ideological factionalism that's plagued liberalism all along [1].

Under the "do no harm" spirit of WP:BLP, the safest approach is to eliminate categories that are questionable in any such regard – be they about biological sex, self-identified gender, or sexual preferences – even if some segment of editors has a socio-political objection to doing so. It ultimately becomes a WP:TRUTH / WP:GREATWRONGS matter, like various others. We can't keep everyone happy all the time.

PS: Kaldari said in an earlier thread, 'The criteria for creating such gendered categories isn't whether or not gender has an impact on the subject, it is whether or not the gendered category "is itself recognized as a distinct and unique cultural topic" worthy of a full-fledged Wikipedia article.' I don't buy the idea of taking this view to an extreme. There is no exact 1:1 match between articles and categories, and that's really a description of whether we should have an article not whether we should have a category. We should have a category if it helps people navigate related articles and there are sufficient articles for the category. If people can already be classified in our category system as female and Bostonian, and as writers, categorizing them as female writers is superfluous. (Same goes for lesbian writers, TG writers, etc.).
 — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  18:57, 19 November 2017 (UTC); note added: 19:01, 19 November 2017 (UTC)

These categories need to die. They serve no useful purpose and are actually counter-productive. They generate endless controversies and occasional bad press, they sometimes are upsetting to the people who are categorized in them, and they actually make it harder for people to find what they are looking for by "ghettoizing" people who belong to minority groups into obscure subcategories. I used to think that these categories were a good idea for cases where there was actual academic interest in a specific intersection, but given the propensity for this sort of categorization to grow unchecked and our editors' complete inability to follow applicable guidelines, I'm now strongly in favor of getting rid of these categories entirely. Kaldari (talk) 19:38, 19 November 2017 (UTC)
No, they don't ghettoize anybody, because they don't replace inclusion in any other category that the person would otherwise be in. Category:LGBT novelists isn't ghettoizing anybody out of Category:Novelists, for example, because novelists are already subcatted on characteristics such as nationality and era in which they wrote, so nobody should actually be filed directly in "Novelists" in the first place. Bearcat (talk) 14:25, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
Like a number of things on Wikipedia, the categories can cause debate and disputes. I don't see that we need to get rid of them, though. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:15, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
How do they help? Johnuniq (talk) 03:04, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
If you're studying or researching LGBT literature, for example, it's a lot harder to do if there's no category for the writers of it to help you find any of them. Bearcat (talk) 17:47, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
But these are not categories about LGBT literature, they're just intersections of writers and whether they prefer same-sex couplings in their private life. We already have categories for LGBT-themed or -targeted literature and other media (and we might need more of them – I'm not sure how well that categorization has been done, and to the extent it has not been its probably because of the intersection categories of the writers/producers making them seem, incorrectly, to be superfluous.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  22:20, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
Writers who prefer same-sex couplings in their private life have a funny tendency to make some of their work about LGBT people, because of the "write what you know" principle. Sure, they're not limited to only that, but few to no writers who are LGBT-identified in their personal lives ever go through their entire careers without ever addressing the subject in at least some of their work. Works that already have their own standalone articles about the work are not the only works that a person who's researching LGBT literature needs to be able to find — they need to be able to find the writers who've written LGBT-themed works that don't have separate articles yet too. A person writing an academic thesis on Canadian LGBT literature, for example, would need to be able to find out about Ann-Marie MacDonald's Adult Onset and Michael V. Smith's My Body Is Yours and Scott Symons's Place d'Armes and Edward A. Lacey's The Forms of Life, none of which have articles yet and would therefore be inaccessible if the LGBT literature in Canada tree only categorized works while disappearing the writers. Bearcat (talk) 17:27, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
Yet few of these works are primarily about homosexuality as their focus, so the fact that a gay writer will probably have some gay characters/relationships in their works is neither here nor there. It's a bit like suggesting that Blade should be categorized as a work of African-American cinema just because Wesley Snipes has the lead role in it. WP's categorization system isn't geared toward steering readers to non-notable works on which we have no articles, anyway. If it's thought important in a paritcular case to do so (e.g. because the work really is focused on lesbian or TG or whatever people/relationships/subculture, and the author is notable, and the work title should be an {{R with possibilities}}) then create a redirect from the work title to the section on the work in the author's article, and categorize the work's redirect in the LGBT category for such works. Standard operating procedure for categorizing subtopic redirects.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  21:32, 22 November 2017 (UTC)
What you're missing, for starters, is the significant distinction between "non-notable work that will never have an article" and "notable work that just doesn't have an article yet. And at any rate, as I already noted, a characteristic does not need to itself be the crux of a person's notability for a category to be appropriate — if it did, we wouldn't categorize people by where they were born, or what year they were born in, or whether they're living or dead, either — it merely has to be a characteristic that reliable sources address in actual coverage, which "LGBT people who write literature" most certainly is. Bearcat (talk) 20:42, 23 November 2017 (UTC)
@Bearcat: I don't think I am missing that. If the work is non-notable and has low chance of ever being notable, then we don't create a redir for it (categorization of it simply never arises), and we might not even mention it (it would depend on WP:NOT#INDISCRIMINATE analysis on a case-by-case basis; e.g., in a list of films about foo it would probably be excluded, since most such lists have some inclusion criteria, while in an embedded list of all of an director's films or whatever, it would probably be listed for completeness_. I'm not sure what any of that has to do with categorization of people by vital stats like birth year and place; these seem to be wholly unrelated categorization subjects/practices.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:25, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
If one of these categories is discussed for deletion, please post here to alert watchers. I agree with SMcCandlish that stuff like Category:LGBT track and field athletes is a pointless intersection. Such a category should only be applied if the person is not notable for LGBT activity, and is not notable as a track and field athlete, but is only notable as an LGBT athlete. Tagging articles with these cats only serves the purpose of boosting the number of times "LGBT" appears in Wikipedia. Johnuniq (talk) 03:04, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
They help per what Bearcat and especially Sionk argued above. Heterosexual categories would be useless. LGBT categories are not. In any case, if editors want them abolished, we will need a bigger discussion on the matter. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:51, 20 November 2017 (UTC)
That's a highly unrealistic standard that very nearly no person would ever satisfy. There's virtually nobody on earth whose notability is inherently contingent on specifically being an LGBT practitioner of their career, but would somehow fail a notability criterion if they'd done the exact same things while being straight — that's inherently impossible, in fact. The categories exist because identifying people who are out as LGBT is an important and culturally relevant thing, which reliable sources regularly do and which people actively seek, for exactly the same reasons that people might very well be looking specifically to research women in a particular field, or people of colour in a particular field: the group has a context which matters in the real world. Being a WP:DEFINING characteristic does not depend on being the crux of a person's notability per se, because then we wouldn't categorize people on criteria like where they came from or what year they were born in either. It merely depends on the characteristic being a thing that reliable sources address in their coverage of the topic, and writers being LGBT satisfies that standard. Bearcat (talk) 17:39, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

RfC on categorizing biracial people[edit]

This discussion has established that:
  1. There is consensus against categorizing a person ethnicity or race based only on information about their parents;
  2. There is consensus for using a combination of self-identification and independent reliable sources to categorize a person by ethnicity or race. Participants in this discussion are aware there can be marginal cases where self-identification and independent reliable sources disagree, but the solution of these marginal cases was beyond the scope of this RfC.
  3. There is no consensus either way whether the guideline should be updated to include these.
Editors who think there should be a guideline are encouraged to draft a proposed edit to the guideline and bring it to this talk page for discussion. Deryck C. 11:00, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

1. Should people with, for example, one African-American parent be added to Category:African-American people (and subcategories)
(a) on the basis of (i) reliable sources saying that the person in question is African-American themselves, (ii) self-identification, or (iii) both
OR (b) is the identification of one parent being African-American sufficient?
2. Should a statement of this be included in the guideline?

This has arisen in discussions at Talk:Kris Humphries#African-American? and Talk:Meghan Markle#Nationality/ethnicity categories. Note also the 2016 RfC at Talk:Mariah Carey/Archive 13#RfC: Are "African American" categories supported by sources and policy? StAnselm (talk) 04:25, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

  • Support deferring to sources, or sources and self-identification, and noting this on the guideline page. I don't think that self-identification is enough if the overwhelming majority of reliable sources refer to someone as black or by some other "race"/ethnicity. Like I stated at Talk:Jennifer Beals: Yes, how they self-identify should be something we ask ourselves. I'm just noting that it's not the primary factor in a number of cases on Wikipedia. For example, even before Barack Obama made it clear that he considers himself a black man, the vast majority of reliable sources were calling him "the first black President of the United States" and "the first African American President of the United States." Because of this, there is now a FAQ at the top of that article's talk page noting why Wikipedia defines him as black/African American instead of as biracial. And in the case of Halle Berry, she said she identifies as black instead of as biracial because she knew that society would see her as black. They would not look at her and think "white" or "biracial." Even if Berry identified as biracial, it's highly likely that the vast majority of reliable sources would identify her simply as black/African American. I think a bigger issue is if the subject has specifically rejected being labeled black, white, or just one half. It's also clear that people get hung up on looks on matters like these. When a biracial or multiracial person "looks black," like Berry or Tyson Beckford, no one, or hardly anyone, has an issue with categorizing that biracial or multiracial person as African American or of African descent. But when the person is "white-passing" or ambiguous-looking, like Meghan Markle, then people suddenly have a problem with it. There's also the British racism that surrounds the Markle categorization debate. That stated, Markle is currently in Category:American people of African descent, and I think it makes sense for biracial people who are "mixed" with black and white to at least be in that category. I also want to go ahead and note, like both Alanscottwalker and I have noted, that African Americans are a deeply mixed group of people. So the categorization debate seems like semantics in a way. For example, people commonly assume that Michaela Angela Davis is biracial based on her light skin, light eyes and light hair. But like she's stated, "The first, sort of obvious assumption is that I’m mixed race– like one parent is white, one parent is Black — and it’s not so. Both of my parents are light-skinned and Black. Both of my parents are products of what I call the great horror story of America and the great love story of America." I also want to remind editors that "biracial" doesn't solely apply to people "mixed" with black and white. The same can apply to people who are part Asian and white and are categorized as Asian, for example. Pinging Snow Rise, who made sound arguments in the Mariah Carey debate and might want to weigh in here. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:07, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • 1(a)(iii) and yes. A living person should only be categorised to an ethnic group which reliable sources say they are in (WP:RS), and which they themselves have also acknowledged they are part of (WP:BLPCAT). For people no longer living, the self-identification may be harder to confirm, so if reliable sources ascribe them to that group, it would be sufficient. Where possible if a person identifies as "bi-racial", where "bi-" means "two", ideally similar weight would be applied to both aspects per WP:NPOV. --Scott Davis Talk 06:49, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Perhaps, we should back up and ask 1) could we write into policy that 'race' is a fiction, or that many sources view it as a fiction, and so does Wikipedia with respect to categorization; 2) if we can't go as far as 1, could we acknowledge that African-Americans often have mixed ancestry, and so our categorization is not a statement on 'race' (which many sources view as a fiction, anyway) as a prerequisite? If we could answer by consensus something like those 2 questions, first, then we may have a more fruitful coming to consensus on any more detailed questions. Alanscottwalker (talk) 07:52, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
ScottDavis, our WP:Neutral policy is about following reliable sources with due weight. So if the preponderance of reliable sources describe someone as black/African American instead of as biracial, and the person themselves identifies as biracial instead of as black/African American, we should give most of our weight to what the preponderance of reliable sources state. This doesn't mean that we can't also mention how the person personally identifies; we obviously can and should if there are reliable sources to support it. But we shouldn't keep them out of African American categories in such a case as that. When it comes to WP:BLPCAT, we do, however, state, "Categories regarding religious beliefs (or lack of such) or sexual orientation should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief (or lack of such) or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources." We've left "race" and ethnicity out of it thus far.
Alanscottwalker, you make a good point on "we acknowledge that African-Americans often have mixed ancestry, and so our categorization is not a statement on 'race.'" Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 08:07, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Flyer22 Reborn my comment about neutrality was based on the assumption that the sources and identity supported "bi-racial" as appears to be the case for the Duchess of Sussex. I'm not sure how many generations back she would need to trace her ancestry to find the "African" part of African-American. Despite the assurances of Alanscottwalker that it is an ethnic but not racial label in the US, the Wikipedia page Race and ethnicity in the United States says that African American is a racial category according to the United States Census Bureau. --Scott Davis Talk 14:08, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Not only are we are not the census bureau, but two decades ago the bureau rejected confining people to one 'race' whatever that fiction means, and it has been (at least for decades and decades) solely a matter of self-report (all of which, except for raw numbers, is kept confidential for decades). Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:24, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Mixed bag: For a certainty, where a label has potential for being controversial (which I dare say is a majority of biographies), reliable sources should be required. But when present, RS will probably generally suffice within themselves to allow for such descriptions to be included in article, unless there is another compelling editorial reason not to--and assuming that the individual in question did/does not self-identify otherwise. When RS and self-identification clash, the analysis will become necessarily more difficult and more reliance on local editor discretion may be required to figure out a truly neutral approach which captures the aggregate/WP:WEIGHT-balanced sense of the sources. Rachel Dolezal comes to mind as a case where it would be controversial to allow self-identification to prevail if it would endanger a WP:NEUTRAL presentation of the subject of the article. As to cases where there are no references which qualify as RS, but there are credible primary statements of self-identification, I think in most of those cases, it would make sense to include the classification, but the attribution of the statement should make clear the claim arises from the subject themselves.
Then there are cases where sources may disagree or where one needs to be careful of adding synthesis to what may seem (at first glance) like clear WP:verification of a given classification. I received a bot notice to another discussion a while back at Talk:Jose Antonio Vargas: in that case there was a question as to whether or not to describe Mr. Vargas as Filipino, which had been argued for on the basis of the Philippines being his place of birth. However, consensus ultimately found that, because the very question of Mr. Vargas' nationality is a central topic of his article (he is a journalist and immigration activist and his identity as an "actual American" has been the subject of most secondary sources which discuss him, as well as his own journalism), it would be prejudicial and would irreparably taint any effort at neutrality later in the article to describe him as Filipino or American at the outset, and we opted instead to present the full context of his upbringing in the lead, and to simultaneously avoid using any brightline label which would necessarily frame any later content. I would hope that a similar approach would be taken to any grey area cases where race is concerned; provide context rather than staking out territory/endorsing one interpretation over another, especially if the underlying issue is known to be connected to the individual's very notability (but probably also in most cases where it is not, but the question itself remains difficult to parse).
Considering the above, if there is language to be added to the guideline, I think it should be very precatory and open-ended, such as to keep the matter still firmly grounded in WP:LOCALCONSENSUS so that editors have the freedom necessary to grapple with borderline cases and set-aside whatever broad rule we agree upon here that may suit to a majority (but surely not all) cases. I would personally like to see more specific wording before endorsing any inclusion of new language in a guideline. Snow let's rap 10:16, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • No, otherwise this would look like mixing apples with oranges. My understanding is that for people with only one African parent (or possibly African grandparents) there's Category:People of African descent. For the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. we have separate Category:African-American people and broader Category:African people with subcats. Brandmeistertalk 12:13, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Support deferring to sources, or sources and self-identification - Bottom line is that we don't get decide what race or ethnicity people belong to (and really, no one does. B/c there are no yardsticks to measure ethnicity). Trying to neatly place people into ethnic categories is an activity associated with some pretty dispicable folks, and it's something that doesn't usually give readers useful information. I think the best workflow for figuring out ethnic categorization is to ask the following set of questions; 1) "Are reliable sources unambiguous on the topic?" - In other words, we might know someone belongs in an ethnic category b/c that's what all the sources say, and there doesn't seem to be disagreement on the topic. 2) "If there is conflict within the sources, what does the subject identify as?" - If it's not 100% clear from the sources that an ethnic category fits, we ought to simply defer to the subject. If a subject can be reliably quoted as saying "I identify with ethnic category X", we ought to place them in that category. 3) "If the RS's are ambiguous and the subject hasn't self-identified, should we be categorizing at all?" - In cases where we've asked questions 1&2 and still don't have an answer, we should just avoid categorization all together. If a subject's ethnicity is for some reason notable, it ought to be discussed in the body of the article and any disagreement within the sources ought to be spelled out for the reader. These rules ought to extend to gender, religion, sexuality and nationality. NickCT (talk) 12:55, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Can we explore that? If someone says directly and unequivocally "I am biracial, and I embrace both", and there is no one who disputes that and it is basically repeated in sources. Is that ambiguous, or is it unambiguous that they belong in whatever 'both' categories they embrace? Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:57, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker: - If someone were to say "I identify with Caucasian and African ethinicities" and there were no RS disputing that self-identification, then yes, I think it would be OK for us to label that person with both those categorizations.
I guess your question is, "Do we absolutely need an RS to attribute a category to a subject in order for us to do so". I think the answer is no. I think we look to RS first. Then to self-identification. If the answer in RS is missing or ambiguous, then we use self-identification. NickCT (talk) 17:28, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
To be fair to those placing biracial people in the African-American people category, that category does states, "This category lists, in its subcategories, citizens of the United States of black African ancestry, or who otherwise self-identify as being African American." Notice it states "black African ancestry." I'm sure most using that category aren't going by what it states, but still. And I don't think most of our editors are going to halt on placing black people in the category even if sources don't report the subjects as black, such as for little known celebrities. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 20:00, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
  • I want to emphasize the defining characteristics #6 on the list, as discussed on the thread previous to this. If someone self-identifies as multiple ethnicities, it is not worth categorizing, but if RS commonly and consistently define the person by their ethnicity, then consider the category. Too often, people pick up a person's AMA thread or interview where they list their ethnicities, and try to add the person to those "of Y descent" categories when RS'es do not consider that important at all. AngusWOOF (barksniff) 19:35, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
For clarity, AMA thread? Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:40, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
AMA as in Ask Me Anything. See Talk:Cristina_Vee#Her_ethnicity_in_the_categories_is_listed_and_its_not_fair Her article Cristina Vee#Personal life has a line that says "In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, when asked about her ethnicity, she said she is of Mexican, Native American, and Lebanese ancestry." ( AMA log) and folks were wanting to add Americans of Lebanese descent and so forth when there have been no RS articles that discuss her by her ethnicity, contrast to Xanthe Huynh who has a Nugoi Viet news article. [2] "As Xanthe Huynh passionately describes her professional work, I can’t help but wonder why this young, talented and beautiful Vietnamese-American chose this career path and how she got to be where she is today in an industry that many have aspired to but only a few succeeded." AngusWOOF (barksniff) 19:57, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Thank you. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:27, 31 May 2018 (UTC)


Snow Rise, Rachel Dolezal (although not a biracial issue) is a case I thought of as well and was going to bring up today (before seeing that you had). StAnselm, Scott Davis, Brandmeister and NickCT, cases like hers and Johnny Depp's (seen here) is why I think we can't just go on self-identification alone. That Depp section needs cleanup, by the way, given all of its WP:Claim violations and scathing tone. Depp is also currently in the "American people of African descent" category instead of his claimed Native American category. Snow Rise also mentioned another conflicting case in his post above.

Above, Brandmeister said "this would look like mixing apples with oranges." But, again, African Americans are a deeply mixed group. Look again to Michaela Angela Davis, who says she has two black parents but people think she's biracial. And many biracial people who have one white parent and one black parent are physically indistinguishable from African Americans, whether they are light-skinned or not. Besides social pressure, this is why so many (like Halle Berry) identify as black. Not every such biracial person is ambiguous-looking. Not even most, it seems. Even someone like basketball star Stephen Curry, who is also biracial (with light skin and light eyes), but is currently categorized as African American in his Wikipedia entry, with no mention of his biracial heritage, is commonly seen as a light-skinned black person. So is his brother. So, to quote NickCT above, for cases like these, "Do we absolutely need an RS to attribute a category to a subject in order for us to do so?" Despite my above vote above, this is a subject I'm a little confused about. The confusion lies with the aforementioned mixed aspect, appearance, and how society (including media sources) treat these cases. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:20, 1 June 2018 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:25, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

On a side note: I think this RfC should also be placed in the "society and culture" field. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:29, 1 June 2018 (UTC)

As I was invoked: I think Wikipedia should have a sort of bright-line rule in this via editorial judgement, even if reliable sources use different verbiage and are vague. Per Kris Humphries, for example, he "is half African-American from his father", thus of African descent, but not pure African American like Martin Luther King, Tupac Shakur, etc. The same is true for Meghan Markle - she's of African descent, but not an African American, thus rightly categorized in Category:American people of African descent. Neither does Michaela Angela Davis have distinctively black African appearance, even if claiming that both her parents are black. Daphne Martschenko, for example, is a classic example of biracial person with African descent rightly categorized under Category:American people of Nigerian descent and not under Category:African American people. That's why I opted for no both in 1 and 2 above. Brandmeistertalk 20:08, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
Brandmeister, per the African Americans's article reliably sourced content about ancestry, there is no such thing as a "pure African American," if meaning "only black ancestry." All African Americans have European ancestry. And some have Native American ancestry to boot. It's why two black parents, even if dark-skinned, can produce children that "look biracial." You state "distinctively black African appearance," but there are so many black people with two black parents who are light-skinned (keeping in mind that there are different variations of light skin); some do look like Stephen Curry (who was recently removed from the African Americans category, but will no doubt eventually be added back by someone, sourced or not), even if they don't have his light eyes. For example, his brother, Seth Curry, does not have light eyes. He also has black hair compared to Stephen's brown or dirty blond hair. As has been discussed on the African Americans article talk page before, I and others are aware of no sources that state that some African Americans have no European DNA (despite the lead of our article currently stating "on average," as if there are any cited non-average ranges given). In the case of Stacey Dash, she is part Mexican and part African American. She has light eyes and naturally straight hair, but she is dark-skinned. Sources unsurprisingly identify her as African American, and it seems she unsurprisingly identifies as African American as well. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:07, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
Going by this and this, though, it seems that the Curry brothers aren't even half white...but are rather multiracial. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:24, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
I see your point. But this would create WP:OVERLAPCAT with Category:American people of African descent and I hardly imagine that category being merged into Category:African-American people or vice versa (and you acknowledged that by writing "Markle is currently in Category:American people of African descent, and I think it makes sense for biracial people who are "mixed" with black and white to at least be in that category"). I suspect having, for example, Markle in African American category as well (alongside the African descent category) would be controversial. So adopting the "one African-American parent" criterion, even if backed by some reliable source, would blur the lines further and promote inconsistencies. These categories are separate for a reason, so it seems we're fine by default. Brandmeistertalk 00:22, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Update: Going by this NBC News source and this The Washington Post source, Stephen Curry seems to identify as African American/black. He talks about the vast majority of basketball players in the NBA being black like him and that black history and culture are his history and culture. could state that Curry is simply recognizing his African ancestry, but it's clear either way that he identifies as being of that ancestry. Plus, this The Conversation source debates Curry being "too pretty to play" basketball as a "light-skinned black athlete." This NBA source says that "Curry expressed intrigue in being the first African American owner in NFL history." And as noted by this source, Curry stood up against Trump on racial division, and Trump responded by revoking Curry's invitation to the White House. I remember that. So it's definitely valid to place Curry in the "African Americans" or "of African descent" category. I'll maybe wait until he speaks more solidly on his racial identity before adding ancestry or racial information to his Wikipedia article, though. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:59, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
I think we should look on the AA category as an "and" not an "or" category. For Markle specifically, Markle wrote an extensive personal essay (perhaps not 1000 words but like that) about this for Elle magazine in 2015 and in it she says: "My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African American. I'm half black and half white. . . . Yet when your ethnicity is black and white, the dichotomy is not that clear.. . . [A]s a biracial woman . . . both sides of a culture I define as my own . . .While my mixed heritage may have created a grey area surrounding my self-identification, keeping me with a foot on both sides of the fence, I have come to embrace that." She ends with a story about slavery in America and "the commonality that links me to my bloodline . . .".[3] (bolded added)
She embraces being African American "and" . . . . It's not an "or". After all, for us to even add the African descent category, we go through her mother, who she says is African American, she does not say her mother is African, we put that in, don't we. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 03:05, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Would you put her page in Category:White Americans based on the same quote? We currently have the page in "descent" groups from both parents and ethnic groups from neither. --Scott Davis Talk 06:59, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
We don't put people in that category. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 09:42, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
That sounds racist. HiLo48 (talk) 10:23, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Whether you are joking or not, defining white people is not always easy, as made clear in the White people and Definitions of whiteness in the United States articles. And if you ask some former supporters of white nationalist Craig Cobb, he is black now because his DNA shows that he has 14% sub-Saharan African ancestry. What those people don't seem to understand is that even white people in the United States are very likely to have sub-Saharan African ancestry, and that, for the world at large, there is no longer a "pure" anything when it comes to "race." Everyone is mixed to a degree. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 01:12, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
And that makes me think we should have self-identification as a necessary (but not necessary sufficient) criterion. StAnselm (talk) 02:15, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
And how's that, given the above noted issues with self-identification? I don't think it's sound of us at all to go solely by self-identification, which is why I voted "deferring to sources, or sources and self-identification." I didn't state "sources or self-identification." Ancestry is not simply a social matter; it is also a DNA matter. And I state that even though I'm with scientists that "race" in the way people usually define it with regard to people doesn't exist, and that "People like to draw hard lines with ethnicity, and they should be fluffy clouds." If a biracial person who has one black parent (an African American person) and one white parent, and "looks black" to the general public, self-identifies as white, I doubt that our editors here would keep that person out of all of the African American categories. Regardless of how that person self-identifies, that person would have African American ancestry, and they wouldn't be considered white by society (the United States or otherwise) unless they can "pass as white." But even if they could "pass as white," it would still be the case that they are of African American ancestry and biracial. So editors will still put that person in some type of African category, even if it's the "of African descent" category instead of the "African Americans" category. But, again, the African-American people category states, "This category lists, in its subcategories, citizens of the United States of black African ancestry, or who otherwise self-identify as being African American." It states "of black African ancestry." If self-identification is not controversial or contested via reliable sources, I wouldn't mind too much going by it alone, but we should still give most of our weight to reliable sources on the matter (if they exist for it)...whether they confirm the person's self-identification or conflict with it. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:51, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
Yes - "not sufficient" means that we do not rely on self-identification alone. StAnselm (talk) 02:56, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
Of course, "or who otherwise self-identify as being African American" would clearly include Rachel Dolezal. StAnselm (talk) 02:58, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
And we see how the self-identification thing turned out in the case of Rachel Dolezal. Her case has already been noted as the prime example of not going by self-identification alone. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:14, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
Actually, I think it sounds racist too, but I can't work out what it means? Does it mean being white is normal? Does it mean that ethnicity is not as important to white people? StAnselm (talk) 02:56, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
You would have to ask this website. But to repeat: We don't put people in that category. And given the broadness that comes with defining "white people," it's easy to see why. "African Americans" can be debated like it's being debated on this talk page, but it is far more specific in defining what being African American means than the White Americans article is when it comes to defining what being a white American means. That stated, like Alanscottwalker noted below, we don't put people in Category Black Americans either. On a side note: We don't have heterosexual categories either. Being heterosexual is usually not considered a notable part of a person's legacy. Being a minority in some way, as in the case of Katherine Johnson, commonly is. Editors have also debated Katherine Johnson's ancestry, but reliable sources call her African American. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:14, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
I can't say, I know anything about our use of that category (we do not have a Category:Black Americans, which suggests, we do not use the "White" category that way. Perhaps that is because it will be misinterpreted as being about "race" or discreditable physical typology, instead of as Meghan calls it, "ethnicity") -- perhaps the way through, as someone else suggested is create a category that mirrors categories in Category:British people of African-American descent. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:18, 2 June 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────She (Duchess of Sussex when she was Meghan Markle) describes her parents as African-American and Caucasian, and herself as half black and half white, with a foot on both sides. She appears to have steadfastly refused to identify any more closely with either black/African American (and she seems to use those two terms interchangeably) than she does with Caucasian/white. WP:BLPCAT only names religious belief and sexual orientation, but has been applied to gender and conceivably should also apply to race/ethnicity. "Categories regarding religious beliefs (or lack of such) or sexual orientation should not be used unless the subject has publicly self-identified with the belief (or lack of such) or orientation in question, and the subject's beliefs or sexual orientation are relevant to their public life or notability, according to reliable published sources." I'm trying to say the issue is not relevant, but I am saying that if she won't say she is African American (or Caucasian), then neither should we, and if we decide that quote means she is both, then we should say that too. The discussion is about the categories, the prose can (and should) provide the nuanced details. --Scott Davis Talk 06:09, 3 June 2018 (UTC) Responding to "We don't put people in category:White Americans, that is true, but that category is a parent of Category:American people of European descent which has a few tens of people directly in it, and over 100 subcategories of people. So while we don't put people pages in category:White Americans we most certainly put them under it. --Scott Davis Talk 06:21, 3 June 2018 (UTC)

She embraces both, yes. She identifies with both. Both does not mean neither, it means both. And multiple rs on her discuss what "both" is being referred to in her case. She became famous as an actress, and openly embraced both, and played a character that openly embraced both. She married into a family, where her being both, and what that both is, came up in multiple rs, because it is a family where heritage has long been the discussion of rs. And Wikipedia accepts that one person regularly belongs in multiple categories. Going back to a question I asked earlier, having not read Wikipedia:ETHNICRACECAT in a long time, it does appear we do bar all "race" categories, and only accept ethnicity categories, and it does not appear we have ever said such categories are exclusive, because there is no reason for them to be. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:35, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
I agree with this reading, unless I'm sorely missing something.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:25, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Remove all ethnic/racial designations from the first sentence of BLPs and remove equivalent article categories from the same said BLPs – Enough is enough. For how many years have Wikipedia editors wasted time attempting to place people into the categories that they think they belong to? How many hours have been spent on analysing ancestry, self-identification, &c., in an attempt to determine 'the truth' about whether a person is black or white, British or English, &c? What content of encyclopaedic value has all this time spent produced? The answer is none. There is absolutely no reason to encourage this sort of pseudoscience, where everyone has some sort of category they must fit into, and indeed where that category is said to have some sort of deterministic effect on the life of those people. Time that could be spent improving the encylopaedia is instead used to play the 'original research' game, which benefits no-one, and is abused by PoV pushers who want to claim encyclopaedic subjects for specific groups or 'tribes'. Enough is enough...factual information about where someone was born or where they live is relevant encyclopaedic information...weaselling around complex constructed identities for the sole purpose of placing someone into a category, or to make a clean and totalising sentence like 'so and so is an American actress of mixed-race descent...', is not...and does not benefit the reader. ENOUGH! I never want to see such a sentence again, nor such a debate. Let us focus on the merits of a person as an encyclopaedic subject, and not reduce these people to the imagined qualities of their blood. RGloucester 00:10, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    We can't use this RfC to make such a decision as that. A huge and drastic decision as that needs to go to the WP:Village pump (policy) page and be advertised at a few related pages. As for the importance of racial or ethnicity categories, they are important in terms of navigation, meaning when readers are specifically looking for people of a certain descent. And for some people, their "race" or ethnicity is an aspect of their WP:Notability. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:59, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    Then you will be amazed that the only thing Australia classifies people by is their self-declaration of their ancestry at the five-yearly census. One of the pre-printed options is Australian. Around a third of people choose that. (Including me.) "Other - please specify" exists as well. No effort is made to give people racial or ethnic labels at all. How can a country work successfully that way, you really should ask. (One small extra effort made is to ask people on government forms if they consider themselves to be of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry. No mention of race though.) So ignoring race and ethnicity CAN work. I feel proud that we lead the world that way. HiLo48 (talk) 03:18, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    HiLo48, what does your comment about Australia have to do with what I stated above? Also, do you mind providing sources for your statements about Australia? I would look, but I'm about to log off. I understand that you like to distinguish between "race" an ethnicity, but we've already covered that. You also seem to be defining ancestry differently than it is usually defined. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:09, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    I was simply highlighting that race and ethnicity are not as important or essential as you claim. A whole country (which may not matter to you, but it works) survives without using the inevitably divisive and destructive terms. Wikipedia takes moral positions in other areas. I wish it would work to eliminate the obsessions some people have with race. HiLo48 (talk) 22:14, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    I didn't state that "race" and ethnicity are very important or essential to everyone. But are they very important and essential to many, perhaps most, people in the world? Yes. You keep tying to make this about the United States, when sources on "race" and ethnicity, and the booming ancestry testing industry that relies on DNA to determine racial and ethnicity aspects, show it's not even close to solely or mostly being about the United States. I asked you to provide sources for your claims regarding Australia. I come back and see none. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 19:59, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
    To be clear, Mr Flyer, I never said the so-called 'race' or 'ethnicity' of a subject should not be discussed in the body of an article, if that's an aspect of said subject's notability (as found/described in reliable sources). What I object to are Wikipedia categorisation by race and ethnicity, largely based on original research and various arbitrary criteria put forth by wayward editors who have an obsessive desire to create order where none exists, and also to the prime position given such categories in the first sentence of most BLPs. The reasons for such I posited above. I do not believe such categories are useful for navigation, any such utility that may exist is negated by the trouble they cause. The reason for this is simple...there are no objective (neutral) criteria to determine race and ethnicity. However, I believe I've made that point effectively enough above. Perhaps this is not the right venue, but I believe the true solution to the problem posited by this RfC is to eliminate these categories...and eliminate the problematic discourse that one can read above, whereby editors attempt to parse the bloodlines of encyclopaedic subjects for the sole purpose making them fit into categories which, by and large, serve no encyclopaedic purpose. RGloucester 04:23, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    RGloucester, I am not a Mr. And, yes, I considered that you might be okay with "race" and/or ethnicity being mentioned in the Wikipedia articles. I stand by what I stated to you above, though. And in my experience, the vast majority of these categories do not fall under WP:Original research. The WP:Original research policy is clear that it does not mean "unsourced." Rather, it's about material "for which no reliable, published sources exist." Reliable sources usually exist for these categories; the material just needs to be sourced in the article. I have seen problems with some of the categories, however; so I understand your point on that. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 13:09, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    It does seem Wikipedia will not give-up on these categories, although anyone is free to make that proposal somewhere. In the meantime, it is odd to claim original research when an article and its statements are sourced, but perhaps this all would be less of a 'problem', (as they are not suppose to be thought of or used as "race" categories), were we to consider why ethnicity is discussed and why it would be a finding aid: it seems it is an issue of another concept, which incidentally Meghan Markle uses practically synonymously, "culture". If we look at it that way, the question becomes, whether culture is a finding aid, or are we wanting to to assert that having more than one culture is problematic, or do we want to assert that there is only one culture, or no culture. The argument above is that "nationality" categorization matters and is good -- well, why is that the case? Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:49, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    That a statement is 'original research' does not mean that it is 'unsourced'. It means using information gathered from various sources to come to independent conclusions not stated in those very sources. For instance, taking various sources that say that someone has 'black' ancestors, various sources that someone has 'white' ancestors, and then synthesising these to produce the conclusion that said person is 'black' or 'white' or 'biracial' is the definition of original research. Because there are no 'objective' criteria to determine membership of a racial or ethnic group, classification of encyclopaedic subjects in this manner will always be difficult. RGloucester 15:54, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    Well, now we are a bit afield but to me, and I think many, "conclusions not stated in those very sources" is very much a model of unsourced. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:58, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    There are 'sources', the sources just don't support the conclusion...regardless of how you want to refer to it, this behaviour is clearly problematic. RGloucester 16:34, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    Simply caring as much about people's race as some people here do is problematic. I would love to see that obsession disappear from Wikipedia. I can't see it ever helping. HiLo48 (talk) 22:14, 5 June 2018 (UTC)
    Actually, Wikipedia does not care about race, except to say it cannot be used, and many people here do not care about race, except to say it cannot be used. So, if you think your obsessed by it, than don't be. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:36, 6 June 2018 (UTC)
    A lot of editors here do seem obsessed with race. I'm not. It only causes trouble. HiLo48 (talk) 06:52, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    It's not that simple. Yes, a lot of editors are over-interested and under-informed with regard to it. But this is also true of the readership. More importantly, these things are social constructs and are often politicized. Being an African-American playwright has several layers of significance that being a Euro-American (or more specific, like Scottish-American or Flemish-American) one does not. I led the charge in ridding our infoboxes of ethnicity and religion parameters, because as one-word labels they were frequently misleading to readers and led to too many disputes among the editorship. But we can't simply expunge our articles of this info completely, since it's often key to the socio-cultural background and experience record of the subject's entire life.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:25, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    Thank you for that effort and success with Infoboxes. My personal view is that any simplistic label in an Infobox is potentially misleading. I wish they didn't exist at all. HiLo48 (talk) 07:51, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
  • 1(a)(iii), and yes, per detailed rationales above. But this doesn't generalize further. "African American" isn't really an ethnicity, but a socio-ethnic and even socio-political grouping, and has been for centuries. See One-drop rule for why. While someone like you or I might think it's silly or even awful, it's not Wikipedia's job to redefine things, or tell the US population that its collective sense of the world is impermissible to represent in US-connected topics. The real world has to change first, then WP follows. In a particular case (e.g. of a subject's known denial of association with the categorization, or use of a term with multiple meanings), we might have a different situation, which would be sorted out through editorial consensus at the article talk page, just like whether Bernie Sanders should be identified on here as a Jew or as Jewish (and when/where/why – the dispute was about |religion=Jewish in his infobox, something akin to categorization). We should provide a general-case rule of thumb, but if people are looking for one-size-fits all bludgeon with which to force the application of apply a label for PoV-pushing (even racist) reasons against both general source treatment and a subject's own self-identification (and perhaps common sense), they should just be sent home. PS: RGloucester is entirely correct above in observing that "taking various sources that say that someone has 'black' ancestors ..., and then synthesising these to produce the conclusion that said person is 'black' ... or 'biracial' is ... original research."  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:47, 7 June 2018 (UTC); revised; 04:28, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    "The real world has to change first, then WP follows. In a particular case (e.g. of a subject's known denial of association with the categorization), we might have a different situation, which would be sorted out through editorial consensus at the article talk page, just like whether Bernie Sanders should be identified on here as a Jew or as Jewish." When did Bernie Sanders deny being Jewish? I must have missed that. Bus stop (talk) 17:29, 14 July 2018 (UTC)
    Does anyone actually care? HiLo48 (talk) 00:13, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    "Does anyone actually care?" Of course we should care as this is a question of WP:BLP. "BLP applies to all material about living persons anywhere on Wikipedia, including talk pages, edit summaries, user pages, images, categories, lists, article titles and drafts." (WP:BLPTALK) Bus stop (talk) 03:39, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    @Bus stop:, what you missed is that "(e.g. of a subject's known denial of association with the categorization)" is a parenthetical example, which could have include two or thirty seven other examples. It doesn't in any way imply Sanders fits that particular example. "In a particular case ... we might have a different situation, which would be sorted out through editorial consensus at the article talk page" is what applies to Sanders. In his case, it was about how to characterize his self-identification as Jewish, which seemed to be ethnic, while various editors were insisting on doing |religion=Jewsish despite lack of evidence of Sanders's religiosity. This was the "poster child" case for deprecating the |religion= parameter and removing it from infoboxes that don't pertain to religious leaders.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  01:23, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    Perhaps you should try to write more clearly? You say "just like whether Bernie Sanders should be identified on here as a Jew". That, to me, sounds like you are casting doubt on whether he is a Jew. According to reliable sources he is a Jew. What that has to do with an "RfC on categorizing biracial people" is beyond my comprehension. This RfC poses the question "Should people with, for example, one African-American parent be added to Category:African-American people"? The connections between various sorts of identities is sometimes tenuous at best and we are on safest ground sticking to the assertions of reliable sources including self-assertions pertaining to identity concerning the subjects of our biographies. Bus stop (talk) 03:39, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    @Bus stop: Fair enough, about clarity. However, this is just off-the-cuff talk page discussion; I wasn't trying to craft article prose or policy wording. :-) As for why it's relevant: "In a particular case ... we might have a different situation, which would be sorted out through editorial consensus at the article talk page" is a general principle. My point was that we already deal with such matters, broadly speaking, though consensus discussions, not through "legislating" one-size-fits-all rules. Central to the question before us is self-identity and (sometimes versus) labeling found in RS – and whether we can sometimes wander into OR in assessing them. The Sanders case was an example where such matters were hashed out in detail, and where consensus concluded that categorizing labels like "Religion: Jewish" are very easy to abuse in reader-misleading and PoV-pushing ways. This is remarkably similar to putting "Race: African-American" or "Race: biracial" on someone. Not similar just in the labeling but in the processes by which we arrived at it. Hope that's clearer. I've inserted a clarification into my original post.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:20, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
    SMcCandlish, who would use various sources that say that someone has black ancestors and other sources that say that the person has white ancestors to conclude that said person is biracial? I don't think I've seen that happen yet. Has it? If it has, it's an incorrect application of "biracial." If a person has one black parent and one white parent, then that person is biracial. We don't have biracial categories, though. As noted above, biracial people have been put in "of [so and so] decent" categories, however. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:05, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    I've seen it happen (it's not like everyone actually understands the strict meaning of biracial, even people who use the term about themselves; e.g. I know someone who's 3/4 Asian and 1/4 black who identifies as biracial). More often it's a matter of labeling someone African-American because their great-grandmother was black, and stuff like that. This isn't even really the norm in American perception any longer, but people from the Deep South tend to still think this way, and it can trickle into our articles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  07:15, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    Is there really a strict meaning of biracial? I'd be surprised. HiLo48 (talk) 07:47, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    Mr Flyer, the statement 'if a person has one black parent and one white parent, then that person is biracial' is not correct. A person can only be called 'biracial' if they label themselves as such...or indeed if other people label them as such in the preponderance of cases. There is no inherent biological quality of 'being' biracial. It's a constructed label that people can choose to apply to themselves or other people...but it is not an inherent part of their being, rooted in some sort of blood-based essentialist idea of biological race. If you have RS that say that an encyclopaedic subject has a 'white' parent and a 'black' parent, that does not mean you can label that person as 'biracial'. Doing so would be 'original research', as I wrote above. Perhaps you understand my comment above now? RGloucester 15:38, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    As mentioned earlier Flyer is not a Mr., she is a woman. We have no "biracial" category, so no-one is going to put them in such a category. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:52, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    I was simply trying to make my point clear, as there seems to have been some confusion. Using that same method to add someone into any other kind of racial/ethnic category would be just as wrong. As for 'Mr', forgive me...I do not associate said title with the gender of the referent. RGloucester 18:26, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    Well, she told you she is not Mr, regardless of your, whatever, gratuitous use. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:42, 7 June 2018 (UTC)
    Thank you, Alanscottwalker. And, nah, RGloucester, I'm going to stick with what  SMcCandlish and I stated on that matter. Also, people don't get to pick their ancestry, regardless of how they identify. Rachel Dolezal taught many that. And like I've noted before, and as SMcCandlish well knows, I'm with scientists that there is no such thing as race in the way that the general public thinks of it. It is why I keep putting "race" in quotation marks. But if you must keep being rude and acting like I have an essentialist mindset, you do you. You obviously always do anyway. As for your let's forgo WP:Common sense logic with regard to "if a subject has a white parent and a black parent, that does not mean [we] can label that person as 'biracial'," I'm quite sure that editors would be putting people in that category if we had one...and without long it's factual that said person has one black parent and one white parent (regardless of whether or not reliable sources are in the article for it). Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 04:32, 8 June 2018 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 04:45, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    "...people don't get to pick their ancestry". Well.... They can pick how they describe it. And how can we editors know any different from that? HiLo48 (talk) 08:47, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    By deferring to reliable sources, just like what is done with the Rachel Dolezal and Johnny Depp cases (that show that their identifications are controversial). Identification being at conflict with what reliable sources state has already been addressed above. And if there is no conflict with reliable sources, well, that has been addressed above as well. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 09:19, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    Ancestry is still a very arbitrary measure. It all depends on how far back one looks. One third of Australians declare on the national census that they have Australian ancestry. That includes me. Go back six or more generations in my case, and you will find other countries. Go back 20 generations, and you will find another set of places. Go back hundreds of generations, and we are all from Africa. Do we have a precise definition for ancestry? HiLo48 (talk) 09:44, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    My point is that ancestry cannot be chosen. I can't up and state that I'm German and have that be valid if I'm not German. If you disagree with me on that, then we disagree. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 08:35, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    I absolutely disagree. I'm not sure you have properly read what I have written. What do you think of my formal declaration on Australia's official census that my ancestry is Australian? Note that I do not claim to be Australian Aboriginal. HiLo48 (talk) 09:47, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    What do you think of the definition of ancestry? How are you defining it? Again, just because someone identifies as does not mean they are German. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 11:42, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    I'm intrigued Flyer22 Reborn how you can simultaneously assert "...there is no such thing as race ..." and "If a person has one black parent and one white parent, then that person is biracial". I am similar to HiLo48 in that I identify as Australian as that is where all of my great grandparents were born (along with some of their parents and one of the previous generation). I have no indigenous Australian ancestry, but I do not identify with any of the places or cultures that my immigrant ancestors came from, some as refugees. In particular, I reject being labelled "Anglo-Australian" as roughly half of my ancestry is not from Great Britain. However, I am aware of and recognise the many cultures of my heritage. --Scott Davis Talk 11:04, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    ScottDavis, I can state that for the same reason that  SMcCandlish doesn't believe in race with regard to humans (in the way that the general public usually thinks of it), but also stated above that "it's not like everyone actually understands the strict meaning of 'biracial', even people who use the term about themselves; e.g. I know someone who's 3/4 Asian and 1/4 black who identifies as biracial)." Race is socially constructed, but it does not mean that that the social construct is not partly based on biology. Read the Race (human categorization) article, or the Cline (biology) article. Going by the construct that is race, and the definition of biracial, it is true that if a person has one black parent and one white parent, then that person is biracial. You might be interested in reading this discussion I had with SMcCandlish and Maunus in 2017. Aquillion, Doug Weller and Rivertorch also commented in that discussion. They might also want to comment in this one. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 08:35, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    Not speaking for Flyer Reborn (there seem to be differences in our approaches, here), but it is rather easy, as Meghan Markle's statement shows to treat or understand "biracial" as a statement regarding ethnicity ("state of belonging to a social group that has a common national or cultural tradition"[4]). See also, "Race is associated with biology, whereas ethnicity is associated with culture." [5]. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:54, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    Your Excellency Flyer22, in fact, people do get to pick their ancestry. Any essentialising statement about 'black' or 'white' or 'Italian' or 'Chinese' ancestry of a person is not actually associated with the biological reality of descent. Nearly everyone is heavily mixed, from that standpoint. There is no clear biological definition of 'black' or 'Italian', or anything else. These are labels people choose to identify with on a cultural level, NOT indicative of some biological reality. Any time someone picks one of these labels, they are picking one at the expense of some other potential label on the basis of cultural attachment or affinity. Indeed, other people will also choose to label people on the basis of perceived cultural and physical traits, not upon having read a detailed report of someone's ancestry. As an encylopaedia, we must follow reliable sources in this regard. If there are reliable sources that indicate one black and one white parent for some subject, but none that indicate that said subject 'is biracial', or has expressed any affinity for said identity, we cannot place said subject in a 'biracial' category. RGloucester 15:22, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
    RGloucester, rejecting your unnecessary rudeness and whatever chip you have on your shoulder regarding me has nothing to do with excellency. It's easy to reject such nonsense. People can pick whatever ancestry they want, but that does not make the claim true. Some would say it's nice that you are a Rachel Dolezal supporter and all, but the vast majority of people disagree with you on her racial/ancestral identification as African American being valid. And it is because of this that we note that controversy in her Wikipedia article. No one said that we should not go by what reliable sources state. Indeed, I voted for "support deferring to sources, or sources and self-identification." Did I vote for going by self-identification alone? No, and I already noted why. But I also stated that "If self-identification is not controversial or contested via reliable sources, I wouldn't mind too much going by it alone, but we should still give most of our weight to reliable sources on the matter (if they exist for it)...whether they confirm the person's self-identification or conflict with it." Regis Philbin could come out and claim that he is African American all he wants to, but we would not put him in that category. And if anyone did, you can bet that there would be an RfC on it and the category would be rejected. And not because of racism either (not mostly because of it at least). I challenged your rejection of common sense, because there are various cases on Wikipedia where we use categories without reliable sources explicitly stating something. For example, a fictional character on television is sexually attracted to both sexes? That fictional character usually goes into the bisexual category...without incident. To many or most editors, it's not considered WP:OR just because a reliable source has not explicitly called that character bisexual. We all know what the definition of bisexual is; it does not take a genius. BLP is different, though, and I never stated that it wasn't. As seen with the Amber Heard article, I've rejected people placing her in the bisexual category based on her having had sex with and/or expressing a romantic/sexual attraction to both men and women. This is not only because she has rejected identifying as such, and sexuality can be complicated, but also because of what WP:BLPCAT states. As seen at Talk:Jodie Foster/Archive 4, after multiple RfCs, editors made a similar decision regarding Jodie Foster. And just like with sexual orientation categories, I never stated that care should not be taken with racial and/or ethnicity material on Wikipedia. Nor was I implying that. So you can save your snark for someone else. You can also save your "no clear biological definition" arguments for someone who needs to hear them, or cares to hear them. Yes, in that linked Amber Heard discussion, I stated that "this is not like labeling someone a 'race'/ethnicity, seeing as that is more of a solid listing while sexuality and therefore applying a sexual orientation is more complicated." But that's because I have seen sexuality labels be more complicated (on and off Wikipedia)...while ancestral/racial/ethnicity categories be less complicated and more often based on reliable sources. After all, WP:BLPCAT currently says nothing about ancestry/racial/ethnicity issues. I'm not stating that the latter categories are never an issue. Obviously, this discussion shows that they sometimes or often are. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 08:35, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    I do not understand the origin of your hostility to me, nor do I understand what I have done to upset you. Regardless, I shall cease to engage with you, for I fear any such further engagement will be fruitless. I shall only say that I am not familiar with Ms Dolezal's case, and nowhere have I expressed support for her or her opinions. RGloucester 17:12, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    So you approach me with hostility, and yet I was the one being hostile? Yeah, we can agree to disagree on that. Dolezal self-identifies as African American, and that identification is hotly disputed, which is why I brought her up. It's also why a different editor brought her up before I did when they voted above. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 02:35, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose: Having reread this discussion, the guideline and the proposal, we need to reject this as we ultimately rejected the American women novelist stuff (although we did that too late). This will become the "African American Rule" and it will be, whatever its intent, a segregationist statement just for "African American". In particular, the rationale that African American cannot be an ethnicity is poor rationale, "socio-ethnic" is ethnicity, and using the 'one drop rule' of a century ago which dealt in blood, "colored" and "negro", is a very poor argument (almost perverse) for adopting a special segregation rule, now, for "African-American", so I have to join the others who have opposed and said 'mixed-bag', this proposal, as it currently stands, should be rejected, strongly. Alanscottwalker (talk) 17:13, 8 June 2018 (UTC). INSERT: Adding, having read SMcCandlish thoughtful points below in his "crash course". While articulate on many points, the course does not in the least support adopting this proposal, which is expressly built around "Biracial", targeting "African American". He begins with what most here seem to agree on, that race for humans is basically nonsense. Thus, it is obviously good, Wikipedia requires that there be no categorization based on race - and whatever the African American category is, it cannot be a race category (because we have none). SMcCandlish then takes aim at 'ethnicity' applying instead of common definition[6], an anthropologist's or specialist's definition. The problem there is we are on a longstanding Wikipedia page that is in part titled "ethnicity" - so if "African American" cannot be ethnicity, and indeed there is no ethnicity, than we are not only on the wrong page, we need to be MfD'ing this page, and everything we have previously called ethnicity. (It also needs to be pointed out that SMcCandlish's statement below, whether intentional or not, does a bit of "original research", oddly enough, around a living person, Meghan Markle -- he argues that she is making a political statement -- in fact, as the quote I put above shows, Meghan Markle does use "bi-racial" as synonym for her "both"-"ethnicity" and specifically in the context of "culture", which altogether sounds very much like the common definition of ethnicity. There is nothing whatsoever in Markle's personal statement that requires anyone to jump to their own conclusion that she is being political, and frankly, that "political" conclusion sounds insulting to her.) So, while I appreciate SMcCandlish thoughtful statement, it does not support adoption the new, "biracial", targeting "African American" rule and his statement is rather a précis against going further down this path, this way. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:08, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
I'm a bit confused as to what you're opposing. Are you saying that people with one African-American parent should never be added to Category:African-American people? (Because there is no "proposal" - the RfC is asking under what conditions are they to be added.) StAnselm (talk) 19:01, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
What? There is a proposal, right up top in this section to add this rule to the guideline, it is a rule explicitly targeted at "African-American". Your confusion is baffling. Current articles will just have to muddle along with the rules as is, rather than this. Better that, than adopting the proposed 'African American rule'. In particular, we most definately should not go back or in any way cast doubt on our 'no race categories, only ethnicity categories' rule. Finally, you already know, I am not opposed to adding a person such as you describe to African American categories, but that category, like all our categories must be and must be treated as an ethnicity category.-- Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:07, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
Baffling or not, I'm still confused. I get that you're saying "No" to (2), but I have no idea what you're saying to (1). StAnselm (talk) 19:28, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
I have told you, I object to targeting African American -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:14, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
Well, in the RfC, African-Americans are given merely as an example - since that was the context of the issue arising. But how would you categorise people with one African-American parent? StAnselm (talk) 20:47, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
I would not make a rule around African-American -- tell me what you mean by example, example of what? Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:13, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
An example of a biracial person (as indicated by the title of the RfC). StAnselm (talk) 22:53, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
Nor would I make a rule around applying biracial - racial - race - too easily taken as flat contradiction or gross confusion of our no race categories rule. Alanscottwalker (talk) 23:14, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
So - would you agree that having one African-American parent does not necessarily make a person "African-American"? StAnselm (talk) 00:04, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Are you asking me as a matter of science? Science can perhaps tell what dna/genes/alleles were inherited, perhaps from known populations of African Americans. Are you asking me as a matter of dogma? I have no such received dogma, and would not like to receive one now, as it would seem most unhelpful. Are you asking me as a matter of experience? There are millions and millions of ways to be African American, as many ways as there are African Americans. But my issue here, is that if you want a new rule for ethnicity categories, it should apply generally to all ethnicity categories and not single out African American. As a side but related issue, I would prefer, a general statement that our ethnicity categories need not be exclusive, thus an article may go into more than one such category. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:58, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
I have no problem with using multiple ethnicity categories on a page, and don't think it is banned by the current guidelines. But, all of the categories applied should be supported by sources and (with a few minor edge cases) the subject's own identification with each group, not just their parents or grandparents. --Scott Davis Talk 14:23, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
  • 1(a)(iii) and yes. Because we are looking at ethnicity rather than "race", self-identification is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for categorisation. It is also worth pointing out that unsourced categories should be removed, including those that call people "African-American" solely on the basis of one parent being African-American. StAnselm (talk) 19:40, 8 June 2018 (UTC)
  • This conversation seems to be going on far too long. We appear to all be taking different ways of getting to roughly the same place:
    • "Race" is not (purely) genetic and overlaps but is not the same as ethnicity
    • articles about people should not be put in categories that are not supported by sources and explained in the text of the article, and very rarely in categories that the person does not identify themselves with
    • One drop rules do not apply to ethnicity
--Scott Davis Talk 11:08, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
I am nowhere near that place. To me, both race and infinity are imprecise, almost meaningless, certainly ambiguous, and often dangerous categories. Ancestry can mean something, but no more than what any person self-declares it to be. HiLo48 (talk) 11:22, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
That's not how ancestry is defined. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 11:42, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
I have no problem with that definition, but it doesn't not preclude the fact that I can, quite honestly, say that my ancestry is Australian. What does that mean to you? How many generations do you want me to go back? HiLo48 (talk) 11:46, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
@HiLo48: are you disagreeing with one or more of the three points I wrote, or are you seeking to add to them? You said you are not in that place, but I don't see what you disagree with. Sorry if I appear obtuse. --Scott Davis Talk 13:05, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
1. No practical or effective encyclopaedic definitions exist for race or ethnicity at a global level.
2. All such categories (in race and ethnicity) are unencyclopaedic. Perhaps if Mr X explicitly and emphatically declares "I am Y", we could write "Mr X self declares as Y", but no categories please. (Unless we invent categories of that style, i.e. Self-declared race or self declared ethnicity.
3. The one drop rule was one of the most stupid and divisive, racist rules the USA ever invented, on a par with the stupidities of Apartheid. It should never be used for anything. HiLo48 (talk) 23:05, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
  • 1(a)(iii) and yes. Both reliable sources and self-identification together are generally necessary, though especially for non-BLPs, when reliable sources widely refer to someone as mixed-race and there's no sources indicating they ever contested this, disagreed with it, or described themselves in some other way, then we can go with that. Just identifying their parent is absolutely not enough and gets into potential WP:OR issues. --Aquillion (talk) 18:39, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
  • a (i) or (ii), unless in self-identity and RS attributions are in conflict—First, we should not infer based on parents, but when RS and the individual do so rhetorically ("Born to a black Jamaican father and a English mother, XX values her Black heritage.") we may follow them. Second, this issue is complicated and fraught. Historically, for large portions of US history, attribution was legally defined and the effect of being defined as African American by other is still pervasively important. People with mixed ancestry were essentially required to identify as African American by law and social custom. In the present, we may identify as African American, as biracial, as both, or specifically as not one or more of those categories. Generally, if the person is a public figure and their self-identification conflicts with that of reliable sources, and that conflict also appears in a reliable source, that may be a notable fact about them.--Carwil (talk) 19:19, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    The history seems rather off. Most places in America did not have a one drop law. Those that did, tried do to so to make those alleged as "passing" for "white" admit their background. The social force at work before and during those laws was if anything to deny any "colored" background. So people were generally forced, shamed, or enticed into denial, covering it up or running away from it, as much as they could. Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:39, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    Whatever the rule in "most places", most African Americans lived in the South, where such laws were in place (see this chart). Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma had one-drop laws. Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Utah set 1/16 or 1/32 as threshold fractions.--Carwil (talk) 20:58, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    Sure, but when the laws were adopted was when African Americans were also becoming more mobile in leaving the South. Even before the law, there are high profile examples of those that could, leaving and in their new place "joining" white society. The racism of society everywhere was rather plain but the 'one drop' law was aimed particularly at forcing people to either submit or if they could get away with it, deny - reinvent their grandmother, etc. Alanscottwalker (talk) 21:21, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    The point I was trying to make is that because of hypodescent and one-drop laws, the commonplace understanding of "African American" has long explicitly included people with white ancestors. I don't see how the existence of people who covered up their black ancestry to evade said laws changes the question we're considering here.--Carwil (talk) 22:47, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    True. But part of the question we are considering here is requiring subjects to admit it. So, we are creating a re-born admission requirement. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:00, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • 1(a)(iii) and strong NO I think others have already articulated why we should not be imposing social categories on people which they have not themselves endorsed - though in a small number of instances we may require corroboration from sources (eg Depp's 'native American' self identification, a small number of people self identifying as Af Am), in most instances, self-identification is sufficient and should be required. What I am saying no to is adding a rule which applies solely to 'blackness' or 'American blackness', I think it an inherently bad idea to invent a rule for a specific demographic, some of the reasons for which have been articulated by Alanscottwalker. What I think would be a good idea is to broaden this discussion to whole subject of 'ethnic-nationality' labels and categories. I'm using this crude descriptor to mean all the 'composite' labels, whether they be 'Italian-American', 'Serbian Canadian', 'British Asian' (used of British people of Asian descent), etc. Sometimes with goodwill and harmless, but sometimes less so, these labels/categories are added (and people are added to lists), when there is no indication that the person identifies as such - and even less indication that being that is in any sense a 'defining feature' - but solely because they have a Serbian, Scottish, Greek etc. antecedent. Flyer pointed to the Depp article - I went there and it listed 5 descents, two I removed as there was no clarification/confirmation in the article and therefore the categorisation was pointless. That Depp has English and one other European (Flemish?) ancestry was confirmed, that Depp had a distant (and somewhat notable) African American ancestor appeared RS from a genealogy site. The calculation was that Depp was 3/2048ths African American, if I remember correctly. I left the category 'of AfAm descent' as it appeared to be RS, but it begs the question of whether having such a tiny percentage of a particular ancestry - of which he himself seemed unaware - can possibly make it a defining feature of J Depp! How to solve this 'percentage question', I don't know and some may take the attitude that listing Depp as of partly Af-Am descent is harmless, I'm not sure on balance. Pincrete (talk) 11:27, 11 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose no one should be included in any ethnic categories unless there is positive evidence that they self identify with that category. That includes "African-American" and "biracial". ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 18:43, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    The notion of a split between external evidence and self-identification may be important in the present, but (1) it wasn't so much of a possibility sixty years ago, so we shouldn't require positive evidence; (2) remains a self-evident fact for many living people, who may never say out loud; (3) positive evidence of self-identification may be especially hard to come by for individuals (e.g., scientists, inventors, investors) whose self-presentation is not part of their public identity.--Carwil (talk) 19:19, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    If their ethnicity is not a part of their publiuc selfpresentation, then it does not need to be a part of their wikipedia article either.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:53, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
    @Maunus: could you clarify whether you support 1(a)(ii) or 1(a)(iii)? StAnselm (talk) 19:31, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
    I Support 1ai for historical persons and 1aii for living persons.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:53, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment (Summoned by bot) Whether a person belongs to a particular ethnicity needs to be determined by the reliable sources or the person himself, as people are reliable sources on themselves. In exceptional circumstances -- a person is joking, perhaps -- it can be attributed to the subject. Coretheapple (talk) 15:33, 14 June 2018 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

An over-simplified crash course in why "race" and "ethnicity" are screwy concepts, especially used as labels on Wikipedia[edit]

This is an essay of sorts, of pointers to and basics about related topics – some additional considerations that are important in this context. "Ancestry" is essentially too meaningless a word (or, rather, one with too many subjective meanings). Some people (in this conversation and "out there") mean "bloodlines", roughly. That is, originally: largely unreliable genealogies; from a modern standpoint: haplogroups. Haplogroups do not correspond to things like "Italian" or even "African" (neighboring groups in Africa often have more diversity in their genes than is found between the Welsh and the Indonesians). From another standpoint, "ancestry" means one's familial and meta-familial background – that sense in which 7th generations Americans say "I'm Irish" or "I'm German and English", by which they mean "my people from the old country were these things and my grandparents and parents kept alive some attitudes, beliefs, traditions, associations, etc. that were, or were believed to be, inherited from the old country, like Great-Granny's Moravian gingerbread cookie recipe which I use and will pass on to my kids". It can also imply membership in a social group, which may have a cause and a lingo and a mode of dress and statistically more likely occupations, etc. – which has nothing to do with genes. And there are other meanings which can even imply obligations, in particular cultural contexts. But WP has no reason to care about these things, in and of themselves, or habitually label people with them. Only when RS or the subjects consistently make a point of it, when it becomes part of the encyclopedic story of who they are. This is not AnthropometryPedia, and it is not our job to measure people's "breeding stock" and put them into labeled boxes.

When someone like Markle says they are white- and African-American, repeatedly, in high-profile interviews, this is a socio-political statement about identifying with subcultural groups (and their heritage, pride, troubles, etc.), not a statement about genetics. "Biracial" is also a politicized socio-cultural label; if Markle doesn't use it and few if any RS do, then it's OR for WP to do so, because there is no calculation that can be done to determine whether you're 50% identifying with that group and 50% with the other or 37% versus 73%.

Next, even "ethnicity" is basically meaningless as label to stick on someone. The average American and British person and Canadian, and ..., thinks of everyone in the world with a noticeable element of stereotypical African visual phenotype as "black", as a single "ethnicity" or "race", and will use those two words interchangeably (or may resort to a label like as "mixed" if they look part something else, too). To an anthropologist, the Oromo of Ethiopia are an ethnicity (definitely not a race); they means something much, much more specific. Most anthropologists don't think "race" is a legit concept; for the few who still do, there are only three races, and various subdivisions. The idea that all Africans are an "ethnicity" is downright stupid to anyone with even one undergraduate year in cultural anthropology/ethnicity studies (in the anthro meaning of the e-word).

So back back to ethnicity. In everyday language (in the the US anyway, and picked up in a few other places) Hispanic is an ethnicity. Yet it isn't one by any consistent definition; we just choose to treat it as-if, to put the glove in the sock drawer, because our categorization system is faulty. People from various ethnicities (under various tighter definition of that word) also simulteneously identify as Hispanic (a.k.a. Latino/a, a.k.a. Chicano in some circles, and often called la Raza 'the Race' in Spanish, which doesn't split the hairs we do; that word is even used for domestic animal breeds, without the capital R). They range from Afro-Cubans, to two members of my family who are about "3/4 white" by old-school "bloodline" reckoning, but do not self-ID as white-/Anglo-/Euro-American at all), to Chileans who are about 90% indigenous and 10% Spanish, to Northern New Mexico families that go all the way back to the Conquistador era and in some cases mostly descended not just from Spaniards but from Conversos – Spanish Jewish families that survived the Inquisition by conversion to Roman Catholicism. Again, it comes down to self-identification and RS identification of the subject with that socio-political term; WP has no business appling a label like "Hispanic" based on who or "what" someone's ancestors were, even their immediate ones. (And if you don't think Hispanic is a political concept you're sadly mistaken; most non-Latin Americans don't realize how political it is, because they've never read The Cosmic Race and The Labyrinth of Solitude.) And "white" as an ethnicity or a "race"? Nuts. Not even people who are "white" can agree on who that does and doesn't include. At its broadest, it includes not only entire cultures as distinct as the Irish and the Kirghiz, it spans multiple language families, and the haplogroup data shows that eastern "white people" are more closely related to "non-white" neighboring groups than they are to far-western "white" people like the Irish, in many ways.

The race illusion looks compelling phenotypically, because some people are pale, some are really dark, some are a bit ruddy and have epicanthic folds. But genetics doesn't work along "race" lines. Any population will absorb and express a gene that is locally adaptive, and ones that are locally mal-adaptive will eventually die out in though groups. And the same or a superficially similar adaptation is highly likely to arise in very distinct populations under the same sort of environmental pressure (e.g., large populations of South Asians have developed dark skin approaching that of many Africans, for the same ultraviolet protection reason, while indigenous peoples of the same latitude range in the Americas didn't all that much change much from East Asian complexion because they needed another 10,000 years or so of evolutionary pressure to reach that level of melanin). People's perceptions and assumptions are often wrong. "African features" of the stereotypical sort are not Africa-endemic. E.g. many north and east Africans have thin lips and pointy noses. "Race" on our minds makes us see things that aren't real.

The race concept is comparatively recent (and ethnicity entirely modern). Until well after the Renaissance, there wasn't even a concept of "European", and people didn't think in terms of skin tone very much. There was Christendom and there were heathens and pagans of various kinds. More locally, there were castes (royalty, nobility/gentry, merchant-class, peasant, slave). Long before that, the Roman Empire didn't break people down into "this one's white and this one's black", either, nor "you're Italian and you're Spanish"; you were Roman or you were something else (labeled by empire or kingdom, by tribe or city-state, or by vague region when specificity didn't seem to matter). But nation-states like Italy and Spain didn't exist (though being from Rome conveyed a prestige, at least among the upper classes, over being from the provinces like Hispania). Earlier still, Alexander the Great's idea was to make everyone Greek; it was what today we'd call a cultural not ethnic much less racial concept. China has a similar history, encompassing multiple ethnicities in the broad sense, and several entire language families. The "race" concept arose in the West as a way to justify slavery on a massive, proto-industrial scale, taking off in earnest in the mid-15th century.

The idea that races are innate, either in biology or human psychology, is absurd. What is innate are some obvious and not-so-obvious (e.g. different anti-malarial defense) phenotypic distinctions, and a human tendency to categorize and to prefer to associate with similar-looking people while distrusting "the other". The phenotypic differences vary almost ridiculously widely, across most of a continent in some cases and just across a few tribes in others; they do not correspond in most cases to traditional "races", but just show a frequency distribution bubble in them. If you made up entirely new pseudo-races by totally arbitrary criteria, you'd find the same thing (just different phenotypes would be more prevalent in your new "races" than in our current ones). It's just how statistics operates. It's very similar to common mystified wonder (among those with little mathematics education) at the fact that the digits in multiples of 9 always add up to 9 (9×9=81; 8+1=9). This seems unmistakably significant at first, like a wink from God, but it's not. It's just a property of the last digit in any numbering system (e.g. of numeral F in hexadecimal); if you make a huge table, you end up seeing that there's nothing mysterious or special about it; it literally could not be any other way. There's nothing magically special about, say, the anti-malarial and sickle-cell anemia gene that is common in many African populations; it doesn't prove a "race" exists like some kind of Platonic Ideal. If you manufactured a "race" out of everyone native to the tropics world-wide, you'd find a huge correlation: dark hair and eyes, and you'd be convinced this meant something proved the race was real.

On to the other part: Our in-built xenophobia is triggered by anything and has nothing in particular to do with "race"; lab experiments prove this with nearly zero effort to prove it. E.g., you can put people in green jumpsuits on one side of a room and purple ones on the other, and not let the groups talk to each other; within the hour the purples will be supposing all kinds of baseless, distrustful things about the greens and vice-versa. First-year psych students repeat and re-confirm this experiment practically every day.

Each of these side topics could easily cover several books. And they've already been written. We ignore what all this previous research and thought and re-thought are telling us at our peril – or, rather, at Wikipedia's peril when we do it here, and let people stick labels on other people to suit their prejudices and their pseudoscience. And that's before we even get into way more nuanced related topics like "heritage", "culture" under several definitions, etc. WP is a bad place to engage in labelling that isn't absolutely integral to international public perception of the subject.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:39, 9 June 2018 (UTC)

Bravo, Mr McCandlish. I'm glad at least one person understands what I was trying to write above. RGloucester 17:08, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Race and ethnicity, like religion and even gender, and nationality in the era before mass poessession of identity documents, are slippery, inconsistent concepts with sometimes unclear boundaries. Membership in these categories has an important, sometimes determinative impact on peoples lives, is an essential part of many of their identities, and helps us to understand key working parts of their biographies. Which is why we include them in encyclopedic articles. Walter Francis White's blackness was only marginally biological, but rather culturally imposed, but it was critical to understanding his social position, and ended up defining his life's work. Hannah Arendt's Jewishness was ethnic, but only marginally cultural, but this status was critical to her biography, resulting in her losing German citizenship and entering exile, and forming the basis of her most controversial work. Race, ethnicitiy, religion, and gender are not necessarily biological or genetic facts, but they are social facts, which matter so long as we are concerned with describing people's social lives. And social lives are the subject of most biographies.--Carwil (talk) 22:42, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Brilliant work Mr McCandlish. I wish I had had the time and energy. I especially like your thoughts on Hispanic. As a non-American I have no idea what it means, and get confused every time I read or hear it. I asked a few weeks ago on one of the Reference Desks what it actually means. Every answer (out of around fifteen) was different. The worst part is that all the editors believed they knew what it meant. HiLo48 (talk) 23:12, 9 June 2018 (UTC)
Mr Carwil, pray read our discussion on this matter one has proposed removing such descriptions from the article body, if said information is notable and reliably sourced. Our discussion is about the application of Wikipedia categories, and the totalising and dangerous effect that this has been shown to have in various cases. Specifically, see above the case of HRH The Duchess of Sussex. RGloucester 01:03, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
Dangerous? What do you mean? Dangerous is not mentioned, above. The Duchess certainly does not suggest it is dangerous. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:43, 10 June 2018 (UTC)
Re: "WP is a bad place to engage in labelling that isn't absolutely integral to international public perception of the subject." Can I frame that and put it on my wall? Pincrete (talk) 08:40, 12 June 2018 (UTC)
You bet. It's not even subject to licensing fees. %-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  04:34, 15 July 2018 (UTC)

Categorizing people by intersection of ethnicity and occupation[edit]

There is a discussion going on about the application of WP:EGRS, feel free to contribute. Marcocapelle (talk) 05:58, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

Update on Category:American people of African descent[edit]

As noted here, the "American people of African descent" category is being removed per the following discussion that Marcocapelle pointed to: Wikipedia:Categories for discussion/Log/2018 December 1#Category:American people of African descent. And yet categories such as Category:American people of Irish descent and Category:American people of German descent are still being used to categorize people. There are a number of categories like that. Wikipedia should be consistent on this categorization matter or not even bother. Also take note that Category:People of African-American descent still currently exists for categorizing people. Pinging BrownHairedGirl, DexDor, Necrothesp, Dimadick, Hmains, Peterkingiron, Inter&anthro and John Pack Lambert, who all took part in that categories discussion started by Marcocapelle. A related discussion is the #RfC on categorizing biracial people discussion above. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:41, 17 January 2019 (UTC)

@Flyer22 Reborn: I don't see the problem here.
The principle agree at that CFD was that people may be categorised by country of descent, but not directly categorised by continent of descent.
That is to avoid the continental categories being used as a proxy for race.
Neither Ireland nor Germany are continents, so there is no contradiction and no inconsistency. Note that country-specific African categories such as Category:American people of Kenyan descent and Category:American people of Egyptian descent remain intact, and those are the direct comparators with the Irish and German categories.
It seems to me that Flyer22 has misunderstood the decision taken at CFD. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 01:33, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl Actually Germans lived all over Europe, so are you arguing, that are you limiting that category to people descended from those born in and after the German Empire was created in the mid-1800s? Alanscottwalker (talk) 01:42, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
No, @Alanscottwalker, I am not making any such argument.
I simply pointing out that there was decision to categorise people by nationality descent, but not by continent descent.
The geographical extent of national descent obvious varies, and there obvious difficulties with categorising nationality and ethnicity in those parts of Europe where boundaries fluctuated and states came and went, but that fuzziness has long been accommodated within the various sub-continental categories.
The decision to containerise was taken to prevent the by-continent categories from being used a proxy for race. I don't see how the issues regarding German descent differ from those relating to some of the African Empires, such as Zulu.
The post by Flyer22 suggested that the decision at WP:Categories for discussion/Log/2018 December 1#Category:American people of African descent has led to European descent being treated different to African. That is not the case, because WP:Categories_for_discussion/Log/2018_November_14#Category:American_people_of_European_descent --applied the same principle to Europe.
Your speculations about how we define "German descent" belong somewhere else. BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 02:03, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl What speculations? Is your argument is that German is a nationality, or are you arguing that German is an ethnicity? --Alanscottwalker (talk) 03:25, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker: As above, I have not taken a position either way on that. And I don't intend to enter into debate on that here, because it is not relevant to the issue which @Flyer22 Reborn raised, viz whether we are treating Europe differently to Africa. Answer: no, we are not. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 03:33, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl: You argued, "people may be categorised by country of descent." What did you mean by that with respect to Germans? Alanscottwalker (talk) 03:37, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker, you trying to engage in a theological dispute of no practical value to the immediate issue, which is simply that we no longer categorise people directly by descent from a continent.
The point which you raise is is what a colleague of mine used to call "pub talk": an issue which could with much interest be debated in the pub once the meeting is over, but which does not directly impact the business of the meeting. Per WP:NOTFORUM, I am not playing here. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 03:55, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl, thanks for taking the time to comment. I considered that you might argue something like that. Still, editors on this site commonly use categories such as Category:American people of Irish descent and Category:American people of German descent to indicate "race" and ethnicity as well. I've seen it times over. Anyway, it seems that you all will be looking to get rid of Category:People of African-American descent next. No need to ping me since this page is on my watchlist. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:58, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl: Pub talk? No. Look around. We are here on a page about categorization, you have laid down a claim on this page about categorization in response to an OP involving inter alia Germans, and even discussed Germany in your initial response. What did you mean when you said, "people may be categorised by country of descent" with respect to Germans? How is that categorization according to your statement suppose to work? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 04:04, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker, if and when you buy me a glass or several of nectar in a local hostelry, we can have a grand evening debating those questions. But right now, we're not in that pub ... and as above, we don't need to resolve that question here. WP:NOTFORUM.
@Flyer22, that "it seems" assumption comes close to putting words in my mouth. Please don't do that.
The long-standing guideline has been that we categorise by ethnicity but not by race. The distinction is not an easy one, because there is a lot of overlap, but I think that the principle is broadly right, even if only as the least-worst option. I have no desire to change it.
As to African-American descent, see the lede of African Americans: "African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans" (emphasis added by me).
Since the stable consensus is is that this is an ethnic group, I would strongly oppose any attempt to delete the African-American category. (I may support the removal of irrelevant intersections between African-American ethnicity and occupation, but only by upmerger to another African-American category). --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 04:25, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl: We are not in a pub, I think that's clear. You are on a page about categorization involving inter alia ethnicity -- so, is it that you don't want to explain your statement, because you do not know what you meant? Or perhaps looking at it now, you realize your statement makes little sense? Alanscottwalker (talk) 04:35, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Alan, I know perfectly well what I mean, and I know that it makes sense; I also know that I am getting a bit fed up with your pursuit of a tangent. As above, this is a narrow discussion about a particular issue. If you want to start a broader discussion about the distinction/overlap between nationality and ethnicity, please open a new discussion somewhere. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 04:46, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Then explain what you mean. You said this statement here, in this discussion, so it is either relevant or is that evidence you do not know what you meant? You even called it a "principle". There is obviously nothing more central than a claimed principle of such categorization, here, on this page. What did you mean when you said, "people may be categorized by country of descent" with respect to Germans? Alanscottwalker (talk) 04:55, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Alan, the issue here is race or ethnicity. The issue you raise with regard to Germany is nationality or ethnicity. That is a different issue. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:11, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Your words were "people may be categorized by country of descent" - that's what you called a principle, you then said "decision to categorise people by nationality descent", so you are the one who raised nationality right here. Do you not know what you meant, or are you now claiming that your statements are irrelevant? -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 11:43, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl, I didn't put anything into your mouth, or rather I did not mean to. I was simply indicating that there is no difference in stating "American people of African descent" and "People of African-American descent." I fail to see why one would be used to categorize people and not the other. We can see here that Alanscottwalker simply replaced "American people of African descent" with "People of African-American descent." By "get rid of," I obviously meant "no longer use it to categorize people." Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 04:40, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Flyer, the distinction is a fine one, and it may be mostly a terminological issue, but I think it is the best we can do to maintain the distinction between categorisation by race and by ethnicity.
It may be that you want to open up a broader discussion on the viability of the fine distinction in categorisation between race and ethnicity, but unless we open up that broader issue, then we do need to avoid categorisation by race. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 04:53, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
A fine distinction? What is the distinction with regard to using "People of African-American descent" instead of "American people of African descent" to categorize people? "People of African-American descent" is used the same exact way -- to indicate "race"/ethnicity -- and will continue to be used that same exact way unless it's deleted or containerized as well. If you are stating that using "American people of African descent" "People of African-American descent" for categorizing people is fine, then Marcocapelle should add it in place of all the articles where "American people of African descent" was removed. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:15, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Fler, I think I have made exceedingly clear that I am not stating that using "American people of African descent" for categorizing people is fine. So please do not claim that I am. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:22, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Eh? You just stated "the distinction is a fine one, and it may be mostly a terminological issue." So what are you talking about???? Again, what is the supposed fine distinction between "American people of African descent" and "People of African-American descent"? And with regard to claims, I stated "if." Stop stating that I'm putting words in your mouth. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:27, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
"If" I was stating something which I clearly and repeatedly had opposed = either putting words in my mouth or a pointless hypothetical. --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 05:39, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
BrownHairedGirl, no, it was a way of asking you a question. I meant the "People of African-American descent" category. Exactly where did you repeatedly state that you were against using "People of African-American descent" for categorizing people? You were focused on the "American people of African descent" category, and argued that there is a fine distinction between "People of African-American descent" and "American people of African descent" when it comes categorizing people. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:18, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Oh, now I see what you are trying to state regarding "People of African-American descent" and "American people of African descent." Are you stating that the difference is that one uses the wording "African-American"? That "African-American descent" is specific and that "African descent" is broader? Still, like I asked Dodger67 below, who uses "descent" that broadly? See my comment below (the one addressed to everyone rather than to Dodger67). Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:31, 18 January 2019 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Per request on my talk page I'm contributing to this discussion here. The reason why I supported containerization (not deletion!) of the category it that it is perfectly fine to keep these categories as container categories with subcategories for Gambian, Moroccan, Kenyan etc. descent, but having articles directly in them implies a mere racial use. By the way, most articles in this category were either in the African-American tree already, or in the American slaves category, or else their African descent was not sourced (or not even mentioned in the article). While I would also support deletion, or alternatively support more restricted use, of descent categories as a whole (including German) that would be for wholly different reasons. That should not be conflated. Marcocapelle (talk) 07:47, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Marcocapelle, like I stated above, editors on this site commonly use categories such as "American people of Irish descent" and "American people of German descent" to indicate "race" and ethnicity as well. And "People of African-American descent" is used the same exact way -- to indicate "race"/ethnicity -- and will continue to be used that same exact way unless it's deleted or containerized as well. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:18, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • There is no way how one can suspect German descent based on skin color in the same way that African descent is suspected based on skin color. The two cases are incomparable. Marcocapelle (talk) 23:35, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Marcocapelle, considering that people automatically think of German people as white, even though German people can be black, I disagree with your assertion. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • It seems you are completely missing the point of the analogy. Category:American people of African descent leads to WP:OR because editors classify black people as of African when reliable sources about descent do not exist. Category:American people of German descent does not have the same effect because editors do not automatically classify white people as of German descent when reliable sources about descent are lacking. In the absence of sources, more precision (by country) leads to a better recognition that we do not know about a person's descent, while less precision (by continent) leads to more speculation about a person's descent. Marcocapelle (talk) 09:54, 19 January 2019 (UTC)
Marcocapelle, I have not missed any point. Are you missing a point? These categories -- all of them -- are added all the time when there is absolutely no sourcing in the article to support them. And let me be clear that WP:OR does not mean "unsourced." The WP:OR page is clear about what WP:OR means. Information can be unsourced and still not be WP:OR. Regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about categories like "American people of German descent," they are used to indicate "race" all the time on this site. One may argue that they are more objective than a category like "American people of African descent," but both have been used by editors to indicate racial/ethnic background. Wentworth Miller's article stating that "his father is of African-American, Jamaican, German, and English ancestry; his mother is of Russian, Swedish, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese ancestry" is not focusing on nationality. It is focused on getting across Miller's "race"/ethnicity, and the corresponding categories are used in that way as well. This is the same thing that sites like do. An editor can claim otherwise, but the truth is clear as day. As for "classify black people as of African when reliable sources about descent do not exist," see the Black people article. How are you defining "black people"? That article's "Black people" template does not have the African diaspora link right at the top of it for nothing. The real reasons that editors have objected to the "American people of African descent" category is that some editors don't like categorizing by "race"/ethnicity (as made clear on this talk page), the category was mainly being used to categorize biracial or multiracial people of African descent, and, in enough Wikipedia articles, there were no sources to support them being of African descent. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:11, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Stating that ""his father is of African-American, Jamaican, German, and English ancestry; his mother is of Russian, Swedish, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese ancestry" is not focusing on nationality" is confusing. The categories are exactly intended to classify by the nationality of the ancestors. Or in exceptional cases, to classify by the ethnicity of the ancestors, e.g. Jewish. Putting "race/ethnicity" as if it is the same is even more confusing. Ethnicity is a social concept, race is a biological concept. If a person has one black grandparent and three white grandparents, he may or may not qualify as African American depending on how his own view about it and on the views of people writing about him. Marcocapelle (talk) 06:47, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
Marcocapelle, it makes no sense in what way? See the Ethnicity article. It is officially titled "Ethnic group," and it currently gives the following definition: "An ethnic group or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation." Now look at the Ancestry article, which is officially titled "Ancestor." Notice how sites like are focused on biology -- DNA. It's quite clear that stating "his father is of African-American, Jamaican, German, and English ancestry; his mother is of Russian, Swedish, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese ancestry" is not solely about nationality. That is not the focus of that inclusion. Just like with many other BLP articles, the editor added all of that to indicate that the subject is biracial or multiracial. It's why, right before that sentence, there is the following inclusion: "Miller said in 2003 that his father is black and his mother is white." I have used "race" and "ethnicity" with the slash in this discussion because, as I've stated before, the terms are often used interchangeably (as numerous sources note), and to indicate that I am covering both topics. As for your statement that "Ethnicity is a social concept, race is a biological concept," "race" is also a social concept. It is why, in the Race (human categorization) article, we state, "Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, that is, a symbolic identity created to establish some cultural meaning. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race is not an inherent physical or biological quality." It's why we state, "Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete, and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits. Even though there is a broad scientific agreement that essentialist and typological conceptualizations of race are untenable, scientists around the world continue to conceptualize race in widely differing ways, some of which have essentialist implications." It's why I keep putting "race" in scare quotes. These days, scientists state that race, as it is usually biologically conceptualized in society, does not truly exist. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 22:55, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
Fair enough. But I am lost how this leads you to think that we should permit classifying people by black skin when there is no trace of sources about African descent. Marcocapelle (talk) 04:45, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
Marcocapelle, I never stated that I am for "classifying people by black skin when there is no trace of sources about African descent." See the #RfC on categorizing biracial people discussion above. I am clear there on how I feel about classifying biracial and multiracial people, who may or may not have brown skin. The Nationality article currently states, "Nationality is a legal relationship between an individual person and a state." It also states, "In older texts, the word 'nationality' rather than 'ethnicity', often used to refer to an ethnic group." It's clear that the Miller ancestry material is not about nationality. It's clear that our African Americans article is not about nationality (it's not the focus anyway). Our African American categories, such as Category:African-American songwriters, are not about nationality either. "American" by itself would be about nationality. My point has been that we do categorize people by "race"/ethnicity. That is what the "American people of African descent" category was doing, except its focus was on American people with partial African ancestry. As the aforementioned RfC shows, we'd already discussed people being added to the category without reliable sources confirming their African ancestry and that it was a problem. You can see how the RfC closed. It was simple enough to remove people from the category if being of African descent was not sourced in their Wikipedia articles. Stating that we shouldn't have an "American people of African descent" category because people can be added to the category without sources? People can be added to any category without sources. The solution has always been to remove the unsourced category. That stated, it's clear that what is meant by "African descent" can vary among editors. Like I stated, I don't see "of African descent" usually referring to cases like Charlize Theron. Sources on African descent are usually about "race." Anyway, we'll see how Category:People of African-American descent is used in the future. "African-American descent" is always about "race"/ethnicity. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 22:45, 23 January 2019 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 22:59, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
  • As per the previous discussion, I support categorization by ethnic group or descent from a specific country. What I oppose is categorizing by race or using human skin color as a categorization tool. The category Category:American people of African descent was being misused by adding people with no known ethnic background, bacause the Wikipedia editors thought their skin color was darker. Transforming the category to a black people category. Dimadick (talk) 08:07, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Dimadick, people often view ethnicity and "race" as the same thing. There are many reliable sources out that there that note the way the terms are used interchangeably. And like I've stated, Category:People of African-American descent still exists. I take it you want that category containerized as well? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Indeed there are Americans of African descent who are in no way "black" at all; Elon Musk, Dave Matthews, Charlize Theron, etc. The type of "all of Africa is just one place" attitude is aggravated by the (inherently racist, imho) habit of particularly American media to not differentiate between specific countries in Africa when reporting for example: "During the past year the Vice President went on many overseas trips visiting numerous countries; the UK, France, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Pakistan and Africa". While WP does not "right great wrongs", we are required to be as accurate and specific as possible. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 09:24, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Roger (Dodger67), who uses "descent" in that way? See my comment below. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:18, 18 January 2019 (UTC) Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:47, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
  • I am catching up on a day or two's worth of conversation here, and bringing a non-American (Australian) perspective.
  • "African" is not a race - if race exists, there are many of them in Africa, and there are definitely a lot of ethnic groups native to that continent, just as there are to Australia.
  • For me, African-American is an ethnic group, predominantly descended from slaves, and not descended from any one particular African population - national, ethnic or racial. They appear to remain a single ethnic group across the USA, separate from other American ethnic groups, and are different to descendants of more recent migrants from African countries.
  • "German" is out-of-scope to this discussion, but not to this page. It is a complex issue depending on ethnic and geographic boundaries that have moved over time, and partly on the perspective of the speaker. I have "German" ancestors who came in the mid-19th-century from villages in Prussia in what is presently Poland, Some of them were ethnically Germanic, but some were not Germanic, but Wendish, however when they reached Australia, they were all collectively "Germans". Those originating villages have changed populations at least twice in the last two hundred years due to intervening government policies of expansion and cleansing.
  • All ethnic and national descent categories should be supported by prose with references, and it's OK for someone to be a different group than one or both parents based on how they identify themselves. --Scott Davis Talk 14:31, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Certainly agree that African is not a race. Certainly agree everything needs sources. As I have said before on this page 1) races as a fact or concept finds no support in my understanding of the literature or life, and 2) Wikipedia does not categorize by race. But the suggestion made above is that person 'of African descent' is somehow a matter of race. But since people of African decent are not a race, than how is it a matter of race? And since migrations in modern history are a huge part of that history (forced or otherwise) it seems categorically rather an increase of knowledge when sources find it useful to at the least give that information, although we might want more and more information, we can only go as far as the RS. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:02, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
I think User:ScottDavis has it right. The word anti-Semitic is a case in point. It never meant what it literally means, bigotry against all Semite. "African-American" has never suggested, for instance, Berber ancestry. Doug Weller talk 15:23, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
Is that a response to me? Your indenting suggests so, but it does not seem to respond to my question. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:25, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
The problem is the actual application of the category: if you can't properly source a person's ancestry to any specific African country, such as Nigeria or South Africa or Kenya or whatever, then the only other way left to apply the generic label "African" is blackness itself. The fact that there are also some white Africans isn't relevant: people like Elon Musk and Charlize Theron are properly sourceable to a specific African country, so they would not get categorized as generically "African" since they're already categorized as South African. Bearcat (talk) 21:44, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
@Alanscottwalker: I think you have fallen into the trap of assuming that racists are logical. In 2016, a Kenyan immigrant was elected to Australian parliament. The newspapers got excited about the "first person of African descent" in parliament, until they discovered several other current MPs were born or had parents born somewhere in Africa, including one immigrant from Egypt who clearly didn't fit their expectation of "looking African", but she was just as African as the very dark-skinned ex-Kenyan. If someone's place of origin (or that of their ancestors) has been traced and documented in reliable sources, it will be to a country or colony, not just a continent, in modern times. "African" might be all that was available for American slaves, and "Kanaka" might be all that is available for people who were blackbirded from unknown Pacific islands. but in those cases, there are likely better terms than "African" and "Pacific Islander" to describe their heritage. --Scott Davis Talk 22:17, 17 January 2019 (UTC)
I think I am just unimpressed by that rationale, some people are stupid, some people are racist, some people edit Wikipedia and are stupid or racist, so we can't have a category because some people are too stupid to follow sources, or stupid and racist. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:48, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Above, I noted that I now see what is being argued regarding "African-American descent" vs. "African descent." Editors seem to be stating that "African-American descent" is specific and that "African descent" is broader. But when looking at sources on "African descent," they are not usually based on the descendants having been "born in Africa" or "raised in Africa." Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 23:31, 18 January 2019 (UTC)