3 Things Every American Should Know About Race

The history of race is the history of an idea, and we must learn this history if we are to see justice.

  1. Race is not real. Racism is real. Race is an invention, but we take it for granted and fail to understand that what is real is racism, the beliefs and actions that develop based on the invention of race. (Resources include: The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America; Race: The Power of an Illusion; Race: Are We So Different?)
  2. Race was invented at a particular time in our history for a particular purpose. More specifically, race was invented in the late 1600s in colonial America as a divide and conquer strategy to perpetuate the power and status quo of a small group of elite white wealthy landowners. The invention of race as a method of identifying and categorizing people on a hierarchy divided poor whites, blacks, and Native Americans from each other to avoid their alliance against those in power. The vast majority of people living in the colonies were not well served by the invention of race. (Resources include: The History of White People; Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century; The Invention of the White Race)
  3. More than 300 years after race was invented, we are still breathing the toxic fallout of its invention; this fallout is called racism. We breathe it, absorb it, become contaminated by it. We witness its fatal impact in Ferguson. Only when we recognize racism’s power can we start to resist it. (Resources include: Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class; The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness; Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement; Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge; “The Case for Reparations”)

Just like the Occupy movement highlighted how the vast majority of Americans do not benefit from our country’s economic policies that protect the ultra-wealthy, we need a parallel movement to highlight how the vast majority of Americans do not benefit from the invention of race. In discussing the invention of race, the documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion says the following: “We made it. We can unmake it.” Please read my future blogs as I continue to explore these ideas.

One thought on “3 Things Every American Should Know About Race

  1. This is a great post and so necessary more now than ever. Looking forward to reading more!


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