Together We Can Destroy The Foundation Of Lies We Didn’t Choose To Hear.
‘The world got along without race for the overwhelming majority of its history. The U.S. has never been without it.’
David R. Roediger
Race, to most, is as real as the skin on their bodies. To others, it’s as important as the shape and size of a table in an unknown apartment in Suriname. What we do know for sure is that in some ways big or small, race does play a role in our lives whether we know it or not.
The pernicious constructs of “race” itself, the theories that created it, and the ignorance and arrogance that comes with it, continues to imprison us in a feedback loop with no discernible end. I argue there is a different way forward, a fourth philosophy that seeks the very liberation we all –even subconsciously– desire with a desperation that is immeasurable in the vastness of our collective consciousness. To step away from race entirely.
Each of the mainstream views on race inherently comes to a fault when we investigate its origins and how it has been used throughout history, venturing as far back as the ancient Greeks.
To truly tackle these concepts we must seek to understand what we think we know about race in an effort to dispel our ignorance, and there is no lack of available literature on the topic.
Take Joseph Graves Jr. in his book “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, wherein he enlightens his reader on the history of race, where it came from, and how it was perceived. From ancient Greeks, Romans, and even the Hebrews –race– is not what we are told it is.
‘Social construction theorists conclude that before the eighteenth century, physical differences among people were rarely referred to as a matter of great importance. There was some tendency to seize upon physical difference as a badge of innate mental or temperamental difference, but there was no universal hierarchy of races in the ancient world.’
What this compels us to acknowledge is that even in antiquity there was no “purity” assigned to race in the given context of ability. In fact, often the differences between races were attributed to cultural traditions, kinship, and group beliefs. Race was seen –culturally and geographically– in the same way that we can look at a glance at most people and discern where their families originate and assume commonalities with other individuals from their geographic locations.
Ethnicity and culture were presumed. As a prime example, most individuals from south of the Sahara were called ‘Ethiopian’, a compound word derived from two Greek words meaning “burnt visage.” The term politically correct hadn’t been invented yet and I admit, I cringed while writing that, though it is a direct translation I had no part in. However, we can understand it was meant as nothing more than a descriptor, not an imposition of value.
We still do this today, though, we now know better than to entertain these views as no one characteristic is exclusive to any one demographic. Asians aren’t always better at math, Jews don’t always have the highest IQ, and as human beings, we collectively share traits of others who do not look like us. No group is a monolith yet we treat some as if they were.
Franz Boaz, the father of American anthropology said,
‘The existence of any pure race with special endowments is a myth, as is the belief that there are races all of whose members are foredoomed to eternal inferiority.’Franz Boas (1969). “Race and Democratic Society”, p.20, Biblo & Tannen Publishers
It’s clear as day that as science has progressed since Dr. Boaz’s time, we have hitherto failed to improve upon what his work and words were trying to tell us: That human beings belong together in the same group and should not be cast into subjectively distinct and different trajectories of inferiority or superiority, but together as siblings with shared loves, passions, and interests.
As we now dive into the muck, mire, and mayhem that race continues to molest us with–along with its lackluster logic–I hope to convince you that we need to finally step outside of race –collectively– once and for all, to discard “race” as the fatuous lie that it is. To do so, let’s venture forth together and peer into the most popular arguments made for and against race, and why they’re all wrong.
First, Color Blindness:
The belief that racial group membership should not be taken into account, or even noticed—as a strategy for managing diversity and intergroup relations. In simple terms, color blindness is a way in which we self-regulate our perception of race and choose how to respond and interact in the absence of racialized stereotypes.
Where does it fall short? It does so by reinforcing the false concept that race exists biologically or as a social construct. In doing so it attempts to give validity to raci(al/ist) ideas and then directly ignores the context in which the very concept of race was used to promote racism, thereby ignoring its effects on racialized People of Color. It allows us the opportunity to escape the brutal realities of our past by assuaging our collective guilt over the criminal mistreatment of minorities. Some of those realities, continue to affect millions of Americans, and global citizens, in ways we may know little about.
I take issue with the level of concerted ignorance colorblindness brings. As a country and as human beings, we promoted and carried out atrocities on other human beings, some so grotesque they defy imagination. Many are lost to history but nonetheless continue to form and shape the history and cultures of our nation, and world.
Critical Race Theory:
Where to start? This is, inarguably, no simple task so I’ll attempt to keep my comments brief and clinical so as to restrict myself, possibly risking spiraling down the chaos this collection of loose legal concepts has wrought in recent years.
Critical Race Theory “offers a representative, though by no means exhaustive, compilation of the growing body of legal scholarship…whose work challenges the ways in which race and racial power are constructed and represented in American legal culture and, more generally, in American society as a whole.”
In doing so, CRT attempts to “understand how a regime of white supremacy and its subordination of people of color have been created and maintained in America, and, in particular, to examine the relationship between the social structure and professed ideals such as the ‘rule of law’ and ‘equal protection’, consequentially not merely attempting to understand the vexed bond between law and racial power but to change it.”
What they conveniently leave out of this description is what I want to call attention to in the companion introductory book, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction.” On page 9, paragraph 2 they state, “A third theme of CRT, the “social construction” thesis, holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations. Not objective, inherent, or fixed, they correspond to no biological or genetic reality; rather, races are categories that society invests, manipulates, or retires when convenient.”
They seemed to have forgotten to mention that in their earlier works, but I’m sure that’s just one enormous, glaring oversight on their part. I may be standing on rocky ground with this sarcasm, though honestly and sincerely, I think it’s intentional as it’s in their best interest to continue in their pursuit of justice…at any cost. They have written extensive critiques on every aspect of life and race, having even–heavily–criticized Brown v Board of Education, and lambasted The Civil Rights Act of 1964. These are the folks actively working to bring back legal segregation.
What does all this mean? It means Critical Race Theorists know that race is not a biological fact, rather, they admit it is socially constructed. So, where does it fall short? CRT seeks to change the way we see race and reinforce its importance. In doing so, upholding the institution of racism that comes hand in hand with race, and visa versa. The very concept of exceptionally flawed thinking and incredulous human beings who created our concepts of race throughout the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, was solely *and specifically* designed to enslave, oppress, and subjugate millions of People of Color.
In short, these individuals believe that it is better to remodel the master’s house rather than to finally step outside the constructs of race which we have been force-fed for centuries, and to destroy the ever-living hell out of it with the indifference reserved only for that of burying one of the most vile and nefarious of enemies we have ever known: RACE.
My opinion is as such, that it has been more harmful than it has been helpful, and it’s high time we realize the negative and disparaging impact it has had. It’s come time to end this battle of the races and suggest for once that the people that have the most to lose by perpetuating it must also be those who bring an end to its primacy.
As a final thought to end this article, I believe there are those who benefit –culturally and financially– from the continuation of the racial division within our countries. The ‘modern/popular’ concept of race brings with it lies so problematic and it lends itself to such broad a spectrum of confusion and corruption that quite literally, anything can now be racist. This brings with it the necessity to force us into continuously evolving and new innovative interpretations of racial animus that we will never see an end to the war we didn’t even start.
One must ask oneself; Is the belief in race really helping, or is it truly detrimental and harmful to the people who religiously claim it to be helping racialized individuals’ empowerment and liberation? My answer is an unequivocal and unfearful, NO. Because it can’t. A house built upon lies rests on a foundation of sand, and the master’s house deserves to fall. We can be the high-pressure water hose that obliterates the master’s foundation.
You, as the reader, must at this point be screaming, “Ok smartass. Once we abolish race, what do we do then? What do we do about racism?” I offer a perspective of one you may not expect from me. That of Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“Race is the child of racism, not the father.”
Race exists ONLY to serve racism and as such, racism continues. But if we can stand apart from the 500-year lie told to us, we might actually be able to see through the fog of racial ignorance, and possibly, just maybe, get a glimpse of a future we can scarcely imagine and a kind of happiness we couldn’t. It’s possible folks, but we do need to have some difficult questions answered.
Does this mean we ignore what race has done to racialized People of Color? No.
Does this mean we are all now pure and cheerfully clean, capable of escaping the centuries of harm and destruction race has done and continues to do? No.
Does it mean, that if we finally step outside of race, to view race as an aberration of flawed human ideas so we can move forward in unity, compassion, charity, grace, and accountability?
YES. I believe it does.
Steve is an automotive mechanic by trade and an autodidact and bibliophile by passion. He spends the majority of his online time between different podcasts and panels while also having recently started his own channel, The Shadetree Intellectual on YouTube. Offline, he enjoys riding the Harley Davidson he built by hand, volunteering in his local communities for a number of efforts, though where he is at peace the most is in the outdoors, enjoying camping, fishing, reading, and spending time with his wife and 3 children.