Race Fact #19: Defining Race Again and Again

Race must be defined again and again.  It is in so doing that race is not allowed to redefine us.  We must continue to remind ourselves of what race is.  This will also inform us as to what race is not.  If we do not maintain this practice, we will be subjected to its power and lose who we really are.  

 David Roediger defines race this way:

“Race defines the social category into which peoples are sorted, producing and justifying their very different opportunities with regard to wealth and poverty, confinement and freedom, citizenship and alienation, and as Ruth Wilson Gilmore puts it, life and premature death.  Though genetic differences among groups defines as races are inconsequential, race is itself a critically important social fact; one said to be based on biology, as well as on color, and at times on longstanding cultural practices.  Race also defines the consciousness of commonality uniting those oppressed as a result of their assumed biology, perceived color, and alleged cultural heritage, as well as the fellow feeling of those defending relative privileges derived from being part of dominant– in US history, white– race.”

~ David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon 

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