In a letter to the editor of The New York Times, John L. Hodge, a retired lawyer and former professor of philosophy, asks the hard questions of race and provides a remedy that doesn’t require an apology or reparations, protests or demonstrations, an appeal to the Supreme Court or a change in the laws of the land.
We know that race is a social construct, that there is no biological evidence to classify human beings according to race. We agree that we have made it up and that we make it possible, that we sustain the life of race and the continued practice of racism. We have documented the harm that it has caused our ancestors and can recount the ways in which it has and is and will hurt us. Nevertheless, we will give this lifestyle and lens to our children. We understand that this way of living will render them blind to the many other ways in which to live, move and exist in the world, restricted to colors: black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.
Still, despite the obviously hurtful and harmful conclusions that it draws about us and leads us to make about others, we believe in race and claim it as our own. We pass along the race card and pass down the names and ways of being that are associated with a racialized life. We know the idea of race has been used to justify and excuse the most egregious of atrocities against humanity. But, we are not willing to rid ourselves of the myth. We continue to tell the story because it entertains us, brings us comfort and/ or lulls our true selves back to sleep.
Maybe we are afraid of what our lives will be like without race, that we will lose our identity whether as the powerful or the powerless. Perhaps, we are afraid to turn the page, to move to the next chapter or just rid ourselves of the story altogether. No matter the reason, we will not be able to discount this truth: We rid ourselves of race not through legislation passed in Congress but when we change the laws of our hearts. We must let down our guard, drop our offenses and put down the weapon of race. This change begins by reading the letters of another Editor.