Spurious Issues: Race and Multiracial Identity Politics in the United States

By Rainier Spencer | Go to book overview
Save to active project

1
The American Racial Paradigm

Black man, black woman, black baby,
White man, white woman, white baby,
White man, black woman, black baby,
Black man, white woman, black baby.

-- Lyric of a Public Enemy rap recording1


Power, Purity, and Hypodescent

As the twentieth century draws to a close, it is clear that although more overt forms of racial oppression may have declined, obsession with color -- race -- remains one of America's preeminent problems. A belief in the existence of race and a corresponding belief in the possibility and accuracy of racial categorization is, for Americans, as significant and as culturally self-limiting a myth as was the mistaken belief in a flat Earth for many medieval Europeans. In the United States, this acceptance of race has manifested itself as a complex of social and political constructs, all based loosely on selected phenotypic traits. The American racial paradigm utilizes arbitrary somatic differences to separate people into two main groups, one white and one composed of several subcategories of non-whites. This system constitutes a multifaceted ideology, which serves as the engine for a larger system of racial and class hegemony. Its breadth is such that it would not be unreasonable to argue that racial classification is the most important tool of social organization in the United States. At the very least, joined by gender and class, it stands among the top three.

This opening chapter is grounded in two interconnected arguments in support of my main thesis. Together, these two arguments articulate the origin, use, and fallacy of the race construct in the United States and set the stage for an elaboration of federal racial categorization in Chapter 2. First, I argue that race as an accurate and meaningful system of biological classification does not exist. Second,

-13-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Spurious Issues: Race and Multiracial Identity Politics in the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 222

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?