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

By Rainier Spencer | Go to book overview

hibit the breakdown of race. Although there may seem to be no other method of ensuring compliance with civil rights laws, it is also true that alternatives have not been intensively considered since monitoring was initiated in the mid- 1960s. It is obvious that summarily jettisoning federal racial categorization is not a reasonable option. Some kind of transition period will be necessary in order to accommodate changes to compliance monitoring; perhaps several stages of changes would have to be implemented. These issues should be considered by a combination of intellectuals, federal officials, and civil rights organizations in a futureoriented atmosphere, guided by the explicit goal of disconnecting race from American institutions while maintaining an attitude of intolerance toward racism of any kind.

Multiracial ideology, like the monoracial ideology it depends on, is a false consciousness. The frustration its adherents feel would be better directed at criticizing the American racial paradigm itself rather than at attempting to modify the paradigm's configuration. A modified paradigm, one containing a multiracial category, would be as fallacious as one without a multiracial category. As long as the idea of race has legitimacy, and as long as the racial hierarchy remains undisturbed, nothing will really change.


Notes
1.
Aubyn Fulton, online posting, Interracial Individuals Discussion List, April 20, 1997 [ii-list@hcs.harvard.edu].
2.
Kwame Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutman, Color Conscious: The Political Morality of Race (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 32.
3.
Quoted in Janita Poe, "Woods Spotlights Multiracial Identity", Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1997, sec. 2, 2.
4.
Quoted in Jeffry Scott, "Race, Labels, and Identity", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 6, 1997, D1.
5.
Thomas Petri, press release, April 23, 1997 http://www. house. gov/petri/press/census.htm. Petri's H.R. 830 never received floor action in the House and was not passed by the 105th Congress. The identical fate had previously befallen the same bill, which Petri had introduced as H.R. 3920 in the 104th Congress.
6.
Jack E. White, "I'm Just Who I Am", Time, May 5, 1997, 32-33.
7.
John Leland and Gregory Beals, "In Living Colors", Newsweek, May 5, 1997, 58-59.
8.
The Time and Newsweek articles each contain two color graphs as well as numerous photographs.
9.
I, as well as others, have debated these very issues with Ramona Douglass, Susan Graham, and Carlos Fernández on the Interracial Individuals Discussion List, and I feel confident that no current leader of a legitimate multiracial organization would assert directly that biological race exists. This is quite separate from the fact that the multiracial ideology these leaders espouse absolutely requires their acceptance of biological race at some level, again illustrating that multiracial advocacy is an inherently contradictory enterprise.
10.
Carlos Fernández, online posting, Interracial Individuals Discussion List, January 22, 1996 [ii@gnu.ai.mit.edu].

-198-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • A Note About Electronic Sources xiii
  • Acronyms xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 10
  • 1 - The American Racial Paradigm 13
  • Notes 49
  • 2 - Federal Racial Categorization 55
  • Notes 82
  • 3 - Multiracial Identity 87
  • Notes 119
  • 4 - The Multiracial Category Initiative 125
  • Notes 160
  • 5 - Final Proposal, Final Recommendation, Final Decision 167
  • Notes 185
  • 6 - Thinking About Transcending Race 189
  • Notes 198
  • Bibliography 201
  • Index 213
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