No Such Thing as Race: So Say We All?
The juxtaposition of George Will‘s latest column, “The Wreck of the Racial Spoils System,” and this odd appearance by Edward James Olmos and the cast of BSG at the United Nations (via Charli Carpenter) bitterly arguing that “there’s no such thing as race” except for, naturally, “the human race,” is startling.
Now, the idea that “race” is a social construct undefinable in biological terms is an old one and, frankly, irrefutable. But, like “pornography” and “torture,” we know it when we see it. While it would be great to get beyond discussion of race and treat people as individuals, it’s a concept that has real meaning and value sociologically.
Will’s column, for example, deals with a longstanding fight in New Haven, Connecticut about a firefighter promotion exam that found zero black candidates worthy of promotion and which, by sheer dint of that fact, the city deemed racially biased—despite its having been preapproved by independent authorities as racially neutral.
Now, I’m with Will in thinking that the fact that we’re still litigating these matters half a century after Brown and more than four decades after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is both tiresome and rather silly. But are we at the point where we’re willing to declare that there’s no such thing as racial discrimination or disparate impact because there’s no such thing as race?