The Race Question

| September 5, 2001

The Race Question

Race is a construct based on the outdated notion that the color of a person's skin is biologically tied to their intellectual and physical capabilities. Journalist Silja J.A. Talvi, writing for LiP Magazine asks, 'Isn't it time to give up on the four-letter word?'

Talvi explores the history of race, noting that 18th and 19th century North American and European intellectuals tried to prove that each person could be categorized as belonging to one racial group. And though the idea of a single racial identity has been debunked, as is evident in the 2000 Census, it remains entrenched in our culture.

Journalists have done little to clarify the issue, routinely using race and its stereotypic connotations to describe people in the news, Talvi writes. She quotes a typical New York Times article that referred to Charles A. James as a black, not a black person. The point was not to physically describe James, she writes, 'The point was to deliver to the reader an identification of the subject's race--an announcement of the racial subdivision to which Mr. James has been assigned from the time of his birth.'

It's time that we become more conscious about how we use language to describe people, Talvi argues, and stop using race as the defining characteristic.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
Go there:

Let's Rid Ourselves of Those Silly Race Boxes, by Ward Connerly, The Abolitionist Quarterly