The American experience of race has undoubtedly been, and arguably continues to be, one of abject failure. The breadth of American failure extends through the tragic consequences of the conquistadors, the massacres of Cortes, the legacy of slavery, the eradication of the Native American in the north, the Civil Rights movement, and the list could go on for quite some time. Perhaps because of the dubious nature of the concept, perhaps from the purposes for which it was readily adopted and applied, race has left an indelible and brutal legacy in the Americas. From the first European encounter with the new world, the role of race seems an intimate counterpart to the entirety of its history, although not yet articulated as such. While the struggles of Bartolomé de las Casas, discussed briefly in Chapter 1, were useful in structuring the contemplation of race around the narrowing parameters of the biblical narrative, las Casas ultimately failed to prevent a significant portion of the devastation within his time and after. His failure is endemic among those who subsequently cover similar territory, so much so that race appears as a particularly disturbing feature etched in North, Central, and South American history. Moreover, there is a fundamental failure within American discourse to maintain the consistency of the register.
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