Race is a monster. It is tremendous and terrible and astonishingly resilient. Race changes shape, size, and color as the need arises. It is a monster because of the manner in which it has been employed for the justification of systematic oppression and for the wholesale murder of huge populations. Race is also a monster because of the exacting tenacity with which it survives despite more than a few deliberate and sophisticated attempts to remove the concept from our ideological lexicon. Alas, the concept of race, like the word itself, is here to stay. More than merely resting in its resilience, however, race seems to be growing in stature, from end to end, both in terms of its presence in the commonsensical appreciation of “ordinary” folk, and in the dizzied minds of the intellectual elite. Race is on the lips and in the minds of the politicians, the pundits, the general population, the active, and the apathetic alike. Indeed, for many academics, politicians and professionals, race is a scary business. And to be sure, race is also big business for the editors and publishers of scholarly tomes (bless them); a simple survey of the sheer number of recent articles and books is testament to that fact. But what of value have we gathered from this scholastic archeology, and where did this monster come from? Who created it, and why?
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