What is Race?
We tend to think of race in America in absolute terms. Its black/white. It matters all the time/it matters not at all.
This week my students read an article by Martha Hodes who discussed the “malleability” of race outside of America, i.e. how in the Caribbean it is ever changing. Not just a question of the color of one’s skin but affected by social position, wealth, profession, family connections, location, etc. In America, race has largely been governed by the one drop rule. One drop of other than white blood and you are considered part of the group from which the one drop came. Literally, a black and white view.
When you consider this difference you cannot help but wonder why America has applied such a strict outlook. The answer is revealed in the power of race generated by its social construction. As Hodes make clear, race’s power lies in the ability to change its definition such that its application works to exert maximum power on behalf of the group employing the tool.
At The Bruce Law Firm, we are sensitive to the fact that race is but one component of racism. Our job is to point this out where appropriate and ensure our clients are treated with the full equal protection of the laws.
See Martha Hodes, “The Mercurial Nature and Abiding Power of Race: A Transnational Family Story” American Historical Review vol. 108, No. 1 (Feb., 2003) pp. 84-111.