Is race a social construct?

During a recent 1A episode, they were talking about Kamala’s experience at the majority black Howard University. What are your thoughts on schools that are predominantly black or predominately white?

Certainly de jure segregation (segregation that is enforced by law) is wrong. However, de facto segregation (segregation that occurs without laws but because of other factors) is only wrong in some circumstances?

In my view, even if all schools are equally and adequately funded, there are still reasons that our public school policies should encourage diversity. And by public school policies, I mean the public funding of education.

One value of diversity is that stereotypes are broken down when we interact with people that are different from us. Or at least that’s the hypothesis. Another value in diversity is that more perspectives are brought to light.

If neighborhoods aren’t integrated then it’s difficult for the neighborhood schools to be integrated. Magnet schools were created (at least in Jacksonville, Florida) to stop the court ordered forced busing. The idea was that people would voluntarily bus themselves to attend the magnet school in a de facto segregated neighborhood. In my view, magnet, charter, and voucher funded private schools should all be required to be at least 20% black and at least 20% white. I also question the value of schools segregated by gender so I am opposed to publicly funded same-sex schools.

How do we achieve diversity? How do we eliminate laws and customs that use skin color as a reason to deprive people of benefits that others receive? If we make laws based on the color of someone’s skin, are we perpetuating the myth of race? If we aren’t proactive in reducing racism, will it continue?

Pluralism is represented by the ideal of the United States as a “salad bowl”: a great mixture of different cultures where each culture retains its own identity and yet adds to the flavor of the whole. Assimilation describes the process by which a minority individual or group gives up its own identity by taking on the characteristics of the dominant culture. But can’t there be a little of both? 

One non-liberal commentator, Dinesh D’Souza, appeared on Fox News to question whether Kamala Harris could truly claim she was African-American (or perhaps Dinesh said Black).

23 and Me tells me I’m 1% African. What percentage would you need to be in order to label yourself African-American? What does it mean to label yourself African-American or Black if it has nothing to do with your DNA?

I posted this question in a Facebook group: “How dark does your skin need to be to be considered Black?” One person responded: “Please do not introduce ‘colorism’ into the conversation of who is and is not Black.” I was confused by the comment. Obviously there is a deficit in my understanding of the meaning of the word “Black.”

I have read that race is a social construct and that no coherent, fixed definition of race actually exists. But people are different colors.

People should be allowed to label themselves. That’s one of the reasons I was fascinated by Rachel Dolezal. I read her book and watched a movie about her. I still don’t understand why people were critical of her for labeling herself Black (or was it African-American?). If they liked the way she was running the local chapter of the NAACP, why did it matter that both her parents were white?

I just finished reading “How to be an Antiracist.” He talks about the problem with assimilation. However, I’m still thinking that some assimilation is a good thing. If we want to be successful, then don’t we need to speak the language of the dominant culture in the community where we live?

References:
https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/05/what-we-mean-when-we-say-race-is-a-social-construct/275872/

https://opentextbc.ca/introsociology2eopenstax/chapter/intergroup-relationships/

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