The Embedded Nature of 'Race' Requires a Focused Effort
to Remove the Obstacles to a Unified America
Dr. James M. Jones
Race has been one of the most enduring divisive social and psychological phenomena since the Founding of this country. As the twentieth century enjoys its last moments, the issue of race continues to reverberate in every facet of our society. W.E.B. DuBois challenged this century in 1903 when he claimed the problem of the twentieth century was the problem of the color line. From slavery to freedom we have come a long way. But we are not all the way to freedom yet. It is not any one person or faction's fault. Rather, it is the result of the deep and pervasive penetration of race into our collective psyche and social institutions. We struggle for liberty, for equality and have made great strides. But our Founding Fathers also believed that fraternity was a core value for this nation. We have insisted without compromise on liberty for individuals. We have aspired to equality without regard to skin color, and tried to make our laws and our customs reflect that value. But race keeps us from success. We have not worked as hard, or as well toward fraternity, which in the aggregate is community. We have been stymied by our racial differences, because we have not figured out how to get on the same page when everyone has either no book, or a different one. I believe President Clinton's Initiative on Race is a clear acknowledgement that true community cannot be achieved in America unless we bridge the racial divides.
There are two perspectives that have voice in contemporary society. One argues that focusing on race is exactly the wrong approach to national unity. By granting race any significance, this view suggests, we give credence to its divisive and destructive influence. Only by ignoring it, or at least not consciously acknowledging it in any meaningful way, the progress in race relations we have made this century will continue. Focusing on race, this view asserts, hinders this progress. William Bennett once told a group of Black children in Atlanta on the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, that " People of good will disagree about the means [but] I don't think anybody disagrees about the ends...I think the best means to achieve the ends of a colorblind society is to proceed as if we were a colorblind society...I think the best way to treat people is as if their race did not make any difference." (Sawyer, 1986, p. A8)
A second view argues that we must focus on race because not to do so, fails to meet the need for redress created by historic racial biases. The need to focus on race was clearly expressed by the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan who made the following observation in his opinion on the Bakke case in 1978:
"A race-conscious remedy...[is necessary to achieve] a fully-integrated society, one in which color of a person's skin will not determine the opportunities available to him or her...If ways are not found to remedy [under-representation of minorities in the professions]. The country can never achieve...a society that is not race-conscious...In order to get beyond racism; we must first take account of race. There is no other way...In order to treat persons equally, we must treat them differently."
-Justice William Brennan
We are faced with the question of whether the path to a fairer and more unified America can best be achieved by ignoring race, or by staring it in the face and defeating its most sinister and insidious influences on our society and our psyches. It is my belief and there is ample evidence to support it, that race continues to matter in ways that may be more subtle than those who would have us ignore race, understand.
I will share with you today, some of the ways race matters and some of the evidence that illustrates this conclusion. I also acknowledge that by focusing on race, we run the risk of exaggerating the differences we attach to it and perhaps misleading our selves about the degree to which it affects us everyday. But I am persuaded by two of my students who are both white, both young and have experienced race in their everyday life. One student grew up in a small rural town in Pennsylvania and described how life in his small high school provided daily hassles for the one black student in his school. Worse, it brought daily insults and crude and lewd racial jokes that created an image of black people that perpetuated a stereotype of their hostility, stupidity and laziness. Before he had even seen a Black person, he reported he had the idea that a black guy would stick him up and rob him. He even thought that Black people on TV were just acting, and when they went home, they acted just like the stereotype.
A second student, from Long Island, New York, reported that she had many black and white friends. However, she found herself continually anxious that she would betray some hidden prejudice toward them. She didn't feel any such thing, but was not sure that she was without prejudice. She often felt anxious that some of her white friends, who were perhaps less conscious of race than she, would be more inclined to make that sort of comment. For both of these honest and well-meaning students, race is an issue.
It is a daunting task you face, engaging the nation in a focus on race. In our nation's history, race has always been used as a marker of difference in valued attributes and capacities. Race provides a convenient and simple means to establish who is on top, in the middle and on the bottom, who is deserving and who is not. And having made that distinction, we may then rationalize and explain why citizens of this country are segregated in certain strata, behave in ways that we find unwholesome, and need to be treated differently. Race is a word that has divided and denigrated and now by confronting it, talking about it, we hope to heal, to unite. I applaud the President and I applaud you the Board for taking this on. Community is not something you can create by executive order. It is not something that will happen because we want it to. It can only happen when people find they have common ground and are better off because they cooperate than if they don't. To make that happen across the racial divides that exist in this country, we have to take it on, shine a light on it, bridge the gaps and figure out how to make our institutions operate as supportive, not antagonistic, accomplices to the community we seek.
There are four points I wish to make. I will state them and then develop them in more detail.
- First, race is not so much something that resides in the genes of a group of people, but in the social attitudes and beliefs of society. Race is a social not a biological construct.
- Second, the significance of race rests in its cumulative influence on the psyches and social arrangements of this nation. We cannot isolate and segregate its influence in a given era, a given belief or in a given person.
- Third, race is a term whose use and impact is far more consequential for those who have been the targets of hostile actions than those who have perpetrated them, or been the incidental beneficiaries of their consequences.
- Fourth, social psychological research clearly shows that ignoring race in a race-neutral or 'colorblind' way may do a disservice to the targets of racial bias as well as to those who presume themselves to be free of racial bias.
Let me begin with point number one.
First, race is not so much something that resides in the genes of a group of people, but in the social attitudes and beliefs of society. Race is a social not a biological construct
One of the reasons why race is so divisive is that it is associated with biological differences. Biological differences are thought to be hard wired, immutable and to describe some essential quality of people who are classified by race. The Swedish taxonomist Linneaus described the psychological as well as the physical characteristics on which he classified American Indians, Europeans, Asians and Africans in psychological terms. By his account, Indians are tenacious and ruled by custom. Europeans are haughty and ruled by opinion. Asians are inflexible and ruled by rites. Africans are indulgent and ruled by caprice. These defining characteristics or attributes are not only assumed to be true of members of these racial groups, but take on differential value within the cultural system. Race gives value and takes it away. It inflames a situation because it hearkens to the days when it was widely believed that racial differences were biological, and accounted for superior and inferior human capabilities.
In America, Indians were considered savage, wanting of civilization. Their salvation, in this view, was education, which in the aim of civilizing them, taught them to reject their cultural heritage. Who Indians were as a race was defined by the United States government, and inculcated in Indians schools. In contemporary times, basketball announcer Billy Packer referred to Allen Iverson as a "tough monkey" when he drove the lane lifted his wiry 6' frame up to slam-dunk over much taller players. Almost immediately, calls came in to the Capital Center and to CBS calling for Packer's removal. Why? Because a monkey invokes biology, ape-like, primitive. We Americans are still hypersensitive to any reference to biology when it comes to race. The fact is that there is no biological basis to race that is meaningful. An American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) panel, including Nobel Laureate scientists noted that:...from a biological viewpoint the term race has become so encumbered with superfluous and contradictory meanings, erroneous concepts, and emotional reactions that it has almost completely lost its utility...It is hoped that the understanding of the biological nature of populations[their preferred term] will eventually lead to the abandonment of the term race."
An important question for us is why does race persist given its terribly divisive and denigrating nature, and its scientific inutility? It persists because it has a meaningful and prominent place in our cultural history. Race helps us to make sense of who we are, where we have come from, and even where we are going. But the meaning of race is constructed from what we do, say, and think as a society. Just as we have created race by our actions and deeds, we can un-create it. There is a strong push to replace the term 'race' with the term 'ethnicity.' The horror of race is its biological implication, and the association with biological heritability and immutability. The fixed nature of race is countered by the mutable notion of ethnicity, a changing cultural identity, that is more fluid and under greater personal control. There is merit in the notion of ethnicity, but it will take more than a semantic end run to eliminate race from our minds and our hearts. Perhaps the conversation on race could have as its main agenda, the negotiation of the demise of race as a meaningful and acceptable way to think about Americans.
Second, the significance of race rests in its cumulative influence on the psyches and social arrangements of this nation. We cannot isolate and segregate its influence in a given era, a given belief or in a given person.
Our history as a nation is to a significant degree a racialist history. By that I mean that race has been a belief, a symbol that stands for a value-based division of people in America. As early as the framing of our Constitution, the debate over the humanity of slaves of African Descent surfaced in the most basic judgment of political representation. Southerners wanted to count their slaves in the enumeration of their State populations because their number would bring them a larger political representation in Congress. The Northerners wanted slaves counted as property so that slaveholders would pay their fair share of property taxes. In federalist paper # 54, Alexander Hamilton considered that a slave could not be 100% person AND 100% property. In one of many political compromises that served the political ends of White businessmen and politicians, slaves were divested of two-fifths their humanity. This degradation of persons of African descent endures as the beginning of the systematic dehumanization of that group of people who helped found this nation.
That inhumanity, though, is not just an unfortunate handling of a bad situation, slavery, but was tied to beliefs and attitudes that we have not fully rid ourselves of today. Thomas Jefferson wrote a doctrine of the inalienable rights of man and thus championed perhaps the most singular expression of the American ethos, individual liberties and freedoms. Yet in his heart, this is what he believed:
In general [Blacks] existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection...[I]n memory they are equal to whites, in reason much inferior...[and] in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous...I advance it therefore...that the blacks, whether originally a different race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to whites...Will not a lover of natural history, then,...excuse an effort to keep those in the department of Man as distinct as nature has formed them?(Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia 1787)
The belief about blacks, and the proposition that racial segregation is a valid indeed natural consequence of natural law, is as much a part of our cultural history as is the belief in the inalienable rights of man. Addressing the contemporary influences of this historical aspect of our cultural history is part of our education.
It is not a far distance from this viewpoint and belief, to the sale of blacks on Wall Street. What percentage of dehumanization is too much? It seems perhaps not a surprise, given this history, that in 1919 in East St. Louis, a man can be burned to death, while his executioners mug for the camera. And the excitement shown by these men is reversed by the ugliness and disdain, and hatred shown by these young people who were so offended by Ms. Elizabeth Eckford's determination to go to the public high school in Little Rock. And in recent days, we learn of the apology of the young women shown here hurling invective and venom at Ms. Eckford tells another important story; we are substantially influenced by the norms, beliefs and expectations to which we are socialized. Not to excuse her behavior, but race is bigger than individuals who act in the name of race. You have seen this photograph often in recent days as President Clinton and the Little Rock nine and the citizens of Little Rock recalled that time. For some it was celebration of progress. For others, it was a diversion from the real and continuing racial problems that still beset Little Rock.
American Indians were thought to be savage and uncivilized. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Henry Price expressed this view in 1881: "...savage and civilized life cannot live and prosper on the same ground. One of the two must die...To civilize them[America Indians], which was once only a benevolent fancy, has now become an absolute necessity, if we mean to save them."
Such as there was interest in One America, it was in terms that denigrated the value and culture of people of color. One of the biggest concerns among American Indians today is rethinking what education means. Repeatedly and with a sense of cultural survival, Indian Education begins with the premise that American education for Indian people is genocidal. The following photograph shows Indian students at the Carlisle Indian School. The next slide shows a Q&A from an exam of an Indian student at Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1885.
|Questions:|| Student Answers:|
|9. To what race do we all belong? || The human race|
|10. How many classes belong to this race? || There are five large classes belonging to the human race.|
|11. Which are the first?|| The white people are the strongest.|
|12. Which is the next?|| The Mongolians or yellows.|
|13. The next?|| The Ethiopian or blacks.|
|14. Next?|| The Americans or reds.|
|15. Tell me something of the white people.|| The Caucasian is away ahead of all the other races---he thought more than any other race, He thought that somebody, must have made the earth, and if the white people did not find that out, nobody would never know it-it is God who made the world.(Adams, 1988, p. 1756- 76.)|
We could claim that we would no longer find such a thing in a classroom. But when do such effects dissipate in the collective minds of Americans? Certainly this civilization-savage distinction was not extinguished by the Western movies of the 1950's and 1960's! Although contemporary disagreements about the nicknames of sports teams have led to many changes, we are long way from an understanding of Indian life that supports a unified America.
The following slide offers another image that persists in our collective psyches. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order #9066 on February 19, 1942, that gave authority to the Secretary of Defense to exclude all persons, citizens and aliens, from designated areas to provide security against sabotage or espionage. American citizens are rounded up and taken by train to Santa Anita racetrack to be deployed to Internment Camps. . And perhaps as symbolic an image of racism as there is, the swastika is hateful and represents the lowest of human ugliness. These are images of America. These are images that must be confronted and incorporated into a unified America. We cannot ignore them, we cannot deny them meaning in contemporary life because they happened a long time ago
There is a cumulative consequence of race in this society that challenges our fundamental notions of fairness as well as personal responsibility. We are influenced by our past in ways that are not always obvious. It is too much to claim that four centuries of bigotry and bias, institutional deprivation and cultural oppression were eliminated by an act of Congress. We have been on a constant course of improving opportunities, access and possibility across centuries, but we have not by any means undone the legacy of racism.
At the University of Delaware I teach a course on Psychological Perspectives on Black Americans. Students are required to make a class presentation in groups of two. A couple of years ago, a white student asked the only black student in the class to be her partner. The black woman declined, stating that she did not accept the white student's motivation for asking her. The black woman perceived the white student as curious about her. She did not want to enter into a partnership that made her a guinea pig. The white woman was crushed. She might have been offended, but was instead devastated that her sense of fairness, objectivity, and decency was not only challenged but rejected. She burst into tears. This had never happened before and the only thing I could think to tell them was "this is not about the two of you." This divergence of understanding and meaning could be traced to the troubled history of race in America. In a sense, they were playing out the mistrust targets have of racist oppressors. Moreover, they illustrated that simply having good intentions is not enough in a society that is so charged with the distortions that our racial history has created. It is my contention that we all live everyday with this cultural history and we should never assume that we can understand each other fully from the facts of our experience. Our national conversation must try to unravel these influences and reach a common ground that acknowledges the divergence of experience, feelings, beliefs that comes with our divergent racial experiences. An apology for slavery does little to promote this understanding.
Third, race is a term whose use and impact is far more consequential for those who have been the targets of hostile or discriminatory actions than those who have perpetrated them, or been incidentally privileged by them.
In our society, the primary effect of race has been to marginalize people who could be easily defined by racial categories. One result of this marginalization is that one's racial heritage is pitted against an American identity. Consider the following interview of Jesse Jackson by Marvin Kalb on Meet the Press in 1984. This was Jackson's first run for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, and he was making a respectable showing in the polls.
Kalb: "the question [is] are you a Black man who happens to be an American running for the presidency, or are you an American who happens to be a Black man running for the presidency?
Jackson: Well, I'm both an American and a Black at one and the same time. I'm both of these...
Kalb: What I'm trying to get at is something that addresses a question no-one seems able to grasp and that is, are your priorities deep inside yourself, to the degree that anyone can look inside himself, those of a Black man who happens to be an American or the reverse?
Jackson: Well I was born Black in America, I was not born American in Black! You are asking a funny kind of Catch-22 question. My interests are national interests.
(excerpted from Meet the Press, February 13, 1984)
There are two perspectives to note here. From Kalb's view, its seems that Jackson could not be both black and American at the same time and in equal measure. One identity had to be primary and one secondary. We have created a conflict situation for many of our citizens of color by which their well-being is split into two halves. America's image of race has dissected people of color. Ignoring race will not make them whole.
From Jackson's point of view, the challenge to be a wholly integrated person whose racial or cultural heritage is not in opposition to, but a contributing element of his American identity is one of the difficult and subtle psychological consequences of how race has been employed in America. Jackson's response to Kalb speaks to this desire to be whole, to be one with oneself as well as the rest of society.
But there is a flip side to this conflict. The majority of Americans are advantaged in ways that may not reach their consciousness. It did reach the consciousness of one young White man, Joshua Solomon who had an experience that very few people have. He experienced his whiteness for 20 years, then by taking skin altering medications, became Black. After only one week, young Solomon abandoned his experiment. He reported the following lesson from his experience:"I have been White for 20 years and I always assumed a level of dignity and respect. No matter how much money I had in my pocket, I could go into a store and be treated with respect. However, I realized that when I became a Black man, all that went away. I learned how much White privilege I enjoyed just by being White".
While Whites are generally privileged, or at least given the benefit of the doubt, too often, persons of color are simply doubted! Nat Hentoff described the following encounter of two young Latino men, American citizens, returning to Philadelphia from vacation in Jamaica.
When James Garcia and Evaristo Vazquez returned from Jamaica, they went to claim their luggage at Newark Airport, and were surrounded by customs agents, put into separate rooms and strip searched. These searches revealed nothing illegal and neither did a search of their luggage. Agents decided to x-ray James and Evaristo and took them away to St. Francis hospital in handcuffs to be x-rayed. Shackled at the ankles and handcuffed to the beds, the x-rays were taken. Again, nothing illegal was found. Without so much as an apology, they were returned to the airport and released. James Garcia asked the United States agents why they had been singled out. He was asked in return his nationality and age. He replied, "Hispanic and I'm 24 and my friend is 25." The agent replied, "well, there you go."
Race matters in America. Its meaning has consequences often harmful, and usually troublesome. Research by Carmen Arroyo and Edward Zigler showed that the more adolescents shied away from their racial identity, a concept they call "racelessness," the better they did in school, but the greater risk they had for depression and poor mental health. Embracing your racial or ethnic identity often puts you in conflict with acceptance in broader American society, leading to a win-lose proposition. Our conversation on race must convert such win-lose propositions to win-win scenarios.
There is much discussion of standards that must not be compromised by any use of race in the decision making in our schools or on the job. Research by Claude Steele at Stanford has shown that a psychological state of stereotype vulnerability can explain dramatic decreases in test performance of both African Americans and women. Stereotype vulnerability refers to a disruptive apprehension based on the fear that one will either verify or be judged by a negative stereotype about one's racial group
Steele & Aronson (1995) tested this idea by having White and Black subjects perform a very difficult test comprised of the most difficult items from the Graduate Record Exam. The test was introduced either as "diagnostic" or "non-diagnostic" of their true ability. Steele and Aronson reasoned that only when the test was thought to be diagnostic would it arouse stereotype vulnerability. The next figure shows the result of performance under these two different conditions for Black and White Stanford University undergraduates. As the figure shows, when the test was thought to be non-diagnostic of their ability, Black students performed just as well as Whites. However, when they thought it might reveal their ability in a domain in which their group is stereotypically not expected to do well, they did more poorly than Whites. What is dramatically important about this study, is that by simply changing the context of the tests, racial parity on performance was obtained. Also indicative of the troubling meaning of race in our society, they found that having participants write down their race prior to taking the non-diagnostic test led Black participants to score lower than Whites. The psychological process that leads to these findings is fairly complex, but it rests on the idea that the negative stereotype of your group may cause a level of apprehension that interferes with performance, even when the person himself has had success in the past. This finding underscores the pernicious and subtle effects race may have in our society. What is perhaps the most important thing for you to consider, is that our assumptions that performances are due solely to the ability or capacity of the performer may be very wrong-headed. We adopt standards based on the assumption that performance is an accurate and reliable indication of a person's true ability. But as this research shows, ones ability may be compromised by the insinuation of race. The more we seek to test the ability of our students, and the less we understand about the racial factors beyond ability that affect their performance, the further we will be from a unified America.
Fourth, social psychological research clearly shows that ignoring race in a race-neutral or 'colorblind' way may do a disservice to the targets of racial bias as well as those who presume themselves to be free of racial bias.
The idea that we must ignore race to get beyond it is a popular view these days. But people are treated differently on account of race. Social psychological research demonstrates in study after study, that race influences our most basic human responses. If we do not acknowledge that, if we do not believe that, we are ignoring a very significant influence in our daily lives. This is not about laws, and government, but about the deep-seated beliefs that affect us in ways silent and often unknown. Our racial expectations influence what we see in others and what we feel inside. Moreover, these perceptions and feelings affect others with whom we interact. Race is a ubiquitous presence in our society. There are numerous scientific studies that illustrate various aspects of these racial effects. I will describe briefly four of them.
1. The self-fulfilling Prophesy: Making an applicant unqualifiedCarl Word, Mark Zanna and Joel Cooper asked Princeton male undergraduates to interview several black and white high school students and select one for their team. These mixed high school college teams were expected to engage in some competitive academic games. The researchers found that Princeton men interviewed the black students differently from the white students. When interviewing black students they sat further away, on more of an angle, spoke less fluently, and terminated the interview sooner. The authors next trained white Princeton men to interview in a manner that reflected the differential racial patterns detected for White and for Black students in the previous experiment, and then had them interview other white Princeton men for a summer job. The interview style followed either the White or Black pattern. Independent judges who knew nothing of the interview style variation rated the applicants. The results showed that the White applicants, who were interviewed as if they were black, were judged to be less qualified. This self-fulfilling prophecy suggests that we communicate our feelings, anxieties or simple dislike to others and in so doing, we affect their behavior. But failing to realize how our behavior has influenced theirs, we conclude confidently that we can draw objective conclusions about them. In this manner, we actually create the world that we expect! When it comes to race, we perpetually re-create the cultural notions of race in our everyday interaction and encounters.
2. The Chameleon Effect: Hostile Reactions to RaceJohn Bargh, Mark Chen and Lara Burrows showed that race affects basic expressions of emotions. They suggest that thinking about a behavior can increase the likelihood we will engage in it. Just as trying not to think about something, makes it more difficult to expunge it from our mind, this research suggests that trying not to think about race may have the ironic consequence of making race more salient. Bargh and colleagues suggest that race can prime us to act in ways that derive from our experience not from our intentions. To show this, they had white participants perform a very long and boring task of determining whether an array of many circles on a computer screen consisted of an odd or even number of circles. After about 45 minutes and 130 trials, the computer flashed an error message and noted the data were lost and they would have to begin again. A hidden camera captured their responses and later, judges rated them for hostility. The experimenter came into the room, checked the equipment and told them they would have to start again, and rated their hostility. The critical variable was whether or not the participants had been subliminally exposed to a series of photographs of black or white faces. Since the stereotype of blacks has been shown to contain aggressive and hostile traits, the authors assumed that the black faces would make hostility more salient in the participants. Thus relative to those who were exposed to white faces, those who had seen these black faces would react to their frustration in a more hostile way. Slide F shows the results of this experiment and as you can see participants who saw black faces (indicated by the dark bars) reacted with more hostility than those who saw white faces. Race matters and affects us at very personal levels of human response.
3. Behavioral Confirmation: Hostile Reactions to Race makes Others more HostileChen and Bargh's experiments showed that racial reactivity could influence the course of interaction with another person. Participants were again subliminally exposed to Black or White faces then asked to play a game with partner that required the participant to give clues to the partner who tried to guess what word he was supposed to say. The partner's behavior was videotaped and later rated for hostility. Results showed that the black photos increased the hostility of participants as it had in the previous study. But further, their increased hostility increased the hostility of the partners with whom they interacted. This research suggests a chain of race influences beginning when one person's behavior is affected by a racial event, then expanding to others with whom he or she may interact. We are perceiving and detecting behaviors that have multiple influences. Race is not so much something we see in others, but a reflection of the image we project. We know also that teacher's expectations of children's ability influences somehow, how well the children do in school. Expectations of others are profoundly influenced by race. Again we see that race matters.
4. When Insults Matter: Race Affects Aggressive Responses to InsultsIn my last research illustrations, Rogers and Prentice-Dunn demonstrated that reactions to a personal insult diverge with the race of the insulter. Participants were asked to use electric shock to train a subject in biofeedback. Learners were either black or white, and half of both races, insulted the participant. The degree to which the participants used a higher level of shock and held the shock button down longer indicated their aggression. The next slide shows that when they were not insulted, participants were slightly less aggressive toward black than white learners. But when they had been insulted, their aggression escalated significantly more toward the black than the white learner.
Considering the results ofn this research, we have to ask what treating people as if their race made no difference means. We clearly know that race has been a central player in the evolution of America. We are a different country because of the way race has affected us than we would have been had there never been slaves, never been Jim Crow, never been the Civil War, never been the 1960s. Race lingers in our minds and hearts. Innocence on race is hard to achieve. I believe that the world looks different from different sides of racial divides. To approach the community of one people in America we must see the world from multiple sides. That is what a dialogue on race must be about. There are plenty of social scientists to tell us how far we have come and the best way to move further on the subject of race. But it seems to me that it is not up to others to tell us what matters and what doesn't, that racism is over or that it lies behind every social policy we promulgate.
I believe that we need to explore the depth of race in our psyche, and try to understand the divergent perceptions, the palpable anxiety and fears, the hopes, dreams and expectations. And we should do this with honesty and humility. Like creating community, you can't create open conversation on race by executive declarations. But there are many people who are already talking and want to talk more. In spite of the fact that race opens wounds, talking about it is an important way to create one America in the 21st century. Not to do so, leaves unchallenged and unexamined the variety of ways in which race insinuates itself in our everyday life.
Let me summarize in the simplest terms, the points my presentation makes:
1. The historical legacy of race influences what we feel and believeI close with the a haiku that I wrote to reflect one of the important reasons why we have to have a conversation on race.
2. Although race has no biological legitimacy, its demise cannot be asserted but must be negotiated by affected parties.
3. Subtle effects of race influence what we feel, think, believe and how we act.
4. Race effects are complex and ubiquitous. Ignoring them is not an option.