Race, Teaching About

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, teaching about race is a different enterprise than 50 years ago. Conceptually, we have moved beyond early-20th-century “racial science,” where race was considered an aspect of biology and the human species was divided into five ranked subdivisions or “races.” Race is now recognized as a human invention, a social construction of historically specific practices, institutions, identities, and classifications, and an ideology for legitimizing social inequality. This is reflected in official statements of major academic disciplines, such as the American Anthropological Association and the American Sociological Association.

Race, as a lived experience, is also different in the 21st century. Post–World War II anticolonial movements produced new nations and nationalisms, many taking on strong commitments to social equality. ...

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