Four Questions for the Sick

I sometimes teach a college course on the topic of race. One of the assignments I give students is to go home and discuss our readings with family and friends. Very often, the white students report back that, in response, they encounter immediate and heated tirades from white friends or relatives. “I am so sick and tired of hearing about race!,” comes the retort. “Why don’t people stop trying to force this junk on us?”

When this happens, I suggest to my students that they note how very remarkable this extremely common reaction really is. Until the last few decades, very few white people had ever entertained the notion that race was anything but what white supremacists have always claimed it is — a simple observation of deep, biological, intellectual differences between rankable human appearance groups. Now, in the first or second post-Jim Crow generation of whites, many white folks are convinced they are “sick of hearing about race!”

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