The latest issue (#63) of Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed contains an essay on ‘Anarchy 101: Race’ by Leona Benten, which discusses the meaning and significance of the concept of ‘race’ in the context of US history and politics in particular (which, according to the author, “is probably more complicated in the US than anywhere else”):
The concept of race has traditionally had two distinct but overlapping ways of being understood in the US, one scientific, and the other historic. The scientific position rests on the pretense that there are biological differences that explain cultural differences; the historic position is that differences in culture (whether from non-European origins or from oppression once arriving here) and in social standing create a distinct group of people with identifiable and predictable characteristics. These days scientists follow the liberal argument that we humans are all the same and all that holds us back from a non-racist society are the remnants of bigotry. This argument neither addresses the cultural standards fundamental to US society about what and how we value, nor does it leave room for the idea that race issues are deep enough (for example how we think about race is part of the polarized and dualistic world view that limits our options in multiple ways) that changing them would require a complete restructuring of society.
There are two main anarchist stances on race: one could be called the activist tendency and the other perhaps the atomist…
I think I’ll respond to it later, but in the meantime, it brings to mind two things: one is Paint It Black: Anarchism, Urban Uprising and the Mainstream News Media by Jessica Lawless (2001); and, for some reason, an essay by Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant, ‘The New Global Vulgate’ (The Baffler, #12, 1999): — I think ‘cos of Benten’s reference to (yet another form of) ‘American exceptionalism’… and I’m So Bored of the U.S.A.
(But what can I do?)