What ARE We Talking About When We Talk About Race?

Author(s) Marshall Segall

2010, Amazon.com

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Price $9.99 | Pages 85 | ISBN B00480OIV0

Confusion persists over the meaning of “race” and related terms like racial and racism. The concept is consistently used as if it were a biological reality, when it surely is not. In about 85 pages, with compelling graphic illustrations, the award-winning cross-cultural psychologist, Marshall Segall, dispells the illusion of race and reveals the unity and singularity of the human species.

Acknowledging the myriad of culturally-rooted behaviors, attitudes and practices, some of them institutionalized, like journalistic reporting and governmental data-gathering employing constantly shifting “racial” categories, the author shows that these practices confirm the illusion and perpetuate racialist thinking, Segall demonstrates how to challange these practices and put in their place the realities of human diversity as unequivically demonstrated by the scientific community.

In the Introduction, Segall cites Gauguin’s famous Tahitiian painting called “Where do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” Religious answers to these questions, whether pagan, Judeo-Christian, Islamic, Hindu, or other, have influenced our thinking for millennia. Competing scientific answers, over many centuries, have usually been met with great resistance. Today, early in the 21st century, science has given us a very dramatic pair of answers to the first two of Gauguin’s questions, Where do we come from? and What are we? The answers constitute irrefutable, replicable, empirical facts. They result from the astonishing achievement in 2001 of delineating the human genome. That work in genetics, buttressed by social science data on human immigration patterns since homo sapiens first appeared in Africa makes it clear that we are a single species that cannot scientifically be divided into separate races. 

The Introduction is followed by 11 chapters: The Human Genome and DNA; DNA and Diversity; ;America’s Great Divide; If There are No Such Thngs as “Races”; Why Do We Still Have Racism?; Culture and “Race”; The Reification of “Race”;How the Press Reifies “Race”;On The Distinction Between Racism and Racialism; Politics and “Race” in America; Sex and “Race in America; How, Then, Should We Talk About “Race”?

Marshall Segall, PhD is Professor Emeritus of Cross-Cultural and Political Psychology at Syracuse University. Educated at Northwestern, Yale, and University of Geneva, his 41-year career yielded many students and his research resulted in some 10 books and many articles, many translated into several languages, including Italian, Greek, Japanese, Indonesian, Russian, and Arabic. His English-language exhibition “All of Us are Related, Each of Us is Unique”, a translation from the francophone Tous Parents, Tous Differents, has been mounted by universities around the world, where he has lectured and led public forums. The English-language exhibition, which emphasizes the unity and diversity of humankind, is distributed by Syracuse University and may be previewed on the web site http://allrelated.syr.edu. Many of the illustrations in this book are from the exhibition.