'The History Of White People'
by NELL IRVIN PAINTER
Q: Why do Americans have this persistent desire to create racial difference out of nothing?
NELL IRVIN PAINTER: Our culture was founded in 1789 right about the same moment that Blumenbach was inventing Caucasians — this moment of racialization. Some people say race is in our national DNA so that we just can’t get away from it. I don’t know if we ever will.
Q: How do you think the election of Barack Obama plays into this?
NELL IRVIN PAINTER: Whenever you tinker with one part of the equation, it affects the rest of it. I think to the extent that we realize that Obama has a white mother and a white family, this alerted us to the existence of people with parents from different backgrounds. People have been migrating and fornicating forever, so there’s no such thing as a pure person, and I think Obama’s background just puts that front and center in our attention.
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May 23, 2012, 19:49:23
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