Determination

Kevin T. Mahoney ktmahone at mailbox.syr.edu
Mon Mar 20 14:48:50 MST 1995


in regards to this strain of contestation concerning the
soical/biological definitions of race, i think that it is correct to make
the argument that race is indeed social, but the movement from race being
social to race being a effect of consciouseness, or a matter for
consciousness should proceed a little more cautiously.  what i mean by
this is that indeed "race" as a social construction is manifested in our
consciousness, but if we are to reduce the struggle against racism to a
struggle of consciousness, then we are once again suggesting that race is
a "cultural" effect, as opposed to a material/historical component of
capitalism.  it would be easy to conclude that because race and ethnicity
is understood differently in different nations we prove that race is a
cultural issue.  however, what this leave untouched is the very history
of race as a category of referring to people in the first place--which
would place race within the rise of capitalism corresponding with the a
social division of labor.  likewise, the way we conceive of a "solution"
to racism depends on how we situate the category of race to begin with.
in other words, if race is a "cultural" issue, then the "solution"
becomes one of changing our "attitudes" toward different races so that we
all have equal representation in culture.  IF however we are to see race
as a function of a social division of labor which needs RACISM as a means
of justifying the existance of unemployment, slave-wage labor, unpaid
labor, etc...then our struggle against racism is at once a struggle
against the exploitative material relations of capitalism...this is not
to reduce race to capitalism, but rather to suggest that race in the
particular form that it is expressed, is an intimate part of the way
capitalism makes use of social difference in the service of production
for profit.



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