Placing “race” in quotation marks seeks to recognize the mythical nature and scientific baselessness of the concept of “race,” while also acknowledging its importance as a social and political construct. The American Anthropological Association promoted this convention in their 1998 statement on “race” in the following terms:

“Historical research has shown that the idea of “race” has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. Today, scholars in many fields argue that “race” as it is understood in the United States of America was a social mechanism invented during the 18th century to refer to those populations brought together in colonial America: the English and other European settlers, the conquered Indian peoples, and those peoples of Africa brought in to provide slave labor.

From its inception, this modern concept of “race” was modeled after an ancient theorem of the Great Chain of Being, which posited natural categories on a hierarchy established by God or nature. Thus, “race” was a mode of classification linked specifically to peoples in the colonial situation. It subsumed a growing ideology of inequality devised to rationalize European attitudes and treatment of the conquered and enslaved peoples. Proponents of slavery, in particular during the 19th century, used "race" to justify the retention of slavery. The ideology magnified the differences among Europeans, Africans, and Indians, established a rigid hierarchy of socially exclusive categories, underscored and bolstered unequal rank and status differences, and provided the rationalization that the inequality was natural or God-given. The different physical traits of African Americans and Indians became markers or symbols of their status differences.”


Research and Scholarship Committee:

Margaret Abraham
Balbinder S. Bhogal
Aashish Kumar
Lisa Merrill
Christopher Niedt
Vimala C. Pasupathi
Tomeka M. Robinson
Benita Sampedro Vizcaya

Special Events Committee:

Deysi M. Aguilar
Alejandra Arce-Morales
Athelene Collins
Vimala C. Pasupathi
Benita Sampedro Vizcaya

Community Outreach Committee:

Richard Hayes
Mario Murillo