Clarissa Hayward argues that wishing for “that conversation about” is magickal thinking; what’s needed is action.
Each year during Black History Month, we try to have what pundits call a “national conversation about race.” If only we could get our beliefs and our conversations about race on the right track, the idea seems to be, then the rest will follow.
It would be nice if that were so. But it’s not.
But think back to the middle decades of the twentieth century, when a national conversation about race did alter dominant beliefs. It was in the 1940s that scientists in the United States and elsewhere dismantled the 19th-century understanding of race as biological difference. It was in that same period that the strong association of racism with Nazism drove many white Americans to reject racial hierarchy as morally repugnant.
These changes did not radically alter how race was practiced in the United States . . . .
Do read the rest.