Ms. Magazine hosts author Dorothy Roberts on Thursday
Dorothy Roberts is on the faculty at Northwestern's Law School and is also a fellow at its Institute for Policy Research. She'll be in town at the offices of Ms. Magazine on Thursday night to talk about the issues she raises in her book, "Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-Create Race in the 21st Century," published in July.
In the opening of "Fatal Invention," she writes:
Imagine walking into a room filled with people displaying a wide range of skin colors, hair textures, and facial features. It is likely that the very first thing you do, either consciously or unconsciously, is to identify the race of every single person in that room. Americans are so used to filtering our impressions of people through a racial lens that we engage in this exercise automatically -- as if we were merely putting a label on people to match their innate racial identities. But the only way we know which racial designation to assign each person is by referring to the invented rules we have been taught since we were infants. And the only reason we engage in this exercise is the enormous social consequences of classifying people in this way. So we force the mélange of physical features and social clues into a code that tells us how to categorize each person -- so as to know where each person fits in our society....
[R]ace is a political system that governs people by sorting them into social groupings based on invented biological demarcations. Race is not only interpreted according to invented rules, but, more important, race itself is an invented political grouping. Race is not a biological category that is politically charged. It is a political category that has been disguised as a biological one.
Thursday's discussion, which may be politically charged, is co-presented by Ms. Magazine and the Center for Genetics and Society. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m. To attend, RSVP by phone; details are on the Ms. Magazine blog.
-- Carolyn Kellogg