The Genome Project has scientifically proven that there’s only one race, the human race. But despite definitive proof that race is purely a fabrication of man’s imagination, racism continues to persist.

That confounding conundrum is the subject of “The Myth of Race, The Reality of Racism,” a collection of enlightening essays by Mahmoud El-Kati.

El-Kati, a distinguished lecturer in history at Macalester University in St. Paul, Minn., traces the derivation of the word “race” back to 1570, before chronicling the subsequent evolution of racism into an oppressive political and cultural ideology employed by Europeans to rationalize the exploitation and marginalization of so-called “inferior races.”

Defining racism as “prejudice plus power,” the author sees it as “largely an institutional phenomenon” based on “aggression, domination and greed.”

However, he warns that it can also be observed on the individual level in a variety of everyday social “habits, nuances and traits,” such as a condescending look or a halfhearted handshake.

Determined to eradicate the false notion of “race,” El-Kati assails it as a superstition, no less ridiculous than the belief in witches that once led to innocent women being burned at the stake. He argues that it is patently farcical to associate a host of negative stereotypes with black skin ranging from criminality to laziness.

The book offers viable solutions for the problem, too, suggesting the creation not only of a new vocabulary, but the condemnation of racist institutions and the active overhauling of society. After all, as stated in Ralph Ginsburg’s encyclopedic study “100 Years of Lynchings,” until relatively recently, “no White person had ever received the death sentence for taking the life of a Black person in the whole history of capital punishment in the United States.”

“The Myth of Race, the Reality of Racism” is an insightful tome repositioning America in the age of Obama less as a post-racial utopia than as a work in progress, still striving for dignity for all and the demise of White supremacy.

The Myth of Race, The Reality of Racism
by Mahmoud El-Kati
Papyrus Publishing
Paperback, $8.00
92 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9882883-3-1


Kam Williams

Special to the AFRO