Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.
That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions.
On the occasion of what would have been Frantz Fanon's 90th birthday, we share the conclusion of his famous The Wretched of the Earth, first published in 1961, in which he implores: "Leave this Europe where they are never done talking of Man, yet murder men everywhere they find them."
By Frantz Fanon, 1961
The common refrain, “race is a social construction” can obscure the fact that race is a ultimately results from racism itself. “We see race not as a physical fact, but as a product of racism,” Barbara says in the interview with her sister Karen, the co-author of Racecraft and Jacobin’s Jason Farbman.