In 2000, scientists proved that humans are 99.9 percent genetically identical and race has no scientific reality. Still, many racist scientists think that race must account for the other 0.1 percent. In 2000, a U.N. report showed that racial discrimination is common all over the U.S., but in the 2000 presidential election, both George W. Bush and Al Gore ignored it. In fact, racism helped decide the election: a Florida voting law prevented tens of thousands of Black voters from casting their ballots, and then Bush won the presidency when he won Florida by only a few hundred votes.
Just as they did with intelligence, scientists have definitively disproven the racist idea that there’s some genetic basis for race. In short, race is not a real biological category—it’s simply an idea. But the idea that races are distinct biological groups is hard to let go of because it gives an easy justification for the intuition that people with different skin color and physical features must be inherently different. This idea goes back to the earliest racists, who claimed that different races are different species descended from different ancestors. Just as “color blind” racism became the new cultural consensus in the U.S., racial inequities in voting turned the tide of the 2000 election. This proves that antiracists’ work is far from over.
Antiracists kept fighting—the U.N. even held a worldwide antiracist conference in Durban, South Africa in September 2001. A few days later, the U.S. government responded to the 9/11 attacks with a new kind of racism against Arab and Islamic “evil-doers.” When Bush cut school funding for lagging schools that largely served Black students, Black assimilationists like Bill Cosby were delighted. They blamed poor Black parents for their children’s difficulties in school. And then, Barack Obama gave his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and “a star was born.”
Although this book focuses on anti-Black racism, Reynolds reminds the reader that other racial groups also face serious discrimination and inequity in the U.S., including the way that Arab Americans were targeted with segregationist ideas after 9/11. These different kinds of racism work together to sustain white power and privilege—which means that antiracists should work together against all forms of racism.