The Origin and Evolution of Race in America

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When you encounter a group of white Americans, Scott Malcolmson observes, you’re encountering the legacy of slavery. He says: it’s much the way European conquest of North America, which invented the race of Indians, also defined whites. “Conquest and slavery formed white people every bit as much as they formed black and Indian Americans,” he writes, “and form them still.” Scott Malcomson wrote “One Drop of Blood: the American Misadventure of Race” as history and also an introspection on his own experience as a kid growing up in multiracial Oakland, California in the 1970s.

There was a time in childhood, he writes, when skin color meant little, then a lot; when we learned “to think with our skins, so to speak, and to act in them,” a painful process prepared for us by the American past to be reenacted in the future, a process that disminishes each of us. Join Scott Malcomson’s on the path through the cultivated thicket of race.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Scott Malcomson, author of “One Drop of Blood: The American Misadventure of Race.”