An interesting post reflecting on the role of racism in Enlightenment thought was posted in the New York Times this week. While I laud the attention to racist aspects of Enlightenment thinking, I am less certain about this claim: “but given that we now know that the identity groups in modern multicultural states are plainly constituted on ethno-linguistic and cultural grounds, rather than on biological-essential grounds, it remains unclear why we should not allow a concept such as ‘culture’ or ‘ethnie’ to do the semantic work for us that until now we have allowed the historically tainted and misleading concept of ‘race’ to do.”

The example of post WWII Europe has taught us that simply ending the use of the term “race” does not end racism, and that the term “culture” all too quickly does EXACTLY the semantic work that race does – namely, become a marker of and justification for societal exclusion based on a notion of inferiority.

Related resources:
Alana Lentin and Gavan Titley, The Crises of Multiculturalism