Adolph Reed, Jr. : Marx, Race and Neoliberalism

Article d’Adolph Reed, Jr. paru dans New Labor Forum, Volume 22, Issue 1, Winter 2013, p. 49-57

UNITED STATES – CIRCA 1959: people holding signs and American flags protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

A Marxist perspective can be most helpful for understanding race and racism insofar as it perceives capitalism dialectically, as a social totality that includes modes of production, relations of production, and the pragmatically evolving ensemble of institutions and ideologies that lubricate and propel its reproduction. From this perspective, Marxism’s most important contribution to making sense of race and racism in the United States may be demystification. A historical materialist perspective should stress that “race”— which includes “racism,” as one is unthinkable without the other — is a historically specific ideology that emerged, took shape, and has evolved as a constitutive element within a definite set of social relations anchored to a particular system of production.

Marxism’s most important contribution to making sense of race and racism in the United States may be demystification

Race is a taxonomy of ascriptive difference, that is, an ideology that constructs populations as groups and sorts them into hierarchies of capacity, civic worth, and desert based on “natural” or essential characteristics attributed to them. Ideologies of ascriptive difference help to stabilize a social order by legitimizing its hierarchies of wealth, power, and privilege, including its social division of labor, as the natural order of things.[1] Ascriptive ideologies are just-so stories with the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies. They emerge from self-interested common sense as folk knowledge: they are “known” to be true unreflectively because they seem to comport with the evidence of quotidian experience. They are likely to become generally assumed as self-evident truth, and imposed as such by law and custom, when they converge with and reinforce the interests of powerful strata in the society.

Race and gender are the most familiar ascriptive hierarchies in the contemporary United States. Ironically, that is so in part because egalitarian forces have been successful in the last half-century in challenging them and their legal and material foundations. Inequalities based directly on claims of race and gender difference are now negatively sanctioned as discrimination by law and prevailing cultural norms. Of course, patterns of inequality persist in which disadvantage is distributed asymmetrically along racial and gender lines, but practically no one — even among apologists for those patterned inequalities — openly admits to espousing racism or sexism. It is telling in this regard that Glenn Beck stretches to appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr., and denounces Barack Obama as racist, and that Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Ann Coulter accuse Democrats of sexism. Indeed, just as race has been and continues to be unthinkable without racism, today it is also unthinkable without antiracism.

Crucially, the significance of race and gender, and their content as ideologies of essential difference have changed markedly over time in relation to changing political and economic conditions. Regarding race in particular, classificatory schemes have varied substantially, as have the narratives elaborating them. That is, which populations count as races, the criteria determining them, and the stakes attached to counting as one, or as one or another at any given time, have been much more fluid matters than our discussions of the notion would suggest. And that is as it must be because race, like all ideologies of ascriptive hierarchy, is fundamentally pragmatic. After all, these belief systems emerge as legitimations of concrete patterns of social relations in particular contexts

Race, like all ideologies of ascriptive hierarchy, is fundamentally pragmatic.

Race emerged historically along with the institution of slavery in the New World. A rich scholarship examines its emergence, perhaps most signally with respect to North America in Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom and Kathleen Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs. Both focus on the simultaneous sharpening of distinctions between slavery and indentured servitude, and the institutional establishment of black and white, or African and English, as distinct, mutually exclusive status categories over the course of the seventeenth century in colonial Virginia.[2] Race and racism took shape as an ideology and material reality during the following century initially in the context of the contest between free- and slave-labor systems and the related class struggle that eventually produced the modern notion of free labor as the absolute control of a worker over her or his person.[3] After defeat of the Confederate insurrection led to slavery’s abolition, race as white supremacy evolved in the South as an element in the struggle over what freedom was to mean and how it would be harmonized with the plantocracy’s desired labor system and the social order required to maintain it. That struggle culminated in the planter-dominated ruling class’s victory, which was consolidated in racialized disfranchisement and imposition of the codified white supremacist regime of racial segregation.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the West Coast fights over importation of Chinese labor and Japanese immigration also condensed around racialist ideologies. Railroad operators and other importers of Chinese labor imagined that Chinese workers’ distinctive racial characteristics made them more tractable and capable of living on less than white Americans; opponents argued that those very racial characteristics would degrade American labor and that Chinese were racially “unassimilable.” Postbellum southern planters imported Chinese to the Mississippi Delta to compete with black sharecroppers out of the same racialist presumptions of greater tractability, as did later importers of Sicilian labor to the sugarcane and cotton fields.

Large-scale industrial production in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, of course, depended on mass labor immigration mainly from the eastern and southern fringes of Europe. The innovations of race science — that is, of racialist folk ideology transformed into an academic profession — promised to assist employers’ needs for rational labor force management and were present in the foundation of the fields of industrial relations and industrial psychology. Hugo Münsterberg, a founding luminary of industrial psychology, included “race psychological diagnosis” as an element in assessment of employees’ capabilities, although he stressed that racial or national temperaments are averages and that there is considerable individual variation within groups. He argued that assessment, therefore, should be leavened with consideration of individuals’ characteristics and that the influence of “group psychology” would be significant

only if the employment not of a single person, but of a large number, is in question, as it is most probable that the average character will show itself in a sufficient degree as soon as many members of the group are involved.[4]

As scholarship on race science and its kissing cousin, eugenics, has shown, research that sets out to find evidence of racial difference will find it, whether or not it exists. Thus, race science produced increasingly refined taxonomies of racial groups — up to as many as sixty-three “basic” races. The apparent specificity of race theorists’ just-so stories about differential racial capacities provided rationales for immigration restriction, sterilization, segregation, and other regimes of inequality. It also held out the promise of assisting employers in assigning workers to jobs for which they were racially suited. John Bodnar and his coauthors reproduce a Racial Adaptability Chart used by a Pittsburgh company in the 1920s that maps thirty-six different racial groups’ capacities for twenty-two distinct jobs, eight different atmospheric conditions, jobs requiring speed or precision, and day or night shift work. For example, Letts were supposedly fair with pick and shovel, and concrete and wheelbarrow, bad as hod carriers, cleaners and caretakers, and boilermaker’s helpers; good as coal passers and blacksmiths as well as at jobs requiring speed or precision; and good in cool and dry, smoky or dusty conditions; fair in oily or dirty processes; and good on both day and night shifts.[5]

Of course, all this was bogus, nothing more than narrow upper-class prejudices parading about as science. It was convincing only if one shared the folk narratives of essential hierarchy that the research assumed from the outset. But the race theories did not have to be true to be effective. They had only to be used as if they were true to produce the material effects that gave the ideology an authenticating verisimilitude. Poles became steel workers in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, and Gary not for any natural aptitude or affinity but because employers and labor recruiters sorted them into work in steel mills.

Even the New Deal embedded premises of racial and gender hierarchy in its most fundamental policy initiatives. The longer-term implications of the two-tiered system of social benefits thus created persist to the present day. This extensive history illustrates that, as Marxist theorist Harry Chang observed in the 1970s, racial formation has always been an aspect of class formation, as a “social condition of production.” Race has been a constitutive element in a capitalist social dynamic in which “social types (instead of persons) figure as basic units of economic and political management.”[6] Chang perceptively analogized race to what Marx described as the fetish character of money. Marx, he noted, described money as “the officiating object (or subject as an object) in the reification of a relation called value” and as a “function-turned-into-an-object.” Race is similarly a function — a relation of hierarchy rooted in the capitalist division of labor — turned into an object.[7] “Money seeks gold to objectify itself — gold does not cry out to be money.” Similarly, “the cutting edge of racial determinations of persons is a social ‘imposition’ on nature,” which on its own yields no such categories.[8]

Research that sets out to find evidence of racial difference will find it, whether or not it exists.

Although discussing race specifically, Chang also puts his finger on the central characteristic of ideologies of ascriptive hierarchy in general:

In practice, the political economic raison d’etre of racial categories lies in the ironclad social validity that is possible if relations are objectified as the intrinsic quality of “racial features.” Blacks as the absence of the minimum guarantee of bourgeois rights (against enslavement and bondage) presupposes Whites as a guarantee of immunity from such social degradation.[9]

This formulation applies equally to populations stigmatized as feebleminded, natural-born criminals, “white trash,” poverty cultures, the underclass, crack babies, superpredators, and other narratives of ascriptive hierarchy. Each such narrative is a species of the genus of ideologies that legitimize capitalist social relations by naturalizing them. The characteristic linking the species of this genus of ascriptive ideologies is that they are populations living, if not exactly outside “the minimum guarantee of bourgeois rights,” at least beneath the customary floor of social worth and regard. In practice, the latter devolves toward the former.

Chang’s perspective may help us see more clearly how ascriptive ideologies function. It certainly is no surprise that dominant classes operate among themselves within a common sense that understands their dominance unproblematically, as decreed by the nature of things. At moments when their dominance faces challenges, those narratives may be articulated more assertively and for broader dissemination. This logic, for example, underlay the antebellum shift, in the face of mounting antislavery agitation, from pragmatic defenses of slavery as a necessary evil — a stance that presumed a ruling class speaking among itself alone — to essentialist arguments, putatively transcending class interests, namely, that slavery was a positive good. It also may be seen in the explosion of racialist ideology in its various forms, including eugenics, in justifying imperialist expansionism and consolidating the defeat of populism and working-class insurgency in the years overlapping the turn of the twentieth century. That same dynamic was at work displacing the language of class and political economy by culture and culturology in the postwar liberalism that consolidated the defeat of CIO radicalism. Later, racial essentialism helped reify the struggles against southern segregation, racial discrimination, inequality, and poverty during the 1960s by separating discussions of injustice from capitalism’s logic of reproduction. Poverty was reinvented as a cultural dilemma, and “white racism” singled out as the root of racial inequality.

In this way, Chang’s perspective can be helpful in sorting out several important limitations in discussions of race and class characteristic of today’s left. It can also help to make sense of the striking convergence between the relative success of identitarian understandings of social justice and the steady, intensifying advance of neoliberalism. It suggests a kinship where many on the left assume an enmity. The rise of neoliberalism in particular suggests a serious problem with arguments that represent race and class as dichotomous or alternative frameworks of political critique and action, as well as those arguments that posit the dichotomy while attempting to reconcile its elements with formalistic gestures, for example, the common “race and class” construction.

The rise of neoliberalism suggests a serious problem with arguments that represent race and class as dichotomous or alternative frameworks of political critique and action.

This sort of historical materialist perspective throws into relief a fundamental limitation of the “whiteness” notion that has been fashionable within the academic left for roughly two decades: it reifies whiteness as a transhistorical social category. In effect, it treats “whiteness” — and therefore “race” — as existing prior to and above social context.[10] Both who qualifies as white and the significance of being white have altered over time. Moreover, whiteness discourse functions as a kind of moralistic exposé rather than a basis for strategic politics; this is clear in that the program signally articulated in its name has been simply to raise a demand to “abolish whiteness,” that is, to call on whites to renounce their racial privilege. In fact, its fixation on demonstrating the depth of whites’ embrace of what was known to an earlier generation’s version of this argument as “white skin privilege” and the inclination to slide into teleological accounts in which groups or individuals “approach” or “pursue” whiteness erases the real historical dynamics and contradictions of American racial history.

The whiteness discourse overlaps other arguments that presume racism to be a sui generis form of injustice. Despite seeming provocative, these arguments do not go beyond the premises of the racial liberalism from which they commonly purport to dissent. They differ only in rhetorical flourish, not content. Formulations that invoke metaphors of disease or original sin reify racism by disconnecting it from the discrete historical circumstances and social structures in which it is embedded, and treating it as an autonomous force. Disconnection from political economy is also a crucial feature of postwar liberalism’s construction of racial inequality as prejudice or intolerance. Racism becomes an independent variable in a moralistic argument that is idealist intellectually and ultimately defeatist politically.

This tendency to see racism as sui generis also generates a resistance to precision in analysis. It is fueled by a tendency to inflate the language of racism to the edge of its reasonable conceptual limits, if not beyond. Ideological commitment to shoehorning into the rubric of racism all manner of inequalities that may appear statistically as racial disparities has yielded two related interpretive pathologies. One is a

constantly expanding panoply of neologisms — “institutional racism,” “systemic racism,” “structural racism,” “color-blind racism,” “post-racial racism,” etc. — intended to graft more complex social dynamics onto a simplistic and frequently psychologically inflected racism/anti-racism political ontology. Indeed, these efforts bring to mind [Thomas S.] Kuhn’s account of attempts to accommodate mounting anomalies to salvage an interpretive paradigm in danger of crumbling under a crisis of authority.[11]

A second essentialist sleight-of-hand advances claims for the primacy of race/racism as an explanation of inequalities in the present by invoking analogies to regimes of explicitly racial subordination in the past. In these arguments, analogy stands in for evidence and explanation of the contemporary centrality of racism. Michelle Alexander’s widely read and cited book, The New Jim Crow, is only the most prominent expression of this tendency; even she has to acknowledge that the analogy fails because the historical circumstances are so radically different.[12]

Rigorous pursuit of equality of opportunity exclusively within the terms of capitalist class relations has been fully legitimized under the rubric of “diversity.”

From the historical materialist standpoint, the view of racial inequality as a sui generis injustice and dichotomous formulations of the relation of race and class as systems of hierarchy in the United States are not only miscast but also fundamentally counterproductive. It is particularly important at this moment to recognize that the familiar taxonomy of racial difference is but one historically specific instance of a genus of ideologies of ascriptive hierarchy that stabilize capitalist social reproduction. I have argued previously that entirely new race-like taxonomies could come to displace the familiar ones. For instance, the “underclass” could become even more race-like as a distinctive, essentialized population,

by our current folk norms, multiracial in composition, albeit most likely including in perceptibly greater frequencies people who would be classified as black and Latino “racially,” though as small enough pluralities to preclude assimilating the group ideologically as a simple proxy for nonwhite inferiors.[13]

This possibility looms larger now. Struggles for racial and gender equality have largely divested race and gender of their common sense verisimilitude as bases for essential difference. Moreover, versions of racial and gender equality are now also incorporated into the normative and programmatic structure of “left” neoliberalism. Rigorous pursuit of equality of opportunity exclusively within the terms of given patterns of capitalist class relations — which is after all the ideal of racial liberalism — has been fully legitimized within the rubric of “diversity.” That ideal is realized through gaining rough parity in distribution of social goods and bads among designated population categories. As Walter Benn Michaels has argued powerfully, according to that ideal, the society would be just if 1 percent of the population controlled 90 percent of the resources, provided that blacks and other nonwhites, women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people were represented among the 1 percent in roughly similar proportion as their incidence in the general population.[14]

Given the triumph of racial liberalism, it is entirely possible that new discourses of ascriptive difference might take shape that fit the folk common sense of our time and its cultural norms and sensibilities. Indeed, the explosive resurgence in recent years of academically legitimated determinist discourses — all of which simply rehearse the standard idealist tropes and circular garbage in/garbage out faux scientific narratives —reinforce that concern.

The undergirding premises of intellectual programs like evolutionary psychology, behavioral economics, genes and politics, and neurocriminology are strikingly like straight-line extrapolations from Victorian race science — although for the most part, though not entirely, scholars operating in those areas are scrupulous, or at least fastidious, in not implicating the familiar racial taxonomies in their deterministic sophistries. Some scholars imagine that “epigenetics”— a view that focuses on the interplay of genes and environment in producing organisms and genotypes — avoids determinism by providing causal explanations that are not purely biological. Recent research purporting to find epigenetic explanations for socioeconomic inequality already foreshadows a possible framework for determinist “underclass” narratives that avoid the taints associated with biological justifications of inequality and references to currently recognized racial categories.[15] Ironically, some enthusiasts for this epigenetic patter expressly liken it to Lamarckian evolutionary theory, which stressed the heritability of characteristics acquired after birth, as though this were insulation against determinism. As historian of anthropology George Stocking, Jr., and others have shown, Lamarckian race theory was no less determinist than its Darwinian alternative, which posited strictly biological determinism. As Stocking notes, Lamarckians’ dependence on a “vague sociobiological indeterminism” made it all the more difficult to challenge their circular race theories.[16] In any event, narrow approaches that reduce ascriptive ideology to reified notions of race/racism are not at all up to the challenge posed by this new determinist turn.

Finally, the adamant commitment to a racefirst perspective on inequalities that show up as statistical disparities has a material foundation. The victories of the civil rights movement carried with them a more benign and unavoidable political imperative. Legal remedies can be sought for injustices understood as discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or other familiar categories of invidious ascription; no such recourse exists for injustices generated through capitalism’s logic of production and reproduction without mediation through one of those ascriptive categories. As I have argued elsewhere,

this makes identifying “racism” a technical requirement for pursuing certain grievances, not the basis of an overall strategy for pursuit of racial justice, or, as I believe is a clearer left formulation, racial equality as an essential component of a program of social justice.[17]

Yet, for those who insist that racial reductionism is more than a pragmatic accommodation to the necessities of pursuing legal or administrative grievances, something more is at play. A historical materialist perspective can be helpful for identifying the glue that binds that commitment to a race-first political discourse and practice.

All politics in capitalist society is class, or at least a class-inflected, politics. That is also true of the political perspective that condenses in programs such as reparations, antiracism, and insistence on the sui generis character of racial injustice. I submit that those tendencies come together around a politics that is “entirely consistent with the neoliberal redefinition of equality and democracy along disparitarian lines.” That politics

reflects the social position of those positioned to benefit from the view that the market is, or can be, a just, effective, or even acceptable, system for rewarding talent and virtue and punishing their opposites and that, therefore, removal of “artificial” impediments to functioning like race and gender will make it even more efficient and just.[18]

This is the politics of actual or would-be race relations administrators, and it is completely embedded within American capitalism and its structures of elite brokerage. It is fundamentally antagonistic to working-class politics, notwithstanding left identitarians’ gestural claims to the contrary.


1. See Adolph Reed, Jr., “Unraveling the Relation of Race and Class in American Politics,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 265-274; Ellen Meiksins Wood, “Class, Race and Capitalism,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 275-284; Maurice Zeitlin, “On the ‘Confluence of Race and Class’ in America,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 285-288; Steven Gregory, “The ‘Paradoxes’ of Misplaced Concreteness: Thinking through the State,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 289-300; and Reed, “Rejoinder,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 301-315. See also my chapter, “The ‘Color Line’ Then and Now: The Souls of Black Folk and the Changing Context of African American Politics” in Adolph Reed, Jr., Kenneth W. Warren, et al., Renewing Black Intellectual History: The Ideological and Material Foundations of Black American Thought (Boulder, CO & London: Paradigm Publishers, 2010).

2. Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975) and Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). As her title indicates, Brown examines as well the interplay of race and gender in the constitution of distinctions between slave and servant, black and white.

3. Legal historian Robert J. Steinfeld in two important books examines the latter conflict. See Steinfeld, The Invention of Free Labor: The Employment Relation in English and American Law and Culture, 1350-1870 (Chapel Hill & London: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) and Coercion, Contract, and Free Labor in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

4. Hugo Münsterberg, Psychology and Industrial Efficiency (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1913), 130. Münsterberg criticized what he considered a widespread tendency among industrial firms’ employment officers to use group characteristics too freely and to depend on superficial stereotypes (130-131).

5. John Bodnar, Roger Simon, and Michael P. Weber, Lives of Their Own: Blacks, Italians, and Poles in Pittsburgh, 1900-1960 (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983), 240. On the history and logic of race science, see Jonathan Marks, What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People and Their Genes (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), and pertinent recent histories of the eugenics movement include Edwin Black, War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (New York: Dialog Press, 2012), and Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005). For examples of race scientists’ proliferation of races, see Daniel G. Brinton, Races and Peoples: Lectures on the Science of Ethnography (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1901), 17-50; Joseph Deniker, The Races of Man: An Outline of Anthropology and Ethnography (New York: Charles Scribner, 1900), 280-298; William Z. Ripley, The Races of Europe: A Sociological Study (London: Kegan Paul, 1900); and William P. Dillingham, A Dictionary of Races or Peoples (Washington, DC: GPO, 1911), 3.

6. Paul Liem and Eric Montague, eds., “Toward a Marxist Theory of Racism: Two Essays by Harry Chang,” Review of Radical Political Economics 17, no. 3 (1985): 43.

7. Ibid., 38.

8. Ibid., 39.

9. Ibid., 44.

10. For a critical examination of the “whiteness” literature, at least as it has taken shape among historians, see “Scholarly Controversy: Whiteness and the Historians’ Imagination,” International Labor and Working-Class History 60 (Fall 2001): 1-92, with an introduction by Judith Stein and articles by Eric Arnesen, James Barrett, David Brody, Barbara J. Fields, Adolph Reed, Jr., Victoria C. Hattam, Eric Foner, and a response by Arnesen. See also Barbara J. Fields and Karen Fields, Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (New York & London: Verso, 2012).

11. Adolph Reed, Jr., and Merlin Chowkwanyun, “Race, Class, Crisis: The Discourse of Racial Disparity and its Analytical Discontents,” Socialist Register 48 (2012): 167. We argue as well that “left-seeming defenses that insist on the importance of race and class” are only attempts to deny the rhetorical force of the race line.

12. Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color-Blindness (New York: New Press, 2010). For a systematic critique of the limits and counterproductive features of this approach, see James Forman, Jr., “Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow,” New York University Law Review 87 (2012): 21-69. See also Reed and Chowkwanyun, “Race, Class, Crisis” and Adolph Reed, Jr., “Three Tremés,” July 4, 2011, available at

13. Reed, “The ‘Color Line’ Then and Now,” 261.

14. Walter Benn Michaels, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007). It is telling that the reduction of concern with economic inequality to racial disparities leads to responses — for example, Sheradeen’s proposed Individual Development Accounts — that seek “to create competitive individual minority agents who might stand a better fighting chance in the neoliberal rat race rather than a positive alternative vision of a society that eliminates the need to fight constantly against disruptive market whims in the first place.” Reed and Chowkwanyun, “Race, Class, Crisis,” 166. We note as well that “Within the racial context specifically, such proposals exude more than a whiff of racial communitarianism and collective racial self-help, along with a dollop of republican nostalgia.”

15. On evolutionary psychology, see Susan McKinnon, Neo-Liberal Genetics: The Myths and Moral Tales of Evolutionary Psychology (Chicago: Prickly Paradigm, 2005). On genes and politics, see Evan Charney, “Genes and Ideologies,” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 2 (June 2008), with responses from John R. Alford et al.; Rebecca J. Hannagan and Peter K. Hatemi, and a rejoinder by Charney in Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 2 (June 2008). For an illustration of state of the art in neurocriminology, see the work of University of Pennsylvania criminologist Adrian Raine at James J. Heckman’s rather disingenuously titled essay “Promoting Social Mobility,” Boston Review, September/October 2012, illustrates the nexus of epigenetics and behavioral economics. See also Daniel A. Hackman and Martha J. Farah, “Socioeconomic Status and the Developing Brain,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13, no. 2 (February 2009): 65-73. Jiannbin Lee Shiao, Thomas Bode, Amber Beyer, and Daniel Selvig, “The Genomic Challenge to the Social Construction of Race,” Sociological Theory 30 (June 2012): 67-88 appropriates — crucially misappropriates, actually — scholarship on the geography of human genetic variation in support of explicitly racialist arguments.

16. George W. Stocking, Jr., Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1968), 265.

17. Adolph Reed, Jr., “The Limits of Anti-Racism,” Left Business Observer #121, September 2009, available at

18. Ibid.

Author Biography

Adolph Reed, Jr., is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. His most recent book, coauthored with Kenneth W. Warren, is Renewing Black Intellectual History: The Ideological and Material Foundations of African-American Thought. He has a forthcoming book on Obamania as a symptom of the demise of the American left.

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