Foreign Affairs: Race in the Modern World: The Problem of the Colorline

At the first Pan-African Congress in London in 1900, black American intellectual and activist W.E.B. Du Bois affirmed that the “problem of the twentieth century” was “the color-line, the question as to how far differences of race … will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” Du Bois then argued that race and racism were central to modern life on a global scale. He tied the political and social differentiation between white and non-white peoples to colonial projects in Asia and Africa. Kwame Anthony Appiah, writing for Foreign Affairs, points out that the speech by DuBois identified a global politics of race – and eventually society came to recognize race as “product of sociology and politics rather than biology.” Appiah relies on the words of Du Bois to analyze the history of intellectual thinking on race throughout the 20th century. Obsession with race persists a century later, as “identities rooted in the reality or fantasy of shared ancestry remain central in [modern-day] politics, both within and between nations.” Too often, the obsessions overshadow the need to emphasize our common humanity. – YaleGlobal

Foreign Affairs: Race in the Modern World: The Problem of the Colorline

Race remains as central as ever to modern life; scholars, policymakers still struggle on reforming institutions and social processes to eliminate inequalities
Kwame Anthony Appiah
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

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Kwame Anthony Appiah  has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard universities and lectured at many other institutions in the United States, Germany, Ghana and South Africa, as well as at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris; and from 2002 to 2013 he was a member of the Princeton University faculty, where he had appointments in the Philosophy Department and the University Center for Human Values, as well as being associated with the Center for African American Studies, the Programs in African Studies and Translation Studies, and the Departments of Comparative Literature and Politics. In January 2014 he took up an appointment as Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he teaches both in New York and in Abu Dhabi and at other NYU global centers.

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