Aren’t we all just members of the human race? Well, sort of. It is true that there is no one characteristic that distinguishes members of one race from members of another race. Humans are among the most similar of all species, and 85% of the variation that occurs exists within local populations. You can learn more and test your knowledge here.

It is also true that people have not always used race to divide groups – other categories, such as religion, were often used instead. It was not until the mid to late 1600s that race emerged as a concept - a concept which early American elites used to divide the working class. Even more surprising to many, racial categories have changed across time  as evidenced by changes in census categories and the movement of certain groups, who once experienced discrimination, into the white racial category.

However, while race is not “real” biologically, it is real in its consequences. Because both the government and society have created advantages to being white, race is a powerful idea that gives privileges to some and disadvantages others. Unfortunately, deciding to pretend race no longer exists as a social category will not deal with the very real consequences that the concept of race has created. Talking about race and it’s differential advantages is the only way to get rid of the advantages and “get past race.”

For more information on continued inequality keep reading.