Df. Racial Essentialism

Racial essentialism is the self-aggrandizing but
delusory belief that the obsolete, pseudoscientific
categories that organize the stratification and
segregation of the American caste system ‐
“race,” “black,” “white,” “mixed race,” and the
like – denote empirically meaningful states of
affairs, whether genetic, biological, social, or
visual; and that in particular, the categories by
which some attempt to racialize themselves and
others denote actual facts that veridically locate
each in relation to the others – i.e. put everyone in
their place. Racial essentialists attempt to
racialize themselves through self-referential
announcements of their “racial” identity in terms
of those outmoded categories. They thereby
attempt to racialize their audiences as well, by
implication, as either conforming to or diverging
from that “racial” identity. These attempts fail
systematically and by definition, because those
categories do not refer to any actual genetic,
biological, social, or visual facts at all.
But then racial essentialism does not require
any evidential foundation for its ascriptions.
Rather, it reifies those crude racial stereotypes
into an unconvincing simulacrum of social reality
in an obsessive-compulsive ritual of wishful
thinking. That is the ritual racial essentialists invite
their audiences to reenact. In Passing for White,
Passing for Black (1991), I cite only a few samples
of the vast literature in the biological and social
sciences and the humanities, dating back more
than a century, that conclusively discredits this
antiquated relic of 19th century social Darwinism.
Those unconvinced by that literature may prefer
this approach: