Birth of a racist nation

Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton University history prof and author of a number of major books on African-American history, has written an insightful—and clearly developed—history of how lighter-skinned people came to think of themselves as a “white race.” Of course, such a thing does not exist; it’s been constructed historically, socially and politically (“race” is an artificial construct, imposed based on perceived differences in physical characteristics; humans are all one species). Painter weaves her story of where “whiteness” came from through a myriad of historical threads, showing how the idea developed (the first “white people”—Caucasians—were slaves from the Caucasus, not the superior types that white supremacists envision), how racial theories began and how those racial theories—and stereotypes—were elaborated by race-obsessed Americans. This one will bust your preconceptions and make clear that, when it comes to race, we see only what we’ve been taught to see.