Paul Gilroy on “nonracial humanism” -
“The pursuit of liberation from ‘race’ is an especially urgent matter for those peoples who, like modern blacks in the period after transatlantic slavery, were assigned an inferior position in the enduring hierarchies that [racism] creates. However, this opportunity is not theirs alone. There are very good reasons why it should be enthusiastically embraced by others whose antipathy to race-thinking can be defined, not so much by the way it has subordinated them, but because in endowing them with the alchemical magic of racial mastery, it has distorted and delimited their experiences and consciousness in other ways. They may not have been animalized, reified, or exterminated, but they too have suffered something by being deprived of their individuality, their humanity, and thus alienated from species life. Black and white are bound together by the mechanisms of ‘race’ that estrange them from each other and amputate their common humanity. Frantz Fanon … observed this dismal cycle through its effects on the lives of men: ‘the Negro enslaved by his inferiority, the white man enslaved by his superiority alike behave in accordance with a neurotic orientation.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., another influential pathologist of ‘race,’ whose work counterpoints Fanon’s own, was fond of pointing out that race-thinking has the capacity to make its beneficiaries inhuman even as it deprives its victims of their humanity.”
from Between Camps: Nations, Cultures, and the Allure of Race (p. 15)
(Those hyperlinks were added by me, of course, and I’ve removed Fanon and King citations that are in the original text.)
(I’ve replaced the word “raciology” with “racism” — which is in the square brackets). The two words aren’t equivalent, but the one I’ve used here is more straightforward — especially for people who haven’t read Gilroy’s book.)
Those statements from Gilroy can be difficult to follow, but I think that the message the he is conveying is important.
As Gilroy indicates here, there is only one human race, and anyone caught up in racism — whether as victims or as supporters of racism — is cut off from this common humanity. Racial separations aren’t biological; they’re human creations that only will continue to exist for as long as we reproduce them. Skin tones, hair textures, facial features, and so on, aren’t racial differences; those bodily characteristics are far more superficial than that.
I should point out that a lot of what people consider to be ‘race’ actually consists of ethnicities and nationalities. I think that there always will be ethnic differences. Nations, however, were established over the last few hundred years ago; nations are far from natural and inevitable, and they may not still exist in another few hundred years.