DuBois’ argues that race is defined by a group of people who share a “common history” and a “common striving.” However, Appiah critically notes that such commonalities are a product of a group, not the establishment of a group. Thus, Dubois is committed to the biological/anthropological construction of race, especially when discussing the message that African Americans must convey. The reader is left to ponder, “what constitutes the African American race?” and “Who belongs to the common history of African Americans if biology is not a factor?” Such questions reveal the illogical nature of DuBois’ proposal.
Considering there is no scientific basis for race, Appiah is a proponent for the “eliminativist” argument. Essentially, Appiah believes that race should be eliminated because race is not real. I find this perspective to be frustrating, even borderline offensive. I admittedly am not tied to the sciences; I have neither taken nor desire to take courses in physics, molecular biology, organic chemistry and so forth. Therefore, perhaps I do not fully appreciate what is scientifically proven/disproven to be “real,” “true,” or “a priori.” With that said, I do not understand why something should be suppressed simply because it is not “real.” What eliminativists seem to wrongly negate are the consequences of race—the deeply engrained and enduring oppression that particular groups of people have had to face. Moreover, the idea of race is largely intertwined with cultural communities that people positively identify with. I believe that people who are not well informed about the philosophy of race would be opposed to eliminating their race, considering it influences their traditions, values, speech, etc. Although there is no biological and/or genetic component for race, our history has been greatly influenced by the pseudoscientific definition of race. If we want to learn from our history, then we must acknowledge race rather than eliminate it. In acknowledging “race,” we are responsible for clarifying the misconceptions and preserving the benefits.
I am hoping that we will further investigate the “eliminativist” perspective during the next few classes. I cannot wrap my head around how one would begin to eliminate race. Would such an active push for assimilation begin in early childhood education? Although I disagree with eliminating race, I want to know how eliminativists would realistically encourage people to do so. Or, is the eliminativist argument an ideal concept with no realistic intent? Answers to these questions may sway my perspective, but for now I believe one should conserve race.