Racialism And The Very Real Consequences Of The Myth Of Race

"For a racialist, then, to say someone is "Negro" is not just to say that they have inherited a black skin or curly hair: it is to say that their skin color goes along with other important inherited characteristics. By the end of the nineteenth century most Western scientists (indeed, most educated Westerners) believed that racialism was correct and theorists sought to explain many characteristics - including, for example, literary "genius," intelligence, and honesty - by supposing that they were inherited along with (or were in fact part of) a person's racial essence."
-Appiah, Critical Terms for Literary Study 276

"We must examine one final role for questions of race in literary study, a role that is especially visible in much recent writing about American literature. And that is how American literature and literary study both reflect the existence of ethnic groups the very contours of which are, in a certain sense, the product of racism. For, however mythical the notion of race seems to be, we cannot deny the obvious fact that having one set of heritable characteristics - dark skin, say - rather than another - blonder hair, for example - can have profound psychological, economic, and other social consequences, especially in societies where many people are not only racialists but racists. Indeed, much of what is said about races nowadays in American social life, while literally false if understood as being about biological races, can be interpreted as reporting truths about social groups - Afro-Americans, Asian-Americans, Jewish Americans - whose experience of life and whose political relations are strongly determined by the existence of racist stereotypes."
-Appiah, Critical Terms for Literary Study 285.