Times writer talks ‘construction’ of race

Times writer talks ‘construction’ of race

Yale Daily News

Conrad Lee, Contributing Reporter

For any Yale student who has taken English 120, chances are he or she has come across Brent Staples and his popular essay “Black Men and Public Space.”

Thursday afternoon, Staples — an author and editorial writer for the New York Times — spoke to a group of about 50 people about issues of race and writing at an Ezra Stiles Master’s Tea titled “Neither White Nor Black: The Secret History of Mixed-Race America,” sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism…

…During the talk, he approached tough racial issues, raising questions about the complexities of mixed racial identity. Staples said he himself is only “50 percent sub-Saharan African.” Pointing directly at a white audience member, Staples said, “I’m as white as you.”

He continued to challenge the underpinnings of race in a society where many people are not, as he said, just black or white.

“The very construction of race is a bigoted and racist idea,” he said.

This theory, Staples said, will be discussed in his forthcoming book, a history of mixed-race identity examining the lives of “lightly colored whites who abandoned their black identity to live as white.”…

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