Race is an elusive, perplexing, troubling, and enduring aspect of life in the U.S. Race has been one of the most critical factors in the social, political, and economic structure of our American society from the first pre-colonial early beginnings to our present day. See also this TEDx video in which Alex Kajitani talks about why race matters and how to talk about it:
Any examination of American social history points to the legacy of America’s fascination with skin color, caste, and social status. Race and ideas and beliefs about race always have played a crucial role and had its effects throughout our American history.
For instance, European Americans used duplicitous means to obtain land held by American Indians. Throughout American history, Black Americans have been at the center of several controversies arising from fundamental constitutional questions: the debates over slavery during the framing of the Constitution and the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1906’s to end the denial of Blacks’ basic rights as citizens.
The history of Asian Americans in the United States provides other examples of race’s influence specifically the Exclusion Act of 1882 against Chinese immigration and the forced internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II.