Racial Classification in America (with David Bernstein)


Manage episode 339942007 series 3240728
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Americans are understandably squeamish about official racial and ethnic classifications. Nevertheless, they are ubiquitous in American life. Applying for a job, mortgage, university admission, citizenship, government contracts, and much more involves checking a box stating whether one is Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American.

David Bernstein’s new book, Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America, attempts to illuminate these “crude classifications”, showing how the government’s formalizing and flattening of racial categories led to the forming of new interest groups, anti-discrimination policy, and complicated, ever-evolving definitions. But rather than attack affirmative action, it asks: if we’re going to classify people by race, what is the goal? How do the tools we use to do so accomplish it? And what can we do going forward to do so in a better way?

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