This week marks the second anniversary of remarks by actor and activist Edward James Olmos on the subject of race as a social fiction on a panel at the United Nations.

For the third year in a row, and as I prepare to speak tonight on a similar panel at the United Nations, I’m reposting these remarks, because I have still never heard this idea expressed with more power and conviction: the emperor has no clothes. The notion that we as a people are divided into several different races is, and always has been, a dreadful lie.

Despite the danger inherent in advocating what we might call color-blindness, what Admiral Adama of the Battlestar Galactica says here is undeniably correct, both historically and sociologically, and remains true to this day:

There is only one race … that is the human race.

So say we all!

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“Quick Takes” offers brief summaries of recent news, opinion, and research related to race, privilege, and inequality, with a special focus on the history and legacy of slavery and race, which are at the heart of The Living Consequences.

Today’s “Quick Takes” features items on race and intelligence, Arizona’s approach to immigration, trans-racial adoption, memorializing the transatlantic slave trade, and research on racial prejudice and the spread of misinformation in our society.

Readers are encouraged to share these stories, and to comment at the end of the post.

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Today is the first anniversary of remarks by actor and activist Edward James Olmos at the United Nations about the idea of race as a social fiction.

I posted about these remarks at the time, but I want to use this occasion  as an excuse to highlight once again what Olmos had to say that day, and I’m even going to take the unusual step for me of embedding the video of his remarks here.

The reason I’m doing this is that I’ve never heard this idea expressed with more power and conviction. Each time I see this, I’m reminded of just how powerful the myth of race is, and how important it is for those in the public eye to speak the plain truth that the emperor has no clothes:

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Edward James Olmos[Update: I’ve been reposting this inspirational video once a year, and I talk about the implications of what Olmos says here and especially here. If you want to read about his views or comment on them (and please do!), just follow one or both links.]

The United Nations hosted a panel on Tuesday about the television series Battlestar Galactica, covering such real-world themes as terrorism, human rights, religious conflict, and children in wartime.

The panel was moderated by Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg, and featured Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning Battlestar Galactica cast members Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), as well as executive producers Ronald D. Moore (of Star Trek fame) and David Eick.

What, exactly, did this panel have to do with race?

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Students from Prom Night in MississippiThe Los Angeles Times has a review out about films exploring the subject of teenagers and race at the Sundance Film Festival.

The films covered include Prom Night in Mississippi, about the practice of holding racially segregated high school proms in Charleston, Miss.; Don’t Let Me Drown, a drama about racial and other tensions in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001; Push, a brutal yet hopeful examination of the cycle of poverty and despair in Harlem; and Toe to Toe, a drama about racial prejudice set at an elite private school.

Prom Night in Mississippi is perhaps the most shocking of these films, especially for those previously unaware of the ongoing practice of racially segregated proms in smaller towns in the Deep South.

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Tom DeWolf, the author of Inheriting the Trade, was interviewed this afternoon on the Cliff Kelley Show on WVON-AM radio (“The Talk of Chicago”).

This turned into a lengthy and well-received interview, with Tom being asked to stay well into the show’s second hour to continue the conversation and being asked to return another time.

I have several comments after the jump, but the full interview with Tom can be heard here.

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I want to offer up this passage by Senator Obama, on his racial and ethnic background and experiences, and implicitly, how he tends to view race and ethnicity in our society:

As the child of a black man and white woman, born in the melting pot of Hawaii, with a sister who is half-Indonesian, but who is usually mistaken for Mexican, and a brother-in-law and niece of Chinese descent, with some relatives who resemble Margaret Thatcher and others who could pass for Bernie Mac, I never had the option of restricting my loyalties on the basis of race or measuring my worth on the basis of tribe.

— Senator Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, p. 231

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