Exit Strategy for the Race Paradigm
This paper analogizes racial trauma to the cycle of violence present in domestic violence contexts. It argues that abandoning ancestry (and other methods of identification) for race, as a system of identification, inhibits people’s escape and recovery from the cycle of racial trauma. The paper proposes a unifying theory for analyzing race that captures most of what has been written about it within a single framework. This theory offers a way of relating race-related concepts under one synthesizing umbrella using examples from law. This synthesis may facilitate discussions about how race defines the terms of an abusive social relationship and how to develop new goals and strategies for identity, human rights, justice, and prosperity. The paper considers the implications of incorporating the identity concept of wholism into legal frameworks promoting equality and diversity. It discusses the legal necessity and vulnerability of anti-racist uses of race and hypothesizes the ramifications of wholism and the interim alternatives of genomically-informed and experience-based identity. Although this article advocates alternatives to the uses of race, it is not a colorblind theory. Colorblindness attempts to create an illusory equality by eliminating race-conscious remedial measures despite the continued effects of white privilege and supremacy. Colorblindness denies any difference between the value of race conscious measures that promote bias and exclusion and those that attempt to cure oppression and promote diversity. This paper, on the other hand, recognizes the importance of anti-racist uses of race conscious measures, but suggests that their use as identity tools may trap people into a cycle of racial trauma. Thus, the paper considers non-race-based identity as part of a process of recovery from racial trauma and a future aspiration, rather than a description of current social dynamics.
Keywords: Identity, Race, Cycle of Violence, Trauma, Wholism
Prof. E. Christi Cunningham
Professor, School of Law, Howard University