Against the Reification of Race in Bioethics: Anti-Racism without Racial Realism

American Journal of Bioethics 21 (2):88-90 (2021)
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The three target articles constitute a powerful and persuasive call for actively anti-racist bioethics and biomedicine. All three articles reject race as a biological category. Nevertheless, they share a common commitment to racial classification. At one point, Ruqaiijah Yearby writes that “social race, like biological race, is an illusion created to establish racial hierarchy,” but mostly she writes about “races” as though they were not an illusion, but a reality. In this commentary I critique the racial realism of the target articles. I argue that the biomedical fight against racism is best served by a form of anti-realist reconstructionism about race, which says that there are no races, only racialized groups—groups misunderstood to be races. Note that I do not defend the color blindness that Clarence H. Braddock (2020) persuasively rejects. Because of the role of skin color in racialization and racism, color blindness is a misguided goal. One can reject color blindness, though, without accepting racial realism...

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Adam Hochman
Macquarie University


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