UC Berkeley professor John McWhorter is wrong in Suzy Hansen’s “Another shade of black” — short-sighted and facile, if not disingenuous; stacking a fact here and a hopeful thought there and a pop-culture reference nearby and calling it a response. Sure, you can be a wiseguy and reply, “Well, damn, George, isn’t that your M.O., isn’t that what you yourself do? What do you want, credit?” No. I want to understand what I don’t like there and also here, in his recent take on race distinctions as one of last year’s overrated ideas.
My take on this year starts with mice. We have learned that only 1 percent of our genome diverges from a mouse’s. With only 300 genes distinguishing us from tiny, mute, artless vermin, the triviality of racial distinctions becomes clear.
This year America has been full of signs that we are realizing this in our hearts and getting past race. White supremacists staged a rally in York, Pa., in January, only to be outshone by a 400-strong interracial “unity rally.”
Interracial relationships are on the rise; increasing numbers of caf�-au-lait Americans will soon find the question “What race are you?” as yesterday as Harry Belafonte calling Colin Powell a “house slave” sounded in October.
The black Congressional incumbents Cynthia A. McKinney and Earl F. Hilliard, questioning the “blackness” of their opponents, were defeated. The Bond and Austin Powers girls were black.
We’re not there yet � but we don’t have as long to go as we’re often told.