More than a half-century after the civil rights era, people of color in the United States remain disproportionately impoverished and incarcerated, excluded and vulnerable. Legal remedies rooted in the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection remain elusive. This article argues that the "racial realism" advocated by the late Professor Derrick Bell compels us to look critically at the purposes served by racial hierarchy. By stepping outside the master narrative's depiction of the United States as a "nation of immigrants" with opportunity for all, we can recognize it as a settler state, much like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It could not exist without the occupation of Indigenous lands, and those lands could not be rendered profitable without imported labor. Employing settler colonial theory, this article identifies some of the strategies of elimination and/or subordination that have been-and continue to be-used to subjugate Indigenous peoples, Afrodescendants, and migrants of color in order to further settler state goals and maintain a racialized status quo. It suggests that further analysis of these strategies will help us find common ground in the diverse experiences of those deemed Other within the United States, and that exercising our internationally recognized right to self-determination- a primary tool of decolonization-may prove more effective than formal equality in dismantling structural racism.
Natsu T. Saito,
Tales of Color and Colonialism: Racial Realism and Settler Colonial Theory,
Fla. A&M U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://commons.law.famu.edu/famulawreview/vol10/iss1/3
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