Inventing The Concept of Race: There's Nothing Natural About Segregation

Bar & Grill by Jacob Lawrence

Many people believe that racial segregation is natural. People simply want to be around others who look like them. This line of reasoning assumes there is something coded in our DNA that compels us to marry, live, and work around people from the same ethnic backgrounds. If this were true, why did the interracial marriage rate drastically increase after laws forbidding it were abolished? If a natural inclination to racially segregate existed, why were anti-miscegenation laws necessary in the first place?  


This Olio will trace the historical invention of the “race” concept as a step-by-step, intentional process designed to prevent interracial collaboration.  We will look at important laws and images that tell the story of how and why “race” was invented. This class will also address what happened to ethnic groups that did not fit within the “black/white” dichotomy, the performance of whiteness, and how these processes continue to impact us today.


Recommended Reading:
PBS interview with Audrey Smedley (based on her book Race in North America: Origins of a Worldview)




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Sep 17

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Taught by Kim Nguyen
7:30 p.m. at Crystal Lake

Sign Up - $15

Sep 18

Mediated Intimacy: The Dating App Landscape

Taught by Pani Farvid
7 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Sep 19

* Sold Out * OlioTrip | Cienfuegos, Cuba

Taught by Teresita Levy
10 a.m. at Cienfuegos, Cuba

Sign Up - $

Sep 23

New York, The Neoliberal City

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at The Old Stone House

Sign Up - $15

Sep 26

Living Room Salon | 'Dirty Computers', Voice & Visibility

Taught by Kashema Hutchinson
8 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Sep 29

Olio FieldTrip | Skateboarding and Modern Art

Taught by Ted Barrow
1 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $30

Oct 4

Modern Privacy: Reclaiming Our Self Narratives

Taught by Lawrence Cappello
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Oct 15

Olio Seminar | Kafka will Ruin Your Life and Make You Laugh About it

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Strong Rope Brewery

Sign Up - $60

Oct 22

The Fear of Leisure

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7:30 p.m. at Threes Brewing // Greenpoint

Sign Up - $15


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