We're now a member-driven learning collective. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a founding member.

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.


Other upcoming Olios


Aug 22

The Wisdom of Pop Culture

Taught by Geoff Klock
6:15 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

Sign Up - $15

Aug 28

"I'll Play it First" - An Immersive Listening of Bitches Brew

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Aug 31

Selective Histories: Memory, Aesthetics, & Urban Art

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Sep 7

Should I Kill Myself or Have a Cup of Coffee?

Taught by Olio Happy Hour
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Sep 14

OlioHouse Launch | Eros: The Bittersweet

Taught by Jamie Warren
11:30 a.m. at OlioHouse

Sign Up - $60

Sep 21

Time, Desire, and Action: Ramayana and The Cosmic Game

Taught by Vishwa Adluri
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!