One of our first problems in confronting the history of race relations in the U.S., and our own experience, is defining the terms. Please help us refine them. Let’s start with:

RACE: is a visceral experience of human heterogeneity, of cultural insularity or “tribalism.” These days it’s usually associated with skin color. People have also used differences in nationality, ethnicity, and regional culture to define “races,” especially in the past. During the 19th century, a number of intellectuals legitimized this experience of difference or “otherness” as “scientific.” By this, they meant that they’d developed a detailed classification system – not that they’d tested their conclusions with experiments and counter-hypotheses.

RACISM is the use, whether deliberate, or subconscious and reflexive, of that perception or experience of difference to favor those “like us” at the cost of others. It’s often applied to groups rather to distinct individuals.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: send us your definition, here.

EXCEPTIONALISM: your definition here.