Philosophy Professor David Livingstone Smith kicked off the University of New England’s 2014 diversity lecture series with a talk on why “race” is a destructive concept.
The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction award winner for “Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others” stated his mission at the top: “I wish to liberate you. I do not think I will succeed, but I hope I will raise questions about certain beliefs you take for granted.”
Smith presented his audience with a slide of four individuals with light skin and typical European facial features. He then asked the audience if they could determine which two were, in fact, African-American. It proved puzzling for those assembled. (See the slide here.)
“Virtually every genocide that I know enough about has been a racialized genocide,” Smith told his listeners on the Maine campus. “The notion of race gets us into a lot of trouble.”
Smith, who has taught philosophy at the university since 2000, is also the co-founder of The Human Nature Project, which explores evolutionary biology and human nature. He is the author of seven books, including Less Than Human, a centerpiece text in several college classes, including the Anisfield-Wolf course at Case Western Reserve University.
Watch his entire talk below on the “race delusion” and share your thoughts: