In racial identification, certain known characteristics about a person, usually visible, morphological ones, are picked out and taken to signify the presence of other characteristics which are unknown or not visible and which mark a person as similar to or different from a particular set of people. Race, used in this way, often produces negative, discriminatory behavior where group identities are placed in relation to each other in the form of a hierarchy. This paper aims to synthesize Linda Alcoff’s descriptive accounts of race as an extant ontological category and of social identity as a location within a complex network of identifications with Anthony Appiah’s criticism of racialism and Sally Haslanger’s ameliorative definition of racialized identities to show that race, as it stands, is a reductively misrepresentative way of ascribing identity. By dismantling race as a concept in use we will better understand the actual complexity of social identity, and we will cultivate more justice in social relations.

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