Historical Formation of Racial Classification in the United States
This chapter presents a historical analysis that traces changes in American norms concerning race over time. In particular, it highlights the cultural shift from perceiving race as a form of assigned classification to perceiving it as a product of personal identification. The chapter first establishes why Americans rely on racial categories and how race is practiced by classifying individuals in a small set of discrete groups. It then identifies events that occurred largely during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that cultivated the new cultural norms that created opportunities to express race as a form of personal identity.
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