In my Article Racial Capitalism, I expressed concern about the ongoing process of racial exploitation in which white people and predominantly white institutions derive value from the racial identity of people of color. I see this process as troubling and undesirable. Rendering racial identity a commodity harms people of color in many ways: by treating a deeply-felt aspect of identity as merely another thing to be bought and sold; by giving outsiders a stake in the identities of nonwhite people; and by providing yet another obstacle to improved race relations in America.
Since the publication of Racial Capitalism, two events have occurred that relate to the Article’s conclusions. First, the Supreme Court decided Fisher v. University of Texas, which considered the constitutionality of the school’s race-conscious admissions scheme. Second, Professor Richard Ford has responded directly to my Article in the online Forum provided by the Harvard Law Review. My goal in this brief Response, which will also appear in the online Forum, is to consider these two contributions in light of Racial Capitalism.