Philosophy and Interracial Dialogue
[para. 1]: "That race has been an important factor in the life chances of people in North America is plain. In the past the dominant racial groups in Canada and the United States systematically controlled the important social institutions to the disadvantage of racial minorities. This is evident from the direct or indirect roles that colonization, slavery, racial segregation, selective protection of the law, selective employment, selective educational opportunities, selective political opportunities, and the like played in the history of North America. Such marginalizing practices were widely supported, sometimes even by unions, women’s groups, or supreme courts that helped the otherwise disadvantaged.1As well, the dominant racial groups controlled the historical, cultural, and national narratives to the disadvantage of racial minorities. From the perspective of the dominant race, racial privilege and marginalization were either accepted as brute facts or rationalized by ideologies that construed racial minorities as diminished forms of humanity on grounds of their biology or culture. Such social norms provided a racialized context in which dominant narratives ascribed possibilities, capabilities, and degrees of moral worth on the basis of race. As a matter of historical fact, despite living under constitutions derived from universal, egalitarian principles taken to be self-evident truths, the life chances of members of racial minorities were diminished by interlocking barriers of discrimination systematically formed by the dominant racial group. At the same time, members of the dominant racial group were privileged to varying degrees because they did not face the discriminatory barriers faced by members of racial minorities and because group advantages accumulate over generations and automatically advantage their new members. On account of their different experiences, the privileged racial groups and the marginalized racial groups in Canada and the United States developed conflicting perspectives on the workings and fairness of the nations in which they now struggle to live under shared citizenship."