Innovating Inequity: If Race Is a Technology, Postracialism Is the Genius Bar

Benjamin, Ruha
Ethnic and Racial Studies

In this essay I posit race as a kind of technology, one that creates parallel universes and premature death, requiring routine maintenance and upgrade. I suggest that David Theo Goldberg’s Are We Postracial Yet? is a story of innovation that expertly exposes the trade secrets of the social production of race. I argue that not only are technological and social innovation metaphorically linked; technoscience is also one of the most effective conduits for reproducing racial inequality, and so I extend Goldberg’s analysis to address the central role of science and technology in modern statecraft and racecraft. Finally, if postracial innovators are busily refurbishing racism to remake inequality, then those who seek radical transformation in the other direction, towards freedom and justice, must re-examine the default settings, rather than the routine breakdowns, of social life.