People didn’t argue with the main claims because those were footnoted to articles in biology journals, which they didn’t feel equipped to disagree with. But I think what they felt was, in saying that there were no races, you were denying what the social constructionists were asserting, which was that, of course, in everyday life, in a country like ours, people have experiences as if there were races. People are treated as if races existed, and if you take that away, it sounds as though you are denying that you yourself are a Black person. Now, of course, I was saying that, as a claim about biology, there aren’t any White people either.
But that means what?
What I was denying was the thought that these social cleavages mapped onto interesting biological ones. I was denying that once you’d classified people in those ways you could then say powerful and interesting things about their other properties, how smart they would be, or how honest, or whatever. And that’s part of a package of ideas that was put together in the nineteenth century. I was not denying that people thought there were races—that’s obviously true—nor was I denying there was racism. Racism doesn’t require races, it just requires people to believe in races.