Naming oppression does not cause oppression. The lack of theoretical clarity over the concept of race is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in eliminating racial inequality.

Most social scientists would agree there is no biological basis for categorizing people into distinct racial groups - however, does this mean that race as a social construction does not exist?

The American Sociological Association maintains that the social construction of race, both at the macro level of laws, policies, cultural representations in the mass media, schools and residential housing patterns, and the micro level of lived experience continue to matter. The association takes the position that calls to end collection or discussions of racial inequality are ill-informed and may contribute to maintaining the status quo.

UNM is a national leader in research, teaching and service in the areas of diversity and social inequalities. One step that would enhance our national reputation would be the inclusion of courses on the social construction of oppression vis-Ö-vis race, class, gender, sexuality, disability and other areas of difference, as part of the core curriculum in all of our degree-granting programs.

Some UNM programs, such as those at the College of Education, already do so, but many others do not. As the College of Arts and Sciences and other colleges at UNM reassess our mission and core curriculum, we have a golden opportunity to make a commitment to include courses on the social construction of inequalities as a learning outcome.

The future leaders of our city, state, nation and global economy deserve no less.

Nancy Lopez

UNM faculty