The quote that stood out to me the most when reading Gates' essay was, "Race has become a trope of ultimate, irreducible difference between cultures, linguistic groups, or adherents of specific belief systems which--more often than not--also have fundamentally opposed economic differences" (5). Gates insists that even though the same biological criteria used to determine 'differences' in sex do not stand when applied to race, we carelessly use this language anyway, in such a way that is has gained permanence in our culture. Repeated racial slurs and stereotypes are grounded in the roots of our culture and as a result, this language "exacerbates the complex problem of cultural or ethnic difference, rather than to assuage or redress it" (5). What I also found interesting was the way in which race coincided with knowledge or power.
In the eighteenth century, the white European considered all blacks as destined to be slaves because they had no knowledge of reading or writing. If it wasn't for the publication of poems written by Phillis Wheatley entitled "Attestation," few would believe that an African could possibly have written poetry all by herself. In an attempt to limit African's rise in power, North Carolina issued a statute in 1740 outlawing black slaves from acquiring literacy. My question is, how can we condemn blacks for being subordinate because of their inability to read and write when one of the main reasons they are were unable to do so was because of laws and limitations we put into place?