Race – The Power of an Illusion

2003     3 x 56 min     Color & B/W: Beta Sp     English

A California Newsreel production in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Executive Producer:
Larry Adelman

Episode Producers:
Christine Herbes-Sommers
Tracy Heather Strain
Llewellyn Smith

Series Co-Producer:
Jean Cheng

Field Producer:
Natatcha Estébanez

CCH Pounder

he division of the world’s peoples into distinct groups – “red,” “black,” “white” or “yellow” peoples – has become so deeply imbedded in our psyches, so widely accepted, many would promptly dismiss as crazy any suggestion of its falsity. Yet, that’s exactly what this provoca- tive, new three-hour series claims. Race – The Power of an Illusion questions the very idea of race as biology, suggesting that a belief in race is no more sound than believing that the sun revolves around the earth.

Yet race still matters. Just because race doesn’t exist in biology doesn’t mean it isn’t very real, helping shape life chances and opportunities.

EPISODE 1 – The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science – including genetics – that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bun- dled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.

EPISODE 2 – The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagina- tion. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, social inequalities as “natural.”

EPISODE 3 – The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions “make” race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.

RACE – The Power of an Illusion charts a fascinating and important path, challenging some of our most deeply held beliefs on this thing called race.