What I'm going to do is give a complete contextual reading of my interest in anti-racism from it origins and where it stands today. This will, if read carefully, help anyone understand why CD and I are principally different.
First of all, informing my opinion about race was established by the scholarship of K. Anthony Appiah of Harvard, a member of one of the families involved in the post-colonial governments of West Africa. Appiah's book "In My Father's House" sought to examine the causes for the failures of Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism from the point of view of their own internal failings. I read this book when it was new, which would be somewhere around 1992. The basic goodies of the book, and one of the reasons I was attracted to it was to find out what went wrong with Marcus Garvey and all of the black consciousness movements in America, and also why organizations like Malcolm's post-hajj OAU(?) failed to unite African and African-American political forces.
Appiah starts with a definition of race which I probably should quote more directly, but I don't have the book handy. I'm sure I got the gist of it, and what I do have are my own definitions.
I also came upon a matter of racism that struck me as intolerable during that same period. So it became a project of mine to define and sustain a singly principled anti-racist praxis that was specifically not relativistically defined depending upon what race you happened to 'be'. The incident had something to do with a campaign trick that essentially paid black ministers to keep their parishioners out of an election. It seemed to me at the time that blatant racism had gone underground and was being used in dastardly and secretive ways - ways that a sophisticated analysis could observe and combat.
Thirdly, it should also be noted that I felt that cyberspace was a medium through which conflicting ideas about race could be discussed due to the impersonal yet detailed aspect of the forums it could create. I didn't want shouting matches or encounter groups. The 'net provided.
So I took on the persona of 'Boohab' and became a 'persistent black object', as an anti-racist agitator in every major cyberspace forum of the day. This took place between '93 and '96-97. That was my project. Before that, I was only interested in talking to blackfolks on the web.
So here are Appiah's race-neutral definitions of racism that I used as the basis of my online writing in support of a multicultural anti-racist praxis for American citizens.
I have said before in this and other fora that the best definitions I have come across are stated by Kwame Anthony Appiah in his recent book "In My Father's House" . I think his ideas are significant because of the depth and scope of his knowledge and experience and the fact that he is an internationally recognized scholar. I believe him capable of making his points clearly at any level of discourse. Unfortunately he's not on this particular distribution. So I will paraphrase.
The belief that there are differences between human beings which are inherited such that they can be ordered into separate races in such a way that each race shares traits and tendencies which are not shared by members of any other race. Each race has an 'essence'.
All forms of racism build from the premise of racialism. Notice that racialism is not saying anything 'good' or 'bad' about races just that mutually exclusive races absolutely exist and divide the species. The racialist would argue that you could trace the bloodlines of Jews throughout history and that you can definitely determine the 'jewness' of any human being according to his racial 'essence'.
A racialist does not necessarily believe that the races, as we understand them in America are complete. He may say that there are, in actuality, 37 races. We just don't know what they are yet. The racialist's point however is that race, whatever it turns out to be, is deterministic of human behavior and that we need to know.
The extrinsic racist says that there is a moral component to the 'essence' of a race which warrants differential treatment. These differences are, to the extrinsic racist, not particularly controversial. The extrinsic racist, while maintaining the belief for example that Jews are greedy, might not feel anything wrong with befriending a Jew. The extrinsic racist might very well applaud the Jew who proves himself not greedy and call him a credit to his race.
The intrinsic racist says that the moral 'essence' of a race establishes an incontrovertible status for the race. no matter what an individual member of a race does he should be treated just like the rest of his race. the intrinsic racist would argue that the Jew is so greedy that he would hide his greed in order to gain other's confidence or that this generous person is simply not a Jew.
I use these definitions for a purpose. My interest is in generating and maintaining anti-racist praxis in individuals for the primary purposes of ridding racism from American politics. Thus it is important that these categories work for political ideologies as well as the thoughts of individuals. An individual bigot may be converted for better or worse any day of the week, but a policy enacted by like-minded individuals at any moment in time survives the individual.
Thus whether or not one individually holds racist ideas, the existence of racist policies is that citizen's responsibility.
So this gives me a basis for recognizing the fundamental error of racialist reasoning and a context for assigning moral weight to offenses that proceed from such bases.
It should also be said, that I was once a fan of Tim Wise and supported the premises of the project of Whiteness Studies. I no longer do, and that is because I find the premises to be flawed as well as the implementation of that project. But we can get into all that in the comments.