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As a Mexican-American in a historically white field, I have observed discussions and even scholarly presentations relating to race that represent convoluted concepts such as racism, and even whiteness, as stagnant definitions ostensibly as a result of public knowledge. Race appears without qualifiers in the titles of conference presentations, journal articles, and books, implying that as a concept race is inherently unambiguous. Despite the scholarship that focuses on race and the racial blind spots in that research, a major problem in our approach to race—particularly grounded in cultural contexts—is the enduring assumption that we all interpret race in the same way at all times. In terms of my own positionality, I did not always prioritize a definition of race. Potentially similar to others, I expected academics and even students to either share or be familiar with my interpretation of race. To me, race is a social construct, but it is also a metaphor that has real effects and a fluid base. As I.A. Richards contends, all language is metaphorical (92-99). While my DNA may be similar to other Mexican-Americans, our experiences and spaces of theorizing vary. Because of these differences, our definitions evolve and may clash at times. However, I am content with this realization because I can only then hope that we complicate every definition to ensure that our conversations about race never become static. As I will discuss in this essay, we are not always cognizant of competing definitions of race as we attempt to differentiate between and discern overt and subtle racialization. To convey the significance of explicit and implicit definitions concerning race, I turn to the severity of racial enthymemes.


Originally published as: Rodriguez, Danny. “Countering Racial Enthymemes: What We Can Learn About Race from Donald J. Trump.” Constellations, Issue 3, 2020.