Philosophers who work on race and racism have been reluctant to embrace the notion that the United States is, or will soon be, a postracial society. For many, this view is refuted by a wealth of evidence that racism persists in many forms and that race continues to have a significant impact on one's life chances. Nevertheless, some critics of postracialism have refused to reject it in principle or have exempted a particular variety of it from their critiques. This essay attempts to show that the ideal of a postracial society is actually a combination of two contradictory tendencies, each defined by its temporality. Distinguishing these tendencies allows us to see that there are two fundamentally different types of postracialism with contradictory assumptions and conflicting priorities.

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