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Adapted from Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race through the Eyes of the Blind, by Osagie K. Obasogie. Published by Stanford University Press © 2013 Osagie K. Obasogie. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.

Do blind people understand race? Given the vast and sprawling writings on race over the past several decades, it is surprising that scholars have not explored this question in any real depth. Race has played a profound and central role to human relationships. Yet how is it possible that this basic question has escaped deeper contemplation?

This gap in the scholarly literature and public discourse points to a fundamental assumption that we almost all make about race, its significance, and its salience. Race has been central to human relationships. Yet, there seems to be at least one thing that most people can agree upon: that race is, to a large extent, simply what is seen. There are surely many variables that inform individuals’ racial consciousness, such as religion, language, food, and culture. But race is primarily thought to be self-evidently known, in terms...