America’s obsession with race - as reflected in the media, including the NYT - is a consequence, I suggest, of suppression of its importance. The same phenomenon in regard to sex has a much longer history.
Fearful of the consequences of not doing so, social/state authority seeks to suppress awareness and discussion to them both, which results in our unhealthy obsession with them.
The situation is very confused, because the suppression is far from complete or uniform, varying from individual to individual. And what we suppress we don’t like talking about. If we could freely talk about them, they wouldn’t be suppressed.
The suppression of sex has been greatly relaxed in recent decades and, not withstanding some negative effects (promiscuity, VD, teenage pregnancies, etc.), most would agree that, on the whole, this is a good thing. Sex is an extremely important matter, and it is better to acknowledge this, so that we can deal with it at a personal level consciously (and conscientiously), rather than suppressing it and submitting (or not) to the commands of external authority.
Suppression of the importance of race, on the other hand, is still very much mainstream, especially amongst those who consider themselves “progressives”, with many even denying the existence of race altogether, dismissing it as a “social construct” only of importance to “bigots” and “racists”, much as women admitting to having sexual desires would once have been demonised as “wanton whores” or the like.
Why are the same “progressives” who are for sexual liberation, so fervently opposed to “racial liberation”, i.e. ending our denial and suppression of its importance?
Obviously, fear of the consequences (e.g. racial supremacism) is one major reason. But another, more powerful reason, I suggest, is the sense of moral superiority and authority which goes with it, and is not just a personal matter, but also has huge social, professional and political implications.
Denial and suppression of the importance of race (not in the way that racial supremacists believe it is, but because central to any deep and meaningful sense of both personal and group identity) has been fashioned, mainly by academics, into an instrument of socio-political intimidation, rewards, punishments, manipulation and control, with "racism" i.e. the natural human inclination towards racial prejudice, playing the same role that "original sin" once did, thereby serving the age-old strategy of “divide and rule”, dividing society into a morally superior, now supposedly "colour-blind", elite and the morally inferior, naturally (human nature being what it is) less colour-blind, masses, who must submit to the authority of and domination by their "moral superiors".