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The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse First Edition Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0374245757
ISBN-10: 0374245754
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Today's race relations, law professor Ford demonstrates, are more complex and contradictory than those of the unambiguously white supremacist past. In this journey through a political minefield, he examines dubious charges of racism and other kinds of bias, while acknowledging that exaggerated claims can piggyback on real examples of victimization. But the author's tenor is often more eye-catching than eye-opening. He revisits Tawana Brawley, Clarence Thomas, O.J. Simpson and Hurricane Katrina, along with Oprah's Hermès problem, Jay-Z's with champagne and Danny Glover's with New York City cabdrivers. Yet at its core, this book raises probing questions about the extent to which the extraordinary social and legal condemnation of racism and other social prejudices encourages people to recast what are basically run-of-the-mill social conflicts as cases of bigotry. By analogy, he addresses issues concerning animal liberation, gay marriage, appearance discrimination, sex harassment law and multiculturalism. In delineating the differences between formal discrimination, discriminatory intent and discriminatory effects, Ford also reviews thorny legal cases involving, for example, McDonnell Douglas and Price Waterhouse. Readers all along the political spectrum will find much to please, annoy and provoke thought about the thin line between invidious discrimination and plan old unfairness. (Feb.)
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From The New Yorker

Ford, a professor of law at Stanford, argues that ubiquitous accusations of discrimination in the United States frequently distract from serious racial injustices, which, in the ambivalent aftermath of the civil-rights era, "stem from isolation, poverty, and lack of socialization as much as from intentional discrimination or racism." Drawing on examples from popular culture and the law, Ford guides the reader through the worst of these abuses, and articulates a bold strategy for dealing with systematic injustice in a world of "racism without racists." Ford’s pragmatic approach will irk those for whom ideological concerns are uppermost, but few would object to his emphasis on the need for long-term solutions to persistent segregation and poverty or to his call for discussion of "the more ambiguous cases of bias in the cool tone of technical expertise rather than in the heated cadence of moral judgment.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374245754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374245757
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Pierre on February 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although I don't agree with everything the author writes, he leaves one with a lot to think about. The book covers various forms of using race such as "racism without racists" (Hurricane Katrina's aftermath) or "racism by analogy" (overweight people or smokers compare themselves to black slaves or Holocaust survivors). He demonstrates how using the race card
often obscures real, more important issues.
When it comes to legal issues, he is savvy enough to present three different cases of alleged discrimination sequentially but the presentations were dense and hard to understand for a non-legal reader. Also, I was not clear on what the final decisions were although I think he is more interested in the thinking that goes on in the judicial mind.
The author is very complete and when it comes to issues such as affirmative action, he examines them from many points of view, pro, con and in between, showing that public policy regarding racial issues can help in one area but hurt in others.
I had to laugh because the day after I finished the book, Ralph Nader announced his candidacy and was quoted as comparing his situation of being left out of the presidential race as similar to blacks--he played the race card!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Heald on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If racial injustice exists, shouldn't the "Race Card" be played to level the playing field? For example, are we a better society because O.J. Simpson's lawyers so expertly played the "Race Card?"
Mr. Ford answers emphatically "no" to both questions. He directs the reader with example and reasoning (sometimes too much so - hence my rating of 4 stars) to examine racial injustice that may exist without racism, and decries the use of racism by analogy by some groups to advance their non-race agenda.
Mr. Ford speaks to the majority of people who comprise the political center of this country who are apalled by racism and galled by the use of the race card. Don't give in to liberal or conservative bigots! Though the middle way is hard, Mr. Ford notes, it will result in racial justice that will eventually create what each of us want - a better society for all.
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Format: Hardcover
This quote from page 339 of "The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse" seems to neatly sum up the major point that author Richard Thompson Ford is trying to convey in his important new book. While Thompson freely acknowledges that significant gains have been made by Blacks and other minorities since the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 "Brown vs. Board of Education" decision he worries that those who perpetually invoke terms like "racism", "sexism" or "homophobia" each time someone dares to disagree with them do their causes a serious disservice. "The Race Card" examines the history of race relations in America in a fair and objective manner. Certainly the findings and recomendations offered in this book will challenge the long held beliefs of both liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats.

During the 1950's and 1960's the goals of the civil rights movement seemed to be quite clear. Leaders were demanding an end to racial discrimination in areas such as employment and housing and firmly believed that racial integration was the ultimate solution to the racial divide in this nation. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the historic "I Have A Dream" speech on August 28, 1963 he expressed the firm hope that "my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". It was a goal that people of good will of all races and religions seemed to agree on. And it is quite apparent that tangible progress was made over the ensuing 20 years. Unfortunately, the march toward an integrated society would prove to be a somewhat short-lived phenomenon.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sam White on July 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ford largely rehashes the analysis from his first book, Racial Culture: A Critique. Racial Critique is better and more inspired. I would encourage people to read that one first. Part of the problem here is that his attack on multiculturalism and critical race theory is arranged too much like a straw-man argument. At least in Racial Culture, Ford examines issues in ways that suggests that there is a meaningful legal debate about race in America today.

Another book that covers similar territory with more passion and insight is John Jackson's Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Davis on July 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a very thoughtful, fair book. Ford, a black law professor, clearly thinks racism is still alive, but skewers demagogues like Al Sharpton for "playing the race card." I especially liked the part where he blasted the animal rights and fat movement for comparing themselves to the civil rights movement, "fat is the new black." This book can be read by someone on either end of the political spectrum (or in the political middle for that matter). As the author pointed out, this a rare book that enjoyed a good review in both the leftist Nation magazine and the conservative National Review. I highly recommend the Race Card to anyone concerned about racial relations in America today.
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