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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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." Fords 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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