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Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society Hardcover – September 18, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0520237063 ISBN-10: 0520237064

Price: $22.64
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 349 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (September 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520237064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520237063
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This powerful book disposes of the claim, so often heard, that America has solved its race problem and can now be 'color-blind.' Based on hard facts, it shows how we must work - for the sake of all of us - to give Black Americans the reality of equal opportunity." - Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet"

From the Inside Flap

"In Whitewashing Race, an impressive and diverse group of scholars launch an empirically grounded assault on the vast body of colorblind orthodoxy. The authors harness a medley of disciplinary perspectives into a cogent argument about racial stratification accompanied by a set of practical racial justice policy options. Their aim is both simple and ambitious: to reinvigorate a moribund debate by marshalling their collective intellectual resources to demonstrate that the conservative consensus on race is neither morally sustainable nor logically defensible."—Lani Guinier, coauthor of The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy

"This powerful book disposes of the claim, so often heard, that America has solved its race problem and can now be 'color-blind.' Based on hard facts, it shows how we must work--for the sake of all of us--to give Black Americans the reality of equal opportunity."—Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet

"An essential book. Americans have always worked hard at burying our racial truths, thereby leaving half-truths, myths and raw bigotry to continue their brutal work on our most vulnerable citizens. The authors cauterize these terrible wounds with prodigious research and brilliant insights. Their work is a great service to justice and to our country."—Roger Wilkins, author of Jefferson's Pillow: The Founding Fathers and the Dilemma of Black Patriotism

"For many years conservative scholars and think tanks have been trying to convince the American public that racism is dead and that race-specific policies, such as affirmative action, cannot be justified and are in fact detrimental. To a great extent they have succeeded in making ostensible 'color-blindness' the dominant test of law and policy affecting racial minorities. Now at last we have the definitive response to this argument. It comes from seven distinguished scholars from a range of disciplines who believe that race must be taken into account if we are ever to get beyond racism. With massive evidence, much of it quantitative, they blast conservative color-blindness to smithereens, showing that it really functions as a formula to perpetuate racial inequality. No one concerned with racial justice in America can afford to ignore this book."—George M. Fredrickson, author of Racism: A Short History

"Whitewashing Race is the most important social science statement on race in more than a decade. It lays bare the expressly conservative, ideological, and deeply flawed analyses of those pundits pressing for 'color-blind' social policy. With lucid prose and truly definitive scholarship, Brown, Wellman, and colleagues thoroughly debunk the reigning conservative consensus. Anyone who cares about racial justice and the fate of the American Dream should read this vitally important book."—Lawrence D. Bobo, editor of Prismatic Metropolis: Inequality in Los Angeles

"Far from writing a collection of essays, the authors of Whitewashing Race have collaborated to produce a brilliant, seamless book on America's deepest divide. Framed as a response to conservative analysts who claim that racial problems are essentially solved, the book provides an authoritative overview of how the nation's two principal races still remain sharply apart by every social measure."—Andrew Hacker, author of Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal

"In today's political climate, even the most well-meaning liberal tends to believe that institutional racism is a thing of the past and that we've truly achieved a color-blind society. Whitewashing Race makes a powerful case that racism is still with us. Relying on solid evidence rather than polemics, the authors have amassed an overwhelming body of data to show the persistence of racism in the job and housing market, education, the criminal justice system, and the political arena. If we ever have a real 'national conversation' on race, Whitewashing Race ought to be mandatory reading."—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 53 people found the following review helpful By pnotley@hotmail.com on January 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Should one send political scientists to do a historian's job? That is the question one has to ask about this book compiled by a consortium of political scientists, in response to the "racial realism" of today's right-centrist consensus. This consensus, argued by such authors as Jim Sleeper, Tamara Jacoby, John McWhorter, The New Republic and the renowned historians of American immigration Stephen and Abigail Thernstrom, argue that racism is not really a problem in American life. To the extent that African-Americans are disadvantaged it is because of their own failings or, somewhat more tactfully, the failings of the black politicians and the guilty liberals they (overwhelmingly) support.
This book argues that this fundamentally optimistic view is wrong. They are right to say so and their book is very detailed and comprehensive (the Thernstroms in particular are repeatedly criticized). Still the book is not perfect. The book makes an error in numbering its footnotes in chapter five. It also incorrectly says that until recently there were no African-Americans elected from North Carolina since Reconstruction (one in fact was elected in 1898). The style is not very engaging, it consists mostly of summaries of papers in economics, political science, sociology and the other social sciences. The result is a certain dryness and abstract quality that could use more historical analysis (the treatment of unions is somewhat superficial). The discussion of racism is not the most thoughtful available (and little is said about Latinos). Nevertheless one should not ignore its points. "Racial realists" argue that racism is not a problem because only a handful of people would support racist attitudes in opinion polls. There are several problems with this argument.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By christopher on October 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For anyone interested in how the politics of race are presented in today's world (affirmative action, prison sentencing, etc.), this book is a definite must-read. The authors analyze the conservative's overly-simplistic view of race as being based simply on whether a person exhibits overt prejudice while ignoring the larger implications of accumulated wealth and advantages enjoyed by whites from years of legal discrimination.
The authors poke holes in much of the misinformation coming from the conservative side of the aisle, and reveal just how sinister and permeating racial bias still is in America. Grab this book, a good cup of coffee, a high-lighter, and become updated on the dynamics of race in 2003 America.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "rbphd2009" on November 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It presents information in such a way that you are at the very least, forced to consider what they've presented. As a self-identified "African-American" who considers himself a conservative, I think this book does a great job of presenting the foundation of how the problem of race still exists and presents pragmatic ideas - however controversial - that are far better, in my view, than maintaining the status quo.
If those who on principle oppose these ideas (specifically, the conservatives this book spends a lot of time lambasting) would come out with substantive data to disprove what this book says, the race debate would become a lot clearer and would bring us closer to realizing a better America for all.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John C. Ehlert on February 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this book hoping to find some ideas about the status of race in post civil rights America. Although I found the book helpful and infomative, I do remain highly concerned that the issues the book addresses seem static. The authors do offer a lot of statistics and concise ideas to help understand the problems concerning race in America.
The attack on the racial realists and conservitive views on race really caught my attention. I find the arguements in this book far more convincing. I struggled to articulate how the conditions of American culture create a negative experience for blacks, but this book articulates the message clearly. I find myself reading and hearing arguments about race with a new understanding.
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