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After Race: Racism After Multiculturalismby Antonia Darder
Synopses & Reviews
With a foreword by Richard E. Vander Ross
In recent years, dramatic increases in racial intermarriage have given birth to a generation who refuse to be shoehorned into neat, pre-existing racial categories. Energized by a refusal to allow mixed-race people to be rendered invisible, this movement lobbies aggressively to have the category multiracial added to official racial classifications.
While applauding the self-awareness and activism at the root of this movement, Jon Michael Spencer questions its ultimate usefulness, deeply concerned that it will unintentionally weaken minority power. Focusing specifically on mixed-race blacks, Spencer argues that the mixed-race movement in the United States would benefit from consideration of how multiracial categories have evolved in South Africa. Americans, he shows us, are deeply uninformed about the tragic consequences of the former white South African government's classification of mixed-race people as Coloured. Spencer maintains that a multiracial category in the U.S. could be equally tragic, not only for blacks but formultiracials themselves.
Further, splintering people of color into such classifications of race and mixed race aggravates race relations among society's oppressed. A group that can attain some privilege through a multiracial identity is unlikely to identify with the lesser status group, blacks. It may be that the undoing of racial classification will come not by initiating a new classification, but by our increased recognition that there are millions of people who simply defy easy classification.
After Race pushes us beyond the old "race vs. class" debates to delve deeper into the structural conditions that spawn racism. Darder and Torres place the study of racism forthrightly within the context of contemporary capitalism. While agreeing with those who have argued that the concept of "race" does not have biological validity, they go further to insist that the concept also holds little political, symbolic, or descriptive value when employed in social science and policy research.
Darder and Torres argue for the need to jettison the concept of "race," while calling adamantly for the critical study of racism. They maintain that an understanding of structural class inequality is fundamentally germane to comprehending the growing significance of racism in capitalist America.
About the Author
Antonia Darder is professor of educational policy studies and Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her books include Culture and Power in the Classroom, Latinos and Education, and The Latino Studies Reader.
Rodolfo D. Torres is associate professor of Chicano-Latino studies, political science, and planning, policy, and design at the University of California, Irvine. Among his books are Latino Metropolis and Savage State: Welfare Capitalism and Inequality.
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