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

A book released January 22, 2008 by Richard Thompson Ford

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Casual or calculated use of "the race card" can be a dangerous business.

  • Nov 5, 2009
  • by
People who 'play the race card' opportunistically and with intentional deceit are the enemies of truth and social justice."   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.

In the late 1980's and early 1990's the concept of "black separatism" began to be advanced by a new generation of black activists.  Likewise, the gospel of "multiculturalism" was spreading like wildfire at universities and institutions across the nation.  It was a stunning turn of events!   This obvious dichotomy in the goals and objectives of Black America was by far the most interesting subject matter presented in "The Race Card" .   All of a sudden minority students were demanding special curriculums and some were even calling for separate housing on campus.  Advocates of "multiculturalism" were calling for radical changes to the curriculums of schools from kindergarden thru college.  Multiculturists sought to de-emphasize the Judeo-Christian and Western European traditions thar had been prevalant in this nations schools for nearly two centuries.  Not surprisingly, many of these views were rejected out of hand by a vast majority of the American people.  As a result of these developments Richard Thompson Ford believes that the cause of racial integration suffered a serious setback during this period.  Ford offers an objective analysis of these divergent points of view and offers some thoughts on how some of these thorny issues might be resolved.  And as the full title of this book would suggest he denounces those who routinely and cavalierly play "The Race Card".   While many of us are all too familiar with the usual suspects who constantly turn up in the media it is important to understand that the race card is also played by ordinary people every day of the week.  Ford argues vehemently that these individuals have succeeded in dealing a serious blow to the cause of racial harmony and social justice in our nation.   I had hoped that the election of our first black President would signal the beginning of a new era of race relations in our country.  Sadly, this does not appear  to be the case.  It seems to me we are more divided than ever. 

When all is said and done I found "The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse" to be a book that is well worth your time and attention.   Although a bit long winded at times, I found Ford's fresh perspective and frank analysis of these nagging issues to be both insightful and refreshing.    Recommended.
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Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

What do hurricane Katrina victims, millionaire rappers buying vintage champagne, and Ivy League professors waiting for taxis have in common? All have claimed to be victims of racism. But these days almost no one openly defends bigoted motives, so either a lot of people are lying about their true beliefs, or a lot of people are jumping to unwarranted conclusions--or just playing the race card. Daring, entertaining, and incisive, The Race Card brings sophisticated legal analysis, eye-popping anecdotes, and plain old common sense to this heated topic.

"A vigorous and long-overdue shake-up of the nation's stale discourse on race . . . sharp, tightly argued, and delightfully contentious."--Orlando Patterson, The New York Times

"Crackles with insight and pierces the pieties of left and right . . . This history [of discrimination] only heightens the urgency of today's problems. . . . [A] passionate effort to redefine civil rights, brings a jolt of clarity."--The Washington Post
"Ford is bracing. . . . He takes dead aim at racial opportunists, opponents of affirmative action, multiculturalists, and the myriad rights organizations trying to hitch a ride on the successes of the black civil rights movement. . . . Best of all, he argues his humane, centrist position without apology or hesitation."--William Grimes, The Seattle Times

"Pragmatic . . . few would object to Ford's emphasis on the need for long-term solutions to ...

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ISBN-10: 0374245754
ISBN-13: 978-0374245757
Author: Richard Thompson Ford
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date Published: January 22, 2008
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