Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society

Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society

Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society

Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society


"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 inmaking 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 dis


At the turn of the last century, the African American leader and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois declared that the “problem of the twentieth century” was “the problem of the color line. ” Today, as a new century begins, race is still a pervasive and troubling fault line running through American life. We are not divided because we fail to “get along” as Rodney King lamented after the Los Angeles riots a decade ago. Nor is it because diehard advocates of affirmative action insist on stirring up racial discord. What divides Americans is profound disagreement over the legacy of the civil rights movement. At the core of our national debate are very different opinions about the meaning of race in contemporary America and the prospects for racial equality in the future.

The crude racial prejudice of the Jim Crow era has been discredited and replaced by a new understanding of race and racial inequality. This new understanding began with a backlash against the Great Society and took hold after the Reagan-Bush revolution in the 1980s. The current set of beliefs about race rests on three tenets held by many white Americans. First, they believe the civil rights revolution was successful, and they wholeheartedly accept the principles enshrined in civil rights laws. They assume civil rights laws ended racial inequality by striking down legal segregation and outlawing discrimination against workers and voters. They think racism has been eradicated even though racist hotheads can still be found throughout America. While potentially dangerous, racial extremists are considered a tiny minority who occupy political space only on the fringes of mainstream white America.

Second, if vestiges of racial inequality persist, they believe that is because blacks have failed to take advantage of opportunities created by the civil rights revolution. In their view, if blacks are less successful than whites, it is not because America is still a racist society. In fact, a sub-

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