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I'm Not a Racist, But...: The Moral Quandary…
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I'm Not a Racist, But...: The Moral Quandary of Race

by Lawrence Blum

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A clear, engaging, and sophisticated analysis of America's most confounding problem. Blum outlines a progressive and compelling structure of how race works in America, how race talk is stifled, and how we overuse the term "racism." The most important thing his book adds to the discussion is not just that "racism" is an overloaded term. It's the call for a "more complex vocabulary" to deal with race. That is, in the status quo, one is either "racist" (evil) or not racist (good). This makes the definition of "racist" a scorched-earth battle, because the winner takes all. Blum argues convincingly that we should consider acts of racial insensitivity or subconscious racial prejudices to be really bad things, and work proactively to eliminate them, but should not necessarily tag them with the label of "racist". The simultanously concedes and turns the conservative objection that progressive race scholars are always "playing the race card" because it shifts the frame of debate--we need to discuss race issues, so we'll change the rhetoric we use, but we're not going to excuse bad conduct on your part just because it doesn't rise to the moral evil of slavery or Jim Crow. ( )
  schraubd | Mar 10, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 080148815X, Paperback)

Not all racial incidents are racist incidents, Lawrence Blum says. "We need a more varied and nuanced moral vocabulary for talking about the arena of race. We should not be faced with a choice of 'racism' or nothing." Use of the word "racism" is pervasive: An article about the NAACP's criticism of television networks for casting too few "minority" actors in lead roles asks, "Is television a racist institution?" A white girl in Virginia says it is racist for her African-American teacher to wear African attire.Blum argues that a growing tendency to castigate as "racism" everything that goes wrong in the racial domain reduces the term's power to evoke moral outrage. In "I'm Not a Racist, But . . .", Blum develops a historically grounded account of "racism" as the deeply morally charged notion it has become. He addresses the question whether people of color can be racist, defines types of racism, and identifies debased and inappropriate usages of the term. Though racial insensitivity, racial anxiety, racial ignorance and racial injustice are, in his view, not "racism," they are racial ills that should elicit moral concern. Blum argues that "race" itself, even when not serving distinct racial malfeasance, is a morally destructive idea, implying moral distance and unequal worth. History and genetic science reveal both the avoidability and the falsity of the idea of race. Blum argues that we can give up the idea of race, but must recognize that racial groups' historical and social experience has been shaped by having been treated as if they were races.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -0400)

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