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Publisher's Summary

Tackling the myth of a post-racial society

Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed. 

That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions.

©2012, 2014 Barbara J. Fields and Karen E. Fields. (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“It’s not just a challenge to racists, it’s a challenge to people like me, it’s a challenge to African-Americans who have accepted the fact of race and define themselves by the concept of race.”
--Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Fundamentally challenged some of my oldest and laziest ideas about race.”
--Zadie Smith

“Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields have undertaken a great untangling of how the chimerical concepts of race are pervasively and continuously reinvented and reemployed in this country.”
--Maria Bustillos, Los Angeles Review of Books

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A loose collection of essays

Compelling ideas here, but I am still awaiting a more coherent articulation of the concept of Racecraft because the very diverse essays here are not tied together very well and a couple are very niche academic discussions that did not illuminate the central thesis. In addition there are several passages repeated at length in two different essays. It strikes me that this lack of cohesion and comprehensiveness is why Racecraft is left out of conversations in which it could be very useful.

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  • H. P.
  • 04-25-21

Needs major editing

Not so much a book, more a collection of loosely related essays with wholesale repetition across them, this work nevertheless articulates a valuable and mainly well-argued central thesis: the fiction of race realism is perpetuated with the effect of maintaining inequality.

Other reviewers do a great job, so all I will add is that if the history of IQ testing bothers you, but you use the term BIPOC with your head held high, you should probably read this book.

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  • Byron D. Jamieson
  • 02-21-21

Extremely illuminating

Very enjoyable and eye opening, will need another read to understand more fully, slightly tricky