Book Review: 'The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse'
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, p. 12, June 2, 2008
Posted: 17 Aug 2009 Last revised: 20 Sep 2009
Date Written: August 12, 2009
This essay reviews Richard Thompson Ford's 'The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse,' Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2008, 388 pages, $26. The review originally appeared as 'The Fine Print: Law Prof Adds his Voice to Ongoing Conversation on Race,' Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (June 2, 2008) at 12.
Stanford Law School Professor Richard Thompson Ford's 'The Race Card' seeks nothing less than to demarcate the line between legitimate charges of racism and those that are ill-defined or false. An impossibly ambitious task , to be sure, but Ford's wide-ranging, often maddening effort makes timely and important contributions to continuing debates on race in the United States. Of course, no serious accusation - whether if be racism, intolerance, murder, rape, child abuse, sexual harassment, theft or corruption - should be made without corroboration, context, and serious investigation. Unlike Ford, I believe that we spend too much time worrying that false claims will undermine good race relations. Dismissing the broader realities of racism because of a few bad claims would signal that 'good' race relations are not built on a solid foundation. If racial minorities and non-minorities from diverse perspectives are engaging in respectful and robust dialogue on a regular basis, then false charges would not so easily undermine just claims. It is silence, indifference, and unexamined fear that will lead to the worst possible outcome - not which card is dealt.
Keywords: race, African-American, race card, discrimination
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