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RACISM, NOT RACE by Joseph L. Graves Jr. Kirkus Star


Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

by Joseph L. Graves Jr. & Alan H. Goodman

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-231-20066-0
Publisher: Columbia Univ.

A relatable conversation about race that stands out from many other books on the always-relevant topic.

By now, most readers are familiar with racial stereotypes such as "black don't crack" or "white men can't jump.” However, few have bothered to examine their origins or consider them critically. Here, Graves Jr., a professor of biology, and Goodman, a professor of biological anthropology, tackle a wide variety of racial issues using science and statistics, with just enough emotion to keep readers engaged. Throughout, the authors debunk numerous accepted myths, such as biology being related to race. Instead, the authors focus on the role that genetic variation plays in determining specific characteristics, from eye color to one’s predisposition to specific diseases. Defining raceas "a social classification based on assumptions about ancestry and appearance,” Graves and Goodman find archaic religion and erroneous science as early culprits that paved the way for racist stereotypes and systems to exist, many of which continue to operate today. Using questions and answers and the life and social sciences to back their conclusions, the authors are unafraid to dig into a host of thorny issues (“Are ‘Jews’ a race? What about people of Italian and Irish descent?”), providing well-documented evidence to bolster their arguments. Their approach is a pleasing mix of broad and granular—e.g., “Why is it that you can almost always tell a Nigerian from a Norwegian, yet a Nigerian and a Norwegian do not genetically differ that much?” The authors also interrogate the murky concept of intelligence and how medical and judicial assumptions nurture environments in which racism assists in the degradation of communities of color. Similarly, they break down White supremacy, calling it "our time's big lie." Each chapter concludes with a summary about the subjects at hand, and the authors also include a call to action to tackle personal and communal racism head-on.

An entertaining and informative read that will serve as a jumping-off point for countless discussions about racism.