TRAGIC INVESTMENT by R. James  Addington


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A history of racism in America that also suggests strategies for overcoming it.

In this debut sociology book, Addington combines research and experience as an educator and organizer to present a cohesive guide to racism in the United States, including methods for coming to terms with prejudice and discrimination. The book opens with a review of the history and theory of the American construction of race, with its primary distinction between white and nonwhite people. Addington then explores the idea of whiteness as a default and as a construction, and clearly lays out the case that racial hierarchy has been and continues to be destructive (“The dividends of race accrue to those of us who are white and consequently experience advantageous access”). After covering these problems, the author moves on to solutions, presenting theoretical and concrete strategies for undoing and remediating the harm caused by racism. This text, by a white author, appears to address itself to a primarily white audience, and it does an excellent job of clearly explaining abstract concepts. Readers with no background in critical race theory will find Addington’s work easy to follow: “We are socialized to be individuals; we don’t experience our collectivity. Individualism is more than an abstract idea; for us, it is an existential reality.” Endnotes and an extensive bibliography will provide resources for those who want more detail, and the main narrative will be approachable for casual readers. The author’s tone is challenging without being accusatory; he doesn’t minimize the amount of work that’s necessary to oppose iracism, but he also doesn’t blame readers for being part of the existing racist structure, and he presents remediation and equality as realistic, achievable goals. The conclusion offers an upbeat call to action, listing specific steps that readers can take as antiracists.

A thoughtful, well-wrought book on race that effectively synthesizes theory and lived experience.

Pub Date: May 31st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5320-7081-5
Page count: 286pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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