RACISM by Robert Froman


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Since he clearly recognizes that skin color has been an important status indicator in many cultures, it's hard to understand Froman's initial assertion that ""the ideas of race involved in racism are about three centuries old."" But his primary concern is with racism's American traditions, and here he does a better than average job of muckraking -- showing how the Siberians (Amerindians) learned the practice of scalping from Anglo-Saxons, how the borrowing of the word ""negro"" from the Spanish and Portuguese helped to ease Englishmen's consciences over the corresponding adoption of the institution of slavery, and how even Lincoln espoused the prevailing attitudes of white superiority. McWhorter's history of the Nez Perce and C. Vann Woodward's studies of the post-reconstruction South are used to dispel commonly repeated myths about the Indian wars and Reconstruction, and Revel's Neither Marx Nor Jesus is cited to provide support for the author's optimistic contention that black activism may force the U.S. into a position of world leadership in combating racism. The psychological aspects are skimmed over with a few references to Erikson's identity concept and Solomon Asch's famous social psychology experiments; Loomis' vitamin D theory explains the origin of the races and the Jensen IQ controversy is briefly reviewed. These biological and anthropological aspects are better left to Goldsby's science-oriented treatment of Race and Races (1971), but while Froman's interdisciplinary mix never coalesces into a coherent analytical framework, his patient exposition is generously sprinkled with revisionist eye-openers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1972
Publisher: Delacorte