"I'm Not a Racist, But..."
The Moral Quandary of Race
Published by: Cornell University Press
272 pages, 155.00 x 235.00 x 15.00 mm
- ISBN: 9780801488153
- Published: November 2002
Not all racial incidents are racist incidents, Lawrence Blum says. "We need a more varied and nuanced moral vocabulary for talking about the arena of race. We should not be faced with a choice of 'racism' or nothing." Use of the word "racism" is pervasive: An article about the NAACP's criticism of television networks for casting too few "minority" actors in lead roles asks, "Is television a racist institution?" A white girl in Virginia says it is racist for her African-American teacher to wear African attire.Blum argues that a growing tendency to castigate as "racism" everything that goes wrong in the racial domain reduces the term's power to evoke moral outrage. In "I'm Not a Racist, But...", Blum develops a historically grounded account of racism as the deeply morally-charged notion it has become. He addresses the question whether people of color can be racist, defines types of racism, and identifies debased and inappropriate usages of the term. Though racial insensitivity, racial anxiety, racial ignorance and racial injustice are, in his view, not "racism," they are racial ills that should elicit moral concern.Blum argues that "race" itself, even when not serving distinct racial malfeasance, is a morally destructive idea, implying moral distance and unequal worth. History and genetic science reveal both the avoidability and the falsity of the idea of race. Blum argues that we can give up the idea of race, but must recognize that racial groups' historical and social experience has been shaped by having been treated as if they were races.
1. "Racism": Its Core Meaning
2. Can Blacks Be Racist?
3. Varieties of Racial Ills
4. Racial Discrimination and Color Blindness
5. "Race": What We Mean and What We Think We Mean
6. "Race": A Brief History, with Moral Implications
7. Do Races Exist?
8. Racialized Groups and Social Constructions
9. Should We Try to Give Up Race?Notes
"Discussing various scholarly perspectives on the construction of racial categories, Blum calls for a balance between 'ridding ourselves of the myth of race' and understanding the role of race in social inequality and in history."~Publishers Weekly
"In his informative treatment of the concept of racism, Lawrence Blum is most concerned with the dangers of over-appropriation. He fears that the accusation 'racist' is now used so casually and widely that it is in danger of loosing its power to shame.... His is a book that can help untangle many of the individual issues that racism raises and is a most important contribution to the growing field of applied educational and social philosophy."~Teachers College Record
"Few topics are in such desperate need of clear analysis as the subject of race.... In this concise volume, Blum brings the precision of a moral philosopher to bear on this perennial American dilemma, with generally helpful results.... A fresh and important contribution to applied social philosophy, recommended for general readers, upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty."~Choice
"Blum's thoughts support his main argument: that calm, reasoned deliberation about injustices can give us the moral vocabulary we need to do better as a society."~Boston Review
"This is a useful reference for anyone who wishes to think intelligently about the problem of race."~MultiCultural Review
"This is a very thoughtful work on a sensitive subject, a good and practical work for all readers interested in race relations."~Booklist