ASK Musings

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Daily Archive: 30/09/2015



September 2015



Reproducing Racism by Daria Roithmayr

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

I wish I had bought this book, because I think I could do a better job of reviewing it. I’d have loads of sections highlighted, and could go back to my favorite parts. Alas, I checked this out of the library and have to return it tomorrow, so here is my best go at explaining this.

The author’s central thesis is that white people in the US continue to have advantages today not because of over racism (although that may – and obviously does – still play a part), but because of what happened long in the past. Dr. Roithmayr argues that society is stuck in a feedback loop that was perpetuated under slavery and Jim Crow, and continues today because it’s a lot easier to keep going than make the serious changes needed to fix it.

She uses many interesting examples to illustrate her point – examples such as red lining and the Chicago Real Estate Boards, to the admission process at Harvard. She discusses the fact that many informal networks help whites get ahead, and those networks have been building on themselves for generations.

I can’t do the work justice, but I urge you to pick it up if you are interested in race issues, or if you think you might have to (try to) have a discussion over the holidays with a relative who thinks that having a Black president means we live in a colorblind society. It’s pretty easy to read. My only complaints are that each chapter at times feels like a separate mini-book, so Dr. Roithmayr will often repeat in too great of detail items covered in previous chapters (as though she forgot we’d already read about it), and that the conclusion really isn’t a conclusion at all; it’s just another chapter.

Regardless, go read this. It’s really good.