Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective by Mark Christian [Book Review]

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective by Mark Christian [Book Review]

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 32, Number 2 (November 2001)
pages 261-264
DOI: 10.1177/002193470103200206

Molefi Kete Asante, Professor of African American Studies
Temple University

Multiracial Identity: An International Perspective, by Mark Christian. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Mark Christian has written a perceptive, enlightening account of the international politics of racial identity. Here is the first example of a scholarly approach, using African agency, to the issue of race and identity in the United Kingdom and the United States. Thus, what Christian has given us is not so much a comparative discussion of multiracial identity but a discourse on the meaning of the term multiracial identity given the social and political history of the United Kingdom and the United States. It is easy to understand why this theme has not been attempted before Multiracial Identity. It is a difficult subject to plow through given the many stumps that stick out of the political ground to halt the would-be interpreter. Christian showed an unusual courage in taking on this deeply complicated subject. He has simply burst the bubble of racial quietude in both the United Kingdom and the United States by demonstrating how the concept of multiracial identity is wrapped up in the idea of White supremacy. Racism in Britain, we also discover, is hardly different from racism in the United States and other parts of the world. Although there have been British intellectuals in the past eager to suggest that Britain was categorically more progressive in its race relations than the United States or South Africa, Christian has shown that racism is an international phenomenon. This book is important if for no other reason than the fact that Christian has taught us that the elements of racism that appear pervasive and all too common in America’s national life occur with regularity in Britain and other nations as well. This is a profound point. He has demonstrated a broad and deep appreciation of the difference between Britain and the United States while recognizing that there is a commonality of the engine of racial animosity. Both societies operate on the basis of White racial supremacy. Furthermore, British…

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