Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach [Gabriel Review]

Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach [Gabriel Review]

Tanya Maria Golash-Boza, Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach (New York, London: Oxford University Press, 2014)

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Published online before print 2016-04-22
DOI: 10.1177/2332649216645801

Ricardo Gabriel
The Graduate Center
City University of New York

Explaining to students that race is a social construction is one of the biggest challenges faced by all who teach courses on race and ethnicity, humble adjuncts and seasoned professors alike. Furthermore, the constructed and fabricated aspects of race must be balanced with how race and racism have shaped, and continue to shape, our society in concrete ways. Is race “real”? Does systemic racism still exist, or didn’t the civil rights movement take care of all of that? How can there still be racism if we elected a Black president? What about personal responsibility? Even if racism does exist, what can we do about it? These are just some of the questions that typically arise when discussing race and racism in the classroom. How do we explain the continued prevalence of racial inequality in the twenty-first century, in a society that some claim is now “post-“racial? And how do we discuss these issues with students in a way that both stretches their sociological imaginations and encourages a racial justice praxis?

Golash-Boza’s brief edition of Race & Racisms: A Critical Approach takes up this important challenge. Written for the undergraduate*level instructor, its main objective is to “engage students in significant questions related to racial dynamics in the United States and around the world.” From beginning to end. Golash-Boza provides a balanced mix of empirical data, rich theory, and personal narratives as well as useful pedagogical features such as the “Thinking about Racial Justice” sections that facilitate critical thinking.

Chapter 1 provides a concise summary of the scholarship on the origin of the idea that humans can be separated into different racial categories. The greatest strength of this opening chapter is the way it sets the tone for the rest of the book by emphasizing that racial taxonomy and racial ideologies were invented as a justification for colonialism, genocide. and slavery…

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