A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
What do hurricane Katrina victims, millionaire rappers buying vintage champagne, and Ivy League professors waiting for taxis have in common? All have claimed to be victims of racism. But these days almost no one openly defends bigoted motives, so either a lot of people are lying about their true beliefs, or a lot of people are jumping to unwarranted conclusions--or just playing the race card. Daring, entertaining, and incisive, The Race Card brings sophisticated legal analysis, eye-popping anecdotes, and plain old common sense to this heated topic.
Today's race relations," law professor Ford demonstrates, "are more complex and contradictory than those of the unambiguously white supremacist past." In this journey through a political minefield, he examines dubious charges of racism and other kinds of bias, while acknowledging that exaggerated claims can piggyback on real examples of victimization. But the author's tenor is often more eye-catching than eye-opening. He revisits Tawana Brawley, Clarence Thomas, O.J. Simpson and Hurricane Katrina, along with Oprah's Herm s problem, Jay-Z's with champagne and Danny Glover's with New York City cabdrivers. Yet at its core, this book raises probing questions about the extent to which "the extraordinary social and legal condemnation of racism and other social prejudices encourages people to recast what are basically run-of-the-mill social conflicts as cases of bigotry." By analogy, he addresses issues concerning animal liberation, gay marriage, "appearance discrimination," "sex harassment law" and multiculturalism. In delineating the differences between formal discrimination, discriminatory intent and discriminatory effects, Ford also reviews thorny legal cases involving, for example, McDonnell Douglas and Price Waterhouse. Readers all along the political spectrum will find much to please, annoy and provoke thought about the thin "line between invidious discrimination and plan old unfairness."