cover image White Racism: The Basics

White Racism: The Basics

Joe R. Feagin, Author, Joseph R. Feagin, Author, Hernan Vera, With Routledge $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-415-90919-8

Calling white racism ``the most consequential [problem] for the nation's future,'' two University of Florida sociologists offer several recent case studies: cross burnings in Dubuque, Iowa; discrimination against black patrons at the Denny's restaurant chain; the readiness of the Boston police and the media to believe Charles Stuart when he accused a black man of committing the murder he himself committed-a case consistently mentioned in discussions Sue Smith, who said a black man kidnapped her two children before she confessed to killing them. Much of this has already been picked over by the media but the authors suggest that these events could have turned out differently save for certain individual and societal perceptions and reactions. For example, the authors uncover knee-jerk reactions in media treatment of 1988 presidential campaign scarecrow Willie Horton and rapper Sister Souljah. The book's opening description of the Los Angeles riots as an ``urban rebellion'' telegraphs a strong PC bias, in which the authors avoid nuanced discussion of race (try Stephen Carter or Cornel West), dismiss white (not to mention black) fears of black crime and offer such dubious proposals as reparations for slavery and a new constitutional convention that would entrench identity politics. Still, the authors are correct to say that blacks have more contact with whites than vice versa, and that whites must develop cross-racial empathy; those who have ``some personal experience with exploitation, discrimination, or oppression'' are, they say, more likely to empathize. (Jan.)