cover image Color-Blind: Seeing Beyond Race in a Race-Obsessed World

Color-Blind: Seeing Beyond Race in a Race-Obsessed World

Ellis Cose. HarperCollins, $24 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017497-2

In accessible if not always rigorous style, Cose (The Rage of a Privileged Class) takes on some current controversies in a time when ""racial definitions are shifting."" Surveying the debate over a ""mixed-race"" identity, he notes that it can be used to enforce racial hierarchy but also may recognize multiple heritages; he concludes that it is more important to divorce racial classification from discrimination. Responding to The Bell Curve controversy, he finds that communal study groups boost black college achievement and suggests that other educational support would ease inequality. Cose considers affirmative action ""an often justifiable, limited and seriously flawed method."" He sensibly proposes a more nuanced college admission practice that would take race into account but not treat it as an automatic signifier of deprivation; also, he acknowledges that workplace affirmative action makes virtually no one happy. He offers a skeptical look at the ""colorblind"" ideal, noting that in Latin America such practice requires silence about racial stratification. Cose concludes with 10 proposals, some more practical than others, for example: ""end American apartheid""; presume minority success, not failure; search for solutions, not blame; increase interracial cooperation. While the author is clearly familiar with the recent literature on racial controversy, his book seems a bit detached, unleavened by discussions of popular culture or analysis of the place of race in our political dialogues. $75,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)