cover image Racism, Not Race: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Racism, Not Race: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Joseph L. Graves and Alan H. Goodman. Columbia Univ, $27.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-231-20066-0

Biologist Graves (The Race Myth) and biological anthropologist Goodman (Race: Are We So Different?) marshal data from genetics, medicine, and the social sciences in this insightful takedown of race as a matter of biology. In question-and-answer format, they detail the effects of race and racism on the health and socioeconomic status of marginalized people as seen in infant mortality rates, deaths from chronic diseases, and income inequality. Their questions cover historical matters (“Did the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians have a concept of race?” Short answer: no), hard science (“What explains human genetic differences?” In sum, mutation and migration), and practical concepts (“Are genetic ancestry and race the same thing?” Not according to Graves and Goodman). The authors show how racism has led to Black and brown people being subject to inaccurate stereotypes, and has also saddled them with health concerns, such as heart disease, being wrongly attributed to biological causes. The authors are most effective when they stick to their area of scientific expertise, and less so when they venture onto the well-worn territory covered by other anti-racist authors on general institutional reforms. Even so, this brings a new angle and an accessible approach to the ongoing reckoning with race in America. (Dec.)