On Race is a collection of thirty-four conversations about race between author George Yancy and educators, writers, thinkers, and philosophers. Many of these were originally published as part of the New York Times philosophy blog The Stone.
The course of these discussions ranges widely from looking at racism, through its relationship and interaction with religion, feminism, capitalism, film, education, music, and of course, with philosophy. With experts from so many different fields, we are offered many lenses through which to consider how racism works.
There is an urgency to this question with a white nationalist president who calls the Klan and Neo-Nazis good people, some of them. Which makes me wish the form of these interviews were a bit less formal and more wide-ranging. Yancy often asks people how they came to study or think about what they study and think about and that is usually long and not that informative unless you want to make a list of books to read. They studied this or that person, read this or that book, and were intrigued this or that lecture or class or reading. Far more interesting would be asking for that aha! moment when they realized racism is woven into the fiber of their lives and governs how they perceive the world.
A broader understanding of racism is urgently needed and I was hoping for more ideas to advance my understanding of how we can undermine and disrupt racism. For me, this book is covering the right ground, but too quickly and without the depth needed. The conversation just starts to get interesting and dang, it’s on to the next one. I would like less of the background and development of their ideas and far more about the ideas they have. It’s a bit like Goldilocks for me, too much of one thing and too little of another.
The people he chose to interview though are a diverse and fascinating group of people and this book had me writing down books I should read and the names of people I need to learn more about…so it functions a good springboard to more exploration of this most urgent issue.
I received an e-galley of On Race for review from Oxford University Press through NetGalley.