Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America, by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Lanham, MD, Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., ISBN: 978-1-4422-2055-3, 2014, 362 pages, $19.95.
Racism Without Racists is a provocative look at the “new” kinder, gentler and smiling racism. Bonilla-Silva uses research, current events, and professional ideological position to support the presence of this new racism. While acknowledging the death of “Jim Crow” and overt racism, he uses the lens of critical race theory to challenge the myth of post-racial America. The new racism uses the concept of color blindness, avoidance of racial discussion and terminology, increased self-segregation of Whites, and invisibility of racial inequality to substantiate the “new Jim Crow” of today.
Using statistical data to support his premise, Bonilla-Silva substantiates the increase in racial disparity in income, wealth, and poverty since the beginning of the Obama presidency. He confronts the concept of post-racial America. He introduces the concept that America will become more stratified and develop a tri-racial structure similar to that of Latin America. The bulk of his treatise paints a dire picture for the future of race relations in America. In the final chapter, Bonilla-Silva outlines six steps that can be used to make a difference in race relations in the U.S.
The book is readable, and the content is accessible, theoretically sound, and research-driven. It provides content that is essential for social workers committed to social justice and advocacy.
Dr. Bonilla-Silva is an original thinker and presents a theoretical framework for understanding the “new” color blind racism and the potential changes for the future. As a professor with extensive experience teaching courses on diversity and racism, I would definitely recommend this book as a text to be used by professors in a course on racism or diversity. This book will challenge students to reflect on their internal processes and become anti-racist professionals. Naturally, because Dr. Bonilla-Silva is a provocateur, students will find many of his theoretical approaches uncomfortable, but it is important to challenge the existing paradigm of students and encourage personal and professional growth and development.
If I have any criticism of this book, it would be that Dr. Bonilla-Silva has a more pessimistic view of race relations in America than I. However, when one considers the long history of systemic racism and its virulence and persistence in every aspect of the lives of people of color, especially African Americans, then perhaps Dr. Bonilla-Silva is the realist and I am not.
Reviewed by Edith C. Fraser, Ph.D., adjunct professor at Oakwood University and retired professor at Alabama A & M, Oakwood University, and Smith School for Social Work.