Washington University Journal of Law & Policy
Whitewashing Race is a collaborative project motivated by a concern over the persistence of racial inequality in this country and a desire to respond to a conservative “consensus” that represents the problem of race as “solved” and advocates the adoption of colorblind social policies. Thus the authors set out to contest conceptions of race and racism that help sustain what they describe as “durable racial inequality.” The core elements of those challenged conceptions are: first, the belief that race discrimination is largely a thing of the past; second, the attribution of remaining racial inequalities to the choices and behaviors of people of color themselves; and finally, the advocacy of colorblind social policies. The authors of Whitewashing Race set themselves the important task of discrediting each of these “popular understandings,” by exposing internal contradictions where they exist, by analyzing inaccurate and/or incomplete empirical data often marshaled in support of this way of thinking about race, and by challenging the normative assumptions upon which they rely. This review will summarize the data, arguments, and analyses set forth in Whitewashing Race, and offer a brief evaluation of the project. My hope is that this format will lure readers of the review into engaging with the work itself.
Barbara J. Flagg,
Of Hearts and Minds,
Wash. U. J. L. & Pol’y