Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.
That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions.
This month sees the UK cinema release of Steve McQueen’s brilliant and brutal new film, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen has been vocal in condemning cinema’s wariness in confronting the subjects of slavery and race, and his film has galvanized a new interest in the unspeakably ugly period in American history.
Based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 documentary, 12 Years a Slave takes an unflinching look at the story of a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.
Verso has long held a commitment to telling similar stories, and we now present a selection of books as the essential starting point for those looking to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions in America and the world.
The ninth installment of Intelatin producer Sergio Muñoz's discussion series with Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life co-author Karen Fields is now available online. Featuring guest Dr. Asia Leeds, professor of African Diaspora Studies at Spelman College, and led by K-Beach radio host Miz, this installation take the Fields' work out of the continental US and applies it to the entire Western hemisphere.
Over the course of the last several months, Karen E. Fields's work has acted as the cornerstone for the series’s discussions on “race-crafting,” or the construction of racial myths in American society.
In this installment, Dr. Leeds takes the methodology of Racecraft to Costa Rica, and speaks to the racial dimensions of the word “American” once people leave the continental US.
Visit the podcast archive at the Intelatin Cloudcast to download or listen to the shows in full.