A Deck of Cards: Defining Racism in America
Race and race relations have been aspects of American society since the colonial era. With the exception of a handful of countries, no other nation has dealt with the struggles of a multiracial society and has had to overcome the problems created in its nation’s past. As a result, race in America is a complex issue with many facets and race relations have become increasingly difficult to define.
Richard Thompson Ford, in examining the current race situation in America in his book The Race Card, defines the period as “post-racism.” Focusing on Ford’s ideas, as presented in his book, as well as an investigation into the Jena Six story, which is a contemporary example of racism, a more defined picture of current race relations in America can be uncovered.
Ford’s The Race Card provides a critique on the current race situation in America. In his book, while Ford presents the idea that America is “post-racism,” he asserts that post-racism is not defined in the traditional way one might assume. To Ford, post-racism is a “...late stage of racism in which its contradictions and excesses both cancel out and amplify its original function” (2008:25). To Ford, the era of post-racism allows people to have internal feelings of racism, as long as their overt actions and behaviors are not racist. Racial stereotypes may still exist, but no longer are those stereotypes defined by “White Only” establishments.
With the elimination of the stereotypical racism, racism may now be harder to eliminate because overt racists will remain unidentified. Prior to the Civil Rights Movement, segregation laws and blatant bigotry provided easy markers to define racism and identify racists. Today there are laws preventing outward expressions of racism, making the process of defining the current state of race relations far more difficult.
According to Charles Hirschman, racism is the belief that people can be divided into categories...