The Race Card

One of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2008.

Mr. Ford, a clear and lively writer, probes and prods and provokes as he steers his way through . . . contested terrain. He takes dead aim at racial opportunists, opponents of affirmative action, multiculturalists and the myriad rights organizations trying to hitch a ride on the successes of the black civil rights movement . . . Mr. Ford is bracing. He clears away a lot of clutter, nonsense and bad faith.

— William Grimes, The New York Times

The Raee Card by Richard Thompson Ford
Richard Thompson Ford, The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.


The Race Card examines the prevalence of dubious and questionable accusations of racism and other types of bias. I argue that the social and legal meaning of “racism” is in a state of crisis: The term now has no single clear and agreed-upon meaning. As a result, it is available to describe an increasingly wide range of disparate policies, attitudes, decisions, and social phenomena. This leads to disagreement and confusion. Self-serving individuals, rabble-rousers, and political hacks use accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of “bias” tactically, in order to advance their own ends. And people of goodwill may make sincere claims that strike others as obviously wrongheaded.

Read the introduction to The Race Card online at the New York Times.

Read Orlando Patterson’s review of The Race Card in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Read William Grimes’s review of The Race Card in the New York Times Books of the Times.

Read the review of The Race Card at Kirkus Reviews.