The Race Card

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

A sharp, tightly argued and delightfully contentious work . . . Ford is adept at stealing the best-defended intellectual bases of the right on behalf of a pragmatic, antiracist liberalism unflaggingly committed to the increasingly scorned goal of integration—and to relief for the truly disadvantaged, who suffer the persisting injuries of past racism in the absence of those who engendered their plight and, perplexingly, in the presence of growing racial tolerance

— Orlando Patterson, The New York Times Book Review

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.