The Race Card

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

THE RACE CARD… [A] sharp, nuanced, yet stylish analysis . . . A superbly enlightening reflection on how America should confront its authentic legacy of racism . . .The Race Card brilliantly forces thinking on practices such as profiling to new levels of candor and complexity.

— Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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.