Hope Lewis

Document Type



This essay reviews Richard Thompson Ford's 'The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse,' Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2008, 388 pages. Stanford Law School Professor Richard Thompson Ford's 'The Race Card' seeks nothing less than to demarcate the line between legitimate charges of racism and those that are ill-defined or false. An impossibly ambitious task , to be sure, but Ford's wide-ranging, often maddening effort makes timely and important contributions to continuing debates on race in the United States.

Of course, no serious accusation - whether if be racism, intolerance, murder, rape, child abuse, sexual harassment, theft or corruption - should be made without corroboration, context, and serious investigation.

Unlike Ford, I believe that we spend too much time worrying that false claims will undermine good race relations. Dismissing the broader realities of racism because of a few bad claims would signal that 'good' race relations are not built on a solid foundation. If racial minorities and non-minorities from diverse perspectives are engaging in respectful and robust dialogue on a regular basis, then false charges would not so easily undermine just claims.

It is silence, indifference, and unexamined fear that will lead to the worst possible outcome - not which card is dealt.

Date of Authorship for this Version



Race discrimination, Race relations, Racism, African Americans, Richard Thompson Ford, Race and Ethnicity

Original Citation

Originally published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (June 2, 2008), pp.12.