On Race: 34 Conversations in a Time of Crisis

George Yancy (Author)


With the recent barrage of racially motivated killings, violent encounters between blacks and whites, and hate crimes in the wake of the 2016 election that foreground historic problems posed by systemic racism, including disenfranchisement and mass incarceration, it would be easy to despair that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream has turned into a nightmare. Many Americans struggle for equal treatment, facing hate speech, brutality, and a national spirit of hopelessness; their reality is hardly "post-racial". The need for clarity surrounding the significance of race and racism in the United States is more pressing than ever. This collection of interviews on race, some originally conducted for The New York Times philosophy blog, The Stone, provides rich context and insight into the nature, challenges, and deepest questions surrounding this fraught and thorny topic.

In interviews with such major thinkers as bell hooks, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Peter Singer, and Noam Chomsky, Yancy probes the historical origins, social constructions, and lived reality of race along political and economic lines. He interrogates fully race's insidious expressions, its transcendence of Black/white binaries, and its link to neo-liberalism, its epistemological and ethical implications, and, ultimately, its future.

Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
October 02, 2017
6.2 X 1.4 X 9.3 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author

George Yancy is Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He is the author, editor and co-editor of over 18 books. He has authored numerous scholarly articles and chapters. He is known for his influential essays and interviews in the New York Times' philosophy column, The Stone.


"Yancy's book is a great example of how scholarly dialogue can contribute to high-quality public debates, especially about essentially contested concepts and topics such as race and racism... On Race is a valuable book in times of widespread polarisation between voices against racism on one side and loud, aggressive, often irrational and overtly racist responses on the other. In many ways, the book resembles a quiet space in which people interested in listening and learning about race can do so away from the social media frenzy." -- Leonardo Custódio, LSE US Centre

"George Yancy has established himself as one of our most engaging philosophers and dynamic interlocutors. So what happens when he sits down with 34 of the most important intellectuals of our era and speaks about the unspeakable--Race? The result is a brilliant cacophony of ideas, critique, exegesis, reflection, memory, pain, anguish, and revelation. Race and racism live despite all of the postracial eulogies, and it continues to remain central to philosophy that matters-philosophy that remains grounded in real life in order to change it." --Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams

"How should a liberal society respond to the Ku Klux Klan? What if Batman were a black man? How can a white professor teach about race effectively? Why is there a lack of trust between black communities and local police? Does racism have the same roots as what leads factory farm workers to use live chickens as footballs? Have Muslims of Arab descent replaced black people as the pariah of American society? George Yancy has put together 34 penetrating, illuminating, and in some cases heart-rending interviews with today's leading thinkers about race in a timely book about racism in America that answers these questions and more." --Ruth Chang, Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University

"Yancy is a brilliant scholar and public intellectual and he has outdone himself with the publication of On Race. The conversations in On Race are fierce, disturbing, brave, illuminating, and breath taking in the scope and range of issues covered. The urgency and brilliance of the dialogue is matched by the lyrical and passionate nature of the conversations that unfold. On Race may be one of the best books we have on what it means to ask critical questions and engage in the type of bristling, informed dialogues that confront the Orwellian nightmare that is now America. Yancy's conversations confront head on the new white terror, emotional brutality, and nativism that has descended upon the U.S. If you are concerned about the merging of the ethical imagination and the struggle for racial justice this is the book for you." --Henry A. Giroux, Chaired Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University

"George Yancy has assembled a wonderful and timely collection of interviews with contemporary thinkers and philosophers. Given the "urgency of our now" these interviews offer much needed food for thought-a critical vocabulary for considering the constitutive role of racism in the U.S. and the modern world. It is a welcome and necessary contribution to thinking beyond our current impasse." --Saidiya Hartman, Columbia University

"Philosophy professor Yancy presents an interview collection that makes the reader feel as though she is eavesdropping on a group of intellectuals conversing at an exclusive dinner party...Accessible and engaging, On Race is a good read covering a broad spectrum of contemporary issues." --Booklist

"The remarkable breadth of this collection renders it an excellent introduction for any interested and "educated" reader who is relatively new to the scholarly discussion of racism in the US. Furthermore, Yancy's tone as an interviewer is inviting and collaborative rather than confrontational. Rather than critically engaging his interviewees, even those with whom he might disagree, he has invited each of them--and by extension the reader--not to wallow in white guilt or Black self-pity, but to draw upon their expertise and experience in the service of Yancy's ambitious project of thinking through possible solutions to American racism. Yancy is particularly interested in how these thirty-four thinkers, with such varied backgrounds and identities, all came to appreciate the importance of studying American racism in some manner." -- Hypatia