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Book Review: Against Race
« on: January 26, 2008, 02:02:23 AM »
Against Race

Against Race, is a puissant literary piece that points out the prevailing social assumptions of the south during the pre-American Civil war and or forthwith after the ending of the Civil War, during the Jim Crow Law Epoch. A superlative source in understanding race relations and the social dynamics of the United States in regards to ethnic disposition; or the understanding or close to understanding of the psyche and legitimization of the said psyche.

The first chapter of Paul Gilroy’s book “Against Race” talks about how African Americans, African Canadians, African British and other decedents of Africans are actually part of the “Black Atlantic”, which he covers in later chapters. The first chapter primarily focuses on introducing to the reader of the presence of racial identities and how racial identities are perceived by society. The introductory parts of the first chapter discusses African slavery and the strives African descendents made in trying to gain respect as humans and not as descendents of human cartel. Gilroy’s first argument was the crisis of raciology. Gilroy notes that the construction of race depended on gene oriented definition of race. He talks about how this ideological thought was pervasive not only in the 18th century but in the 19th to the early 20th centuries. He makes reference of the development of Darwinist theories that erupted as a result of the white man’s quest to define himself as the superior to the inferior enslaved black. Gilroy makes a specific reference to Frantz Fanon, who was a Martiniquean psychiatrist and anticolonial activist whose work frames these concerns, observed this dismal cycle on the lives of both black and white men as he states, “the Negro enslaved by his inferiority, the white man enslaved by his superiority alike behave in accordance with a neurotic orientation.”   

 Gilroy’s second argument in the first chapter was Genes and bodies in consumer science. His second argument talked about the Lacks tissue cell that was used to cultivate other tissues and studied worldwide. The lack of use of ‘blackness’ and thought on raciology was observed in that scientists didn’t care where the tissue cell itself came from. The second argument also notes the famous black artists and movie stars that play an important role on the showing of black artistic nature and natural body beauty in the media. Gilroy goes into credible detail on how the established psyche of the human mind associates ‘blackness’ with brutality, idleness, pessimism and uneducated yet that psyche is changing with the continual exposure of black artists such as Mike Tyson, Spike Lee, and Tyra Banks as glamorous superhuman-like individuals.

Gilroy’s third argument was the thought of beyond the new racism. Gilroy’s third argument stated that the new racial thought wasn’t as bold as raciology itself but was conscious on ethnic and cultural difference. This new racism that Gilroy speaks about endorses the annexation of the ideal of natural difference by the claims of mutually exclusive, national cultures that now stood opposed to on another. In the political geometry of nation-states culture was offset not by nature but by other cultures. In this concept, Gilroy makes specific reference to the use of sociobiology and statements made by Dr. Barker, a sociobiologist.
Gilroy’s fourth argument involved ecology, ethics, and racial observance. Gilroy notes the works by German geographers Friedrich Ratzel and Karl Haushofer and the early twentieth century Swedish geopolitician Rudolf Kjellen; Gilory uses these to support how the Nazis used racial science and how this racial science has been utilized not only by the United States but by Middle Eastern, Asian and European states on ethnic minorities of individual nation states.

Gilroy completes the first chapter with his own long ended report on the observance of race and how not only the leaders of nation states introduced this observance of race but also by the media. The first chapter of Against Race is an exceptional read that allows the reader to analyze and pick the reasons for the presence of racism and the art of raciology and its continual contribution to the psyche of society, either it be European, Asian, Latin, African or Middle Eastern.


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