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The Racialization of America.

A most since the inception of social science as a field of study and a tool for analyzing human relations, there have been those who argued that the concept of race is unscientific and useless. Professor Yehudi O. Webster, an instructor in the Department of Pan-African Studies at California State University, pushes this thesis up a notch in his book The Racialization of America.

To contend, as he does, that it is not race that has been the problem in American history, but a "specific kind of racial classification," seems at first a form of sophistry and a matter of semantics. But Professor Webster is steadfast in his resolve to challenge what he sees as the racial theory dominating social studies and public policy during the last two centuries.

The book is divided into four sections: The Racial Theory: Development, Structure, Variants; The Racialization of Experiences; The Racialization of Culture and Achievements; and Racialization Through Race-Class Analysis. The most intriguing, The Racialization of Experiences, focuses on Asian-, Hispanic- and Native Americans.

It is by no means easy to follow the author's logic or to penetrate his lapses into social science jargon. But it appears he would have us clean the racial classification slate and start all over again. This is hardly likely. We also cannot expect the problems that have arisen from this classification to disappear. Racism by any other name would be just as invidious and constricting.

At the end, Webster is hopeful. He contends that discarding racial and class combinations will be throwing off centuries of "identical moral claims about fate and the state of the races," which are repeated endlessly.

That's his opinion, which, instead of clarifying and reducing the incoherence of this issue, complicates it further.

--Herb Boyd The Racialization of America by Yehudi O. Webster, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1992,310pp, $22.95
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Author:Boyd, Herb
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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