Racism is a process by which people are segregated and discriminated against based on their race, and race is defined as a set of physical characteristics which certain groups share. Or is it? In Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (Verso Books, 2012), Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields argue that racism does not come from race. In fact, racism is the very act of creating race, by transforming it from something an aggressor does, into something the target is. So-called physical characteristics are red herrings in the discourse, conveniently there to justify certain kinds of racism, but certainly not necessary for them (anti-Semitism being an example). In this highly original book, the Fields’ draw a fascinating parallel between our everyday concept of race and the outdated notion of witchcraft, two beliefs firmly held by the societies which birthed them, reproduced and recreated in daily life by what was, in their time, “evidence,” and both which are, quite plainly, false. This is a fascinating book about the power that racecraft and other delusions have on all of us, and more importantly, how to defeat them. In this interview, we talk with Karen E. Fields about this important new book.
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