Not So Black and White: A History of Race from White Supremacy to Identity Politics
A powerful new history of the idea of race, forcing us to rethink today’s culture wars.
Is white privilege real? How racist is the working class? Why has left-wing antisemitism grown? Who benefits most when anti-racists speak in racial terms?
The ‘culture wars’ have generated ferocious argument, but little clarity. This book takes the long view, explaining the real origins of ‘race’ in Western thought, and tracing its path from those beginnings in the Enlightenment all the way to our own fractious world. In doing so, leading thinker Kenan Malik upends many assumptions underpinning today’s heated debates around race, culture, whiteness and privilege.
Malik interweaves this history of ideas with a parallel narrative: the story of the modern West’s long, failed struggle to escape ideas of race, leaving us with a world riven by identity politics. Through these accounts, he challenges received wisdom, revealing the forgotten history of a racialised working class, and questioning fashionable concepts like cultural appropriation.
Not So Black and White is both a lucid history rewriting the story of race, and an elegant polemic making an anti-racist case against the politics of identity.
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