How racism shapes urban spaces and how African Americans create vibrant communities that offer models for more equitable social arrangements
How Racism Takes Place
Search the full text of this book
White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore allow grossly unequal access to education, employment, transportation, and shelter.
Revealing how seemingly race-neutral urban sites contain hidden racial assumptions and imperatives, Lipsitz examines the ways in which urban space and social experience are racialized and emphasizes that aggrieved communities do not passively acquiesce to racism. He recognizes the people and communities that have reimagined segregated spaces in expressive culture as places for congregation.
How Racism Takes Place not only exposes the degree to which this white spatial imagining structures our society but also celebrates the black artists and activists who struggle to create a just and decent society.
"How Racism Takes Place is a brilliant, timely, and much needed book about racial segregation—how it is produced and reproduced, how white privilege and the subjugation of people of color have a clear spatial dimension, and how the racialization of space and the spatialization of race shape, and are manifestations of, the political and cultural economy of the United States. Beyond unveiling the mechanics of structural racism, Lipsitz also draws out what he calls a ‘Black spatial imaginary,’ the site of expressive culture where aggrieved and displaced peoples have waged a struggle to resist and survive policies of racial segregation and conceived a different future."
"How Racism Takes Place is a very powerful, but sobering book that makes important connections with historical trends and new injustices as racism morphs into new forms when conservative courts and neo-liberal practices make the struggles of people of color and White allies difficult. Lipsitz pulls readers in with rich descriptions of communities—the energy of the sights, sounds, smells, music, and the rhythm of real people in a place. Then he moves to the macro level to explore the nature of disadvantage, providing a context for the struggles and resistance. In the end, Lipsitz pulls the many threads together, leaving us with a call to action."
"Veteran scholar Lipsitz provides another deeply probing look at US racism...Lipsitz provides original analyses of urban development in St. Louis (a football stadium) and a television series (The Wire) on Baltimore to show how such activities obscure links between institutionalized racism and urban space--including urban poverty and predatory lending--in front of unreflective observers.... Summing Up: Highly Recommended."
"This book strengthens Lipsitz’s position as one of the major contributors to theoretical and historical works on race.... In powerful and compelling writing, Lipsitz examines the problems...and provides insights into the broad context and multiple factors that shape the ways race continues to work in society."
"This big-hearted and incisive book reveals how policies and practices related to the demarcation, commodification, and valuation of urban space reinforce hierarchies of race and class.... This work both painstakingly documents the ways in which the white spatial imaginary excludes people, and particularly women, of color, even as it seduces them with promises of upward mobility and consumer citizenship.... [T]he book mounts a powerful challenge to the recent justifications of racialized inequalities through revanchist scientific racism or the various 'culture of poverty' concepts."
"[P]rovocative essays.... The writing is lively and accessible, and the book’s three opening chapters in particular provide an invaluable introduction to a wide range of literature on race, space, and the metropolitan form."
"Lipsitz has synthesized a substantial literature into a coherent, convincing, and richly formulated picture.... Lipsitz completes his picture of the white spatial imaginary with two compelling case studies.... highly readable."
"Lipsitz reminds scholars how fundamental white privilege to our society and how white privilege works…. Lipsitz superbly weaves connections from the past into contemporary issues…. The book offers its readers an astonishing look at unknown events that occurred during the era of Jim Crow, and Lipsitz provides evidence on how it applies to the contemporary issues that we still grapple with in this country: poverty, discrimination, white privilege, racism and violence."
"Lipsitz’s excellent new book How Racism Takes Place asserts the significance of place in perpetuating racial inequality.... Lipsitz is always a pleasure to read. He is a beautiful and elegant writer as well as an incisive social critic. While his book enables us to see racism in a new way, it also moves us beyond the despair of the Great Recession and its attendant neoliberal economic policies by highlighting collective resistance and the many possibilities for social change. The community activists, artists, writers, and musicians he describes have all produced compelling challenges to the status quo."
Introduction: Race, Place, and Power
SECTION I: Social Imaginaries and Social Relations
SECTION II: Spectatorship and Citizenship
A Bridge for This Book Weapons of the Weak and Weapons of the Strong
SECTION III: Visible Archives
SECTION IV: Invisible Archives
SECTION V: Race and Place Today
George Lipsitz is Professor of Black Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His previous books include The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics and A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition (both Temple). Lipsitz serves as President of the Advisory Board of the African American Policy Forum and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance.