Shaded tints, a view of US racism
The Design of Race: How Visual Culture Shapes AmericaBy Peter Claver Fine. Bloomsbury Visual Arts, £65 hb, £19.99 pb
The Design of Race arrives at an inflection point in American society. Awareness of racial, socio-economic and class disparities has been at the forefront of national politics, culture, academia and media. The Black Lives Matter movement arose in reaction to numerous cases of white police officers killing unarmed Black men. BLM has been paralleled by ‘critical race theory’, an emergent lens for examining whiteness and power. Universities and corporations are rapidly embracing diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives as the United States grapples with a legacy of slavery, racially discriminatory Jim Crow laws, the partially fulfilled gains of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and the growth of today’s white supremacist groups.
The book presents a landscape of visual works that make a strong case for learning about the racist history that American Blacks have endured through graphic imagery. The Design of Race is written with passion and erudition about a topic Fine has embraced since his graduate studies at Arizona State University, and he demonstrates this commitment by using a few illustrations from his MFA thesis project …
Cover of The Design of Race: How Visual Culture Shapes America. Top. Screenprint by Rupert García, 1969. Courtesy of the Artist and Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
Steven McCarthy, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota
Read the full version in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021
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