Autumn 2021

Shaded tints, a view of US racism

The Design of Race: How Visual Culture Shapes America

By Peter Claver Fine. Bloomsbury Visual Arts, £65 hb, £19.99 pb
Shaded tints, a view of US racism

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.

The Design of Race

Steven McCarthy, professor emeritus, University of Minnesota

Read the full version in Eye no. 102 vol. 26, 2021

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.