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Contact:Dr. Christopher Ciocchetti, Department of Philosophy, 318-869-5246, or
Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

Noted Authority on Racism, Lawrence Blum, to Speak Nov. 21 at Centenary College

Lawrence Blum

SHREVEPORT, LA—Author, professor and racism authority Lawrence Blum will speak Nov. 21 at Centenary College. His presentation, free and open to the public, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Kilpatrick Auditorium of the Smith Building.

Blum is a professor of philosophy and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. His talk will be an extension of his most recent book, I'm Not a Racist, But. . . The Moral Quandary of Race, in which he offers an enriched vocabulary for discussing racial ills.

The Cornell University Press, publisher of the book, quotes Blum as saying, "Not all racial incidents are racist incidents. We need a more varied and nuanced moral vocabulary for talking about the arena of race. We should not be faced with a choice of 'racism' or nothing.”

I’m Not a Racist But… retails for $17.95 and is available at the Centenary College Store. Blum’s previous books include two books in moral philosophy, Moral Perception and Particularity and Friendship, Altruism, and Morality.

Blum’s appearance at Centenary is sponsored by the Department of Philosophy. For further information, contact Dr. Christopher Ciocchetti, assistant professor of philosophy, at 318-869-5246.

Blum's latest book

About I’m Not a Racist But … , Cornell University Press writes:

“Use of the word 'racism' is pervasive: An article about the NAACP's criticism of television networks for casting too few ‘minority’ actors in lead roles asks, ‘Is television a racist institution?’ A white girl in Virginia says it is 'racist' for her African-American teacher to wear African attire.

“Blum argues that a growing tendency to castigate as ‘racism’ everything that goes wrong in the racial domain reduces the term's power to evoke moral outrage. In I'm Not a Racist, But …, Blum develops a historically grounded account of ‘racism’ as the deeply morally charged notion it has become. He addresses the question of whether people of color can be racist, defines types of racism, and identifies debased and inappropriate usages of the term. Though racial insensitivity, racial anxiety, racial ignorance and racial injustice are, in his view, not ‘racism,’ they are racial ills that should elicit moral concern.

“Blum argues that ‘race’ itself, even when not serving distinct racial malfeasance, is a morally destructive idea, implying moral distance and unequal worth. History and genetic science reveal both the avoidability and the falsity of the idea of race. Blum argues that we can give up the idea of race, but must recognize that racial groups' historical and social experience has been shaped by having been treated as if they were races.”

Academic Praise for I’m Not a Racist But …

"This book combines clarity and compassion to an extraordinary degree, while surveying in an accessible way a vast range of thinking about race. It will be enormously useful to teachers, at both high school and college levels; it will advance the debate among those who think about race; but above all, its wide diffusion will benefit all of us as citizens of a racialized society."
—Kwame Anthony Appiah, Carswell Professor of Afro-American Studies and of Philosophy
Harvard University

"In I'm Not A Racist, But..., Lawrence Blum offers answers for our time about what race is, who is a racist, and ways for people to talk about the racialized features of our society without falling into name-calling or defensiveness. With exemplary moral and analytic clarity, Blum offers educators, students, lawyers, judges, leaders, and citizens tools for building a nation of equality, comity, and respect for each person."
Martha Minow
Harvard University Law School

"Following the findings of modern science, Blum holds that (biological) races do not exist, but racialized populations do, as a consequence of the Western world's subordinating and inferiorizing other peoples as well as some of their own populations. He insightfully examines and interprets contemporary attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs about race in the United States and argues that "race" is fundamentally a moral problem. In confronting this problem, Blum challenges us to recognize and distinguish the varied manifestations of this racialized world view, from extreme racism to racial insensitivity and ignorance, which carry different moral valences. An excellent, thought-provoking book, with powerful messages, that should be widely read."
Audrey Smedley
Virginia Commonwealth University

"This much-needed book challenges the idea that justice in a historically racist society can be achieved through a policy of race neutrality alone. Lawrence Blum shows the many ways in which racism involves more than just individual attitudes and discusses the concepts of race and racism in a philosophically insightful way. I'm Not a Racist, But... is a most important contribution to the growing field of applied social philosophy."
—Walter Feinberg
University of Illinois

"With an impressive combination of moral acuteness, precision of reasoning, and wide-ranging empirical knowledge, Lawrence Blum, a fine philosopher, dissects our concepts of race and racism. He argues that 'racism' has all too frequently been a catch-all label for people and conduct of many different types, and that we will gain as a society if we make many more careful distinctions; between actions and traits of character, between the acts of dominant groups and reactive actions of subordinated groups, and above all, between racism, a morally grave failing involving inferiorization or animosity, and other moral failings, such as racial insensitivity, race-related ignorance, and deficient appreciation of individuality. Written in a lively, clear, and accessible style, Blum's book makes a major contribution toward a style of politics that rejects mere epithets and slogans in favor of thoughtful deliberation about shared problems."
—Martha Nussbaum
Ernst Freud Professor of Law and Ethics
The University of Chicago

Media Praise for I’m Not a Racist But …

"Discussing various scholarly perspectives on the construction of racial categories, Blum calls for a balance between 'ridding ourselves of the myth of race' and understanding the role of race in social inequality and in history."
—Publishers Weekly, Oct. 15, 2001

"This is a very thoughtful work on a sensitive subject, a good and practical
work for all readers interested in race relations."
—Vernon Ford, Booklist
January 2002

"In his informative treatment of the concept of racism, Lawrence Blum is most concerned with the dangers of over-appropriation. He fears that the accusation 'racist' is now used so casually and widely that it is in danger of losing its power to shame. . . . I'm Not a Racist, But. . . . is a book that can help untangle many of the individual issues that racism raises and is a most important contribution to the growing field of applied educational and social philosophy."
—Walter Feinberg, University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. www.tcrecord.org
June 2002

"Few topics are in such desperate need of clear analysis as the subject of race. . . . In this concise volume, Blum brings the precision of a moral philosopher to bear on this perennial American dilemma, with generally helpful results. . . . A fresh and important contribution to applied social philosophy, recommended for general readers, upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty."
Choice, Vol. 40, No. 3, November 2002

Cornell University Press
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512 East State St.
Ithaca,NY 14850


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