White Privilege and Black Rights

The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide

By (author) Naomi Zack

Publication date:

23 April 2015

Length of book:

154 pages

Publisher

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442250550

Examining racial profiling in American policing, Naomi Zack argues against white privilege discourse while introducing a new theory of applicative justice. Zack draws clear lines between rights and privileges and between justice and existing laws to make sense of the current crisis. This urgent and immediate analysis of the killings of unarmed black men by police officers shows how racial profiling matches statistics of the prison population with disregard for the constitutional rights of the many innocent people of all races. Moving the discussion from white privilege discourse to the rights of blacks, from ideas of white supremacy to legally protected police impunity, and from ideal and non-ideal justice theory to existing injustice, White Privilege and Black Rights examines the legal structure that has permitted the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others. Deepening understanding without abandoning hope, Zack shows why it is more important to consider black rights than white privilege as we move forward through today's culture of inequality.
Lucid assessment...[of racism] is hard work and not for the faint of spirit. Naomi Zack’s White Privilege and Black Rights: The Injustice of U.S. Police Racial Profiling and Homicide is a case in point. It consists of three essays plus a preface and conclusion. Remarks by the author indicate it was prepared in the final weeks of last year, with the events in Ferguson, Mo., fresh in mind. But don’t let the title or the book’s relative brevity fool you. The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Oregon -- and when she takes up terms such as 'white privilege' or 'black rights,' it is to scrutinize the concepts rather than to use them in slogans. Despite its topicality, Zack’s book is less a commentary on recent events than part of her continuing effort to think, as a philosopher, about questions of race and justice that are long-standing, but also prone to flashing up, on occasion, with great urgency -- demanding a response, whether or not philosophers (or anyone else) is prepared to answer them.