The divide over race is usually framed as one over Black and White. Sociologist Eileen O’Brien is interested in that middle terrain, what sits in the ever-increasing gray area she dubbed the racial middle.
The Racial Middle, tells the story of the other racial and ethnic groups in America, mainly Latinos and Asian Americans, two of the largest and fastest-growing minorities in the United States. Using dozens of in-depth interviews with people of various ethnic and generational backgrounds, Eileen O’Brien challenges the notion that, to fit into American culture, the only options available to Latinos and Asian Americans are either to become white or to become brown.
Instead, she offers a wholly unique analysis of Latinos and Asian Americans own distinctive experiences—those that aren’t typically White nor Black. Though living alongside Whites and Blacks certainly frames some of their own identities and interpretations of race, O’Brien keenly observes that these groups struggles with discrimination, their perceived isolation from members of other races, and even how they define racial justice, are all significant realities that inform their daily lives and, importantly, influence their opportunities for advancement in society.
A refreshing and lively approach to understanding race and ethnicity in the twenty-first century, The Racial Middle gives voice to Latinos and Asian-Americans place in this country’s increasingly complex racial mosaic.
1 The Panethnic Racial Middle
2 The Meanings of Race and Ethnicity from the Racial Middle (with Catherine Estevez)
3 Reshaping Racist Ideology from the Middle
4 Interracial Border Crossing: Commonalities and Diversions in the Racial Middle
5 “No racism, only that one time . . .”: Clinging to the American Dream, Despite Exclusion
6 Progressives: Seeing Race through Multiple Lenses
7 The Potential of the Racial Middle
Appendix A: Interview Guide
Appendix B: Respondent Information
About the Author
“Well-organized, well-written, and engaging. I know of no other work that provides such an in-depth analysis of how Latinos and Asian-Americans define racial issues.”
-Woody Doane,co-editor of White Out: the Continuing Significance of Race
“She applies a sharp analysis to the informants’ racial views and experiences, producing some fascinating insights, e.g., the ‘pervasive impact’ of the US’s currently dominant color-blind racial ideology on those in the middle.”-Choice
"The Racial Middle allows us to hear the voices of Latinos and Asian Americans reflecting on their everyday experiences of racialization and how they navigate U.S. racial politics in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The book provides a worthy point of departure from which future research can further analyze Latino and Asian American interactions with and attitudes toward whites and blacks."-Jane Hseu,Amerasia Journal
“Tells the story of the “in-between” racial and ethnic groups in America through in-depth interviews and analyses, explaining the recent phenomenon developing around discriminated and isolated Latino and Asian American groups.”
-Nichi Bei Times
“[T]his well-written book gives ample voice to the interviewees and would fit well into introductory classes on race/ethnicity. It offers useful insights in the process of making its argument.”-Journal of American Ethnic History