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Payne, Richard J. Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture (Westview Press Boulder:1998)

From Subject
Joseph John Jezewski <jjjezew@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race (Joe Jezewski)
Mylon Jamar Kirksy <mjkirks@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race
"sarah a. gill-branion" <sagill@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race Review by Sarah Gill-Branion
Nonito P Ong <npong@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race(Will Ong)
tangela williams <trwilli@ilstu.edu> "Getting Beyond Race," Dr. Richard Payne reviewed by Tangela
"M. Beatriz Diaz" <mbdiaz@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race (Diaz)
Allana Hennette <amhenne@ILSTU.EDU> review: Getting Beyond Race
Adam Kinzinger <AKnznger@AOL.COM> Review: Getting Beyond Race
Ian Garrett <ijgarre@ILSTU.EDU> review: Getting beyond race review...
Laura Pranaitis <laprana@ILSTU.EDU> Re: Richard Payne's : Lecture," Getting Beyond Race"
shelly spencer <sjspenc@ILSTU.EDU> Getting Beyond Race
John Bothwell <jlbothw@ilstu.edu> Getting Beyond Race (John Bothwell)
Cece Koropara <yakpaoro@yahoo.com> Re: Getting Beyond Race, Jay T. Brennan
Cece Koropara <yakpaoro@YAHOO.COM> Getting Beyond Race (Jay T. Brennan)
rebecca brooks <beccabrooks@HOTMAIL.COM> Getting Beyond Race (Rebecca Brooks)
joy wellman <jrwellm@HOTMAIL.COM> Getting Beyond Race (Joy Wellman)
Erik Rankin <etranki@ILSTU.EDU> Getting Beyond Race (Erik Rankin)
Meghan Carey <mecarey@ILSTU.EDU> Getting Beyond Race (Meghan Carey)
John Bothwell <jlbothw@ILSTU.EDU> Getting Beyond Race (John Bothwell)
Morgan Salisbury <morgsalisbury@hotmail.com> Re: Wellman's review of Getting Beyond Race
Matthew Bice <mjbice@ilstu.edu> No Subject
 
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 20:58:50 -0600
From: Joseph John Jezewski <jjjezew@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Joe Jezewski)
Payne, Richard J. Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture (Westview Press Boulder:1998)
Reviewed by: Joe Jezewski 

Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world without racism? The actuality of it is that we have to deal with in almost every aspect of our lives. If we could ever get beyond race, as Dr. Payne suggests, this world would be a lot easier to live in. Our changing American culture has opened up the door, and it is our job as the next generation to step through it.

We could ill afford our society to go back to the way it was or even take a step backward in getting rid of racism. Dr. Payne’s book is very well written and he goes through the steps that need to be taken to get beyond race in this country. He first starts out by telling you what the problem actually is and how we should reframe the problem so that it doesn’t deal with race. He lists a few things that we should focus on instead of race, such as success, negotiating differences, and building trust and social capital. He also focuses on our changing American culture and gives an outline of what our culture is all about and how certain areas of life affect what our culture accepts as being the norm such as the family, the media, and religion. He then turns his attention to the military, and focuses on how the military integrating its force and goes on to say that they are the best example of how integration works today in our society.

He also touches on affirmative action and immigration and offers a couple of solutions to each of the problems. The main idea that he seemed to be trying to get across is that people need to look at other things other than race and the color of their skin to get beyond race. One of Payne’s main strategies for getting beyond race is the idea that race represents a fixed and inflexible identity (Payne 5). What this means is that people see other people in certain identities and therefore place them in certain groups and label them to that group.

I’ve seen this happen many times to friends of mine and also to myself. I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood filled with drugs, violence, and gangs, and a lot of people knew that I did and therefore placed me in a category as being one of those people. When the truth was far beyond what they actually thought of me, so I can relate to what he is saying about people having preconceived ideas of what it meant to grow up where I did. 

In fact, as Payne said, I don’t think that most blacks, who have "made it" would want other people to see them as that type of person. The establishment of a black middle-class is also key to this identity crisis. 

Blacks who move to the suburbs want to leave the violence and drugs behind them and not be reminded of how they use to live, or even identify with the people who do live that way. Sure they will keep ties with their family that live there, but that will be the extent of it. He also says that identity is about having a sense of belonging to a social group (Payne 5). In essence the people we hang around with and the groups we associate ourselves with shape us. Whether it is a religious organization, a university or a political group, these people have a profound impact on how we live our lives and conduct ourselves in the public spectrum. Payne also says that embracing these group identities can create problems and further alienate the group (Payne 6). 

I believe this to be true because the more a person holds on to a certain belief of a group and doesn’t think for themselves, the more that person falls into a trap. The trap being that they will no longer associate with anybody else, and will be so excluded that no one else would want to associate with them. This is the main problem with the " identity crisis" that people don’t want to get to know someone of a different race by merely spending time with that person and having them become your friend. I believe people are scared of what might actually happen if they did get to know someone better.

They might change their views and become a more enlightened person. People need to tear down the walls that they have built and see if there is something or someone out there who might change your life. The idea that I expressed before relates to what Payne has stated in the book called the Bottom-Up Approach. He says, "Ultimately, race relations are about individuals getting along with each other." This is a simple statement, and I’m sure that most everybody agrees with it, but it’s easier said than done. Payne makes it sound like this will be a simple task to just have everybody "get along". People, in general, are quite stubborn and they are not easily submissive to change especially people who are older. These are the types of people who hold back this country from making huge steps in getting rid of racism. 

I should say older politicians because most of these people have grown up during a time when segregation was legal and they saw themselves as the supreme race. I believe the influx of new politicians from this modern day and age will bring about drastic change in the racism category. Too many ideals have changed for this not to happen and I believe we are on the verge of seeing racism end in this country. Payne also states that to get beyond race we have to look at ourselves first and realize that self-awareness is essential to understanding others (Payne 196). I think that this is important because if we can’t love ourselves how can we expect to love somebody else. 

It starts inside of you, and changing the way that you live your life towards others. You have to take responsibility for yourself because it’s easier to change yourself than it is to change a whole group of people. We place barriers on ourselves which in turn lead to limitations with our relationships with other people. If we could tear down those barriers, such as destructive behavior, we could promote the idea of getting along and making a new friend from a different race or gender. One big problem that I have with his book is that he makes it seem all too simple, and that there is hardly a hint of racism in this country. 

With him being a black man and living in the Caribbean, I expected a different type of view from him. I’m sure that if you ask most of the blacks in America, they would say that there is a huge amount racism still left to overcome in this country. I believe the actual poll was 65% of African Americans said that.

He gave the impression that as long as things continue to progress that there will be an eventual end to racism in this country. I disagree with him because I think no matter what you do to stop racism, there will always be someone who does something to initiate another controversy. This is a good book and I recommend it for reading. I agree with predominantly most of the book because he had some good ideas of what it takes to get beyond race, but I believe that it will take a little more than just sitting back and waiting for things to happen.




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Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 13:04:19 -0800
From: Mylon Jamar Kirksy <mjkirks@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race


Reviewed by Mylon Kirksy 


Of all the social problems that the United States has, race is one of its biggest. The condition of race has always been a point of conflict in this nation. It consumes society in such a way that it has woven and knotted itself into the fibers of our nation. Not only that, race consumes our thoughts, dictates our actions and influences our perceptions. In fact, race has become such an intricate and fixated concept, that it is impossible for me, as I would expect for others, to imagine myself as not being defined by a racial distinction. However, according to Richard Payne author of Getting Beyond Race, race is an arbitrary term, which means that it is a social construction, and therefore can be destructured.

Getting Beyond Race is a book that is written today for the future. The main concept of the book is that the condition of race relations in the United States is steadily improving and has made vast improvements in the last 30-40 years such that race is becoming less defining and a less important entity of society. Richard Payne discusses race as a constructed variable that lives only through people’s conceptual and psychological processes, but is not an "absolute" or "real" concept. Payne says that race should not be a part of the American culture. Race was created with the intention to distinguish and separate individuals based on physical characteristics.

Moreover, race was constructed to infer superiority of some over others. Ironically, by placing psychological constructs on the "others," the creators also defined themselves. Despite the vast and devastating repercussions of this system of categorization, Payne argues in his book that the United States is moving beyond race. To illustrate his position, he cites changes in social climate from the Civil Rights Movement, interracial relationships and dispels the myth of American subcultures; the key to his argument is focusing on similarities and not differences.

Payne makes very skilled arguments citing how the social climate of the United States has vastly changed in the last 30-40 years. He argues that relations between Whites and Blacks (talks about others, but focuses mainly on these two) have gotten significantly better. He proves this by discussing shared experiences that both Blacks and Whites have. For example, about 30 years ago Blacks and Whites could not even sit or eat in the same areas let alone go to the same educational facilities. Now, those things are not only legal, but also for the most part second nature. The main idea is that our society is in a perpetual condition of change that continues to foster better relations between its citizens.

In a short while, identity will no longer be defined by race because its structured barriers are being destructured. The upcoming generations are beginning to define itself by other standards more so than race. Payne believes that as generations pass and as the majority’s numbers begin to equalize with that of the minority, the importance of race will also dwindle away to the point that it will no longer be needed.

One factor that is aiding to the changing movement is the increase in interracial relationships. Payne projects in his book that by around the year 2050, when the majority will become the minority, that racial categorization will be extinct. With the growing number of "mixed races" there will be no need to categorize individuals into clear cut, specific categories when those types will not even exist. Ironically, as Payne points out, there is no one pure race now. Because man originated out of Africa, in some sense everyone has African roots. Not only that, intermixing, as he points out, has occurred worldwide. At one time or another cultures have crossed paths and reproduced diluting, if you will, each others ethnicity. For those individuals who realize and embrace it, race probably yields little significance to them as a means to set themselves apart from others.

Interracial relationships also help to destroy the superiority/inferiority stigma. A person is much more receptive to multiculturalism when a member of their family or a person who they are close to is from another race. Shared experience and caring for others help to decentralize the importance of race; not too many people are willing to detach themselves from their loved ones based solely on racial differences.

The other central point that Payne discusses in his argument for getting beyond race is the false imagery of American subcultures. Payne says that there is only one culture in America, and that is the American culture. Society has formed a habit of looking at things in black and white, focusing on those things that make us different rather than similar. Because of this, we have created a myth, which holds that there are different cultures in the United States that can be distinguished from "American." For example, many Blacks claim to have a different sub-culture unique from American ideals or ideology; Payne says that this is a misperception.

He reminds the reader that America as we know it was built in part on the backs and by the hands of Blacks. The condition of slavery built the foundation of the United States. This argument can also be extended to other minority groups because of their contributions to the nation. I once heard something that stated, "The United States was built on the backs of Immigrants." Being "American" means identifying and understanding that Americanism includes all those who have an influence on its identity; this is the bond that Payne believes will lead to a raceless society.

In addition, getting beyond race means that we as a society need a paradigm shift. Instead of focusing in difference, we need to focus on similarities. Payne argues that culture is common among all ethnicities and races in the United States. To truly understand this, one needs to look at the culture through the eyes of other countries. For example, all races are recognized as being American in most places other than the US. African-Americans are not seen as African in Africa, they are seen as Americans.

Likewise, Italian-Americans are not considered Italian; they are viewed as Americans. There is something unique to the culture that binds its various ethnicities to the specific title of "American." In reading Getting Beyond Race, I have identified many valuable concepts. Like Richard Payne I do see the condition of the United States as vastly improving. I also agree that optimism is the catalyst for a changing society and pessimism is the prelude to failure and stagnation. I further agree that living with a victim mentality will perpetuate a victim attitude which also snowballs an already out of control problem in race relations.

The book serves as an inspiration for those individuals who are activists and optimists. Many of the ideals that are presented are noble and factual. Without the emphasis on power I would say that this book is a perfect model for life and a useful road map to get to our destination raceless society. However, I am not convinced that the social construction of race can be dismantled based on shared experience and the intermixing of the races. 

It is my position that the elite in power, soon to be minority class will make a strong attempt to hold on to their power at all costs. If the optimism that Payne ascribes to somehow backfires and individuals begin to focus more on race because they feel in danger of loosing themselves, then we might be in a worse condition than our current one. I may remind the reader of the condition in South Africa as an example of how the minority is still the majority in all the ways that count (political/economic power) despite the fact there is an African president. Overall, I enjoyed the book and believe that it is the most sound and hopeful view on an improving society that remains shadowed and clouded with pessimistic outlooks toward the future of American relations.


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Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1999 22:11:13 -0500
From: "sarah a. gill-branion" <sagill@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race Review by Sarah Gill-Branion


Reviewed by Sarah A. Gill-Branion

Assuming race matters, depending upon who you are, how would you like to be told you are headed in the right direction? That is what this book and it's author tell you. With every passing generation of progressive movers and shakers there exists 'much ado about nothing.' The more you reject the relevance of race, the less it exists. But in America, a plurality of conceptualization of race is rampant. In order to get beyond race, you have to reframe its relevance, therefore its existence. In order to live wisely, you have to understand its [perceived] relevance.

Issues important to people in general as well as Americans include: attitudes toward other people; which reality you are living in; and how we all play a part in the conceptualization of race. These issues are interrelated and so overlapping is an instance.

Payne "reframes" his thoughts of American's racial problem in a different way. responsibility is placed on the individual to reframe, or change her/his attitude toward race. He emphasizes an understanding that race is a fallacy. It is a fallacy because the implication is that a "pure" race exists when such an existence is an impossibility.

Without under emphasizing America's history of slavery, which employed the "one drop rule"- making whiteness an asset- Payne begins to spell out the social construction of race that so pervades Americans' realities. Using an example of people from Brazil, he shows how the concept of race is predominately an American hang-up. American's incessant authority given to science historically contributed to the fallacy of race. Science was seen as objective and absolutely true. 

Therefore, it had profound affects on race relations. Payne reassures his readers that he is aware of the manipulations of scientific data that have occurred. He says, "Race, like magic, is a pseudo science. Neither is based on logic." He goes further to explain that "if you choose to buy into the idea of racial differences, then they affect you. And if you don't buy into the idea, then it doesn't affect you." Herein lies the plurality of the American society. Although you choose to not buy into racial differences, he idea still affects you involuntarily-like it or not.

People are not usually persuaded by statistics. They tend to change their attitudes through interpersonal relationships. Payne believes that families are the foundations upon which the "bottom up" approach tends to work. The second tier that yields positive results is education. The more education one receives, the better race relations are between people. Colleges and universities provide the most numerous of opportunities for interpersonal relations. The third layer that yields positive results by its cooperative nature is sports. People with a common goal to win usually have better race relations.

Rank and a common goal are attributes of military success at race relations. Throughout the many wars America has had; the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWI & II, the Korean War, et cetera, participation of male Americans has been essential. By the 1960s, poor race relations were deemed damaging to military efficiency, readiness, and effectiveness.

Promotion of equal opportunity and treatment in America is embodied in Affirmative Action programs. The military Affirmative Action programs are successful whereas the civilian ones are not. An important point Payne fails to bring to the forefront is best exemplified in the 1994 South African Constitution Equality clause which includes "...Affirmative Action for the above mentioned categories...no reverse lawsuits...allowed..."- probably the most important aspect of the success of South African and American military Affirmative Action programs.

Both sides of the Affirmative Action debate are addressed. Opponents of it, according to Payne, should focus on their credibility for championing integration. They should place their efforts on debunking the link between skin color and intelligence. Proponents should place their efforts on debunking the assumption that minorities are inherently disadvantaged and in need of special treatment. He challenges both sides "to strive to eliminate all preferences."

Changing attitudes seems to come with the territory when you consider individuals' who have spent time abroad. In the literal sense, when a person broadens their horizons they intellectually do the same. And as has been said earlier, an increase in one's education yields better race relations.

Immigrants from all over the world play an important part in undermining the concept of race in America. For example, West Indians hold a bridge-building [position] insofar as their treatment toward and received by whites in America. Because West Indians were given the economic opportunities they deserved in the past for earning advanced degrees from universities, they regard education as an asset and feel the benefits sooner than black people who were born in America. West Indian immigrants, as well as many other immigrants, do not carry the baggage of past race relations in America as most American born citizens do. Therefore, West Indians are not perceived by most whites to be angry at them personally.

Still a reality, the "one drop rule" is superceded by children of interracial relationships and marriages who often are advanced in conceptualizing their identity apart from race. Mixed children challenge "pure" race identity and group membership. Payne contends interracial relationships and marriages are the most significant challenges to the concept of race and he practice of racism. To further clarify, interracial relationships display the abilities of people who are not biologically related successfully living together.

The same is true for trans racial adoptions. Proponents of racial matching including the National Association of Black Women, believe interracial adoptions cause cultural genocide. Their argument is passionate, although misguided. The NABW presents solutions to common problems related to the adoption of racially matched children. Too frequent is child abuse a case. The NABW advocates child-abuse counseling for the family instead of yanking the child from [another] home. Also, if and when living conditions are not suitable, NABW attempts to find adequate housing for the family.

Opponents of racial matching purport the welfare of a black child is compromised when a willing and able white family is denied adoption privileges because the social worker believes it best the child is adopted by a willing and able black family. Deprivation, or non-adoption, is often the case for many children who wait, wait and wait for a willing and able black family to adopt them.

"Blackness", Payne believes, is not clearly defined. He sites examples of black children who were adopted by white families and did not lose their sense of black culture. Although, he does make clear that the initiative of the parents not to isolate the children form their heritage was a major factor for each adoptee. Identity plays an important role in the misguided perceptions of group membership as seen in the jealousy of white boys witnessing "their" girls interacting with black boys. What the children, and many adults, fail to recognize is that the problem of identity, group membership, and ownership is theirs; and it infringes upon the freedoms of the individual. No one owns anyone.

Written as if intended to be a teaching tool with its outlined table of contents, itemized conclusion, abundant resource notes, and ample index, Richard Payne provides us with a logically organized book on race in America. His non offensive style of communication allows him to call it like he sees it with a constructively critical eye. Payne's empirical data is presented in a manner that queues the reader as to his honesty. He reassures his audience of his awareness that scientific data can be manipulated by stating pros and cons of the arguments presented. By Chapter 3, a positive sense that you are on the right track comes over the reader. Upon its conclusion, the reader comes away informed and refreshed for the mere fact that s/he has read this particular book. Seemingly progressive, "Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture" invites the reader to feel good about the tenacity of human beings to see solutions as works-in-progress; not giving up hope. ·

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Date: Fri, 9 Apr 1999 17:03:55 -0500
From: Nonito P Ong <npong@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race(Will Ong)

By Nonito(will) P Ong

 

"Getting Beyond Race" is welcomed change from the same old books on race. This book is great because it tells the readers what the problems are with race and how to eliminate it. Unlike other books in this field of race and politics, this book has a very positive tone to it. 

The author of this book truly feels that in 50 years from now, race will no longer be factor in our country. I fully support this author's optimism, but I believe it will longer than fifty years for race to be a non-factor. The author feels that despite how bad everyone says racial relations are and how there is very little social interracial contact, 1999 has seen the most interracial contact in history. He also feels that blacks have made a lot of progress since the civil rights era. Instead of focusing on the negatives that happened to blacks and other minorities, we should focus on what has been accomplished.

One of the main ideas of this book is that we should see people as not by what race we are. In the first Chapter, there were five basic assumptions concerning race. The first is that one race being superior to another, the second one race is more intelligent than another, race and culture are inseparable, race determines personality, an the last being mixing with other races lowers one race's superiority. These are very typical assumptions that people make today. 

Dr. Payne mentions that categorizing people by race, gender, and religion makes us focus on the differences we have. The author states that we should not focus on the differences, but what we have in common. I'm not to sure about that statement because isn't the differences that what makes everybody unique individuals? He was referring to cultural groups on college campuses that hold these gatherings. I disagree somewhat because I think as long as you don't hold someone’s difference against them, it's fine. It's ok to acknoledge that some is of a different ethnicity than you. In the second chapter, origin and history of people is discussed. Dr. Payne feels that there is no pure race. Everybody is a mix of ethnicities. He argues that since man originated from Africa, we all have some African heritage in us.

Throughout the book, the author mentions how even before our slowly changing multicultural embracing society, people from just about everywhere have been in contact with each other and have been interbreeding with one another. Dr. Payne did well in pointing out that anybody who believes there is a pure race is wrong. He uses North Africa and Italy as examples of crossbreeding, and says these two places are right next to each other, so there was some crossbreeding. Africa is a lot closer to Europe and the Middle East than we think. I don’t think anybody will realize this, until they read this book.Dr. Payne feels that since believing in some of the racial stereotypes, can only strengthen that particular belief and maybe make it come true.

The author believes that since race was constructed, and supported by those who believe and see things in racial terms, can deconstruct it. Going back to focusing on race differences, the author feels that the if we see things as Black and White in America, we are only fooling ourselves. He feels that there is only one culture in America, the American culture. In America, we try to distinguish ourselves by race, just as people in Quebec do by language, and the Catholics and Protestants by religion in Ireland.

Africans in African and African-Americans in the United States aren’t the same. People in Africa view everyone here in our country as Americans, even the people living here with African ancestry.In the third chapter, the author talks about the importance of family and teaching children morals. The example of the college professor who learned as kid to accept the differences in people, just shows that what we teach our children at an early age is so crucial. When this professor had a run in with prejudiced beliefs in Junior High school, she already knew it was wrong to have such beliefs. Maybe if we started teaching our children earlier and better on cultural awareness, integration of blacks, whites, and other races in public high schools will be more successful.

Also in this chapter, is the topic of race and media. In the 50’s, it was not considered a norm to have an African-American male as one of the lead actors. However, almost forty years later in 1996, 45 percent of the year’s major movies had a blacks in major parts in the movie. The author feels that this is progress that gets ignored with all the negativity around. Dr. Payne thinks that with all the negative portrayals of minorities on TV, it could harm current and future efforts to a colorblind society.In the sixth chapter, the author tries to show that Americans need to stop seeing each other as what race he is or she is.

For example, in the Second World War, the American Soldiers realized how narrow the perspective is of the American people. Europeans didn’t focus on race like Americans did. By going to another country, only then did these soldiers realize how our country has to learn on racial tolerance. Not only in this chapter, but also throughout the book the author always gives examples of how much America has to learn. On page 151, Dr. Payne says something along the lines of that people don’t have to be of the same race or ethnicity to get along. For example of how fearful an American woman living in Puerto Rico was when her husband brought back two black men to their homes. She was so concerned about what her neighbors would think.

By living in other countries, only then can we see how silly that idea is.In Chapter 7, Payne discusses issues that involve interracial marriages and the "one drop rule". This author feels that our country is truly getting beyond the race issue. He feels that every generation is going to be less racist and more open-minded towards others than the one previous to it. The example he gives on page (153) is that people who are 50 yrs. old and up, only 27 percent of them approve of black-white marriages. People ages 30-49, 50 percent approve, and people ages 18-29, 64 percent approve. Payne says that interracial marriages are the most difficult issue concerning race.

One of problems that arise out of these interracial marriages is the children being mixed, and how the relatives of the children will accept them. In the end, the relatives usually end up accepting the kids as relatives. Only in America, can you such rule as the "one drop rule". What this rules says is that anybody with at least one drop of African ancestry, is black. Of course, this rule only applies to blacks. I believe that Payne discusses this rule with a tone of sarcasm to show how ridiculous it is. He says that if this rule is true, then everybody is black, because going back to history, man originated out of Africa. The eight chapter dealt with transracial adoptions.

This author feels that like interracial marriages, having children can bridge the gap between races. This same concept can apply to transracial adoptions. For example, a white family that adopts a black child can show how to make it in a white dominated society. This child can also have privileges and connections in white’s dominated society that black parents could never provide. In this situation, the child can have a better understanding of both worlds. Thus, a better understanding of everything and everyone can help improve race relations. This is the best book I’ve read in this class. The author gets to the heart of racial issues and tells the reader how to deal with them.

Yes, our country has had it’s ugly moments of racial tension, but we’ve have made many improvements. A lot of Americans dwell on past negative racial events too much. We need to concentrate on what successes we’ve made in our country over the years. If we keep thinking about what has already happened, then there is no way to focus on what is happening now and what will happen in the future. Although I think that it’s nice that the author sees a bright future for race relations, I just don’t see it happening any time soon. Remember the O.J. trial? The media manipulated almost the whole country .

They made just about everybody give into the race issue. Somewhere in the book, Payne mentions a flaw of our society is that we always see things as black this and white that. For once, I wish could stop thinking like that. If two people of the same race were having an argument, people passing by would think that oh it’s just a simple argument. However, if it is a black and white arguing, people push the panic button and jump off bridges and say "we’re going to die".

They probably think these two are arguing about race and they don’t like each other. Maybe, they coincidentally happen to be of different races. What if what they’re argument has nothing to do with race at all, but instead It’s about football? We’re getting to a better world with better racial relations, but very slowly. Dr. Payne has some great ideas, but his idea of a world with out race in fifty years is just wishful thinking on his part.


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Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 20:13:47 -0500
From: tangela williams <trwilli@ilstu.edu>
Subject: "Getting Beyond Race," Dr. Richard Payne reviewed by Tangela

Reviewed by Tangela Williams

According to the Webster dictionary, race is "the descendants of the same ancestor, a family, tribe, or people breed; as the human race, (2) state of being one of a particle race. So would one be to optimistic to think humans will one day identify themselves as individuals rather their racial background? Professor Dr. Richard J. Payne introduces to us an enlightening and positive approach for heeling race relations in his heartening book "Getting Beyond Race." Payne combines history, anthropology, sociology and psychology, and his own experiences to educate his readers how we (Americans) are moving away from racial identities. He also offers ways we can accelerate the process. Payne describes race as "an arbitrary label.

wrapped in pseudoscientific doctrine to legitimize socioeconomic and political power. (31-32)" He then talks about how race is used by those with status to support stereotypes and negative views they have of people of color. For example criminal reports, intellectual test, and poverty status. Payne also address the fact that America itself is one culture and we all have contributed to building "America", therefore we draw from the same melting pot. Correspondingly, he talks about how immigrants from other countries are helping break down the ideal of race. Due to numerous amount of nationalities currently in America, it is harder to distinguish one person with a pacific race. 

Yet he carefully points out the intrinsic dangers that multiculturalism can cause in the near future. Payne’s central argument is how in years to come, race will no longer be considered an important factor in America. He declares that American’s adopt a new way of thinking pertaining to race. Payne recommends that we focus on the good in society and recognize what it is we have in common with one another to advance towards improving racial issues. To get beyond race, Payne proposes that we reframe from the way problems are perceived and handled. He state, "reframing helps shift the focus away from counterproductive position-taking and blaming; it helps to develop new vantage points, and it brings forth new information, attitudes and possible solutions." He believes if we concentrate on the good in each person, race relations would improve much quicker. 

I agree, if we took the time to get to know one another, most of our negative views would change. We could eliminate stereotypes that are labeled to a particular race. People would then realize it’s not all-Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, Mexicans, etc. that act a specific way, think in a distinct manner, nor only participate in certain activities. We would start to see the similarities in one another that we have ignored since the creation of mankind. Payne acknowledges that America has had an unforgettable past, especially people of color but he emphasizes that we must look pass that and concentrate on a successful future. 

He illustrate blacks must not see themselves as victims. I understand the point Payne is trying to make concerning blacks being victims, but I do not fully agree. African Americans have had a history of abuse, mentally, physically and socially, so of course it will take an extended amount of time for blacks to surpass the painful historical events. Even if they are able to overlook past occurrences, they are still dealing with the same abuse, yet the abuse has taken on another form, it’s now covert. Yes America has progressed but everyone was not acceptable to America’s change, therefore you still have white supremacist and racist individuals. 

On that account, what punishment do we advocate to secure these individuals will not delay America’s advancement towards heeling race relations? In return, how can we administer a punishment if we can not prove that someone is not abiding by the so-called majority rule? As stated above, Payne regards the ideal of race as something invented for economical and social purposes. Consequently, people could be able to have power over others, since you would be able to distinguish others differences. While America was coming into existence, identifying with a particular race either put individuals at a disadvantage or gave individuals ungovernable power over other races. 

I would also agree with Payne that race was something designed by man, but considering that is all we have been conditioned to classify ourselves as being, our main focus should be towards treating each person equal. Regardless if the person is poor, rich, black, white, yellow, green, young or old.

Perceiving everyone as humans and treating one another as equals will eliminate the chance that the paradigm will shift to identifying people by other noticeable differences. Payne then goes on to say that the barriers of race are being weaken. He credits the emerging of the strong black middle class, generational changes, the high rates of immigration, mixed marriages and profound attitudes. Payne is correct these things do illustrate changes in America. However there has always been a strong black middle class, but they were never talked about, because that would not fit into the negative stereotypes of people of color. The generation is defiantly changing, along with the high rate of immigration that intimidates some Americans. Immigration complicates the chances of one particular race trying to keep another race down.

The amount of mixed marriages only recognizes the fact that whites and blacks have a lot in common, furthermore proves they have had sexual interaction in earlier times. Except now it’s mainly the black males (when speak on black and white terms) who generally date out their race with willing white women, versus the early 1900’s when black women were being raped and barring biracial children. However giving credit where credit is due, there were also people with profound attitudes in the past but now they have taken a shameless approach which helps bridge the gap between blacks and whites. Payne expresses how the United States military is the most obvious model of success in race relation, considering the military was the first to be integrated.

I slightly disagree because the reason behind the military becoming integrated was not that the military thought discrimination or racism was wrong, but because they needed blacks to fight for them. Payne has given his reader a source of hope to overcome the problems of race relations. I would recommend everyone to read this book; it is well written and very easy to follow. His focus is to educate his reader on the barriers of race and how it is nothing more than a fallacy.

Payne talks about the positive things in race relations and he gives solutions for us to conquer and abolish the negative aspects of race. He is optimistic about the future and wishes everyone else felt the same. Payne addresses the issue of race concerning different ethnic groups, however nearly all of his book cover the problems between white/black America. I think this is due to the many problems that still exist between the two races. If we all thought the manner that Payne’s book illustrates, we would live in a perfect world, but we do not, therefore we can not sit and wait for changes to occur. This is where I feel Payne takes a passive approach to heeling race relations. I get the notion that he believes if we just wait; we will see the decrease in the importance of race.

Payne wants our central focus to be towards the future. One access to get beyond race would be Payne’s "bottom-up-approach," which is rejecting stances of victim hood, interacting with other races, undertaking procedures that will promote cooperative behavior amongst different races. We must focus on our interest and commonalties in order to break down the barriers of race according to Payne. He also stressed how we must eliminate any self-imposed barriers. We should take part in self-examination and self-awareness so we will be able to interact with others of our own race as well as people of different nationalities. Payne suggests that we do not let past events restrict us from getting beyond race, so we should reframe from blaming one another. 

I agree with Payne solutions but considering everyone is not willing to come to terms with everyone being treated as equals and so on, we are still dealing with the current problems. Race relations have improved and I wish there were more individuals who thought less of race than they actually do, but it is still a problem. "Getting Beyond Race," is a start to moving towards eliminating negative racial barriers. Payne addressed some important issue, something’s I would agree with and of course, a few things I disagreed with. Yet his overall book is enlighten and enjoyable to read.


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Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 07:51:43 -0500
From: "M. Beatriz Diaz" <mbdiaz@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Diaz)

 Reviewed by M. Beatriz Diaz

"Viewing contemporary problems through a racial prism is likely to impede the creation of a color-blind society. Given the ideological and deeply emotional nature of race, such an approach to issues of common concern is generally counterproductive. Because race is an issue that is so bound up with personal identity, expectation for an open and honest dialogue on racial issues are frequently unrealized…" For most Americans, discussions about race are often accusatory and emotional. Richard Payne's view of contemporary problems through a racial prism is an obstacle to create a color-blind society. 

His main argument in his book Getting Beyond Race consists of adopting new ways of analyzing race. As real communication is virtually impossible on race debate in America, the opportunities for breaking down barriers are limited. Confrontation has to be avoided because it gets us no place at all. Reframing the way of perceiving race, a socially constructed classification is the only way to develop real solutions to success in race relations. Counterproductive position-taking and blaming do not help to reach positive approaches and attitudes. 

In chapter one, Payne establishes the need to reinterpret racial issues assessing strategies for getting beyond blaming and zero-sum analysis of race. Race, as a socially constructed denomination is totally arbitrary, and it stereotypes individuals without developing issues of common interests such as the universality of humanity, American values, and a spirit of community. As American culture changes, the whole idea of race has been undermine. That is the fundamental idea of chapter three. Struggling for equality in the military is the main example Payne uses in chapter four to demonstrate the change in race relations in the last few years. Immigration from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean aggravate the discussion of race, as Payne assesses in chapter six. Interracial marriage and transracial adoptions, as Payne asserts, are blurring the idea because they build bridges among people when they relate to each other.

In Payne's view, the whole discussion on race has been sustained on failures, instead of success. If Americans focus on what is similar among races instead of what is different, it would help to more America beyond race. Interaction among common people on individual basis helps to diminish the importance of race in America. This idea is the thesis of Payne's book, which is supported by the emergence of a black middle class, the new generation's ideas about not thinking about other people in terms of race, the rate of immigration and intermarriage constantly rising, and changes in the attitudes of many Americans everywhere. The artificial concept of race based on confrontation, blaming, and dwelling on failure, are outdated for Payne. Those who help to minimize confrontation by emphasizing similarities are developing the new concept of race relations.

Payne's view of race relations in America would generate much more interest from the minority community of it included an actual history of life of the race question within America's borders. Though he provides a somewhat scattered discussion of history, it is too fragmented and hollow to explain the development of the white mind. What one finds in L. Scott Miller's An American Imperative is America's race relations history that spans almost four hundred years. 

Miller(1995) successfully details the origin of the presence of the concept of black inferiority and white superiority deeply rooted in the minds of most white Americans. Such beliefs led to the Jensen(1969) studies that tried to demonstrate, using the IQ score results of black and white Americans, (the IQ average score of whites being 15 points more than of blacks), the innate superiority of whites in relation to blacks. Such results were widely disseminated throughout the country and statistically confirmed what whites already believed. In reference to the Stephan and Rosenfeeld(1982) study, Miller highlights specific adjectives used by whites to describe blacks "lazy, superstitions, ignorant, loud, materialistic, stupid, dirty, and militant." (p. 84).

In his interesting explanations as to rationale for the persistence of racial stereotypes, Miller notes that once a stereotype is developed in the white mind, persons are likely to pay close attention to information that confirms the stereotype while disregarding or ignoring that which is inconsistent with the strongly held belief in the inferiority of blacks. 

Miller suggests "The current high poverty and welfare rates among African Americans, along with their lower levels of educational attainment and academic achievement, feed preexisting beliefs in their innate or cultural inferiority." (p. 199). Despite the fact that the number of African Americans no longer in poverty or on welfare has risen rapidly, vast umber of whites continue nonetheless to hold on to notions consistent with the innate intellectual inferiority of blacks, preferring thus to view African Americans who hurdle the class bar as an exception to the rule that defines the race consciousness of white Americans.

Unfortunately, Payne's approach to the long-enduring race problem that currently plagues the nation cannot reconcile a long-standing belief system that has been well nurtured over the past four centuries. One possessing the persistent belief that African Americans are an inferior strain of the human species is not likely to adopt a color-blind position upon being commanded to do so. Nor is such a person likely to avoid blaming African Americans for the poverty, poor schools, and high crime rates present in their communities. In addition, he certainly will not reverse his posture, upon being told to avoid concentrating on failure, on the question of whether or not whites and blacks as potential partners should be free to enter into holy matrimony since it would entail the miscegenation of superior and inferior races. 

To him, of course, this would involve the pollution and dilution of white purity and superiority and thus represents a threat to the continuity of white power and dominance. Payne posits rather naively that the notion of race is being overcome by a relatively few interracial marriages and transracial adoptions without considering the existence of well-hidden systems within the country that function to preclude the much-dreaded total integration of the races. White Americans simply do not want to live with blacks whom they believe to be an inferior stock of people, and the real estate system certainly will not betray them.

Massey and Denton(1996) assert Real estate agents, of course, have long reaped profits along the boundary of the ghetto; and within the broader housing market, realtors discriminate against blacks to avoid antagonizing white clients and possibly losing business. Because realtors believe their clients to be racially prejudiced, they are reluctant to incur the enmity of white communities by introducing "unwanted" elements into white neighborhoods. (p. 213).

Therefore, owing to rampant discrimination in the housing market and persistent feelings of inferiority and superiority retains the physical segregation of blacks and whites, relatively few interracial marriages and transracial adoptions can be expected given the fact human beings are much less likely to intermarry and to adopt children of other races if they do not share neighborhoods, schools, parks, beliefs, religion, and education.

The sharing of the aforesaid life activities, of course, would assist in the formation of the new color-blind consciousness to which Payne refers. However, the industry necessary to create the integration of America's communities must be acknowledged by Payne and others who had bought the color-blind rhetoric before any genuine movement toward the realization of a color-blind society as possible. In addition, without a firm grasp of one's history, one is rendered handicapped to control the direction of race relations in the country and is reduced to discussing race the narrow terms of affirmative action, the increase in intermarriages and transracial adoptions and color-blindness. Discussions like these prevent the self-examination indispensable to liberating the white mind from well-developed feelings anathema to the true integration of the races. Payne clearly gets the cart before the horse while Miller discerns well that a cart is likely to encounter much difficulty trying to pull the horse.



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Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 07:23:20 -0600
From: Allana Hennette <amhenne@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: review: Getting Beyond Race


Reviewed by Allana Hennette

America is considered a racially diverse society. We have been called the "melting pot", we have welcomed the repressed from other lands, we have opened our doors to citizens from nearly every country in the world, yet we have trouble getting beyond the concept of skin color. In a society filled with classifications and stratification, why does racial background seem to be the most important one? In a society claiming to be enlightened and educated, why does it seem so difficult to move beyond skin color and look at the person within the skin?

Race is seen as the most important identifying factor for most citizens of our country, with the exception of gender. But Richard Payne explains that race should be one of the least important identifying factors of a person. Above all, we are all humans, secondary to that we may be a mother, brother, auto mechanic, Buddhist, or student. These identifying factors should carry a higher significance than Hispanic or African American, but in our society they do not. Race is not the identity of the self, the other characteristics a person may possess is the identity of the self, but the problem lies in the person who refuses to look beyond race and simply focuses on the color of skin rather than the content of their mind and soul.

One of the largest problems Payne recognizes is the failure of American society to focus on the many success stories of people of color, but rather to emphasize the failures of these same people. Statistics show the number of minorities in underpaid jobs or in prison, but often neglect to recognize the number of successful African-Americans who enjoy middle class or upper class living. Americans are far to busy focusing on the bad to realize there are millions of black families who are enjoying the "American Dream".

Coalitions are one of the numerous strategies Payne sees to getting beyond race. Payne says that when people focus on a similar interest such as crime or poverty and form a coalition around that interest, much more is accomplished. Race, as an interest, is ignored and a diverse group of people are able to work together, without focusing on race. By forming and becoming members of multi-racial coalitions, many Americans are able to move beyond race with great benefit.

Payne emphasizes the arbitrary nature of race in many different ways. He stresses that race is a cultural classification that is not scientifically valid (33), because all human life originated in Africa several million years ago. Race is a social distinction that changes from culture to culture, and blacks were not associated with an inferior culture until the 17th century when Africans were captured from their homelands and sold as slaves to wealthy Americans. This is where the stereotype of African-American inferiority began and where it has persisted for hundreds of years. "The social construction of race was deliberately designed to justify the institution of slavery, to promote white solidarity, and to create entitlements and advantages for Americans categorized as white." (37)

Another fallacy Payne sees is the idea of separate black and white cultures, which is an impossibility. African slaves brought skills, trades, and beliefs with them from Africa, and in time they were integrated into American life. The slaves taught these skills and beliefs to their children and their owners, and they became infused into American culture, blurring the lines between African and American.

This practice has been done for centuries with every immigrant group that has come to the United States. Separate elements of different cultures can be seen, but they have been Americanized, which has led to an American culture, not a black culture or a white culture. Multiculturalism can be seen as both favorable or unfavorable. It is favorable because it promotes respect and understanding for other cultures. Unfortunately, in many ways it can foster separation and a fragmented society.

Members of the culture may fail to see themselves as Americans, but may choose to only identify with the smaller racial group. The best example of getting beyond race is that of the military. Although the military was not fully integrated until the 1950's, it has become a model example for others to emulate. Most branches of the military were integrated soon after World War II not because of law, but out of simple financial necessity. Most leaders of the military realized it was both expensive and foolish to keep the armed services segregated, with the belief that if a man could go to a foreign country and shed blood, he should fully enjoy the benefits of his white counterparts.

After the President signed the order to end segregation in 1953, most branches of the armed services were nearly completely integrated and the transition was made quite smoothly. The military emphasized the need for equal opportunity by implementing various programs and training sessions that ensure equal opportunity for women and minorities. There are various reasons for the success of the military such as a common goal and training, but many of these goals can be assimilated to the larger society. Most Americans have a common goal of the "American Dream" and many educated people attend a training session of some form, either in college or on the job. The success of the military can also be a success for American society as a whole. One of the most significant factors in getting beyond race is the employment of Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunities. Payne believes that these strategies need to stay in place, with a few minor adjustments. 

Because discrimination is still a serious flaw in American society, Affirmative Action needs to stay on the books so that qualified minority applicants will have the same chances that qualified whites have. The main flaw in the system, that most immigrants qualify for this program when they do not need the help, needs to be addressed. Many poor whites feel that they are at the loosing end when they are passed over for a job simply because of the color of their skin.

In some ways this is reverse discrimination and Payne states that the way to get around this is to employ a system of class based, not race based, Affirmative Action. This plan would help those who most desperately needed it, those who are poor. Today's Affirmative Action plans have helped many minority applicants, especially white women, gain entry into the work place, but in today's society, where education and training are the most important factors, these plans seem nearly obsolete. Minorities are still often regarded as underrepresented and unfairly treated, but in reality, these minorities are making great progress. 

Although the total abolition of Affirmative Action would be detrimental to most applicants, the continuance in present form would be even more so. Advocating a bottom-up theory is the most realistic approach to getting beyond race. Starting at one's own home and moving outward to redefine race can be effective on many levels. Family, the most basic unit, can be the catalyst, most often younger members of the family. Many older members of the family unit have segregation ingrained into their lives, but the younger members are living in a time when segregation and discrimination are both taboo and unsupported. Younger people have school friends of other races, many date interracially, which are ways of telling the surrounding community that discrimination is not only outdated, it is unacceptable.

By initiating friendships outside of one's own race, the racial lines become blurred and often seem unimportant. Interracial dating and marriage also seems to erase many racial lines by displaying to all that the color of skin is not important, but the person in the skin is very important. Children of these unions continue to challenge racists who wish to neatly categorize people into racial categories. The one-drop rule would classify them as black, but many parents and children want to claim every part of their ethnicity, not only the part that Americans wish them to claim. 

Along with interracial relationships is the highly controversial practice of transracial adoption. The statistics show that there are more white parents than white children to adopt, and there are more black children than black parents to adopt, so in our highly intelligent, computer-aged society, it should be simple to eliminate this problem. The simple fact that white parents want to adopt a child of any race should be enough, but in our society, it is not. Opponents say the children will grow up not knowing their racial heritage or will be looked upon differently, but the children will also grow up in a loving home with parents who love them. They will grow up needed and wanted, not moved from home to home in the foster care system, and children who are adopted are given a chance to succeed in life. Most opponents of transracial adoption do not see how this strengthens racial intolerance by not allowing differing races to work together for the better good of a child, which should be the most important issue. 

Building a color-blind society may be a reality, but I believe that reality is still some years away. There are still too many advocates of segregation at work in our country, where the KKK and neo-nazi racist groups still function. The key to getting beyond race is to simply not tolerate racism, in the home, the school, the community, and the workplace. By showing those who surround us that racism is not something that should separate, but something that should be eliminated, great strides can be made. Payne says race is a socially and culturally created category that holds no scientific backing, so why do people continue to perpetuate it? Why is it necessary to culturally classify a person when the classifications are unfounded? The simple answer is because society requires it. 

The great disadvantages experienced by African-Americans and other minorities in past years requires a continuance of racially founded classifications and programs so that they may enjoy the advantages of the favored races. Americans have several models to follow to get beyond the racial barrier, including that of the military. Although the military is a separate entity from civilian life, it is an example that can be followed. All members of the military are working for a common goal, the safety of the country, so then why do Americans have difficulty realizing that the common goal of the American people should be the same? The safety of the country should be of the utmost importance, but there are still racially related acts of violence and racial profiling on nearly a daily basis. 

Children of all races are in danger because of racist acts committed in their schools and neighborhoods, but most of those who commit these acts are not held responsible. Race can be a barrier, but it is one that can be crossed easily. By starting in the home and the family and slowly moving into the community and the workplace, racial discrimination can be a distant memory, but everyone in every aspect of American life must work toward and want this goal to be accomplished. Dr. Payne's book is definitely a start in the right direction, and if the suggestions by Dr. Payne are heeded, the next generations of Americans will only know about racial discrimination through history books.



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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 20:42:54 -0600
From: Adam Kinzinger <AKnznger@AOL.COM>
Subject: Review: Getting Beyond Race

Reviewed by Adam Kinzinger

Throughout its history, Americans of all races have stood against intolerance, bigotry, and close-mindedness in their own society. Fighting racism in its own borders, as well as segregation in other societies such as South Africa, Americans have stood for a higher moral principle. Since the civil rights movement in the 60's, great strides have been made towards achieving racial harmony in this atypically diverse society, as members of all races have united against intolerance; from the common workplace to the political march. Yet it is the incessant focus on the negatives of race relations in America that has driven Dr. Richard Payne to produce GETTING BEYOND RACE.

When discussing relations between individuals or groups through the American context, it is all but certain that the issue of race will arise in the conversation. Americans have been engrained to believe that race truly does matter, and that it in fact, exists. Payne points out that in genetic structures, each individual is unique, even within racial and ethnic classifications. In fact, humanity in general can be traced to a common ancestor (32). In order to move this society beyond race, it is essential to reframe the issue beyond black/white, and understand our common traits we share. However, this is a step by step approach.

Major strides have been accomplished in the past years. Just 150 years ago, black Americans we enslaved, but together with whites they were able to throw off the chains of oppression and live free. Just 40 years ago, blacks were prohibited from dining in certain facilities, and in the 60's marched with white Americans to throw off the chains of discrimination. Yet today, race relations are still viewed by some as not having progressed past those dark days. Many people refuse to recognize the steps made, and are only causing harm to race relations as a whole by pointing out negatives and refusing to recognize positives. They are attempting to throw of chains that simply are not there. The first step towards getting beyond race is to reframe the issue, and recognize positive steps.

Identity is not something that should be limited to race. Individuals across racial lines share common beliefs, common interests, and common fears. Members of all racial groups are members of the Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts of America, and other civic clubs. Yet consistently, Americans have bought the lie of race and continue to identify themselves by that characteristic. There cannot be unity when these groups are continually polarized.

America has made significant steps towards getting beyond race. One of the most successful models for racial integration has been in the military, where individuals are judged not on race, but on merits and rank. A white male from suburban rich American may take orders from a black male from the inner-city, and will learn respect in the process. This cross culture respect molds folks of all origins together. The military did not always recognize race as a non-factor. Partially responsible was the US military's involvement in World War I and II where French, British, and other societies, treated black soldiers with more respect than their own countrymen. This had a profound impact on military race relations, and ultimately civilian race relations.

Travel abroad, coupled with increasing immigration, is helping to move Americans beyond the racial model. As travel becomes less costly, Americans are beginning to see other races outside of the American spectrum. Individuals in other nations do not follow the American concept of race, and as a result challenge many of the stereotypes that Americans have stored up. This is also the case with immigration. Immigrants coming over from other areas show a strong work ethic, and an ability to work with people from all walks of life, as race does not even cross their mind as a barrier to social interaction. Blacks from the West Indies are just one example of a group challenging pre-conceived stereotypes. While some American may hold that blacks are not hard workers, blacks from the West Indies work hard. While some Americans may hold that blacks are uneducated, blacks from the West Indies make up a large part of our Doctors, professors, etc. These stereotypes are being challenged by this group, which does not recognize race.

Americans have accepted the idea that one drop of black blood makes an individual black. Payne challenges this idea, and questions why one drop of white blood does not make the individual white. While this one-drop rule may seem degrading to minorities, Payne recognizes that the victim must sign on to this idea in order for it to be accepted. The black community in order to promote solidarity buys into this concept, and in the process does not challenge America's concept of race. The fault for the acceptance of this rule lies largely with the minority communities for not challenging the basic assumptions.

Interracial relationships are another key to getting beyond race. According to Payne, increased interpersonal contacts "weaken the consensus on which the social construction of race depends." (154). Thus, when a member of a specific race group enters into a relationship with a member of another group, both begin to understand the other and erode racial preconceptions. Understanding each other through a love relationship will also help to understand the common bonds that each share, and when someone involved in an interracial relationship comes into contact with someone of the same origins as their partner, they will likely view that person more favorably. Not only does an interracial relationship erode preconceptions inherent in the participants; it also helps to erode the preconceptions of family members.

As people accept a member of a different racial group as family (through marriage), the same effect is likely as was present in the participants. The author points out the increases in interracial relationships 310,000 in 1970, compared to 1.3 million now (164). Since interracial relationships equal less racial prejudice, this provides growing evidence that America is on its way to getting beyond race. Parallel to this idea is interracial adoptions. The same principle, increased interaction equals increased tolerance, applies. Transracial adoptions are also on the rise, lending more evidence to a society less blinded by race.

This book does an excellent job answering questions that many have about the nature of racial conflict, but it more importantly looks at race from a positive spectrum. While Jim Sleeper's LIBERAL RACISM addresses the issue of race from the same perspective as Payne, GETTING BEYOND RACE has a more positive tone, consistent with the book's theme of viewing race positively. In the structure of the book, Payne practices his own message of positive enlightenment, as negatives of racism are not always the focal points. While this conservative approach could have addressed minority racism, it chose to look beyond the squabbling at the large picture to exemplify how America needs also to get beyond race.

Some may question Payne's motives, and wonder if he has ever "gone through what minorities go through." One would only have to look as far as the inside cover to notice that Payne himself is a black American One could assume then that Payne has personally felt the discrimination that is believed to be so evident, yet he chooses to look beyond the racism in his personal life and in this book and focus on the positive. In his view, viewing one's self as a victim is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Victimology can become a conduit in which people blame their own personal failures (9).

Payne's argument can lead to further dialogue between races, and ultimately can affect change that has previously only been seen during the united civil rights movement. While some will still hold to the view that making the majority feel guilty is the best way to enact change, hopefully increased dialogue about ideas like this will help to dispel that view once and for all. If Payne's view becomes more widely accepted within the scholastic circles, America will be able to speed up its transition beyond race.

This easy to read book on race relations in America provides its reader with a refreshing perspective, a breath of fresh air from the usual blame-game-type books. While the author's views may be inconsistent with how American was indoctrinated, it brings our reality into question, and provides a real solution to this problem that divides us. While other authors may simply write books about how bad life is, complain about this group or that, or play finger pointer to someone, Richard Payne in GETTING BEYOND RACE offers real solutions to real problems. The reader can put this book down and instead of feeling guilty, feel a real sense of hope.


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Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 09:12:23 -0600
From: Ian Garrett <ijgarre@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: review: Getting beyond race review...


Reviewed by Ian Garrett

Who wants to be the next race relations specialist? Dr. Richard Payne takes a very good step in helping to uncover the issues surrounding America's most volatile aspect. Getting Beyond Race is the latest book that examines what America is doing wrong, and what they should do in which we may all learn to get along. In only 200 pages, the cures to the most non-talked-about--talked about subject is discussed.

In chapters spanning from universalizing people's race problems to the issues involving transracial adoption, Payne makes the claim that race is truly an arbitrary term in which with adequate tolerance and understanding by all Americans, may cease to exist in the next 50 years. Unfortunately, this tolerance begins with each person. Habits are very difficult to break, and the habit of claiming race as such a monolithic identifiable aspect of our lives is something we as Americans will have great trouble dissociating with.

In the first three chapters, Payne discusses that the problems with race are the way it is examined, the social constructs and ethics that have defined race, and the interpersonal contact, especially within the family will help alter current racial perceptions. Payne specifies in the race relations structure, the concept of victimology dictates power. "To be vulnerable is to be invincible. Complaint gives you power". (9)

This vulnerability, to a great extent has been utilized by disadvantaged African Americans in nearly every realm of political, social, and business relations. When the masses are brought together to help solve race problems, this victimology only separates the have from have nots, and tens to create greater disunity among the collective. It seems unclear if this method has helped the black community in a comprehensive way, but many are beginning to dismiss the wailing of individuals that are underprivileged that also do little to curtail their own problems. We must remember, that people are discriminated against, and some are victimized because of their color, or sex. Payne counters, and suggests that Americans must do a better job of focusing upon the positives involving people of other races.

Too often, we tend to characterize the actions or opinions of one as being the standard for the collective. The negativity from these perceptions tends to resonate toward those in that community. The subsequent negativity breeds cynicism in those communities, and a sense of despair follows. (18) The end result may be areas which have poor educational facilities, poor housing, and the like. Payne suggests that we must learn to reframe the problem that those in various races deal with.

For instance, crime is not only a black issue, but a problem that affects us all--despite the idea that many claim have no bearing upon what happens outside their own doorstep or office. In learning to reframe the problem as a universal, Americans of all races must also learn to trust each other. Payne asserts that if we learn to trust each other, this understanding will lead to a more racially cooperative society. Again, the outlook looks promising, but this change must begin with the person. That person has the chance to make great change, but also may risk ridicule from his/her own race in trying to be an agent of change. More often than not, if one does not have enough support from those in their own community, change is extremely difficult to attain.

Socially and interpersonally, the concept of race has been intertwined in American society. Since the time the English sought for slaves, racial concepts have been present in society. Dr. Payne made the point that European culture taught the English to see black as something ugly, or of evil nature. Arguably, this concept may have been responsible for many of the struggles early African Americans faced, and still do face today. Even in 2000, some older Americans that are generational relatives of those in the present-day South still believe the racial differences. A college in South Carolina has only now allowed interracial dating on its campus. Granted, other circumstances led to the change of that mandate, the fact remains that it will be extremely difficult for individuals to get beyond race. Although the power of change lies within each person, there are still countless examples in America that suggest Payne's utopian view of rectifying racial classifications will not be simple.

Most importantly, the agent of change is each person, and how they choose to look at people of varying colors and cultures. Dr. Payne explains that the family is one of the more significant agents that can change opinions of race. This viewpoint may be altered especially if a family member brings home a potential spouse of another race, or culture. Families go through the most volatile components of change because of the proximity of the issue. Payne agrees that this shock, so to speak, is one of the benefits that help to race becoming less of an issue in our society. However, many families remain adamant about non racial mixing. Countless examples can be found in television and print media these days, but it remains difficult to gauge how much one's opinions on race have changed.

The following three chapters explain how race has become more ambiguous. Payne uses the Military, the idea of equal opportunity, and the viewpoints of immigrants to America as primary examples that the concept of race is dwindling in America.

Arguably, Dr. Payne's most interesting chapter on the lack of race concepts is found in the American military. An institution based upon one common goal that requires the utmost in teamwork, and a strict hierarchy is the most poignant example of how arbitrary race could be in this society. However, when American forces fought in World Wars I and II, one of the most ironic concepts in recent history was that black troops and airmen that were fighting for the freedom and equality that other countries did not have. After guaranteeing freedom for Europe, many black troops returned to a racist America that supposedly stood for the principles of equality, and freedom. Even today, there are some problems in the lack of frequent black generals in other battalions such as the Air Force and Navy. Race is not as much of an issue in the military as in the past, but change has come; at a very arthritic pace.

Other ways that Payne helps us to comprehend the ambiguity of race is involved in the idea of equal opportunity. Payne claims that programs such as Affirmative Action are not based upon trying to create preferential treatment as some argue, but as an attempt to "enlarge the pie". Dr. Payne mentions that the system must create more equal opportunity for "disadvantaged" Americans, regardless of race. In understanding the controversy around Affirmative Action, and other race based programs, one must look at the skewed tests that many young minorities must take in schools and colleges. Payne states that the goal of many standardized tests do not accurately measure what is important in the American business sector. 

The tests measure math and verbal skills which tend to put many minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics in bad situations. (113) Payne suggests that the tests should measure more justifiable skills, such as decision making, creativity, interpersonal skills, and judgment skills. The results of such SAT exams only measure one's ability to take tests, not comprehensive ability. (113) If testing practices differed in such ways, the results of many minorities would probably increase, placing them in better positions to have opportunities to work in business settings.

Lastly, Dr. Payne explains the concept of race is further clouded with the increasing number of immigrants that arrive and succeed in America. Immigrants that come to America and must take standardized exams are befuddled at the classification of race as the lone determinant of identity in American society. For instance, a Persian man from Iran could not classify himself as white, black, Hispanic, or Asian. American society may claim he is white because of the only identifiable aspect, his color. However, this increased perception that race is becoming more difficult to identify is the key to Payne's argument. As the framework for what describes white, black, and the like are obscured, so too will the arguments surrounding racial differences. This, in essence, is the hope of the book.

The final two chapters encompass what Dr. Payne sees as the most important facet that can destroy racism in American society, Interracial relationships/dating/marriages and Transracial Adoption. As the number of interracial marriages has jumped the past 30 years, so too have the rigid concepts that have separated blacks and whites, as well as others. When offspring are conceived from interracial marriages, they have a powerful ability to destroy, if not curtail racist comments or actions, especially among family members. This interaction between families of varying racial backgrounds helps to create a bond, and subsequent trust that Dr. Payne claims can change racist styles and practices in American society. 

Opponents to the theory claim that multiracial children are still considered black according to the "one drop theory" (172) This theory specifies that regardless if a child is born to multiracial parents, the child is inherently black. (if one parent is white--the other is black) Along with the one drop theory is the frustration many in both white and black circles see as those selling out to the other race. 

Black women tend to despise Black men that date or marry white women, and vice versa. The idea that an individual must live along racial lines only may help to perpetuate racial stereotypes that pull our society apart. Granted, this change does begin with each individual, and decisions involving interracial relationships inherently suggest that the couple will have to reframe the way they see race issues in America, as well as the social constructs that society believe to be correct. Indeed it is a powerful tool to combat the backward thinking of many Americans, but it is the most potent factor that could eliminate the concept of race in America.

Just as interracial relationships can help change the way people view race, transracial adoption is another strong weapon that greatly alters the way individuals, families, and society looks at race. Its positives seem to outweigh the negatives, however, there are those that believe that transracial adoptions only mar the children that evolve from opposite race foster parents. Many contend that white families can not teach young black children about the effects of racism, because rarely are white families the victims of it. Others point out that the child's racial identity is further restricted in the black community because the child/adult may not identify with some of the same lingo or rituals of those of black families, and vice versa. Despite the differences, many agree with Dr. Payne that the only way to transcend the bonds of race and racism, is to invoke change that stares in the face of what has been conventional wisdom for generations.

Dr. Payne makes some very good arguments about what needs to be done to cure the racial problems in America. Unlike that of Streetwise, written by Elijah Anderson, this book is not as personable. In other words, it is more informative than inflammatory in its remarks about race and racism. Dr. Payne's book is much more passive in style, and that may dictate why he believes that race and racism can be eliminated with the right attitude. Although the view is a utopian ideal of what should happen, it does have it's flaws. 

It is clear that change begins with the individual, but trying to change the concept of race is arguably the most difficult task this country will face. As I stated earlier, habits are extremely tough to break, especially when one is opposing their family, their bosses, and the like. Ideally, we want to believe that things can magically become good and well. The toughest aspects of trying to transcend race are getting those that do not want to lose their "black" or "white" identities to accept a comprehensive idea of American. If we can transcend race, do we lose our culture? Does the culture of HoChih Minh become my own? Is it possible for a "white male" to understand and embrace the concept of Kwanzaa? Does it matter? Is it certainly possible, but the idea of its justification becomes important. Change is coming, but it may not be arriving at the speed many of us would wish to see it.

It would be a dream to see races, namely whites and blacks get along in society. It is also evident that as long as we characterize people by skin color--which will be the most identifiable aspect of ourselves, the cycle of race relations will continue to be a volatile one. In answering the question can we get beyond race, I believe each person has the answers to their own questions, but we remain too ignorant to use our "lifelines"-- which subsequently may hold the "final answer"(s) to solving the questions surrounding racism.


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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2000 16:55:32 -0600
From: Molly Sutter <mlsutte@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Review of: Getting Beyond Race


Reviewed by: Molly Sutter

This book sheds positive light on race relations in America today. Dr. Payne takes a radical stance because he looks at the bigger picture of the success that both blacks and whites have made toward a more egalitarian society. He believes that every individual, regardless of race, must take it upon him or herself to continue making important steps to reach the goal of a color-blind society. Instead of using race as the principle characteristic with which to define ourselves, Payne proposes that we begin to define ourselves on the basis of the productive human virtues that we possess.

When talking with Dr. Payne, he expresses that black students are generally opposed to his views. I think that some fail to see that Payne does indeed recognize that racism and discrimination against blacks does exist in this country. He is not so blinded in his optimism that he ignores the backward treatment that black people experience still today. However, he believes that instead of us remaining supposed victims and supposed victimizers, we should move beyond it. The most important thing to do at this point in history is to come together in our sameness as Americans and work to eliminate all remnants of division among skin color. He also contends that it is important for all Americans, but especially blacks to emphasize, the success of other blacks.

He writes that blacks tend to overlook the obvious evidence of significant success and progress made. Instead, blacks tend to focus on the problems facing the black underclass, which makes up approximately 3 to 5 million out of 32 million American blacks (17). Others have a hard time accepting this goal as a plausible one because they assume that Payne is claiming that once the system of race is abolished, all conflict between the groups will be resolved. He does not make this claim. He wishes that conflict between people could be seen as within the bounds of universal human conflict, not reduced to a problem between the races.

Payne devotes the first chapter to the importance of reframing how we view racial issues. Payne writes that, "Reframing an issue challenges prevailing thinking and the power and advantage that emanate from it. By perceiving the world in nonracial terms, one can be empowered to achieve one’s aspirations and to participate more fully in American life" (11-12). Race is a powerful idea that has shaped how people treat others in our country. Though race is only a social construct, it is real in that it guides our actions. The book’s theme is that we all need to do our individual part in contributing to a new reality of race mattering less and ruling fewer of our actions.

An important step in doing this is to eliminate the belief that race represents a person’s fixed identity. Instead, identity should start to be seen as spread across a set of virtues prized in America. These particular attributes are outlined in the book and include hard work, discipline, responsibility, honesty, self-respect, respect of others, fairness, civility, politeness, consideration of others, tolerance, compassion and generosity. The degree to which a person does or does not possess these traits should be extended to judge every person’s character. Dr. Payne is so dedicated to getting beyond race because he can see that much has changed in our society to promote equality between blacks and whites. All of the positive change described has come about in just the last thirty years since the civil rights movement. 

Presently, blacks and whites interact and depend on one another every day. Both races live, work, go to school and find entertainment in the same places. The book outlines the most important mediums that have led, and continue to lead, to change. The first and most important source of change is found in the family. As more grandparents and parents have more interpersonal contact and relationships with members of a different race, they become more tolerant and colorblind.

As a result, they pass these sentiments on to their children by way of example. If children grow up in an environment of tolerance and acceptance of people different from themselves, they then pass on this ideology to their children. Consequently, generational change is the best factor in shaping positive racial attitudes and behavior. Being educated at the college level is a second component of change. It is in this diverse college atmosphere that people must come into close contact with members of a different race. The college environment encourages open-mindedness and cooperation. Students are often required to take classes on multiculturalism, which help instill an appetite to learn more about others unlike themselves. 

The media, by helping to heighten awareness, is another avenue to change. During the civil rights movement, the media opened the public’s eyes by showing discrimination and racial inequality in action. A fourth tool for change is religion as an institution. It stresses a common humanity and the need to unite different racial groups around a higher being. Payne discusses the military in great detail as another source of change in race relations. Because of its expedient steps taken to ensure equality between the races, it is a model to be emulated throughout the rest of society.

Marriage between a black person and a white person has caused tremendous change in our typical ideas of race. To illustrate the progression we have made in getting beyond race, Dr. Payne documents the following statistics In 1968, 17% of whites and 48% of blacks approved of interracial relationships. We compare these statistics with 44% of whites and 70% of blacks in 1991 (154). The children produced from an interracial marriage have discredited the importance of race, as they do not fit under an easy classification of black or white. Huge advancement has been made here as demonstrated with the new census classifications. 

Today, the US government census allows an individual to check as many ethnicities as apply to him or her. Transracial adoptions also show a profound change in racial attitude. Those who support it are committed to the idea of a common humanity. They wish to give a child, regardless of race, a loving family and a good life. There is a shortage of black families who wish to adopt children, but the demand of white families that wish to adopt outweighs the supply of white kids waiting to be adopted. Those that oppose transracial adoptions see this humanitarianism as a heavy burden that is put primarily on the black and interracial children that have been adopted.

The most powerful idea in the book that I grasped was the importance of individual understanding of race. To look at the big picture, of racism spread across the nation, is too overwhelming and disheartening. After surmising all of the discrimination and injustice that is unarguably out there, people inevitably feel anger and despair. But by confronting your own ideas about a race of people is key. By opening your mind and heart to a person of a different race, you begin to see that there are no real differences between you. 

Your common interests outweigh the importance of skin color. By accepting and upholding ideas about the person based on her own merits, and not skin color, will make a lot of difference in the quality of your own life. This new, positive understanding can only spread to those around you and the people that they come into contact with. Payne does an upstanding job of expressing the positive sentiment that the growing ideology in America is that we are moving toward a color-blind society. He is able to show that this is advantageous for all, because when people are separated because of their differences, there is much more room for conflict to arise between the separated groups.

I think that there is a possibility for getting beyond race in the not-so distant future. The strongest push that I feel for this is generational replacement. My generation has never lived with government enforced programs of segregation. We have always been taught alongside children of a different race and have learned that no race is better than another race. Hopefully all young people realize that discrimination remains a problem, but have learned through culturalization that the perception of inequality between blacks and whites is wrong and will do everything in their power to discontinue it. Even though Dr. Payne’s view and mine is optimistic, it should not be discredited at all. The public must recognize that this is the majority ideology among young, educated people, and because the world will one-day be ours, our beliefs will set the future precedent.

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Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 23:36:39 -0600
From: shelly spencer <sjspenc@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race

Reviewed by:  Shelly J. Spencer


Getting Beyond Race had a refreshing positive perspective on race relations, as well as a new outlook on what race really is. Most people tend to dwell on the negative aspects of like Dr. Payne has chosen to highlight the changes in America and the attitudes that are an improvement in American culture. Unfortunately, when I have discussed the ideas in this book with my friends and fellow students of African ancestry they do not agree that we have made as much progress as suggested in the book.

The most thought provoking concept of this book is the realization that race is a myth; there is no such thing as race. In America we base race on color with great attention to the differences between people that are black and white do to the aggravated history. According to Getting Beyond Race Canadians are divided by language and the Irish by religion. So, who is right what defines race; which criteria should we use? The answer to those questions and similar questions is there is no such thing as race. Race, unlike gender, cannot be defined biologically with objective measures and innate characteristics. (33) So, what we have been taught as race is all based on superficial minute differences and we have kept up these false pretenses because in the past people benefited from the stereotypes and myths about inferiority.

Patriotism and loyalty to our country has been a long-standing value in all Americans. Americans of European and African ancestry have a long history in our military defense. When we travel abroad to other countries we identify ourselves as Americans and the people from those countries identify us as Americans. When we are here in America we identify with each other by sub-groups based on skin color. One change or reform that was emphasized as needed to get beyond race is for everyone to identify with his or her Americanness instead of strengths within any sub-group identity. 

I agree that we need to downplay the differences between people and concentrate on similarities among Americans. It has been argued that Americanness is based on white beliefs and gives a white advantage, promotes white privilege, and institutional racism. Dr. Payne has pointed out that since the beginning of American history whites and blacks have influenced each other through day-to-day contact as well as interpersonal relationships, therefore, both sub-groups created what it means to be an American.

Although you cannot deny that racism still goes on you cannot deny that race has become less and less important with each new generation. And in today=92s world young Americans have more opportunities interact with a more diverse group of people. Through technologies such as the Internet we are able to communicate with people without are judgment being clouded by superficial appearances. With the information age upon us and the diversity developing in education Americans have a chance to learn about and express many different beliefs, ideas, values and cultures which we analyze and accept or participate in the ones we feel would make us happiest.

Another change Dr. Payne talks about is language. Again, I agree with the need to change the language we use to refer to each other because language is what expresses our beliefs and values. The book goes as far as to refer to people as European ancestry and African ancestry but at times still referred to people as blacks and whites. If we are going to change our language one of the first epithets we should dissolve is the grouping of people by color such as whites and blacks.

I have a younger sister who happens to be blind and often people refer to her as the blind girl who we find offensive because being blind is on one of many characteristics and being blind does not define who she is, how she perceives life or what she wants out of life. In the same thought having skin color of one tone or another does not define who you are or prescribe your wants and needs. The color of your skin is only as significant as you make it. 

So, I feel Dr. Payne should have avoided using terms that reinforce language barriers in order to stay true to his idea of language reform. It is as if we have forgotten the black and white are just descriptive words and that they do not define who we are skin tone is only one small characteristic and we must remember we are all people first.

It is true that we have come a long way in race relations but we still have a long way to go. We all have the responsibility to ensure we engage in changing perceptions that are superficial. This book is very encouraging and it think it provides hope that soon people will not longer be seeing opportunities to enlighten them selves or to participate in something new based on race because race will be a thing of the past.


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Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 22:32:08 -0600
From: John Bothwell <jlbothw@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (John Bothwell)

Payne, Richard. Getting Beyond Race, The Changing American Culture, (Westview Press, Boulder: 1998)

Reviewed by: John Bothwell (jlbothw@ilstu.edu)

There is no question that race and racism has been a divisive issue in this nation ever since it was founded. One of the reasons this issue tends to be so divisive is that there are so many viewpoints that can be taken on the issue. Some people let racism consume their beings while others accept it as a part of life and move on. Still others like to pretend that the racism that exists in our culture is not nearly as bad as we are lead to believe. This "it's not as bad as it seems" viewpoint is the view taken by ISU Professor Richard Payne in his book, Getting Beyond Race.

As someone who grew up in an upper-middle class existence, I have never had to experience racism first hand. I do, however, realize that racism is one of the most "incurable" ills of our society. Based on prior readings I have done on the subject of racism, I was expecting Payne's book to highlight the plight of African-Americans in this nation and point out some of the problems we as a society have yet to find cures for. I was shocked, however, to find that Payne almost acted as if racism was not a problem and that race does not matter in this nation. It seemed to me that Payne, I very highly educated black man just wanted to pretend that racism had completely gone away and we were all one united nation. Unfortunately, Payne's wishes are not the reality we live with as a society.

I was struck from the very beginning of Payne's "utopian" style novel by his efforts to hide the problems that we face with racism. One could have almost thought that someone wrote this from the far right in the Republican Party (like a Senator from South Carolina) or someone from the Southern Baptist Convention, but it was in all actuality written by a black man who has undoubtedly faced many of the elements of racism he wanted to forget in his own book. It seemed as though Payne forgot that he is a much higher profile target of police and security officers than I am as a white man or that I was born with a statistical advantage just because the pigments in my skin happen to be lighter.  

One of the issues that came up in a group discussion about the book was the terms that have unfortunately made their ways into our vocabularies. These terms are "acting white" and "acting black". It could be said that many in African-American circles could accuse Payne of "acting white" and denying the struggle of his people. By making it sound like African-Americans do not face the struggles in everyday life that they do, Payne is only lending helping those who are still trying to oppress African-Americans. I have learned through personal experiences, both from black friends and just observing daily life, that "acting white" or being accused of doing so is one of the worst things that can happen to an African-American. While it is a sad reality that African-Americans who have worked very hard to get to the places they hold in society receive this derogatory label, one who decides to use the term could very well say that Payne is trying to "act white" and deny his heritage.

There is nothing I want more in this world than for there to be unity between the races that for so long have been so divided simply over pigmentation. I am, however, a realist who does not look at the world through the same rose colored glasses as Payne did. I realize that there are legitimate and urgent problems in our society that cannot be fixed by pretending that they do not exist. Payne wanted us to "get beyond" race, but denying race will do nothing to help the racism problem, but will only intensify it. African-Americans and their allies need to continue the fight established by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists. Payne would like to believe that the fight for equality and justice for minorities is over, but it has only begun. When we forget the fights of Dr. King is when we will start to revert to the very things he gave his life to end. Pretending that the problem does not exist will do nothing to help the actual problem. We must accept that there is a problem and work to correct it. I disagree with Dr. Payne very strongly, mainly because I feel that the fight is far from over.  

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Date: Sun, 04 Feb 2001 16:39:46 -0800 (PST)
From: Cece Koropara <yakpaoro@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Getting Beyond Race, Jay T. Brennan

Review: Payne, Richard J., Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture, (WestviewPress, Boulder: 1998)

Reviewed By: Jay T. Brennan

How can America move past the issue of race and begin to seriously address common problems such as education, unemployment, environmental issues, foreign affairs, and youth development? Some Americans believe we have already begun adopting new ways of thinking about race. Suggesting issues of race are more tactfully addressed within a more extensive setting of universal human virtues, and American values. This more latent approach arguably has the potential to further integrate American society, transforming the issue of race from that of skin color, to one of sensibilizing all Americans of their shared stake in a communal humanity.

America is moving beyond race! This can be seen through the impact a new breed of American is having on society, in a growing black middle class, an increase in interracial marriages, transracial adoptions, and changes in acceptable racial attitudes and behaviors. This has been achieved by focusing upon success and not failure, highlighting strategies that continue an evolution toward a society where race no longer matters.  

Getting Beyond Race, by Dr. Richard Payne, struggles to analyze the complexities of how individuals and small groups are helping to reduce the significance of race in society today. He argues that the issue of race is better addressed through changing individual behavior at the grassroots level, and that this is already taking place duly because most Americans want to move beyond race and are currently making efforts to do so. Suggesting that society is reframing the problem by building on positive events, focusing on universal human virtues, and looking forward with hope and a sense of common purpose and destiny. Allowing a focus upon underlying common issues as opposed to issues of race. Payne feels that America is making steady evolutionary progress toward leaving the social, economic, and political construction of race less meaningful. Racism is in decline, and the very concept of race is becoming increasingly less significant.  

Throughout, Getting Beyond Race, Payne reveals flawed methods of addressing race, for instance he reveals how the concept of victimhood has been trivialized by society at large and has weakened the claims for justice by legitimate victims. Increasing us-versus them thinking which leads to less cooperation. Disempowering the subject by implying passiveness, helplessness, and dependence as opposed to building self-confidence, respect and responsibility. This issue of victimology is at the heart of Paynes idea that society must focus on successes and not failure. Although, Payne disappoints the reader by supporting this theory with a seemingly irrelevant example of Congresswomen Enid Waldholtz and how she claimed to have been victimized by her husband who had allegedly stole $4 million from her father to fund her campaign for Congress. This tends to leave the reader wanting a more compelling example to add relevancy to the authors argument that victomology has created an American with African ancestry identification that focuses on “black failures”.

Payne wants society to reframe the problem so race is not the central issue and society as a whole does not define themselves by race. How? By talking about the problem as opposed to attempting to be politically correct. Focusing on universal virtues and positive American values as opposed to race. Again, a great idea but his example leaves the reader in doubt. Payne offers Colin Powell’s approach that argues thinking in racial terms is a burden. Payne calls for a reframing of the problem of race in a non-racial way, yet offers no examples of how to address racial issues in a non-racial way. Colin Powell’s approach cannot work for everyday America, because everyday America does not enjoy the privilege of Colin Powell. Although Payne offers very little personal background information it would seem his approach is a very emotional one, as opposed to an empirical study. The main argument, thinking of issues racially can often result in a diversion from the underlying problem is very compelling, yet he offers unusual statistics like 70% of Americans with African ancestry believe that most whites perceive them as “always whining about racism.” In response to this Payne repeatedly calls for a new paradigm or a reframing of race. The idea is good, but it leaves the reader longing for a better understanding of how this is exemplified in a grassroots America today. One individual example Payne uses repeatedly to exemplify how America is moving beyond race is Colin Powell. It is agreed Colin Powell has the potential to be a great role model for Americans with African Ancestry, yet Powell does not represent Americans with African ancestry. He’s rich and Republican; he shares almost nothing in common with the common American of either African or European ancestry. This suggests that Paynes thinking may be a bit idealistic stemming from a possibly privileged upbringing that does not afford a complete appreciation for the race struggle. Yet his approach supported with better more appropriate innovative examples of how America is moving beyond race would prove invaluable.

Payne professes grassroots development but offers very top-down examples; this seems to contradict his proposal for a bottom-up deconstruction of race. Referring to Judy Markowitz as a grassroots developer tends to be contradicting, since she is a member of one of the wealthiest families in Central Illinois. Grassroots development involves common people coming together to address an issue. A good example of this would be something like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston. A grassroots movement made up of a diverse group of real apolitical neighborhood stakeholders. There only objective was to create a better place for their families to live and grow up. Also, when Payne refers to politicians like Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton addressing race as a grassroots movement, it appears inaccurate use of this word, grassroots. Grassroots involves common people of local, rural, or outlying areas. Bill Clinton is an Ex-President; his only involvement in grassroots activity would be to provide support. A good example of grassroots would tend to identify these local and rural people that are impacting a change in the way their community perceives race.

Who can argue with this idea, but the examples beg more thought in directly addressing the main issue that America can and is moving beyond race by focusing on shared goals. Dr. Payne desires to move beyond race, but without good examples of how people can and are doing this in today’s public society he may only tend to increase the cynicism and doubt that surrounds the issue of race. I support your struggle Dr. Payne, but I would suggest that you seek more inspiring contemporary examples of grassroots America transcending race.  

=====
Jay T. Brennan
311 S. Main St., #19
Normal, IL 61761
(217) 390-4536
(309) 454-6099
yakpaoro@yahoo.com

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Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 05:32:43 -0800
From: Cece Koropara <yakpaoro@YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Jay T. Brennan)

Payne, Richard J., Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture, (WestviewPress, Boulder: 1998).

Reviewed By: Jay T. Brennan

How can America move beyond the issue of race and set about equitably redressing common problems such as education, unemployment, environmental degradation, foreign policy, and youth development? Some believe Americans have already begun adopting new ways of thinking about race. Assuming all things being equal, those of this mindset address issues of race within a more comprehensive set of universal human virtues, and American values. This approach will afford further integration of American society, transforming issues of race from those of skin color, to ones of sensibilizing all Americans of their shared stake in a communal humanity.

America is moving beyond race! This can be seen through the impact a new breed of American is having on society, in a growing black middle class, an increase in interracial marriages, transracial adoptions, and changes in acceptable racial attitudes and behaviors. This has been achieved by focusing upon success and not failure, highlighting strategies that continue an evolution toward a society where race no longer matters.

Getting Beyond Race, by Richard Payne, analyzes the complexities of how individuals and small groups are helping to reduce the significance of race in society today. Payne employs positive rhetoric and positive examples to illustrate how issues of racism are being addressed through changing individual behavior at the grassroots level, and that this is already taking place duly because most Americans want to move beyond race and are currently making efforts to do so. Getting Beyond Race contends that society is reframing the problem by building on positive events, focusing on universal human virtues, and looking forward with hope and a sense of common purpose and destiny. Payne employs this approach toward the issue of race primarily to afford a focus not upon race, but more relevant underlying issues of the commonwealth as opposed to overgrown issues of race. Payne feels that America is making steady evolutionary progress toward leaving the social, economic, and political construction of race less meaningful. Racism is in decline, and the very concept of race is becoming increasingly less significant.

Payne exposes archaic methods of addressing race, for instance he reveals how the concept of victimhood has been overstated by society at large and has weakened the claims for justice by legitimate victims. Overstated cases of victimization inevitably increase us-versus them thinking which has led to less cooperation surrounding shared issues. This also tends to discourage the person by implying passiveness, helplessness, and dependence as opposed to building self-confidence, respect and responsibility.

Payne's analysis of victimology intends to support his belief that society must focus on successes and not failures to move beyond issues of race. Victimology is revealed as a tool to discourage victims. Although, Payne disappoints the reader by supporting this theory with a seemingly irrelevant example of Congresswomen Enid Waldholtz and how she claimed to have been victimized by her husband who had allegedly stole $4 million from her father to fund her campaign for Congress. This example inevitably leaves the reader confused and craving a more compelling example of victimology to add relevancy to the argument victimology has led to an identification by Americans with African ancestry that focuses on "black failures". If victimology has indeed led to a focus on black failures, and a concentration upon more positive events can successfully counter this, it would be relevant to include examples of positive events that stand to encourage, this would in turn encourage people to be in accordance with Payne's ideology.

Payne wants society to reframe the problem so race is not the central issue and society as a whole does not define themselves by race. How? By talking about the problem as opposed to attempting to be politically correct. Focusing on universal virtues and positive American values as opposed to race. Payne uses Colin Powell's approach to do this, the approach that adheres to the belief that thinking in racial terms are a burden. Payne calls for a reframing of the problem of race in a non-racial way, yet offers no examples of how to address racial issues in a non-racial way. One could possibly presume Payne is suggesting that issues of race be addressed as class issues, but even then his examples do not address universal virtues but class virtues and the class virtues of Colin Powell. These virtues are not representative of the majority or reality for that matter. Payne would be very well served if he were to employ more real life examples of how "Joe American" is moving beyond race.

Although Payne offers very little personal background information it is evident his beliefs are based on normative experiences, as opposed to more experiential empiricism. The main argument that thinking of issues racially can often result in a diversion from the underlying problem is very compelling. Although in support of these compelling ideas he offers unusual statistics such as 70% of Americans with African ancestry believe that most whites perceive them as "always whining about racism." In response to this Payne repeatedly calls for a new paradigm or a reframing of race. The idea is good, but it leaves the reader longing for a better understanding of how this is exemplified in grassroots America today. One individual example Payne uses repeatedly to exemplify how America is moving beyond race is Colin Powell. It is agreed Colin Powell has the potential to be a great role model for Americans with African ancestry, yet Powell does not represent Americans with African ancestry. He's rich and Republican; he shares almost nothing in common with the average American of either African or European ancestry. This suggests that Payne's thinking may be a bit idealistic stemming from a possibly privileged upbringing that does not afford a complete understanding of the race struggle for average grassroots Americans. His premise supported with better more appropriate innovative examples of how America is moving beyond race would prove invaluable. Also it would be useful if the author provided a little history of himself, as it is inevitable to interject ones own personal experiences in almost any idea. This would allow the reader a better understanding of "where" Payne is coming from.  

Payne professes grassroots development but offers very top-down examples; this contradicts his proposal for a bottom-up deconstruction of race. Referring to Judy Markowitz as a grassroots developer is unbelievable, she is a member of one of the wealthiest families in Central Illinois and it is extremely difficult to believe she went to rebuild destroyed churches without any political aspirations. Grassroots development involves common people coming together to address a shared issue. For example many disabled people of Bloomington-Normal have formed a Not-for-Profit that organizes transportation when buses do not run. This NPO serves as a grassroots movement, and if, and a very big "IF", Judy Markowitz ever decides to address the issue of transportation in Bloomington it will not constitute as a grassroots movement. Payne is missing the people who make-up the individual and small groups that are enacting this movement beyond race. Another example of this would be something like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston. A grassroots movement made up of a diverse group of real neighborhood stakeholders. There objective is to create a better place for their families to live and grow up. And when Payne refers to politicians like Jimmy Carter & Bill Clinton addressing race as a grassroots movement, it appears inaccurate use of this word, grassroots. Grassroots involves common people of local, rural, or outlying areas. Bill Clinton is an Ex-President; his only involvement in grassroots activity would be to provide support. A relevant example of grassroots movements transcending race would be the identification of the local and rural people that are impacting a change in the way their community perceives race.

Who can argue with Payne's method of getting beyond race? It's hard to it is the single most inclusive and compassionate approach toward race I have encountered! Although, the examples Payne provides beg more thought in directly addressing the main belief that America can and is moving beyond race through the desire of individuals and small groups to realize shared goals that focus not on race but assets and demands of simple grassroots movements. Dr. Payne desires to move beyond race, but without good examples of how people can and are doing this in America today he may only unintentionally increase the cynicism and doubt that surrounds the issue of race. Payne's perception of race can only be seen as idealistic thinking until he supports his beliefs with more practical examples. I support the logic, yet to gain acceptance of his reasoning Payne must seek more inspiring contemporary examples of grassroots America transcending race.?

=====
Jay T. Brennan
311 S. Main St., #19
Normal, IL 61761
(217) 390-4536
(309) 454-6099
yakpaoro@yahoo.com

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Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 16:38:58 +0000
From: rebecca brooks <beccabrooks@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Rebecca Brooks)

Payne, Richard J. Getting Beyond Race, The Changing American Culture. (Westview Press, Boulder: 1998)

Reviewed by: Rebecca Brooks

As Americans living in the "melting pot" of the world, we have to deal with race every single day. Some experiences may be positive, embracing one another's culture; some experiences may be negative, resulting in stereotypes and even violence. Richard Payne has several ideas for Americans to get beyond race. They are simple solutions that any American could embrace, but many still resist. They include that of focusing on the success and not failure; and looking at someone as an individual, not stereotyping people into groups. There is also the matter building trust among individuals, and finding common interests before finding differences. He gives the example of Jesse Jackson picketing the Academy Awards show in 1996 because there was not enough black representation. Jackson chose to focus on that rather than the fact that Quincy Jones was the director and producer, and the African-Americans that were presenters and nominees.

One point is easily noticed, the way that Payne references black people "Americans with African Ancestry". This foreshadows how he looks at racism, and helps to even define the title of his book, Getting Beyond Race. When referencing blacks in this way, he is defining them as Americans first, and their African heritage second. He also uses "Americans with European Ancestry" instead of white people. This attitude is helping unify Americans, and only separating them into secondary categories; these are appropriate terms for the book.

One of Payne's views is that historical perceptions has made race equal to culture. The American culture is seen as that of European, and those of non-European ancestry were seen as distant and not apart of the American culture. He also believes that enculturation does not completely unify the behavior of Americans. Reasoning behind this theory is that there are biological and environmental factors coming into play, such as how parents choose to bring their children up. Some children may be brought up to be tolerant of other points of view, and some may be brought up to only believe what they are taught is right. This leads to his point that culture varies from family to family and may not be consistent all over the society. Also, many people choose to satisfy their own needs as well as those of the society that they live in. This point makes culture vary greatly, and depends on who would tell you about the culture. These are excellent points that he makes, which may be the basis of a lot of Americans racism and prejudice. Many Americans' beliefs in our culture vary so widely, because of different upbringings.

His view on Affirmative Action is unclear until the end of the chapter. He goes back and forth, sometimes within the same page, stating the good and bad points of Affirmative Action. He begins by stating that many Americans with African Ancestry use Affirmative Action as a crutch, how they climb the "cultural" ladder. Further down the page he commends Affirmative Action for bringing America closer to a "color-blind" society. He is never clear on his stance, but gives the suggestion that class based Affirmative Action would help heal the wounds that current Affirmative Action laws have caused. Payne also states that there has been significant progress over the past thirty years, each generation becomes more tolerant of different races. Other differences have come up over the past thirty years to replace race though. Many people look down upon someone because of differing music styles, clothing brands, and even where residence is established. Richard Payne's simple ideas are wonderful for the book, something that as individuals, we should have the initiative to try. Who will actually take the initiative on is another question. Payne has wonderful ideas, and presents both sides of the issues clearly. He just never takes a firm stance on what his point of view is; he rather talks around the issue giving suggestions that in theory probably will not change the way that Americans take on racial issues.

________________________________________________

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Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 13:07:40 -0600
From: joy wellman <jrwellm@HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Joy Wellman)

Payne, Richard J. Getting Beyond Race. (Westview Press, 1998).

   Racism has plagued America since its beginning. While the founders of this nation based the government around freedom for its citizens, only a select few were able to enjoy these rights. Whereas other countries chose to divide its people among language or religion, the U.S. chose to divide its people by the color of their skin. Indeed the U.S. has come a long way since its founding in regards to equal rights for all citizens, however, racism still continues to flourish within its borders.

  The idea of racism has been "socially constructed" into American culture and ideology. Whereas Canadians are divided by language, Americans chose to rule skin pigment as a way to distinguish between who was dominant and who was weak. Through constant segregation, Americans with African ancestry begin to believe that their white counterparts are superior, demonstrating a self-fullfilling prophecy.

  Because racism has been socially constructed into the American culture, racism remains an American concept. During World War I, Americans with African ancestry were equally treated by the French. The French protested against American's beliefs of segregation and awarded many black soldiers for their courage. Because of World War II and Adolf Hitler's concept of white supremacy used to justify the elimination of six million Jews, Americans were forced to reanalyze their practices and beliefs of racial minorities. Many Americans became more receptive of racial integration and more aware of the need to fight racism within the U.S. borders.

Early America adopted a "One Drop Rule;" if there was one drop of African blood in a person's ancestry that would constitute the individual as a black American, regardless of the shade of the skin. Today, America has moved passed that rule of thumb. Interracial marriages and adoptions are quite common and accepted in most parts of American society. These unions across racial lines serve as a vital role in unifying ethnic differences. "Interracial relationships often have a ripple effect that goes beyond immediate family members."

  According to the author, America has taken vast steps in recent years to combat racism through civil rights acts, integration of the military forces, affirmative action programs, and education. Although Americans have made substantial progress, subtle racism or a more sophisticated racism still exists. To support this view, Dr. Payne uses the example of President George Bush's television advertisement of Willie Horton, who was granted a weekend pass from prison. On his leave, Horton raped a white woman. Bush's objective was to illustrate that his opponent, Michael Dukakis, was soft on crime. Many argue that the television ad subconsciously stated that black Americans are evil bodies preying on innocent white Americans. <P>     Dr. Payne believes that in order to get beyond the racism that exists today, Americans need to adopt a bottom-up approach. Americans need to do what they can to get beyond race.  A greater focus should be put on individuality, not on ethnic differences. As one unified race, Americans should take on some basic virtues like "treat others as you would like to be treated" and focus on the positives of the past instead of the negatives.  The best way to practice this approach is to get to know someone of a different heritage and befriend them. The idea is to gain an understanding of another person's culture and to accept it as who they are as an individual. Just because a person is black does not mean that he or she will take on the actions of Willie Horton.

   "There is only one human race, which is remarkably homogenous compared to other species."  This statement concludes that no matter the physical differences, we are all one people unified by our chemical makeup.  Recently, new discoveries in DNA testing have proved that there are no differences in the DNA structure of people of different races.  We are more similar chemically than what we have perceived in the past.  Race is not a scientific concept, rather "a product of fears, emotions, and effort by human beings to enhance their status and control of others."    Racism has infected this country since its formation. It took approximately a hundred years from its birth to free black Americans from the clutches of slavery. Another hundred years passed until our government allowed Americans with African ancestry the same equal rights that white citizens had enjoyed for two centuries. Although the constant struggle, the people of this country are taking steps towards unifying its people. Statistics prove that the more educated a person is the less that individual sees race as a factor. Fortunately, higher education among the population is on the rise.

  The approach that the author took in this book was not to encourage separation of colors nor to constitute white guilt. He chose to look at the positive aspects of how America has moved to become a color-blind society. Racism is a concept instilled in Americans from the early days of this country, however every day we are making progress towards equality through day to day encounters with those of the opposite race.

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Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 22:42:27 -0600
From: Erik Rankin <etranki@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Erik Rankin)

Payne, Richard J., Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture, (WestviewPress, Boulder: 1998).

Reviewed By: Erik Rankin

GETTING BEYOND RACE

American culture has included racial conflicts at its core from its initial conception. To truly understand the American culture one must look at the struggles that exist with a racial context. In many ways our society has evolved from brutal physical conflicts regarding race as well as sophisticated political wars. In every instance there have been two guilty parties that are playing the ever-powerful "race card". Can an American society as a whole ever move past the racial divide? The American government has made strides in trying to protect the rights of minorities. The creation of Affirmative Action was designed to help minorities achieve equality in the work place. There has been much debate on whether on not Affirmative Action has helped or hindered the minority population. So what does all this work on a governmental level do for the American racial divide? Is it helping the problem or adding to the problem? Or has the real problem yet to be addressed?

Richard Payne authored, Getting Beyond Race: The changing American Culture, a book that addresses most questions concerning racial issues in America today. I applaud Payne for his use of terminology in his book. He phrases the term African- American with a different approach. By referring to Black Americans as Americans with African ancestry, Payne brings together all races that reside in America. He is attempting to break down that racial divide by grouping people not by race but by geographic location. Payne sees the world not as black and white, unlike the rest of the country. While I find this method of classifying human races positive, I also see it as hopelessly optimistic. Payne wants the American people to in effect forget race. Forget that we are all different but embrace what is the same in all of you. Most Americans cling to what makes them stand out in this melting pot that we call the United States of America. While I understand Payne's good intentions to bring the nation together, I frown at its large scope.

After reading the book I began to question what was the reason for its being written? Payne seems to believe that there really is not a race problem in America. It only exists because we are allowing it to be a motivating factor in our lives. He stresses the point of Colin Powell being a leader of the Americans with African ancestry. Powell as portrayed by Payne has "gotten beyond race" because he has not focused on it being against him. He has in effect not acted as if there is a problem and has therefore reaped all the benefits. Does Payne actually suggest in a way, that the only way for an American with African ancestry to succeed is to pretend he is not oppressed in any way buy the majority of white Americans? I do not think that Payne is irrational in his overtones but I do feel that the author is fatally optimistic. Colin Powell is not in the position he is today because he failed to admit that he is an African American. If anything Colin Powell has embraced his heritage and given hope to other minorities that hard work pays off no matter your skin color.

I do however feel that the overall theme of the book was one of unity. Payne does see that the melding of all Americans is vital to the success of our country. Payne seeks to bring everyone together in working harmony such as the American military. The American military according to Payne is a prime example of getting beyond race in a short amount of time. He sees all branches of the military working together to practice racial equality. Payne points out the coming together of all race in each war that America has had to fight together. I feel that he sees wars as something, which is to blame for the success of racial integration. I can see his point and I do agree that the military has been an excellent place for men and women of all ethnicity to come together. However the military world is a world in which certain freedoms and rights are waived. Superiors tell you how to think and act rather than speaking your mind. The civilian population does not have the rules by which to live by and therefore makes forced intergration more difficult. Payne does an excellent job at displaying the benefits of the American military but fails in his application to "real" life.
Erik Rankin
Assistant Director/Tutor Coordinator
Karin Bone Athletic Study Center
Illinois State University
Campus Box 7130
Normal, IL 61790-7130
Office: (309) 438-3711
Fax: (309)438-5240
etranki@ilstu.edu ·

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Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 23:54:00 -0600
From: Meghan Carey <mecarey@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (Meghan Carey)

Payne, Richard. J. Getting Beyond Race (Westview Press:1998) Reviewed By: Meghan Carey mecarey@ilstu.edu

As a society, we struggle through many obstacles. There are many of these obstacles that we overcome, yet, we have still not managed to overcome the struggle with racism. In a world that is forever changing, our society is still dealing with issues that have been haunting us for over a hundred years. We describe our country as a =93melting pot=94; we have all different types of races that come together to live in peace and harmony. Not exactly. There may be a =93melting pot=94 of different races that live in the United Sates, but this does not constitute an understanding or acceptance of all the different races. So, how do we all accept each other and live " happily ever after?". To come together and work as one, we must stop focusing on the exterior and start learning about the interior. This is the idea that Dr. Payne presents in Getting Beyond Race.

Why is it that this country must focus on the color of ones skin and not on ones individual character? Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer to this question. One could say that it is the history of this country that has brought us to this point of focusing religiously on the color rather than the individual. Dr. Payne would not argue with the reasons why we think the way we do, he really just wants to put that aside and say "hey, let"s change the way we look at each other," as I was reading this book, I really got the feeling that Dr. Payne wanted to "start over" and forget about what was done or said in the past but focus only on the here and now.

There are a lot of great ideas that Dr. Payne suggests in order to "Get Beyond Race", Dr. Payne will focus on the dangers of "victimology" and how this view actually hinders the opportunity for cooperation between Americans with African ancestry and Americans with European ancestry. Dr. Payne also looks at how embracing universal human virtues can also help bring about a shift in the attitudes of Americans and may help to bring them to a more common level. Focusing on the success instead of failure is another position Dr. Payne will take in the solution to "Getting Beyond Race".

These are just a few of the ideas that Dr. Payne has suggested in his book.

Not only are these ideas logical, they are also very inspiring. In regards to "victimology", Dr. Payne appears to be putting out a warning trying to explain how claiming to be a victim is really hurting rather than helping the situation. Dr. Payne believes that claiming to be a victim all of the time does not bring people together, it does just the opposite. The ideology of victim hood separates/alienates the races further apart, Dr. Payne uses the example of the "Us v. Them" scenario. I understand what Dr. Payne is trying to say in this portion of the book, yet, it does not come with concrete examples of how Americans with African ancestry can get beyond the "victimology" stage. It is easy to state that many black Americans should simply " take responsibility for problems and focus on ones strengths instead of one"s status as a victim 85." But how do we do it?

I really wish that the entire American population were as optimistic as Dr. Payne is; he really puts forth great support for why claiming victim is not going to help solve our problem with race and racism. But, nevertheless, while the idea is great, there is no mention of how to apply this idea to all of black America.

Another way that Dr. Payne suggests that we can get beyond race is by adopting all of the universal human virtues. Dr. Payne makes references to many different types of human virtues, but, really focuses on how at the center of the American value system is the belief that all individuals are imbued with dignity and equal worth; each person is the equal of every other. Dr. Payne also stresses individualism and how everyone is different and unique in their own way. In this section, I really felt like Dr. Payne was really right in what he was saying. I agreed with what he had to say about equal opportunity and how it is intertwined with the acceptance of diversity. Dr. Payne, in a way, has given almost a formula for accepting diversity, he even states 85 " Acceptance of diversity implies tolerance, civility, good manners, and a commitment to honesty". This is such an aspiring peace of mind and when written down on paper seems not only obvious but also fairly simple. Dr. Payne has the right mindset and I believe that if their was a way that we could "teach" everyone these virtues, our society would definitely be on the right track in getting beyond race.

In the section of the book, " Focusing on Success, Not Failure," it almost seems as if this section is specifically directed toward black Americans. Dr. Payne focuses on the positive things that black Americans have achieved rather than any negatives. Dr. Payne has a lot of statistics in this section to really defend his argument. Education is a topic that Dr. Payne suggested was extremely important. He describes that there has been increasing numbers of black Americans receiving a higher education and in return, black Americans annual income is rising. Dr. Payne also suggests that successful blacks do not dwell on their race and do not consider their race to be the problem, but the problem being others lack of universal virtues. This is a good example of how Dr. Payne is trying to get the focus off of the race of an individual and look deeper in to what the real problem is at hand. Also in this section, Dr. Payne makes mention of many successful black Americans, such as, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson, and Bill Cosby. Dr. Payne claims that these people must have looked beyond their race and prejudices to become as successful as they are. Payne suggests that this is a crucial part in becoming successful in American society. I think that the idea that Payne has in this section of the book is really a great one. I agree with him when he says that looking at the positive angle of a situation will benefit you in the long run and it will also help you to become successful. These successful black Americans that Payne mentions in this section are supposed to send a message that they too had to overcome obstacles and by not focusing on their race as the problem, they were able to become extremely successful.

In my opinion, the most supported aspect of this book was the topic of interracial relationships. I think this is a very significant part of the book because for once, I felt like some of Dr. Payne"s ideas were actually attainable. Payne"s ideas about interracial dating are quite simple, he believes that it is a great idea and that it is probably one of the greatest ways of getting beyond race. His reasoning is almost obvious. If you are involved in an interracial relationship, you are obviously looking beyond race and also spreading your ideas around. When I say this, I mean that interracial relationships affect more people than only the people in the relationship. Interracial relationships are a great way to bring diversity into family that may not have ever thought about it. Interracial dating is also a blending of cultures. It allows others to come together and understand one another as individuals. This type of understanding will be spread through children of interracial relationships and through the families of people in interracial relationships. As Dr. Payne suggests, " "mixed relationships strengthen individualism and freedom of choice, which help erode a central component of the social construction of race ".

Dr. Payne"s book was filled with many wonderful ideas about how to get beyond race in this country. Some of his ideas seemed so simple; it made me wonder why we have such a problem with race in this country. If the world could be like Dr. Payne thinks it could be, we would not even refer to ourselves as African American, Caucasian, Asian, etc 85. It would be enough for us to classify ourselves as just simply Americans. We would look to each other for support and try to focus on how to be successful not on why we are not. In Dr. Payne"s world, no one would feel like a victim.

Everyone would realize that if they are not able to be successful, it must be something that they are doing wrong. America should be a society in which everyone focused on each other as individuals not as a group. There would not be any stereotypes for people to get passed. People would posses all of the universal human virtues are how people are judged instead by the color of their skin.

Unfortunately, after reading the book, I was forced back into reality. Our world is not as simple as Dr. Payne would like to believe. There are people discriminated against everyday. It is hard to suggest to these people that all they have to do is look past all of the discrimination that they have faced and try to carry out the universal human virtues that Dr. Payne suggests. Sorry, I just don"t think it would work that way. It seems like there are a lot of people in our society who are angry and hurt. It is because people feel this way that I believe it is so hard for people to get beyond race because a majority of people are unwilling to just " forget about it." Dr. Payne has great suggestions and I really wish that there were support for his ideas so that I wouldn"t have been left asking, "How?". That was what I was asking myself through out the entire book and I definitely do not know the answers but the problem is I don"t think that the answers are as simple as Payne suggests. ·

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Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 09:59:25 -0600
From: John Bothwell <jlbothw@ILSTU.EDU>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race (John Bothwell)

Payne, Richard J., Getting Beyond Race: The Changing American Culture, (Westview Press, Boulder: 1998).

Reviewed by: John Bothwell jlbothw@ilstu.edu

There is no question that race and racism has been a divisive issue in this nation ever since it was founded. One of the reasons this issue tends to be so divisive is that there are so many viewpoints that can be taken on the issue. Some people let racism consume their beings while others accept it as part of life and move on. Still others like to pretend that the racism that exists in our culture is not nearly as bad as we are lead to believe. This "it's not as bad as it seems" viewpoint is the view taken by ISU professor Richard Payne in Getting Beyond Race.

Throughout my life, I have taken a realistic approach to the problems faced by our society. As a white man, I cannot fully understand or appreciate just how much of a problem racism is for those "Americans with African ancestry". I can, however, take a look at the way things really are and compare them to the false reality painted by Dr. Payne. Racism is a problem and it is not one that is anywhere close to being solved. While we have indeed moved away from the institutionalized racism and discrimination of the first half of the 20th century, this does not mean racism does not exist. While Dr. Payne may have felt that his work was boosting the accomplishments of African-Americans, I feel that the only thing he has accomplished with this book is to boost the case of those who want to claim that racism no longer needs to be addressed as a serious problem.

If there's one thing Dr. Payne's book is not short of it is examples. He likes to cite just how great things are in our great American society in his attempt to fictionalize just how good things are for African-Americans. While the examples used by Dr. Payne are far too numerous to be covered in this review, I will show and examine some of the examples I agreed and disagreed with the most. These range from the military to the controversial (especially in classroom discussion) issue of Secretary of State Colin Powell to "The American Dream".

The example used by Payne in his book that amazed me the most was his use of the military as an example of a non-racist organization. I have many disagreements with his stance on this issue. First and foremost, the United States Military is far from being a non-discriminatory institution. Our military, with the blessing of Congress, discriminates based on sexual orientation, gender, physical status, mental health, and an array of other issues. This kind of outward discrimination would be outlawed in the private sector, but is widely accepted and rarely challenged in the military. While it is true that the military is a very well integrated organization where many African-Americans serve in high ranking positions, the "demons" within should not be ignored as they were by Dr. Payne.

My second disagreement with Payne on the military issue comes in the structure of the military itself. We live in a democratic culture where we enjoy the freedom of thought, movement, choice, speech, and other liberties. These liberties are almost non-existent in the military society. I find it amazing that Dr. Payne can lionize an institution that is charged with defending the Constitutional principles this nation is built upon while completely ignoring them when its own organizational structure. While it is true that racial strife may be less prevalent in military "society", it is that way because of the military commands and not because every soldier is racially open-minded. I am impressed by the way the military is so diverse and provides opportunities to many who would not otherwise have the opportunity to succeed, but I also do not agree with Dr. Payne's decision to glorify an organization whose views on other topics are very one-sided and prejudiced.

One area in which Dr. Payne both enlightened and infuriated was Affirmative Action. Dr. Payne took a very good look at Affirmative Action and acknowledged that indeed they have helped to break some of the "glass ceilings" and "good ol' boys clubs" that he referred to and have indeed helped some of the less fortunate in our society make headway. He did, however, make me extremely angry with his example of the Bakke case. In the book he stated, "Bakke, who was finally admitted to medical school at the University of California, is now an anesthesiologist in Rochester, Minnesota. He has no private practice and works on an interim basis rather than as a staff physician. Patrick Chavis, who initially took Bakke's place at the medical school, is an obstetrician-gynecologist with an enormous practice serving poor people on Medicaid in Compton, California" (Payne 124). While I think the Dr. Chavis' practice in Compton is wonderful, I take serious issue with Payne's belittling of Bakke's practice. There are thousands of physicians in America in the same kind of practice as Bakke who save lives every day. I viewed Dr. Payne's criticism of Bakke as insulting since he basically said Bakke's practice wasn't as good as that of Chavis.

There is no doubt that there is a serious need of African-American role models in our society. The more positive role models there are, the better the chances are that African-American youths will follow after them and lead successful lives. One of the most popular role models these days seems to be the newly appointed Secretary of State under the Bush Administration, Colin Powell. While I understand that Powell is a very successful man who has risen from less than privileged beginnings and that the views Payne expressed about him were expressed before he became a member of the new President's cabinet, I do not feel that Powell adequately represents the African-American community as a whole. While he may represent the best of American society, he is also now a member of an administration whose record on minority rights is likely to be lukewarm at best. I also found it interesting that Payne made reference to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas whose voting record on the Supreme Court has tended to hurt rather than help African-Americans and other minorities.

The issues I agreed with most in Payne's book were his views on interracial relationships and transracial adoptions. Payne made the point that these two fairly new social phenomenon have helped to break down many of the walls which have been built up over time and have led to less of an emphasis on race. I loved how Payne made the point that children conceived in interracial relationships and adopted transracially will be the children who help to "create a color-blind society". While I again feel that this is just part of Payne's wishful thinking, I do very much agree with him. Payne did a very good job of illustrating how being adopted into a home with parents of a different race helps to build greater understanding amongst the races. Again, however, I feel that Payne also chose to overlook the side of the issue that is not "bright and shiny". He did not look at the discrimination, both from inside and outside the races, which come with interracial marriage and adoption. Overall, however, this was the one aspect of Payne's book I was in agreement with.

Richard Payne is obviously a man who has lofty ideals about our society and what it should be like. As my group and I brought up in class discussion, this book was a very good book to read and had many good ideas. Many of those ideas, unfortunately, are not the way things truly are. Perhaps I am a pessimist, but as someone who believes strongly in equal rights for everyone it is difficult for me to accept much of what Payne is saying. We have come a long way in our fight for racially equality in America, but we still have a long way to go. While I would love to believe everything Payne has said, I am forced to look at much of his work as fiction. The battle for equality in society as only just begun and is far from over. ·

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Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2001 23:16:24 +0000
From: Morgan Salisbury <morgsalisbury@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: Wellman's review of Getting Beyond Race

I thought that Joy Wellman's review was well written and conveyed a sense of what 'Getting Beyond Race' is all about. I feel that Payne's ideas of race are inclusive and forward looking, and it would appear that the main criticism could be his excessive optimism. For example, Dr. Richard Payne sees race as something that needs to be overlooked in society, and he states that there should be greater emphasis on individuality, not ethnic differences. This view is similar to Schlesinger's in 'The Disuniting of America', and the implication here is that we are Americans first, and 'hyphens' last.

The main problem I can see with this is that every person, irrespective of race, will want some sense of belonging to a group, and very often, this will be based on racial or ethnic lines. I think that this is beneficial to some extent, as people want to feel some sense of belonging in that specific group, such as a group of African Americans on college campuses. This results in the fracturing of society, as people break off into groups and 'cliques'. Payne seems to view this as dangerous to the American identity, and believes that we should look beyond race.

However, I would like to know how Dr. Payne would suggest that we get beyond race. The fact of the matter is, people are free to associate with whoever they please, so there will always be a fracturing of society to some degree. I think that perhaps one way to get beyond this, specifically in the case of African-Americans, is to try to make white society less intimidating, so that more and more African-Americans will want to belong to white society. I agree that the splintering of American society into divergent groups could be damaging to the country, but I think that we need to look at positive ways to make American society more inclusive and less alienating to minorities, so that people are proud to be Americans first, and Americans last.

Payne's views are refreshingly positive, and his views of transcending race are inspiring for all of us. The grim reality of race relations in the United States makes the reader a little cynical, yet maybe it is this cynicism and skepticism that makes racism all the more prevalent in modern society. Something to think about, certainly.  

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Date: Wed, 02 May 2001 21:23:25 -0500
From: Matthew Bice <mjbice@ilstu.edu>
Subject: Getting Beyond Race

Payne, Richard. Getting Beyond Race, The Changing American Culture, (Westview Press, Boulder: 1998)

Reviewed by: Matt Bice

When we, as Americans, think about race and racism what do we really think? Do we conjure images of suburban mini-vans hauling white families to soccer practice? Perhaps we imagine decimated housing projects, over populated and littered with graffiti. No matter what clichéd scenario we perpetuate, Americans are acutely aware of the splintering effects of racism. So splintering in fact, that the terminology defining racism is hotly contended. Is racism a black problem? Is it a white problem? Is it a class problem, or even a problem? Richard Payne has a refreshing answer to these questions; he would say it is your problem.

“Racism is generally defined in negative terms. It is viewed as any hostile action or belief that subordinates an individual or group based on readily observable physical characteristics such as skin color.”

Two things stuck out as I read Payne’s definition of racism. The first is that his definition is very general. His terminology does not point any fingers, nor does it leave any room for interpretation. It gives no notion of racism as naturally being a white man’s legacy, or a black man’s burden. Secondly, Payne asserts that racist ideologies are not wholly issues of skin color, but of observable differences. Simple, yet closely scrutinized differences in the kinds of homes people live in, or the brands of shoes that they buy. This important acknowledgement in Payne’s terminology lets the reader look through the window and see how encompassing racism is, or more importantly, how encompassing it can be. Payne makes an effort to attack and define language as a primary source of racial profiling. “Race is only one of several ways of perceiving, interpreting, and dealing with human differences. The habitual use of terms like “race” and “racism” almost guarantees that a racial worldview or perspective will be perpetuated.” However, it seems Payne falls into the same trap of words that he warns to avoid. Payne refers to people as Americans-with-African-ancestry, or Americans with-European-ancestry. His intentions it seems are to pull away from differences, and acknowledge the similarities of being American. The danger of using this kind of language is that it makes the reader painfully aware of our differences. This can undermine Payne’s whole premise of getting beyond race.

Payne undermines cultural background as being secondary to individual standards. He refers to these individual standards as universal virtues. The problem with Payne’s list of virtues is that they are as general and non-committal as his definition of racism. He stresses the importance of “wisdom,” and “patience,” which are both attributes not normally associated with the racist mind to begin with.

Payne’s beliefs in universal virtues and expanded understanding are very optimistic, and in a way these beliefs are too comfortable. Using the pedestal of universal cooperation on anything as intangible as “wisdom” is, in my opinion, a bit far fetched. On one hand Payne’s insistence on self- evaluation is critical. We would all be better off if everyone did as he suggests and reframe our perspective. On the other hand, as Americans we guard our ignorance as violently as we would our last dollar. Despite our greatest achievements, there are no laws against stupidity. So I have to be a bit skeptical of any dependency on a sudden nation-wide wave of cultural nirvana.

In using the military as a model for racial equality, Payne dodges some finer points about the military itself. The military, as a hierarchical institution, places merit on achievement. The military at its foundation, is less arbitrary with dignifying observable differences with rewards. The military model circumvents intelligence because all common interests are strictly defined.

In a social setting, all interactions take place in an infinite web of goals, responsibilities, and beliefs, which may or may not be as deeply rooted as those taught in military life. So in a social setting, a dumb person is free to make dumb choice. However, in the military dumb people make the unilateral choice of the military, which in itself may or may not be dumb.

I think that if anything were to be construed from the military model in support of Payne’s original position, of simply getting beyond race; I think it would be that when forced to cooperate, separate races seem to have succeeded. It may be that in his own overly subtle way, Payne is saying; that it is about time that we roll up our collective sleeve and do something.

The tone of Getting Beyond Race, is very optimistic, and assuring. Payne leads you to believe that self-improvement can transcend the barriers of race. It is hard to have the same enthusiasm, or the same hardened convictions, but the results are contagious. Payne gives off a paternal message that is filled with common sense and a goodwill attitude; People should be accountable for themselves first and accountable to each other secondly. As a nation, however, the United States is a little short on either of the previously mentioned qualities, but ideas like these are good beginnings.  

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