The Racial Middle: Latinos and Asian Americans Living Beyond the Racial Divide

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The divide over race is usually framed as one over Black and White. Sociologist Eileen O'Brien is interested in that middle terrain, what sits in the ever-increasing gray area she dubs "the racial middle."

The Racial Middle tells the story of the "other" racial and ethnic groups in America, mainly Latinos and Asian Americans, two of the largest and fastest-growing minorities in the United States. O'Brien offers a wholly unique analysis of their own distinctive experiences-those that aren't typically White nor Black-and keenly observes that these groups' struggles with discrimination, their perceived isolation from members of other races, and even how they define racial justice, are all significant realities that inform their daily lives and, importantly, influence their opportunities for advancement in society.

A refreshing and lively approach to understanding race and ethnicity in the twenty-first century, The Racial Middle gives voice to Latinos and Asian Americans' place in this country's increasingly complex racial mosaic.

About the Author:
Eileen O'Brien is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Richmond

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[T]his well-written book gives ample voice to the interviewees and would fit well into introductory classes on race/ethnicity. It offers useful insights in the process of making its argument.”-Journal of American Ethnic History

“Tells the story of the “in-between” racial and ethnic groups in America through in-depth interviews and analyses, explaining the recent phenomenon developing around discriminated and isolated Latino and Asian American groups.”
-Nichi Bei Times

“She applies a sharp analysis to the informants’ racial views and experiences, producing some fascinating insights, e.g., the ‘pervasive impact’ of the US’s currently dominant color-blind racial ideology on those in the middle.”


"The Racial Middle allows us to hear the voices of Latinos and Asian Americans reflecting on their everyday experiences of racialization and how they navigate U.S. racial politics in complex and sometimes contradictory ways. The book provides a worthy point of departure from which future research can further analyze Latino and Asian American interactions with and attitudes toward whites and blacks."-Jane Hseu,Amerasia Journal

“Well-organized, well-written, and engaging. I know of no other work that provides such an in-depth analysis of how Latinos and Asian-Americans define racial issues.”
-Woody Doane,co-editor of White Out: the Continuing Significance of Race

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814762158
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 865,423
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen O’Brien is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Christopher Newport University, Virginia. She is the author of Whites Confront Racism: Antiracists and Their Paths to Action and, with Joe Feagin, White Men on Race. She is the co-editor, with Joseph Healey, of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender: Selected Readings.

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Table of Contents

1 The Panethnic Racial Middle 1

2 The Meanings of Race and Ethnicity from the Racial Middle (with Catherine Estevez) 29

3 Reshaping Racist Ideology from the Middle 61

4 Interracial Border Crossing: Commonalities and Diversions in the Racial Middle 95

5 "No racism, only that one time...": Clinging to the American Dream, Despite Exclusion 124

6 Progressives: Seeing Race through Multiple Lenses 163

7 The Potential of the Racial Middle 200

Appendix A Interview Guide 219

Appendix B Respondent Information 224

Notes 227

Index 237

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