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Calls for a conversation about race crop up persistently-as in the wake of the Imus scandal or O.J. Simpson's acquittal. Jackson's (Harlemworld; Real Black) examination of how race remains singular in American consciousness proves a lively opening gambit to a thought-provoking analysis. After a loose historical survey of race matters before the 1960s, when "brash and brazen American racism" was mainstream, Jackson focuses on the current state of affairs in racial fears and distrust that have gone underground and express themselves as racial paranoia and "de cardio" racism ("what the law can't touch, what won't be easily proved or disproved, what can't be simply criminalized or deemed unconstitutional"). Racial paranoia, not "just 'a black thing,' " owes much to the way mass media confirms or subverts stereotypes; de cardio racism is cloaked, "papered over with public niceties and politically correct jargon." Jackson explores particularly fresh areas in his illuminating consideration of The Man Who Cried I Amand 1996, racial paranoia's canonical texts and in his attention to the McCarran Act's effect upon black thinkers. Passionate and committed Jackson is, but his content is balanced. Casually scholarly and often witty, Jackson offers the reader "new ways of talking about race's subtler dynamic and new ways of spying racial conflict in the twenty-first century." (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.