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Enduring Success
Congress, Presidents, and American Politics
As Far as the Eye Could Reach
U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War Era
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Learning Native Wisdom
Just War Reconsidered
Identity in Democracy
Holler If You Hear Me

How Racism Takes PlaceHow Racism Takes Place

George Lipsitz

Narrated by Pete Ferrand

Available from Audible

Book published by Temple University Press

White identity in the United States is place bound, asserts George Lipsitz in How Racism Takes Place. An influential scholar in American and racial studies, Lipsitz contends that racism persists because a network of practices skew opportunities and life chances along racial lines. That is, these practices assign people of different races to different spaces and therefore allow grossly unequal access to education, employment, transportation, and shelter.

Revealing how seemingly race-neutral urban sites contain hidden racial assumptions and imperatives, Lipsitz examines the ways in which urban space and social experience are racialized and emphasizes that aggrieved communities do not passively acquiesce to racism. He recognizes the people and communities that have reimagined segregated spaces in expressive culture as places for congregation.

How Racism Takes Place not only exposes the degree to which this white spatial imagining structures our society but also celebrates the black artists and activists who struggle to create a just and decent society.

George Lipsitz is Professor of Black Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His previous books include The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics and A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition. Lipsitz serves as President of the Advisory Board of the African American Policy Forum and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance.


“This book strengthens Lipsitz’s position as one of the major contributors to theoretical and historical works on race.... In powerful and compelling writing, Lipsitz examines the problems...and provides insights into the broad context and multiple factors that shape the ways race continues to work in society.”

Journal of American History

“This big-hearted and incisive book reveals how policies and practices related to the demarcation, commodification, and valuation of urban space reinforce hierarchies of race and class.... This work both painstakingly documents the ways in which the white spatial imaginary excludes people, and particularly women, of color, even as it seduces them with promises of upward mobility and consumer citizenship.... [T]he book mounts a powerful challenge to the recent justifications of racialized inequalities through revanchist scientific racism or the various 'culture of poverty' concepts.”

Contemporary Sociology

“Lipsitz has synthesized a substantial literature into a coherent, convincing, and richly formulated picture.... Lipsitz completes his picture of the white spatial imaginary with two compelling case studies.... highly readable.”

Journal of American Ethnic History

“Veteran scholar Lipsitz provides another deeply probing look at US racism...Lipsitz provides original analyses of urban development in St. Louis (a football stadium) and a television series (The Wire) on Baltimore to show how such activities obscure links between institutionalized racism and urban space—including urban poverty and predatory lending—in front of unreflective observers.... Summing Up: Highly Recommended.”


How Racism Takes Place is a brilliant, timely, and much needed book about racial segregation—how it is produced and reproduced, how white privilege and the subjugation of people of color have a clear spatial dimension, and how the racialization of space and the spatialization of race shape, and are manifestations of, the political and cultural economy of the United States. Beyond unveiling the mechanics of structural racism, Lipsitz also draws out what he calls a ‘Black spatial imaginary,’ the site of expressive culture where aggrieved and displaced peoples have waged a struggle to resist and survive policies of racial segregation and conceived a different future.”

—Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at University of Southern California

How Racism Takes Place is a very powerful, but sobering book that makes important connections with historical trends and new injustices as racism morphs into new forms when conservative courts and neo-liberal practices make the struggles of people of color and White allies difficult. Lipsitz pulls readers in with rich descriptions of communities—the energy of the sights, sounds, smells, music, and the rhythm of real people in a place. Then he moves to the macro level to explore the nature of disadvantage, providing a context for the struggles and resistance. In the end, Lipsitz pulls the many threads together, leaving us with a call to action.”

—Elizabeth Higginbotham, Professor of Sociology at the University of Delaware

“George Lipsitz’s new book, How Racism Takes Place, has a great deal to teach Americans—especially white Americans—about the devastating effects of contemporary racism. Lipsitz utilizes the best research and brilliant arguments to demonstrate how racism continues to fester in racially segregated neighborhoods, workforces, suburbs, schools and country clubs. He demonstrates convincingly that contemporary racism did not emerge accidently but by historical and contemporary designs of white Americans whether they know it or not. How Racism Takes Place is a must read, for it challenges us to grapple with our racial demons and, in the process, become a people truly representing the democratic claims we broadcast throughout the globe.”

—Aldon Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology, Northwestern University

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