1st Edition

Dismantling the Racism Machine A Manual and Toolbox

By Karen Gaffney Copyright 2018
    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    224 Pages
    by Routledge

    While scholars have been developing valuable research on race and racism for decades, this work does not often reach the beginning college student or the general public, who rarely learn a basic history of race and racism. If we are to dismantle systemic racism and create a more just society, people need a place to begin. This accessible, introductory, and interdisciplinary guide can be one such place. Grounded in critical race theory, this book uses the metaphor of the Racism Machine to highlight that race is a social construct and that racism is a system of oppression based on invented racial categories. It debunks the false ideology that race is biological. As a manual, this book presents clear instructions for understanding the history of race, including whiteness, starting in colonial America, where the elite created a hierarchy of racial categories to maintain their power through a divide-and-conquer strategy. As a toolbox, this book provides a variety of specific action steps that readers can take once they have developed a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy, a history that includes how the Racism Machine has been recalibrated to perpetuate racism in a supposedly "post-racial" era.

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    Introduction: Read This First

    Step 1: Chip Away at the False Ideology that Race is Biological

    Step 2: See the Racism Machine

    Step 3: Examine the Racism Machine’s Powerful Mechanisms

    Step 4: Analyze the Racism Machine’s Recalibration after the Civil Rights Movement

    Step 5: Take Apart the Racism Machine


    Karen Gaffney is a Professor of English at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey, where she teaches courses in composition, gender, and race. She focuses on antiracism activism in the community, on her blog (dividednolonger.com), and in workshops at the White Privilege Conference and Netroots Nation.

    Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox is a meticulously-researched study of the history of American racism that encourages activists, K-12 teachers, college professors,community center leaders, families, and individuals alike to work towards ending systemic racism. As the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to widen, we must recognize the relationship among communities of color, low wages, and inequity. Gaffney's point is clear: we—despite ethnic, racial, and class differences—all can and should take part in dismantling the racism machine. — Michele Fazio, Journal of Working-Class Studies (2019).