Policy Press

Publishing with a purpose

The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice

By Nasar Meer

Published

Mar 22, 2022

Page count

184 pages

Series

21st Century Standpoints

ISBN

978-1447363026

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press

Published

Mar 22, 2022

Page count

184 pages

Series

21st Century Standpoints

ISBN

978-1447363033

Dimensions

216 x 138 mm

Imprint

Policy Press
The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice

What can we learn from successes and failures in the pursuit of racial justice in the UK and elsewhere in the Global North?

A dominant view of racial justice has long been linked to a ‘cruel optimism’ which normalises social and political outcomes that sustain racial injustice, despite successive governments wielding the means to address it. Researchers, activists and minoritized groups continually identify the drivers of these outcomes, but have grown accustomed to persevering despite strong resistance to change.

Looking at numerous examples across anti-racist movements and key developments in nationhood/nationalism, institutional racism, migration, white supremacy and the disparities of COVID-19, Nasar Meer argues for the need to move on from perpetual crisis in racial justice to a turning point that might herald a change to deep-seated systems of racism.

“Timely and insightful, provides not only a clear mapping of our current context with regard to racial justice, what has been achieved, what has been obscured and what has failed, but also what can be done. An essential read in the current reactionary conjuncture and provides us with ways in which to think our past, present and future in more hopeful and just terms.” Aurelien Mondon, University of Bath

"Nasar Meer asks a thought-provoking foundational question: What if racial justice movements are destined to fail because racial injustice is part of the DNA of our social institutions? He argues convincingly that only by looking at these deep roots will we understand why racial injustices prevail even after generations of anti-racism struggles. […] His deeply scholarly yet based-in-practice account is a compelling wake-up call to rethink what “progress” actually looks like and whose interests it serves." Peggy Levitt, Wellesley College

Nasar Meer weaves together an impressive account, drawing on research in a number of national contexts, to address the question of why there has been a failure to achieve the objective of racial justice. This masterful account should become an important part of future conversations by researchers and policymakers about how we can lay the foundations for radical change in this vital area of the social world." John Solomos, University of Warwick

"Asks profound questions about how struggles for racial justice come to reach their impasse through counter-reactions designed to preserve existing racial orders and formations. Meer's book not only offers an illuminating analysis of the present conjuncture, but also the challenge of thinking through the concepts of racial justice and equality." Sindre Bangstad, KIFO, Institute For Church, Religion and Worldview Research, Norway

"Essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of structural racism and how it persists, despite waves of policy and political intervention." Carol Young, CRER

Nasar Meer is Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, UK

Chapter 1. The Cruel Optimism of Racial Justice

Chapter 2. Reimagining Nationhood?

Chapter 3. Equality, Inequalities and Institutional Racism

Chapter 4. The Racial Realities of COVID-19

Chapter 5. (De-) Racalizing Refuge

Chapter 6. Whiteness and the Wreckage of Racialization

Conclusion. Rethinking the Future