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Thicker than Blood

How Racial Statistics Lie

2003
Author:

Tukufu Zuberi

Thicker than Blood

A hard-hitting investigation of the racist uses of statistics—now in paperback!

In this timely and hard-hitting volume, Tukufu Zuberi offers a concise account of the historical connections between the development of the idea of race and the birth of social statistics. Zuberi describes the ways race-differentiated data are misinterpreted in the social sciences and asks searching questions about how racial statistics are used.

Zuberi, who was named one of Philadelphia’s 76 smartest people by Philadelphia Magazine, has written a brilliant new book, Thicker Than Blood. One of the most powerful claims of the book is that instead of being a fixed biological reality, race is instead a socially produced phenomenon. His point is to show just how vicious—especially through the use of statistics—the notion of race has been when it has been employed to protect the interest of those in power (whites), especially those who say that because race does not exist, racism is not real.

Michael Eric Dyson in The Chicago Sun-Times

Tukufu Zuberi offers a concise account of the historical connections between the development of the idea of race and the birth of social statistics. Zuberi describes how race-differentiated data are misinterpreted in the social sciences and asks searching questions about the ways racial statistics are used. He argues that statistical analysis can and must be deracialized, and that this deracialization is essential to the goal of achieving social justice for all.


Thicker than Blood

Tukufu Zuberi is professor of sociology and director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thicker than Blood

Zuberi, who was named one of Philadelphia’s 76 smartest people by Philadelphia Magazine, has written a brilliant new book, Thicker Than Blood. One of the most powerful claims of the book is that instead of being a fixed biological reality, race is instead a socially produced phenomenon. His point is to show just how vicious—especially through the use of statistics—the notion of race has been when it has been employed to protect the interest of those in power (whites), especially those who say that because race does not exist, racism is not real.

Michael Eric Dyson in The Chicago Sun-Times

Forcefully argues that social sciences and public policy are built on a racist foundation.

City Limits

In this timely, hard-hitting volume Tukufu Zuberi offers a concise account of the development of the idea of race and the birth of social statistics.

Hispanic Outlook

Thicker Than Blood is a tool that should be invaluable to anyone doing public policy or antiracism work. This book is imperative in our understanding of how and why these statistics are used to support racial stratification, and racist domination and what we can do to counter this movement. Zuberi blows a mighty wind of fresh air our way with this book.

Gustavus Myers Center

Zuberi presents a detailed history of racial statistics, and the story he tells is disturbing in many ways.

Contemporary Sociology

Tukufu Zuberi's critical assessment of the analysis of racial data in Thicker Than Blood is a tour de force. His discussion and evaluation of the use of racial statistics in historical and cross-cultural contexts is original and important. I strongly feel that all students and scholars in the social sciences should read this thoughtful book.

William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

This is a superb critical analysis of the vagaries of race. All are here: history, demography, eugenics, evolutionary and molecular biology, population genetics, politics, ethics, and social statistics. Professor Zuberi is a Renaissance scholar.

James E. Bowman, Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago

It is fairly well known that the development of contemporary methods of statistical inquiry, particularly in England, was closely linked to the aims and objectives of the eugenics movement. Zuberi's book serves the valuable task of recovering the simultaneous history of the racialized foundations of those methods, while also exploring the adverse consequences for present day practices in empirical social science research in the construction of the concept of race and the investigation of racial difference. Indeed, by making plain the intimate connections between the eugenics movement and racial demography, Zuberi fully exposes the racist underside of the origins of quantitative social science.

William Darity Jr., Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Zuberi's work is masterful. One of the first serious studies of racial statistics to be accessible to scholars from a wide range of disciplines. This book, seamlessly written, with highly nuanced insights, is an indispensable contribution to the discourse on race and racism.

Molefi Kete Asante, Temple University

With racial statistics, one can ‘quantify’ what one subjectively perceives as a problem to be studied using objective methods. Because such statistics look and sound scientific and are usually promulgated by reputable scholars, great weight is accorded them, even if their import is in fact distorted by subjective predispositions. If the statistics are misleading, inappropriate, or false, or if the methodology incorporates false assumptions, few scholars or public officials are in a position to detect it. Racial statistics have helped justify harm to large groups of people.

Zuberi shows just how vicious—especially through the use of statistics—the notion of race has been when it has been employed to protect the interest of those in power (whites), especially those who say that because race does not exist, racism is not real.

Michael Eric Dyson in Chicago Sun-Times

A call to action and, Zuberi hopes, a precursor to a conversation about the real meaning of race, ethnicity, and political power in America.

Time Magazine