Overcoming the Lie of “Race”: A Personal, Philosophical and Political Perspective, by John L. Hodge, is a treatise from every angle on the supposition that race doesn’t exist. It’s a thorough, well-researched look into this oft-times controversial topic, injected with Hodge’s evocative personal tales in his own life being defined by race, as well as his family. Because of Hodge’s sincerity and passion for the subject, the book is well-argued and persuasive.
Hodge’s book is a good introduction for those who may not be familiar with all the angles of this debate. The fact that some people have darker skin or differently-shaped eyes is obvious on first glance, so the separation into racial categories may not seem to be automatically sinister. The fact that those racial categories have been used to demean and terrorize people is a societal issue, not a product of biology. However, Hodge makes the keen point that tall or short people are also biologically noticeable, and “races” have many variations, which makes the delineation by race entirely unnecessary. So if you come into this book with that common opinion of racial dynamics – that race does exist but shouldn’t matter – your mind will be changed, which is why it’s an effective and important book.
Where the book is weakest is not going deeply enough into the scientific research into racial differences – though there is a chapter devoted to DNA and gene analysis. Not that current research refutes his argument, but it would be helpful to have more information about how the debate has played out. What is missing on this front is made up in Hodge’s personal experiences with race over his lifetime, giving the book an urgency beyond his factual assessment of the topic.