Tricia Rose Deconstructs ‘Metaracism’ And Implores Us To Break Free

Tricia Rose Deconstructs ‘Metaracism’ And Implores Us To Break Free

Rose spoke to BE's Director of Digital Content, Ida Harris, on what lead her to create her latest book.

Acclaimed sociologist and author Dr. Tricia Rose spoke to BLACK ENTERPRISE on her latest work, Metaracism: How Systemic Devastates Black Lives–and How We Break Free, published on March 5. Dr. Rose attended BE‘s prestigious 2024 Women of Power Summit in Las Vegas, held at the Bellagio Hotel. To celebrate the award-winning author’s release, a book signing, sponsored by Walmart, took place onsite. As part of the festivities, artist Uzo Njoku engaged with attendees on paint-by-number activation and gateway custom bookmarks to use with signed copies of Metaracism.

Rose conversed with BE’s Director of Digital Content, Ida Harris, about the title of her newest book, its meaning, and the impact she hopes to make.

“There’s a long history of Black people really trying to explain, very politely most of the time, that they are experiencing things that are very specific. They aren’t just discrimination or class discrimination but anti-Black policy and practice. Metaracism is really a book about systemic racism; that’s the first and most important thing,” said Rose.

Rose started researching her book without the initial intention of writing one. As director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University, her students’ general belief that racism was over led Rose down a journey of investigation and discovery of the innate ways discrimination works.

“As I did more research, I realized that systems and systemic racism isn’t just a word for society. It’s a word for a way of understanding how things interconnect,” stated Rose.

“When it’s a system that generates racism, the interconnections work to create effects that are greater than the individual parts. Meta means a greater impact than the sum of the parts…and the longer it happens, the more powerful it is. That’s why it’s not structural…We’re dealing with a level of impact that we don’t even fully understand.”

These interconnections such as education and the criminal justice system, as Rose explained, worked to create the school-to-prison pipeline that has threatened the futures of Black students. In response to Harris’ inquiry on how social determinants play a role in this system, Rose broke down how health and political leaders minimized racism’s role in issues that disproportionately impact Black communities.

“This kind of unfortunate framework is the myth-making, happening with Trayvon [Martin] and others, that hides what is a very clear sense of policies and practices interconnecting over time to have a compound effect on health, education, policy…all of that is deeply interconnected to create social determinants,” explained Rose.

Her book focuses on the post-Civil Rights era, wanting to tackle the idea that racism dissolved following Dr. King’s activism. By dissecting how systemic racism has continued into the present day, Rose dismantled the narrative that suggests a support of equity, as it actually denies the current experience of Black Americans.

Metaracism also unpacks the surface-level factors involved in police brutality cases like Eric Garner’s. Rose hopes to provide further insight into how addressing systemic racism aids in fully understanding these stories.

“Tell Eric Garner’s story, but you are not going to do him right unless you connect that story to what he’s really dealing with. And that connects him to everybody else in his community,” detailed Rose.

“You lose sight of how Garner’s life and behavior of the police are part of a much broader, more impactful system. Even if he didn’t get horribly murdered that day, which was terrible, something else was more likely to happen to him…A huge risk that was generated by social policy and practices interconnected over time to have meta-effects.”

Like her previous books, such as The Hip Hop Wars and Black Noise, Rose continues her dissection of the Black American experience in an accessible, yet thought-provoking format. Metaracism is available now for purchase.

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