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November 2015 Vol. 53 No. 3

University of Chicago Press

The following review appeared in the November 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences

2014-38398 CIP
Berrey, Ellen. The enigma of diversity: the language of race and the limits of racial justice. Chicago, 2015. 352p bibl index afp ISBN 9780226246062, $80.00; ISBN 9780226246239 pbk, $27.50.

Sociologist Berrey (Univ. of Denver) suggests a method of considering diversity that diverges considerably from the paradigm adopted by the authors of public policy, positioning “diversity” as a broader concern than has been previously defined.  She suggests that discussions of diversity in the US frequently are reduced from the recognition of religious, cultural, ethnic, and biological difference to focus only on race—most specifically, the plight of black America.  Though African Americans' continued struggle for equality is, of course, a worthy and noble objective, it is not the only, nor the defining, element of diversity in the US.  Berrey undertakes a longitudinal analysis of three institutions representing where Americans learn, live, and work.  First is the admissions function at the University of Michigan.  She then considers the redevelopment of Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood.  Finally, the author turns to the human resources function of a pseudonymous Fortune 500 company.  Berrey teases out themes of neoliberalism as a paradigm and color blindness as a policy and argues that comparing color blindness with the real objectives of diversity clearly shows the “symbolic politics of racial progress.”

--F. E. Knowles, Valdosta State University

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.