How Systemic Racism Devastates Black Lives—and How We Break Free


By Tricia Rose

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD

The definitive book on how systemic racism in America really works, revealing the vast and often hidden network of interconnected policies, practices, and beliefs that combine to devastate Black lives

In recent years, condemnations of racism in America have echoed from the streets to corporate boardrooms. At the same time, politicians and commentators fiercely debate racism’s very existence. And so, our conversations about racial inequalities remain muddled.

In Metaracism, pioneering scholar Tricia Rose cuts through the noise with a bracing and invaluable new account of what systemic racism actually is, how it works, and how we can fight back. She reveals how—from housing to education to criminal justice—an array of policies and practices connect and interact to produce an even more devastating “metaracism” far worse than the sum of its parts. While these systemic connections can be difficult to see—and are often portrayed as “color-blind”—again and again they function to disproportionately contain, exploit, and punish Black people.

By helping us to comprehend systemic racism’s inner workings and destructive impacts, Metaracism shows us also how to break free—and how to create a more just America for us all.

  • “Throughout this trenchant book, Rose’s analysis is rigorous, insightful, and lucid, and her language glimmers with lyrical clarity…A brilliant guide to a systemic malady that cannot be denied.”
    Kirkus (starred review)
  • “Marshalling extensive evidence into a lucid and powerful narrative, Rose provides an essential new look at American inequality. Even readers well versed in the topic will have their eyes opened by this cogent analysis.”
    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “Tricia Rose has long set the bar for what it means to be a leading public intellectual. Brilliant, astute, and fearless, she has taken on the difficult task of demystifying ‘systemic racism’ from a catchphrase that merely asserts racial disparities are the result of hidden forces, explaining exactly how systemic racism works in the United States. With great clarity and precision, she moves beyond the shocking story, the point of trauma, or the dizzying statistics to expose the system as a whole; apprehending its operations by revealing each part, policy, and practice, and the myriad ways they conjoin. In the face of relentless attacks on the mere mention of racism, and the nonsense spewing from the new ‘anti-racism industry,’ Metaracism offers the clear-eyed analysis we urgently need.”
    Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams
  • “Rose is one of our most dynamic and thoughtful public intellectuals today, and in her new book, Metaracism, she gives us the gift of sight. At a time when terms like ‘structural racism’ and ‘systemic racism’ are tossed around in the political fires with little rigor or reflection, Metaracism provides a much-needed primer on the real-world meaning of the problem. From housing to education, economic inequality to the criminal justice system, Rose invites us to see that the roots of racism run deep and are pervasive in the traumatic suffering we have witnessed in our time—of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Kelley Williams-Bolar, and so many others. We must not only say their names. We must be able to name the reasons why. In this critical text, Rose helps us to do just that.”
    Henry Louis Gates Jr., New York Times–bestselling author of Stony the Road
  • “Rose is a brilliant scholar who has been on the cutting edge of every concept she’s touched. I read everything she writes and always learn from her insights and analyses.”
    Imani Perry, National Book Award–winning author of South to America
  • “This book will be the most definitive and comprehensive treatment of systemic racism we have from the academy for the larger culture in America! There is simply no one better equipped to write this magisterial text than Rose! She brings together the best of sociological analysis, cultural criticism, and brilliant prose!”
    Cornel West, New York Times–bestselling author of Democracy Matters
  • “Rose is one of our most powerful and profound public intellectuals. Her work on systemic racism is groundbreaking in its ability to elucidate the myriad ways in which we are still blind to how race operates under the surface of every American encounter. This book will become essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding the ways racism is seamlessly reproduced in this culture.”
    Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times–bestselling author of Tears We Cannot Stop
  • “Rose shook the ground with Black Noise in 1994, calling a field into existence and making rigorous work in the history and rhythms of Black popular culture possible. She wrote the groundbreaking Longing to Tell, setting a new standard for how to talk about the sexual lives of Black women. And The Hip Hop Wars inaugurated an entirely new generation of students into what it means to critically engage the music we bop to. When Rose takes to her pen, we listen for the record scratch, for the invitation to read closely. We do so because we know things will be different and we will be different after picking up whatever Rose is putting down.”
    Brittney Cooper, New York Times–bestselling author of Eloquent Rage

On Sale
Mar 5, 2024
Page Count
288 pages
Basic Books

Tricia Rose

About the Author

Tricia Rose is Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies and the director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. The author of three books, including The Hip Hop Wars, she has received fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and her research has been funded by the Mellon and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations. 

Learn more about this author