Author: Max Klau,

Publisher: Jossey-Bass

ISBN 978-1-119-35928-9

Max Klau, author of Race and Social Change, earned his doctorate in 2005 from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Human Development and Psychology in 2005. (2017, inside back cover) He was in Ukraine, Honduras, and Ghana leading service programs and completed two years of service in Israel too. Currently he is Chief Programs Officer at New Politics Leadership Academy which is a not for profit that recruits and develops military and civilian personnel for long-term service programs and political office. Previously he was Vice President of Leadership Development for City Year, an arm of AmeriCorps based in Boston, MA. City Year works to rectify the nation’s drop out problem. Max lives in the Boston suburbs with his wife and two children.

While Max was researching this topic on race and social change he noted the following insights. “Dynamics of obedience and conformity play a powerful role in preserving the status quo of unjust systems…Individuals at the top of systems of privilege and oppression have very limited insight into the nature of those sytems…Individuals immersed in those systems tell stories to understand their experiences…some groups get enormous amounts of attention, and other groups remain completely ignored.” (2017, pgs 6-7)

Klau says that writing this book began as a personal quest. He was actually in his dorm room in Vriginia and working as a group leader for an organization by the name of Operating Understanding DC. (paraphrase, 2017, p.17) He traveled across the USA to the historical civil rights cites. His travel companions were half black and half Jewish. Their pursuit was that of equality. They met with and spoke to various segments of society in order to get a realistic sampling of what to write about. Klau quotes Alan Khazei saying “…The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s changed the laws of America, but it did not entirely change people’s hearts and minds.” (p.33) To which I sincerely concur.

The group used a series of experiments to support the data they collected. Some of those experiments studied Intergroup Conflict, cooperation, Privilege, and Oppression. Klau says that this study is of a more meaningful depth than those they conducted at the interpersonal level. After they looked into those dynamics they moved on to what they term the Unexplored Frontier. (2017, p.52) In order to build this theory they had to revert to history and experiments conducted then and now to compare how far we have, or have not, come.

Chapter four introduces the hidden processes of social change. Klau uses seeds from trees to take this formula to the most basic level and builds it up from there. “It’s worth highlighting the consistent appearance of symmetry in the changes unfolding at different scales.” (2017, p.101) His topics range from hierarchies to networked democracy and more. There is introduction of dark periods of history across the world, i.e. Hitler, Marx and other communist regimes, as well as, the appearance of Martin Luther King and later the LGBTQ.

Anyone who wants to read about the various dynamics of social change as it is attached to race ought to pick up this book. Max Klau has woven a beautiful tapestry of world history up to the present time with this book and its theories. I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot along the way. I believe you will too.