Critics often characterize white consumption of African American culture as a form of theft that echoes the fantasies of 1950s-era bohemians, or "White Negroes," who romanticized black culture as anarchic and sexually potent. In Beyond the White Negro, Kimberly Chabot Davis claims such a view fails to describe the varied politics of racial crossover in the past fifteen years.
Davis analyzes how white engagement with African American novels, film narratives, and hip-hop can help form anti-racist attitudes that may catalyze social change and racial justice. Though acknowledging past failures to establish cross-racial empathy, she focuses on examples that show avenues for future progress and change. Her study of ethnographic data from book clubs and college classrooms shows how engagement with African American culture and pedagogical support can lead to the kinds of white self-examination that make empathy possible. The result is a groundbreaking text that challenges the trend of focusing on society's failures in achieving cross-racial empathy and instead explores possible avenues for change.
This book begins with a simple question: why do so many Dominicans deny the African components of their DNA, culture, and history?
Seeking answers, Milagros Ricourt uncovers a complex and often contradictory Dominican racial imaginary. Observing how Dominicans have traditionally identified in opposition to their neighbors on the island of Hispaniola—Haitians of African descent—she finds that the Dominican Republic’s social elite has long propagated a national creation myth that conceives of the Dominican as a perfect hybrid of native islanders and Spanish settlers. Yet as she pores through rare historical documents, interviews contemporary Dominicans, and recalls her own childhood memories of life on the island, Ricourt encounters persistent challenges to this myth. Through fieldwork at the Dominican-Haitian border, she gives a firsthand look at how Dominicans are resisting the official account of their national identity and instead embracing the African influence that has always been part of their cultural heritage.
Building on the work of theorists ranging from Edward Said to Édouard Glissant, this book expands our understanding of how national and racial imaginaries develop, why they persist, and how they might be subverted. As it confronts Hispaniola’s dark legacies of slavery and colonial oppression, The Dominican Racial Imaginary also delivers an inspiring message on how multicultural communities might cooperate to disrupt the enduring power of white supremacy.
From the 1970s through the 1990s more than one hundred feminist bookstores built a transnational network that helped shape some of feminism's most complex conversations. Kristen Hogan traces the feminist bookstore movement's rise and eventual fall, restoring its radical work to public feminist memory. The bookwomen at the heart of this story—mostly lesbians and including women of color—measured their success not by profit, but by developing theories and practices of lesbian antiracism and feminist accountability. At bookstores like BookWoman in Austin, the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, and Old Wives’ Tales in San Francisco, and in the essential Feminist Bookstore News, bookwomen changed people’s lives and the world. In retelling their stories, Hogan not only shares the movement's tools with contemporary queer antiracist feminist activists and theorists, she gives us a vocabulary, strategy, and legacy for thinking through today's feminisms.
In From the Tricontinental to the Global South Anne Garland Mahler traces the history and intellectual legacy of the understudied global justice movement called the Tricontinental—an alliance of liberation struggles from eighty-two countries, founded in Havana in 1966. Focusing on racial violence and inequality, the Tricontinental's critique of global capitalist exploitation has influenced historical radical thought, contemporary social movements such as the World Social Forum and Black Lives Matter, and a Global South political imaginary. The movement's discourse, which circulated in four languages, also found its way into radical artistic practices, like Cuban revolutionary film and Nuyorican literature. While recent social movements have revived Tricontinentalism's ideologies and aesthetics, they have largely abandoned its roots in black internationalism and its contribution to a global struggle for racial justice. In response to this fractured appropriation of Tricontinentalism, Mahler ultimately argues that a renewed engagement with black internationalist thought could be vital to the future of transnational political resistance.
During the 1970s in the United States, hundreds of feminist, queer, and antiracist activists were imprisoned or became fugitives as they fought the changing contours of U.S. imperialism, global capitalism, and a repressive racial state. In Fugitive Life Stephen Dillon examines these activists' communiqués, films, memoirs, prison writing, and poetry to highlight the centrality of gender and sexuality to a mode of racialized power called the neoliberal-carceral state. Drawing on writings by Angela Davis, the George Jackson Brigade, Assata Shakur, the Weather Underground, and others, Dillon shows how these activists were among the first to theorize and make visible the links between conservative "law and order" rhetoric, free market ideology, incarceration, sexism, and the continued legacies of slavery. Dillon theorizes these prisoners and fugitives as queer figures who occupied a unique position from which to highlight how neoliberalism depended upon racialized mass incarceration. In so doing, he articulates a vision of fugitive freedom in which the work of these activists becomes foundational to undoing the reign of the neoliberal-carceral state.
"Both from the Right and from the Left, we are stymied in talking well with one another about race and racism, by intransigent beliefs in our own goodness as well as by our conviction that such talk is useless. . . . White antiracist epistemology needs to begin not with our beliefs, but with our individual and collective awakening to that which we do not know."
Drawing on scholarship across disciplines ranging from writing and rhetoric studies to critical race theory to philosophy, I Hope I Join the Band examines the limits and the possibilities for performative engagement in antiracist activism. Focusing particularly on the challenges posed by raced-white identity to performativity, and moving between narrative and theoretical engagement, thebook names and argues for critical shifts in the understandings and rhetorical practices that attend antiracist activism.
Lowest White Boy
Greg Bottoms West Virginia University Press, 2019 Library of Congress F234.H23B67 2019 | Dewey Decimal 305.800975541209
An innovative, hybrid work of literary nonfiction, Lowest White Boy takes its title from Lyndon Johnson’s observation during the civil rights era: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket.”
Greg Bottoms writes about growing up white and working class in Tidewater, Virginia, during school desegregation in the 1970s. He offers brief stories that accumulate to reveal the everyday experience of living inside complex, systematic racism that is often invisible to economically and politically disenfranchised white southerners—people who have benefitted from racism in material ways while being damaged by it, he suggests, psychologically and spiritually. Placing personal memories against a backdrop of documentary photography, social history, and cultural critique, Lowest White Boy explores normalized racial animus and reactionary white identity politics, particularly as these are collected and processed in the mind of a child.
In Performing Antiracist Pedagogy, Frankie Condon and Vershawn Ashanti Young seek to help create openings to address race and racism not only in course readings and class discussion in writing, rhetoric, and communication courses but also in wider public settings. The contributors to this collection, drawn from a wide range of disciplines, urge readers to renew their commitment to intelligently and publicly deliberate race and to counteract the effects of racism. The book is both theoretically rigorous and practical, providing readers with insightful analyses of race and racism and useful classroom suggestions and examples.
Contributors: Chiara Bacigalupa, Sophia Bell, Susan Leigh Brooks, Frankie Condon, Rasha Diab, John Dean, Thomas Ferrell, Beth Godbee, Dae-Joong Kim, Timothy Lensmire, Calvin M. Logue, Aja Y. Martinez, Rebecca Nathan, Bobbi Olson, Jessica Parker, Charise Pimentel, Octavio Pimentel, Mya Poe, Neil Simpkins, Nathan Snaza, Deatra Sullivan, Vershawn Ashanti Young
The first in-depth look at white people's activism in fighting racism during the past fifty years.
Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when many white college students went south to fight against Jim Crow laws, has white antiracist activity held the public's attention. Yet there have always been white people involved in fighting racism. In this passionate work, Becky Thompson looks at white Americans who have struggled against racism, offering examples of both successes and failures, inspirations, practical philosophies, and a way ahead.
A Promise and a Way of Life weaves an account of the past half-century based on the life histories of thirty-nine people who have placed antiracist activism at the center of their lives. Through a rich and fascinating narrative that links individual experiences with social and political history, Thompson shows the ways, both public and personal, in which whites have opposed racism during several social movements: the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, multiracial feminism, the Central American peace movement, the struggle for antiracist education, and activism against the prison industry. Beginning with the diverse catalysts that started these activists on their journeys, this book demonstrates the contributions and limitations of white antiracism in key social justice movements.
Through these stories, crucial questions are raised: Does antiracist work require a repudiation of one's whiteness or can that identity be transformed through political commitment and alliances? What do white people need to do to undermine white privilege? What would it take to build a multiracial movement in which white people are responsible for creating antiracist alliances while not co-opting people of color?
Unique in its depth and thoroughness, A Promise and a Way of Life is essential for anyone currently fighting racism or wondering how to do so. Through its demonstration of the extraordinary personal and social transformations ordinary people can make, it provides a new paradigm for movement activity, one that will help to incite and guide future antiracist activism.
"Drawing on the stories of living people rather than on archives, Thompson finds the origins of white anti-racism not in the abolition movement of the early 1800s but in the civil rights movement of the 1950s South. For readers looking for an anti-racist interpretation of the feminist movement, the chapter on Multiracial Feminism is a must-read. By showing the various ways in which white people have become invested in anti-racist struggle, Thompson opens up a whole new world of ideas and practices located as 'white' but oriented toward social justice. For those of us stranded in the great white North, this book will be indispensable." Women's Review of Books
"Becky Thompson tells the life histories of 30 antiracist activists from the past half-century. An engaging, narrative style make this academic text accessible to the general reader." Reference and Research Book News
"Here is a fascinating collective portrait of an extraordinary group of white people who fought racism, often at great risk. Becky Thompson traces the background, the thinking, the actions of these people over a period of fifty years, as they participated in the most important social movements of our time. Her book is a valuable addition to the history of social movements in the 20th century." Howard Zinn
"A Promise and a Way of Life is a first: a detailed and highly engaging history of white people who have spent their lives fighting white supremacy, instead of embracing or ignoring it. Thompson provides dynamic new ways to understand the links among seemingly divergent movements such as Black Power and multiracial feminism. A Promise and a Way of Life is a groundbreaking, inspiring achievement." Barbara Smith, author of The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom
Becky Thompson is associate professor of sociology at Simmons College. She is the author of Mothering without a Compass (2000), A Hunger So Wide and So Deep (1994), and Beyond a Dream Deferred (1993).
Since the 1970s there has been a dramatic rise in the Indian population in Brazil as increasing numbers of pardos (individuals of mixed African, European, and indigenous descent) have chosen to identify themselves as Indians. In Racial Revolutions—the first book-length study of racial formation in Brazil that centers on Indianness—Jonathan W. Warren draws on extensive fieldwork and numerous interviews to illuminate the discursive and material forces responsible for this resurgence in the population. The growing number of pardos who claim Indian identity represents a radical shift in the direction of Brazilian racial formation. For centuries, the predominant trend had been for Indians to shed tribal identities in favor of non-Indian ones. Warren argues that many factors—including the reduction of state-sponsored anti-Indian violence, intervention from the Catholic church, and shifts in anthropological thinking about ethnicity—have prompted a reversal of racial aspirations and reimaginings of Indianness. Challenging the current emphasis on blackness in Brazilian antiracist scholarship and activism, Warren demonstrates that Indians in Brazil recognize and oppose racism far more than any other ethnic group. Racial Revolutions fills a number of voids in Latin American scholarship on the politics of race, cultural geography, ethnography, social movements, nation building, and state violence.
Designated a John Hope Franklin Center book by the John Hope Franklin Seminar Group on Race, Religion, and Globalization.
In Rethinking Racism: Emotion, Persuasion, and Literacy Education in an All-White High School, Jennifer Seibel Trainor proposes a new understanding of the roots of racism, one that is based on attention to the role of emotion and the dynamics of persuasion. This one-year ethnographic study argues against previous assumptions about racism, demonstrating instead how rhetoric and emotion, as well as the processes and culture of schools, are involved in the formation of racist beliefs.
Telling the story of a year spent in an all-white high school, Trainor suggests that contrary to prevailing opinion, racism often does not stem from ignorance, a lack of exposure to other cultures, or the desire to protect white privilege. Rather, the causes of racism are frequently found in the realms of emotion and language, as opposed to rational calculations of privilege or political ideologies. Trainor maintains that racist assertions often originate not from prejudiced attitudes or beliefs but from metaphorical connections between racist ideas and nonracist values. These values are reinforced, even promoted by schooling via "emotioned rules" in place in classrooms: in tacit, unexamined lessons, rituals, and practices that exert a powerful—though largely unacknowledged—persuasive force on student feelings and beliefs about race.
Through in-depth analysis of established anti-racist pedagogies, student behavior, and racial discourses, Trainor illustrates the manner in which racist ideas are subtly upheld through social and literacy education in the classroom—and are thus embedded in the infrastructures of schools themselves. It is the emotional and rhetorical framework of the classroom that lends racism its compelling power in the minds of students, even as teachers endeavor to address the issue of cultural discrimination. This effort is continually hindered by an incomplete understanding of the function of emotions in relation to antiracist persuasion and cannot be remedied until the root of the problem is addressed.
Rethinking Racism calls for a fresh approach to understanding racism and its causes, offering crucial insight into the formative role of schooling in the perpetuation of discriminatory beliefs. In addition, this highly readable narrative draws from white students' own stories about the meanings of race in their learning and their lives. It thus provides new ways of thinking about how researchers and teachers rep- resent whiteness. Blending narrative with more traditional forms of ethnographic analysis, Rethinking Racism uncovers the ways in which constructions of racism originate in literacy research and in our classrooms—and how these constructions themselves can limit the rhetorical positions students enact.
A White Side of Black Britain explores the racial consciousness of white women who have established families and had children with black men of African Caribbean heritage in the United Kingdom. Filling a gap in the sociological literature on racism and antiracism, France Winddance Twine introduces new theoretical concepts in her description and analysis of white “transracial” mothers raising their children of African Caribbean ancestry in a racially diverse British city. Varying in age, income, education, and marital status, the transracial mothers at the center of Twine’s ethnography share moving stories about how they cope with racism and teach their children to identify and respond to it. They also discuss how and why their thinking about race, racism, and whiteness changed over time. Interviewing and observing more than forty multiracial families over a decade, Twine discovered that in most of them, the white woman’s racial consciousness and her ability to recognize and negotiate racism were derived as much from her relationships with her black partner and his extended family as from her female friends. In addition to the white birth mothers, Twine interviewed their children, spouses, domestic partners, friends, and members of their extended families. Her book is best characterized as an ethnography of racial consciousness and a dialogue between black and white family members about the meaning of race, racism, and whiteness. It includes intimate photographs of the family members and their communities.