Who's Afraid of Post-blackness?

Who's Afraid of Post-blackness?

What It Means to Be Black Now

Book - 2011
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Baker & Taylor
Drawing on his own experience, as well as interviews with more than 100 black Americans--including Henry Louis Gates Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Chuck D, Soledad O-Brien, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Aaron McGruder and more--the author explores what it means to be black in a post-2008 United States. By the author of Never Drank the Kool-Aid

Simon and Schuster
In the age of Obama, racial attitudes have become more complicated and nuanced than ever before. Inspired by a president who is unlike any Black man ever seen on our national stage, we are searching for new ways of understanding Blackness. In this provocative new book, iconic commentator and journalist TourÉ tackles what it means to be Black in America today.

TourÉ begins by examining the concept of “Post-Blackness,” a term that defines artists who are proud to be Black but don't want to be limited by identity politics and boxed in by race. He soon discovers that the desire to be rooted in but not constrained by Blackness is everywhere. In Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? he argues that Blackness is infinite, that any identity imaginable is Black, and that all expressions of Blackness are legitimate.

Here, TourÉ divulges intimate, funny, and painful stories of how race and racial expectations have shaped his life and explores how the concept of Post-Blackness functions in politics, society, psychology, art, culture, and more. He knew he could not tackle this topic all on his own so he turned to 105 of the most important luminaries of our time for frank and thought-provoking opinions, including the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Harold Ford Jr., Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Glenn Ligon, Paul Mooney, New York Governor David Paterson, Greg Tate, Aaron McGruder, Soledad O'Brien, Kamala Harris, Chuck D, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and many others.

By engaging this brilliant, eclectic group, and employing his signature insight, courage, and wit, TourÉ delivers a clarion call on race in America and how we can change our perceptions for a better future. Destroying the notion that there is a correct way of being Black, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? will change how we perceive race forever.

Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2011
Edition: 1st Free Press hardcover ed
ISBN: 9781439177556
1439177554
Branch Call Number: 305.896 TOU
Characteristics: xviii, 251 p. ; 24 cm

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oldhag Aug 09, 2012

It's too bad that Toure doesn't look back further than the 1960s in this book. If he had maybe he would have taken into account the previous hundred years when black Americans strove mightily to assimilate, to gain white acceptance, if not white approval, similar to the "Five Civilized Tribes", who were called that because they adopted the white man's language, religion, dress, deportment, etc. all in an effort to go along, to get along. For their efforts, when the white man wanted the gold on their land, they were forced to abandon all that they owned, including the land, and walk the Trail of Tears, from the South to the West. The rebellions of the 60s were, in part, a recognition by black Americans that power concedes nothing without a struggle. Now, comes, Toure, re-inventing the wheel. "It makes me sick to think of needing to constantly mollify whites and remind them they needn't fear me but such are the rules of the game of acquiring power in America". Been there, done that, doesn't work. Toure's second mistake was a chapter entitled "How To Build More Baracks". Apparently, in Toure's world building more Obamas would be a good thing. I suggest that Toure check that assumption at the door. Mistake #3: "Many of us refuse to vote because we don't feel like the system serves us, thus giving us politicians who don't-and needn't-speak to us because we don't vote. Then Obama arrives and we vote for him en masse (what "we"?) and push him over the top". If anything, Obama's ascension to power, merely proves the point. In return for pushing him over the top black Americans got: Obama's vow to continue the war on drugs, a.k.a. the excuse law enforcement uses to terrorize black/brown communities, incarcerate large numbers of black/brown people, destroy their lives with draconian prison sentences, and (oh, so coincidentally), use the drug conviction to strip the right to vote from many black/brown people just as the demographic majority of the nation is changing from white to toasty brown; Obama using his invitations to speak at NAACP meetings to tongue-lash the black middle-class for an imagined lack of "personal responsibility", much to the delight of the white public who are apparently Obama's new best friends. Mistake#4: using the analogy of a bad marriage, Toure says there is "no possibility for divorce" from America. Maybe not for him. But over the years, many black Americans have decided to immigrate to other lands, Randall Robinson comes to mind, so the divorce option is not foreclosed. In his conclusion, Greg Tate speaks truth to the power that Toure is trying to mollify: "But if you look at the world now, if anything it's becoming post-whiteness. Like whiteness is becoming less relevant as a marker of power, authority, civilization." It seems to me, post-whiteness would be a good thing if by that we mean whites renouncing the unearned power, priviledge, and perks that they have acquired at the expense of everybody else.

j
jbetzzall
Feb 09, 2012

Toure's aim seems to be to broaden the definition of Blackness to include many who don't fit the media stereotypes of victims, gangsters and whores. He interviewed more than 150 people, many of them artists who participated in a "post blackness" art show in New York, and reports a variety of interesting perspectives. As a non-Black person I learned a great deal from this book, especially how high-achieving Black people are countering the stereotypes and finding a higher degree of acceptance than in the past. To be sure, he documents how racism has transmogrified and become more subtle, but this is ultimately a message of liberation.

nutty7688 Oct 25, 2011

Only read the first chapter, but will re-read at a later date

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