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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How do we make sense of what it means to be Black in a world with room for both Michelle Obama and Precious? Tour , an iconic commentator and journalist, defines and demystifies modern Blackness with wit, authority, and irreverent humor.

In the age of Obama, racial attitudes have become more complicated and nuanced than ever before. Americans are searching for new ways of understanding Blackness, partly inspired by a President who is unlike any Black man ever seen on our national stage.

This book aims to destroy the notion that there is a correct or even definable way of being Black. It's a discussion mixing the personal and the intellectual. It gives us intimate and painful stories of how race and racial expectations have shaped Tour 's life as well as a look at how the concept of Post-Blackness functions in politics, psychology, the Black visual arts world, Chappelle's Show, and more. For research Tour has turned to some of the most important luminaries of our time for frank and thought-provoking opinions, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Malcolm Gladwell, Harold Ford, Jr., Kara Walker, Kehinde Wiley, Chuck D, and many others. Their comments and disagreements with one another may come as a surprise to many readers.

Of special interest is a personal racial memoir by the author in which he depicts defining moments in his life when he confronts the question of race head-on. In another chapter--sure to be controversial--he explains why he no longer uses the word "nigga."

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness? is a complex conversation on modern America that aims to change how we perceive race in ways that are as nuanced and spirited as the nation itself.

Publisher: New York : Free Press, 2011.
ISBN: 9781439177556
Characteristics: xviii, 251 p. :,ill. ;,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.

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.

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