We’re beginning a new quarterly feature here, “Book Event Quarterly.” The idea is that once each quarter (about every three months), we’ll spend some time in a post to highlight new, important and promising books that deal with the topics of race and racism. The emphasis in this series will be on scholarly books that are based on empirical evidence. Of course, there are often books written by journalists (Jonathan Kozol’s work comes to mind) that may get included as well. For now, here are a few titles to consider for your summer reading list (in more or less random order):
- Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton, by Duchess Harris,(PhD, Associate Professor of American Studies at Macalester College). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 208 pages. Harris offers an analysis of Black women’s involvement in American political life, focusing on what they did to gain political power between 1961 and 2001, and why, in many cases, they did not succeed. Harris demonstrates that Black women have tried to gain centrality through their participation in Presidential Commissions, Black feminist organizations, theatrical productions, film adaptations of literature, beauty pageants, electoral politics, and Presidential appointments. Harris contends that ‘success’ in this area means that the feminist-identified Black women in the Congressional Black Caucus who voted against Clarence Thomas’s appointment would have spoken on behalf of Anita Hill; Senator Carol Moseley Braun would have won re-election; Lani Gunier would have had a hearing; Dr. Joycelyn Elders would have maintained her post; and Congresswoman Barbara Lee wouldn’t have stood alone in her opposition to the Iraq war resolution. Her book was just released yesterday, and Prof. Harris has a post about it at her blog, SisterScholar.
- Between Barack and a Hard Place: White Denial and Racism in the Age of Obama, by Tim Wise (antiracist writer and educator). San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2009. 120 pages. According to Wise, for many white people, Obama’s rise signifies the end of racism as a pervasive social force; they point to Obama not only as a validation of the American ideology that anyone can make it if they work hard, but also as an example of how institutional barriers against people of color have all but vanished. But is this true? And does a reinforced white belief in color-blind meritocracy potentially make it harder to address ongoing institutional racism? After all, in housing, employment, the justice system, and education, the evidence is clear: white privilege and discrimination against people of color are still operative and actively thwarting opportunities, despite the success of individuals like Obama.
- White prescriptions?: The Dangerous Social Potential for Ritalin and Other Psychotropic Drugs to Harm Black Boys, Terence D. Fitzgerald, Boulder, Paradigm, 2009. 192 pages. This book reveals how and why black males are disproportionately targeted and controlled by American schools in ways that hamper and endanger their educational success. Fitzgerald shows how the government, medical practitioners, and the pharmaceuticals industry have facilitated this oppressive trend, setting it against a larger historical backdrop of racism in American education.
- The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial-Framing and Counter-Framing by Joe R. Feagin. New York: Routledge, 2009. 264 pages. Here, Feagin explores the ‘white racial frame, now four centuries-old, which encompasses not only the stereotyping, bigotry, and racist ideology accented in other theories of “race,” but also the visual images, array of emotions, sounds of language, interlinking interpretations, and inclinations to discriminate that are still central to the frame’s everyday operation and remain deeply imbedded in American minds and institutions.
- Doing Business with Beauty: Black Women, Hair Salons, and the Racial Enclave Economy by Adia Harvey Wingfield, 2008. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 155 pages. Using in-depth interviews with hair salon owners, Doing Business with Beauty explores several facets of the business of owning a hair salon, including the process of becoming an owner, the dynamics of the owner-employee relationship, and the factors that steer black women to work in the hair industry. Harvey Wingfield examines the black female business owner’s struggle for autonomy and success in entrepreneurship.
- Fade to Black and White: Interracial Images in Popular Culture by Erica Chito Childs, 2009. 232 pages. Childs considers the context of social messages, conveyed by the media, that inform how we think about love across the color line. Examining a range of media–from movies to music to the web–this book offers an informative and provocative account of how the perception of interracial sexuality as deviant has been transformed in the course of the 20th century and how race relations are understood today.
- Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race, by George Yancy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlfield, 2008. 265 pages. Explores Black embodiment within white hegemony and the context of a racist, anti-Black world. Yancy demonstrates that the Black body is a historically lived text on which whites have inscribed their projections which speak equally forcefully to whites’ own self-conceptualizations.
- Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet, by Lisa Nakamura. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. 248 pages. I’ve made mention of my new book, Cyber Racism here before, so I won’t belabor the point. I did want to mention Lisa Nakamura’s book as sort of the “other side” of the race and Internet question for those who might be interested in the ways that people of color are using web technologies. In this book, Nakamura uses case studies of popular yet rarely examined uses of the Internet such as pregnancy Web sites, instant messaging, and online petitions and quizzes to look at the emergence of race-, ethnic-, and gender-identified visual cultures. This leading scholar of race and the Internet is at her best when discussing the experiences of Asian Americans. This is a must-read for anyone interested in both ‘race’ and new media.
Happy reading! 🙂