Blinded by the Whites
Why Race Still Matters in 21st-Century America
Publication Year: 2013
The election of Barack Obama gave political currency to the (white) idea that Americans now live in a post-racial society. But the persistence of racial profiling, economic inequality between blacks and whites, disproportionate numbers of black prisoners, and disparities in health and access to healthcare suggest there is more to the story. David H. Ikard addresses these issues in an effort to give voice to the challenges faced by most African Americans and to make legible the shifting discourse of white supremacist ideology—including post-racialism and colorblind politics—that frustrates black self-determination, agency, and empowerment in the 21st century. Ikard tackles these concerns from various perspectives, chief among them black feminism. He argues that all oppressions (of race, gender, class, sexual orientation) intersect and must be confronted to upset the status quo.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Blacks in the Diaspora
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote
On August 27, 2012, my fifteen-year-old nephew Tyrell Johnson died in a car accident on the first day of school in his sophomore year. The driver of the car, sixteen-year-old Cody Rives, also died. A few weeks prior to his death, Ty visited Tallahassee, Florida, with his grandmother (my mother) to hang out with me and my two children, ...
Introduction: What Does Black Empowerment in the Twenty-First Century Look Like?
By most conventional measures of emotional stability, Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist in Invisible Man is emotionally unstable or, to use street vernacular, downright crazy. Paranoid about racial conspiracies to the point of viewing the entire society – including other African Americans ...
1. White Supremacy Under Fire: The Unrewarded Perspective in Edward P. Jones's The Known World
The sexually charged relationship that Clara Martin, a white widow, has with her lone slave Ralph in Edward P. Jones’s The Known World will strike most readers as schizophrenic. Though she is intensely attracted to Ralph, she goes to mental and social extremes to resist acknowledging her feelings even as she continues to actively pursue him. ...
2. Easier Said Than Done: Making Black Feminism Transformative for Black Men
A curious thing happens in Toni Morrison’s Beloved when Stamp Paid and Paul D are conversing outside of a makeshift church about Paul D’s breakup with Sethe. As the reader will recall, Stamp Paid has facilitated this breakup in the name of protecting Paul D by proffering him information about Sethe’s infanticide and criminal proceedings. ...
3. All Joking Aside: Black Men, Sexual Assault, and Displaced Racial Angst in Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle
When the LAPD cops who brutally beat Rodney King are acquitted of all charges in Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle, we get a rare glimpse behind reluctant black leader Gunnar Kaufman’s façade of racial skepticism and discursive political humor. Overwhelmed emotionally by the injustice of the verdict and the powerlessness that he feels as a black man ...
4. Boys to Men: Getting Personal about Black Manhood, Sexuality, and Empowerment
A few years ago my ten-year-old son Elijah came home from school singing the lyrics to Soulja Boy’s hip hop anthem “Pretty Boy Swag” and rehearsing the dance move that the song gave birth to. While I was more than a little amused watching my bookish and rhythmically challenged son rehearse his swag trot, ...
5. Rejecting Goldilocks: The Crisis of Normative White Beauty for Black Girls
It certainly started out innocently enough. My children’s elementary school was having a book parade to generate enthusiasm about reading. Each child was encouraged to come to school dressed as their favorite character in a book. My then nine-year-old son, Elijah, who had just recently finished a book report on Muhammad Ali, ...
6. "Stop Making the Rest of Us Look Bad": How Class Matters in the Attacks against the Movie Precious
When the movie Precious debuted in 2009 many black folks in high places viewed it as an abomination, a twenty-first-century brand of black poverty tourism. Indeed, one of the movie’s most vocal and esteemed antagonists then was Ishmael Reed, who launched a virtual campaign against the movie, ...
Epilogue: So What Does It All Mean?
The epigraph from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is the advice that the “crazy” vet from the Golden Day – a bar/juke joint where a bunch of “shell-shocked” black war veterans hang out – gives invisible man as he heads north to find an internship after being expelled from his university for mishandling Mr. Norton, ...
About the Author
David H. Ikard is Professor in the English department at the University of Miami. He is author of Breaking the Silence: Toward a Black Male Feminist Criticism and (with Martell Teasley) of Nation of Cowards: Black Activism in Barack Obama’s Post-Racial America. ...