The Trouble with Post-Blackness

Edited by Houston A. Baker and K. Merinda Simmons. Columbia Univ., $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-231-16934-9
The contributors to this thoughtful, provocative, and only occasionally heavy-going collection of essays argue that the idea that the modern-day U.S. is post-racial, specifically in black-white relations, does a disservice to both historical and present-day racial realities. Barack Obama’s presidency sets the general context for these pieces, and the title takes its inspiration from social critic Touré’s 2011 treatise Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?, which proposed that what it means for an American to be black is no longer as fixed as it once was. Touré also appears as a touchstone throughout the pieces, which touch on aspects of black culture and life that the authors consider imperiled by the post-blackness concept. The opening selection from Margo Natalie Crawford, for instance, looks at the Black Arts movement, while Greg Thomas considers African-American literature, and Bayo Holsey examines an “imagined Africa as an ancestral homeland.” Despite such disparate concerns, the authors are linked by the conviction that post-blackness doesn’t just try to extract its subjects from the past; it also ignores or actively denies the ways in which the present is still dangerous for the majority of “blackened subjects.” While the academic tone and intellectual rigor are unlikely to inspire any significant public debate, this book persuasively argues that what Touré calls “being like Barack” really just maintains normative whiteness as an untroubled, unanalyzed construct. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 02/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-231-53850-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-231-16935-6
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