Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion

Cora Daniels and John L. Jackson Jr. Atria, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3911-3
The subjects may be “impolite,” but the alternating essays between cultural anthropologist Jackson (Harlemworld) and journalist Daniels (Black Power Inc.) are certainly not. Whether discussing politics, sex, money, or religion, at its core, these are conversations about race. The longtime friends more often disagree by degree than by opposition. Daniels hopes for a less church-defined attitude toward female sexuality (discussed in the essay “Let’s pray for sexually active daughters”), and Jackson, in “There’s a conspiracy to hypermasculinize black boys,” considers “the social vulnerability of black boys and men.” When it comes to money, “We’re not movin’ on up” from Daniels’s perspective, while Jackson tweaks the class and race-oriented perspective that dismisses hip-hop as “barely music at all.” In two particularly memorable essays, Daniels wrestles with the personal and tiresome question asked of biracial people (“What are you?”) and Jackson gets downright Swiftian, proposing “a government-sponsored program that allows whites to pay blacks for the right and privilege of saying the N-word in their presence.” The book is best consumed in small doses, but the discussion is intelligent and thought-provoking. Agent: Nicholas Roman Lewis. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 09/30/2014
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