When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories

When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories

When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories

When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories

Synopsis

Robert Coles, Beverly Daniel Tatum, Natalie Angier, Patricia J Williams, David Bradley, Lisa Dodson, Leonard Pitts, and Jim Schutze are just a few of the best-selling or award-winning writers who, in this deeply moving book, step from behind the curtain of objectivity to turn the race spotlight on themselves. This riveting collection of personal stories, all commissioned specifically for this book, reveals the racial hopes, fears, fury, and triumphs of black and white writers of all stripes. These are stories by writers who refuse to tiptoe around the issue, who don't wax nostalgic, preach sermons, or act as expert witnesses; in this book they are willing, for the first time, to bare their souls and tell the truth. Alternately invigorating, shocking, and inspiring, this is the first book to reveal what it really means to be black -- and to be white -- in the 21st century.

Excerpt

Fortunately, I did not know when I started out how long or what it would take to complete this book. As David Bradley warns about studying American history, so it goes for race: you have to be crazy—or willing to go crazy—to seriously mess around with it. To mess around with a book on race—well, you have to be real crazy.

It also helps to have others who will join you in such a risky venture. of course, if thirty of America’s finest contemporary writers had not been willing to put their racial selves on the line, there would be no When Race Becomes Real.

Race. How did we arrive at the portal to the twenty-first century so entrenched in denial about what race means in America and who we are in reference to it? Is there really no cure for what Barbara Diggs-Brown and Leonard Steinhorn have diagnosed as “the integration illusion”— that affliction they describe in By the Color of Our Skin where our “public expressions masquerade as integrated when our lives clearly are not”?

And where the hell do we go from here?

When Race Becomes Real confronts these questions in a collective peeling-back that uncovers lessons of race, class, gender, and power. It is a re-membering of current events too often severed from our recent and distant past; it is observation from inside and out.

I was determined to make this book different than all the other books about race. I wanted to gather a cross section of people, both black and white, and get them to do what most Americans refuse to do—honestly reveal their personal feelings and experiences around race. Baring your soul to public view or, more accurately, for public consumption, is not easy. We are, after all, a culture that leaps to destroy whatever displeases us. and race, no matter how you look at it, is rarely pleasing.

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