Challenging a prevailing attitude, this account disputes the idea that racism is no longer a factor in American life. Based on cultural and literary evidence-including Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn-it argues that, in some ways, the United States very much resembles the country of the 1850s. Not only are the representations of blacks in popular culture throwbacks to the days of minstrelsy, but politicians are also raising stereotypes reminiscent of those which fugitive slaves found it necessary to combat: that African Americans are lazy, dependent, and in need of management. Bold and direct, this book brings an important debate to the surface.
Ishmael Reed is an essayist, a novelist, a poet, and a playwright, having won prizes in all categories. He is the author of Airing Dirty Laundry, Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media, and Juice, and a former professor at the University of California-Berkeley as well as at Harvard, Yale, and Dartmouth. He lives in Oakland, California.