Awakening to Race: Individualism and Social Consciousness in America

Awakening to Race: Individualism and Social Consciousness in America

by Jack Turner
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0226817121

ISBN-13: 2900226817124

Pub. Date: 08/27/2012

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

The election of America’s first black president has led many to believe that race is no longer a real obstacle to success and that remaining racial inequality stems largely from the failure of minority groups to take personal responsibility for seeking out opportunities. Often this argument is made in the name of the long tradition of self-reliance and

Overview

The election of America’s first black president has led many to believe that race is no longer a real obstacle to success and that remaining racial inequality stems largely from the failure of minority groups to take personal responsibility for seeking out opportunities. Often this argument is made in the name of the long tradition of self-reliance and American individualism. In Awakening to Race, Jack Turner upends this view, arguing that it expresses not a deep commitment to the values of individualism, but a narrow understanding of them.
 
Drawing on the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, Turner offers an original reconstruction of democratic individualism in American thought. All these thinkers, he shows, held that personal responsibility entails a refusal to be complicit in injustice and a duty to combat the conditions and structures that support it. At a time when individualism is invoked as a reason for inaction, Turner makes the individualist tradition the basis of a bold and impassioned case for race consciousness—consciousness of the ways that race continues to constrain opportunity in America. Turner’s “new individualism” becomes the grounds for concerted public action against racial injustice.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900226817124
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
08/27/2012
Pages:
216

Table of Contents

List of Figures 
Preface

Chapter 1. Awakening to Race
    Racial Injustice and Individualist Ideals 
    The Problem of Acknowledgment 
    Democratic Individualism 
    From Emerson to Baldwin 
    A Usable Past? 
    Talking to Strangers 
 
Chapter 2. Self-Reliance and Social Responsibility 
    Atomistic Individualism 
    Awakening 
    The Idea of Complicity 
    Self-Reliance and Complicity 
    Action and Citizenship 
    Self-Reliance and Justice 
    Democratic Individualist Responsibility 

Chapter 3. Self-Help and Social Structure 
    Self-Help 
    Social Structure 
    Liberal Democracy, Properly Understood 

Chapter 4. Race and Democratic Individuality 
    Democratic Individuality in Black 
    Diagnosing White Supremacy 
    Reconstructing Vision 
    Love, Fraternity, Gender, and Democracy 
    Awakening to Power 

Chapter 5. Democratic Reconstitution 
    Creative Individuality, Radical Responsibility 
    The White Innocence of American Liberalism 
    Democratic Reconstitution 
    Speech and Self-Understanding 
    Democratic Individualism Revisited 

Chapter 6. A New Individualism 
    Rhetorical Jujitsu 
    All That Beauty 

Notes 
Works Cited 
Index

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