Race Manners: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans

Race Manners: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans

by Bruce A. Jacobs

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“An enlightening and balanced view of racial conflict.”—The Los Angeles TimesSee more details below


“An enlightening and balanced view of racial conflict.”—The Los Angeles Times

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a frank, intelligent guide intended for both whites and blacks, Jacobs explores the resentments that thwart a genuine dialogue on race. He lays bare the "wildly, even hysterically" exaggerated fear of African-American males held by many whites, and he urges white people to recognize that a racial double standard exists in law enforcement. Jacobs, a poet and essayist, describes how, as an African-American, he grew up surrounded by racial hatred in predominantly white, middle-class Rochester, N.Y. Nevertheless, he cautions that many blacks have succumbed to a siege mentality, judging all whites as harshly and as broadly as they feel themselves to be judged. While supporting affirmative action, he acknowledges that this policy comes with a price involving sacrifice by some whites for the greater good. He urges blacks to gain as much competence as possible in Standard English, while at the same time deploring the negative attitude many whites harbor toward speakers of vernacular "black English." Whether he is discussing interracial love, ethnic jokes, African-American TV shows or Elvis Presley's borrowings from black music, Jacobs challenges preconceptions and entrenched myths. Agent, Sheree Bykofsky. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
YA-Defining manners as "consideration reached through interchange," Jacobs provides an accessible and inspiring response to the contemporary American climate of grievances and attempts at public dialogue about race. Sorting his discussion into such practical venues of public and social life as maneuvering through the streets, analyzing the dating patterns of strangers, telling ethnic jokes, and shopping at the local supermarket, the author consistently reminds both black and white readers that stereotyping is harmful to the stereotyper as well as to the stereotyped; that history informs attitudes; and that cultural change comes through interpersonal exchange, argument and consideration, not through ignorance, fear of speaking up, or failure to listen. Students, teachers, and others who care about where we are heading-and where we have been-as a culture and as a political state-need to read this book. And, having read it, they will want to talk about it; expand upon it; and consider the ideas, fears, and hopes for further interchange that it elicits.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Demonstrates ways in which black and white Americans can begin to confront the prejudices that divide them. Jacobs examines such topics as squeegee men, the O.J. Simpson case, and racial humor, while advocating honesty and acceptance of differing attitudes between the races as the only way out of the current racial morass. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
A guidebook for those uncomfortable with the status quo in race relations and unwilling to exploit white or black hatred. Jacobs, a poet and writer who is African-American, confronts a rarely admitted truth: there is much weirdness regarding race in the US. Often what is unquestioningly assumed would be considered ludicrous by any objective observer, e.g., "the myths of what `black' and `white' are supposed to mean; the casual acceptance of public racial mistrust," making conventional patterns of racial belief and behavior difficult to take seriously if they were not so serious. Consider the well-dressed, educated black man who notices, day after day, that the seat next to him on the subway remains empty as the car fills up. As a black man, he inspires such distrust that any other seat, or even standing, is preferable for whites to sitting next to him. Or consider the white woman whose idol, Elvis Presley, is scorned by blacks as a white who got rich and famous by appropriating black music. Is Elvis the King or the ultimate symbol of plantation exploitation, of living high off the work of others? The real question, of course, is why people actually care so passionately, about either Elvis or where they sit on the train. Jacobs observes a society in which the flashpoint of racial animosity resides at the level of daily life; no lynchings or O.J. Simpson trials are required for mistrust to bar the possibility of common sense. To navigate this strange world, he offers a primer to "lay bare everyday racial behavior and help make sense of it," and it works. He takes us through typical situations, pointing out assumptions and then challenging them. Overall, the effect is shocking:self-justifying pablum and inflated rhetoric so dominate discussions of race that arguments which are both strong and reasonable, that are in-your-face without offending, stand out. An impressive contribution that exposes the underlying silliness as well as noxiousness of American racial attitudes. .

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Product Details

Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

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