Remembering Reet and Shine: Two Black Men, One Struggle / Edition 1

Remembering Reet and Shine: Two Black Men, One Struggle / Edition 1

by Michael Schwalbe
     
 

ISBN-10: 1578066751

ISBN-13: 9781578066759

Pub. Date: 09/29/2004

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Matthew Mason and Anthony Atwater, two working-class African Americans who lived and died in the American South, led double lives. To family and the black community, they were local men, fathers, and companions. In the dominant white world, where they earned their wages, they were known by their nicknames, Dr. Reet and Shine.

In this dual biography, Michael

Overview

Matthew Mason and Anthony Atwater, two working-class African Americans who lived and died in the American South, led double lives. To family and the black community, they were local men, fathers, and companions. In the dominant white world, where they earned their wages, they were known by their nicknames, Dr. Reet and Shine.

In this dual biography, Michael Schwalbe finds these monikers to be both endearing and degrading. Like other black men of their era, Mason and Atwater created personas. Mason became "Dr. Reet," a witty entertainer to his white employers. Atwater became "Shine," a streetwise stud who was skilled in love and violence. Each persona seemed like a solution, but bore unanticipated costs.

Grandson of a slave and born to a sharecropping family in 1911, Mason worked for fifty years for an all-white aristocratic fraternity, though most of his children would go on to professional careers. Atwater, born in 1933, showed great promise as a child and had ambitions to be an engineer, but by middle age had brought himself close to ruin. Both men struggled with alcoholism, both men created personas to help cope with the strains of their lives, and both men emerged from years of emotional turmoil to find peace.

Mixing biography, memoir, and journalism, Remembering Reet and Shine delves into the southern past, following Mason and Atwater as they age, decline, and die. It also explores the great contradiction of American manhood that arises between the expectation of control and the reality of powerlessness. This moving account does not herald heroes or saints, but raises the profile of ordinary men trying to reconcile the demands of manhood with the limits imposed by social forces beyond their control.

Michael Schwalbe is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University. He is the author of The Sociologically Examined Life and Unlocking the Iron Cage: The Men's Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781578066759
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
Publication date:
09/29/2004
Series:
Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
1Room to Be Human3
2Driving Mr. Mason22
3Spoiling for Manhood43
4From Halves to a Piece of Earth62
5A Bubble Off Center83
6The Making of Dr. Reet101
7A Fine Man in His Right Mind122
8Home Again140
9Can't Do Like You Used To159
10Getting Turned Around179
11Mudslide200
12Two Old Birds Holding On221
Epilogue242
Acknowledgments250

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