The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925by Mia Bay
How did African-American slaves view their white masters? As gods, monsters, or another race entirely? Did nineteenth-century black Americans ever come to regard white Americans as innately superior? If not, why not? Mia Bay traces African-American perceptions of whites between 1830 and 1925 to depict America's shifting attitudes about race in a period that saw slavery, emancipation, Reconstruction, and urban migration.
Much has been written about how the whites of this time viewed blacks, and about how blacks viewed themselves, but the ways in which blacks saw whites have remained a historical and intellectual mystery. Reversing the focus of such fundamental studies as George Fredrickson's The Black Image in the White Mind, Bay investigates this mystery. In doing so, she elucidates a wide range of thinking about whites by blacks intellectual and unlettered, male and female, and free and enslaved.
"With a title that makes an unveiled reference to George Frederickson's classic The Black Image in the White Mind (1971), this study takes a long overdue look at the other side of the coin....Bay explicitily addresses issues of methodology and sources in this carefully considered, thorough volume....Throughout, she demonstrates that, with a keen eye, a historian may learn much about the opinions of the unlettered. A worthy successor to earlier work on racial ideology, this book fills a major gap in the scholarship."--Library Journal
"[Bay] explores the time-centered context that shaped the images slaves and freedmen formed of white people in the period before and following emancipation....An excellent work that relates the roots of race-centered ideology to their past precedents."--Booklist
"While many scholars have devoted a considerable amount of attention to the image of Black people in Western culture, very few have thought it important to examine the role that images of white people played in the Black cultural imagination. Mia Bay has done just this in this subtle and elegant study, a truly germinal contribution to American historiography." --Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research, Harvard University
"By revealing for the first time what blacks thought about whites in the era of slavery and segregation, this incisive work adds a whole new dimension to our understanding of black-white relations in American history. It is deeply researched, astute in its interpretation, and very readable." --George M. Fredrickson, Stanford University
"A meticulous and imaginative reconstruction of compelling chapters in African American cultural and intellectual history. Bay is equally at home in probing the responses of Black intellectuals to racist ethnology and in mining slave narratives for evidence of the complex views of white people developed by those for whom whiteness was most acutely experienced as a problem in everyday life." --David Roediger, University of Minnesota
Meet the Author
Mia Bay is Assistant Professor of History and Co-Director of the Center for Historical Analysis at Rutgers University.
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