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Whispers on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America / Edition 1

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Overview

"Whispers on the Color Line focuses on a wide array of tales told in black and white communities across America. Topics run the gamut from alleged governmental conspiracies, possible food tampering, gang violence, and the sex lives of celebrities. Such beliefs travel by word of mouth, in print, and increasingly over the Internet. In many instances these rumors and legends reflect the tenaciousness of racial misunderstanding that continues to frustrate efforts to foster racial harmony, creating separate racialized pools of knowledge." "The authors have spent more than twenty years collecting and analyzing rumors and contemporary legends - from the ever-durable Kentucky Fried Rat cycle to persistent beliefs that athletic footwear manufacturers support white supremacist regimes. In this book, Fine and Turner explain how people find suspicious stories like these plausible. Telling them serves many purposes: to assuage anxieties, entertain friends, increase our sense of control - all without directly proclaiming our own attitudes. The authors consider how these tales reflect attitudes that blacks and whites have about each other and about the world they face. They brilliantly demonstrate how - by transforming unacceptable impulses into a narrative that is claimed to have actually happened - we are able to express the inexpressible."--BOOK JACKET.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Urban legends are a large part of today's society. Nearly everyone has heard the myths about why Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name or who owns Snapple or the woman who was saved from attack by a gas station attendant. But how do urban legends affect how different races see each other, and how do these legends change according to which ethnic group is being targeted? In this fascinating book, Fine (African American studies, Univ. of California, Davis; I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African American Culture) and Turner (sociology, Northwestern Univ.; Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work) explore not only the basis of many of these urban legends but also how they shape opinions. They discuss different kinds of rumors and how these rumors are shared within the community. They also discuss how to cope with rumors and to stop them in their tracks. With a fairly extensive notes section, this is an important and useful book that should find a home in every library. Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-This book looks beyond the question of factual veracity and challenges readers to examine the underlying racial attitudes revealed by particular kinds of alleged actions and behaviors. Focus is on rumors spread by Caucasian and African-American populations about one another throughout American history. At heart a scholarly work, the first two chapters are devoted to describing structures used to analyze the assumed beliefs in the rest of the book. However, there are plenty of juicy stories inside. A number of the rumors cited as being typically spread only in black communities may sound incredible to whites, and vice versa. In providing historical and sociological background, the authors show how people who view themselves as reasonable can still accept outrageous assertions as fact. It is likely that there will be readers who vehemently disagree with at least some of the authors' analysis. Nevertheless, this provocative work excels at challenging readers to think about and hopefully better understand people on the other side of the color line. Five sensible and practical steps that every individual should take in order to bring about racial healing end the book on a positive and constructive note. This is a must-read for students and teachers with a scholarly interest in race relations. Even for casual readers, Whispers supplies a starting point for discussions.-Sheila Shoup, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520228559
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 5/18/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author


Gary Alan Fine is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University. Among his books are Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work (California, 1994), Difficult Reputations (2000), and Manufacturing Tales: Sex and Money in Contemporary Legends (1992). Patricia A. Turner is Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African American Culture (California, 1993) and Ceramic Uncles and Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture (1994).
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Read an Excerpt

Does Kentucky Fried Chicken serve its African American customers Kentucky Fried Rat?

Are the owners of the beverage company, Snapple, members of the Ku Klux Klan? * Is Liz Claiborne a white supremacist?

Was there a conspiracy around the untimely death of former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown? *

Was O. J. Simpson framed?

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Rumor in the Life of America: Riots and Race
2. How Rumor Works
3. Mercantile Rumor in Black and White
4. The Enemy in Washington
5. The Wages of Sin: Stories of Sex and Immorality
6. On the Road Again: Rumors of Crime and Confrontation
7. Cries and Whispers: Race and False Accusations
8. Coming Clean
Notes
Index
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First Chapter

*Does Kentucky Fried Chicken serve its African American customers Kentucky Fried Rat?

*Are the owners of the beverage company, Snapple, members of the Ku Klux Klan?

*Is Liz Claiborne a white supremacist?

*Was there a conspiracy around the untimely death of former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown?

*Was O. J. Simpson framed?

*Do gangs rape blonde virgins as an initiation ritual?

*Do black women deliberately bump white women on public streets?

*Does the federal government deliberately give welfare to those who do not deserve it--the Welfare Queens?

*Was a black assailant really caught sneaking into the backseat of that white woman's car?

*If you flash your lights at a car that doesn't have its lights on, will the driver (a member of a gang) follow you home and murder you?

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