The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925 / Edition 1

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With a title that makes an unveiled reference to George Fredrickson's classic The Black Image in the White Mind (1971), this study takes a long-overdue look at the other side of the coin. Aware that her task is more than just an inversion of Fredrickson's, Bay (history, Rutgers) explicitly addresses issues of methodology and sources in this carefully considered, thorough volume. African Americans, she notes, didn't always get to write down their own stories. As a result, she admits that she has had to rely heavily on records left by whites. She spends half of the book considering the Herculean efforts of a small group of black intellectuals to counteract white racist ideologies before and after the Civil War. But she also examines the complex racial ideologies of slaves, whose opinions she somehow manages to extract from the prejudicial writings of white observers and interviewers. 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. For academic and larger public libraries.--Charles K. Piehl, Mankato State Univ., MN Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195132793
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/10/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Sales rank: 1,003,650
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
I White People in Black Ethnology
1 "Of One Blood God Created All the Nations of Men": African-Americans Respond to the Rise of Ideological Racism, 1789-1830 13
2 The Redeemer Race and the Angry Saxon: Race, Gender, and White People in Antebellum Black Ethnology 38
3 "What Shall We Do with the White People?": Whites in Postbellum Black Thought 75
II The Racial Thought of the Slaves
4 "Us Is Human Flesh": Race and Humanity in Black Folk Thought 117
5 "Devils and Good People Walking de Road at de Same Time": White People in Black Folk Thought 150
III New Negroes, New Whites: Black Racial Thought in the Twentieth Century
6 "A New Negro for a New Century": Black Racial Ideology, 1900-1925 187
Conclusion 219
Notes 231
Selected Bibliography 265
Index 280
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