Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now
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Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In this provocative book, writer and cultural critic Touré explores the concept of Post-Blackness: the ability for someone to be rooted in but not restricted by their race. Drawing on his own experiences and those of 105 luminaries, he argues that racial identity should be understood as fluid, complex, and self-determined.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Atria Books (first published September 13th 2011)
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Michael
Apr 14, 2014 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a good book. It's almost a 'how to behave yourself' manual fit for all races. I'd like to believe everyone would read this and we would all get our shit together.

There are aspects of race that we humans will always react to. There has been and always will be tribes because "birds of a feather do indeed flock together." Human-kind has also always proved that it is willing to behave in mean and ugly ways. So, hoping that suddenly we will all be nice is wasted hope, but yet I still do hope....more
Mignon King
Jan 28, 2012 Mignon King rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cultural studies students; Anyone who needs a clue
So far, I'm amazed. The book is dedicated to "anyone who was ever made to feel not Black enough. Whatever that means." Thank you, Brother!

This book answers all the obnoxious questions asked of people like me, Black Americans with unique personalities and unique ways of "being Black" without insulting our ancestors or asking anyone for permission or a set of guidelines.
Nikhil P. Freeman

The book is equals parts social commentary and autobiographical musings from a cadre of Black stars in the sky of American Africana. Post-Blackness as a definable thing is constantly changing and based on a generational set-point—for example, being born in the 80’s, I am not familiar at all with critical ‘white gaze’ or could never imagine being afraid to eat friend chicken or watermelon in front of a White person—these thoughts have never crossed my mind. My parents never told me I had to be be

...more
Theophilus (Theo)
Loved it. The pressure is off now. I am a child of the 60s and 70s and there was always this spectre hanging over me to constantly prove my blackness to the world. I have been challenged by children and adults to explain myself for not "talking black" or "acting black" or "not listening to the "correct" music for a black man. Nor should I feel any self-doubt or self-hatred because of denied opportunities because I am "too black" or "not black enough" in the opinion of the person in charge of the...more
Jamil
I was really digging this audiobook at the beginning, particularly chapter 3 which focuses on the impact of Chapelle's Show. As it went on, some bits resonated, others didn't (for me, personally).

(My other favorite bit is a great postscript to Chapter 6, exploring the etymology of "M-therf-cker". It blew my mind).

If you're at all interested in the state of "blackness" in post-Obama America, this is a pretty good survey of the multiplicity of perspectives inherent in any consideration of what th...more
Msladydeborah
Who is Afraid of Post-Blackness: What it Means to be Black Now is sure to be a conversation starter for those who read it and openly discuss the points that Toure' raises about Black identity in this century.

The format of this book is a combination of Toure's personal experiences at a child of the Black middle class and excerpts from over 100 interviews with different Black people from different generations.

The mixing of opinions and experinences is one the strong points of this work. Through th...more
Lisa
Meh. Maybe 2.5 for me. I'm honestly super interested in the subject matter, but didn't take away a ton from this book. Perhaps if I were less "post-Black", I would feel more illuminated. Unfortunately (in this case), I guess I am. Some of the anecdotes were charming or heartbreaking, but this felt a lot like a rehash of the same dinner table conversation I've been having since I was a child.

Also, the book read a bit like Toure's Public Therapy Session. I can see many Black folks nodding in appr...more
Crystal
I understand why Toure is so controversial in the black community. I really appreciate some of the ideas he has put out there with this book, namely adding his voice to a small choir that tries to dispel the myth of a monolithic blackness, claiming that such beliefs restrict black people in myriad ways. He does not, however, deny that there is indeed a black culture and frame of reference. In fact, he frequently draws from this base of common black knowledge to appeal to the reader and make his...more
Monica Williams
When pop-culture writer Toure was a student at Emory, a fellow student told him that he wasn't black. That verbal attack--obviously a defining moment in his life-- was the catalyst for this book "Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?"

In this book, he calls on a bunch of blacks with bold-faced names -- Malcolm Gladwell, Cornel West, Skip Gates, Thelma Golden, David Paterson and even an ex-boyfriend of mine--to talk about what it means to be black post-Obama. Basically, Toure fills the book with a bunc...more
Andre
Ever since the big burly linebacker screamed at him, "shut up Toure, you ain't black",Toure has been looking to solidify his place in that magical circle of blackness. It's clear that incident scarred him and I'm sure he may have had other similiar verbal fire balls tossed his way. So, he writes a book in which he posits, that the circle has expanded to include every black person living, no matter what their ideology or worldview. He champions individualism while making references to black peopl...more
Wandoo Ityavyar
Who is afraid of Post Blackness is a title that creates a knee jerk reaction. There is nothing subtle about this book or the title for that matter. Toure interviews a myriad of Black individuals to make up this body of work. Everything is out there in the open for you to deal with head on. Toure fulfills almost all the stereotypes of what a Black man is supposed be, while recklessly going against them simultaneously. Toure is Black how he sees fit, he is loud and states his point clearly and so...more
Levon Valle
Regardless of personal opinion, this is a great book to read. He manages to offer some insight into the era of Post-Blackness - which, by the way, is in no way similar to or related to the notion of Post-Racialism- with input from several others, although some more input from other figures is desired, since as he posits, Blackness operates on many levels. It will be polarizing due to its absolutist perspective.

So, what *is* Post-Blackness? Arising as a term in Art History, it refers to a Post-C...more
Dusky Literati
I just finished reading and wasn't terribly impressed. The subtitle of the book is "What It Means to be Black Now" and I think that's misleading as the book has interviews and experiences of the Black Elite and Intellectuals so I don't think it's representative of the mainstream rank and file in this country. I think the concept of post-Blackness is more of an aesthetic such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement that are distinct periods of time. Like the Harlem Renaissance, this...more
Steven Salaita
Lackluster. I expected more from this title. Toure is a good writer (most of the time) and a pretty observant critic, but his analysis is unimaginative and too often defined by his desire to prove that he's just as black as anybody else. Also, he relies extensively on a very small range of black scholars/scholarship, the usual lineup: Gates, West, Harris-Perry/Lacewell/Whatever. For somebody so adamant that black folk are heterogeneous, he wasted a lot of ink on a sort of homogenous liberal blac...more
Daniel Namie
Racism doesn’t often come with a machete these days but the death of your self-esteem by a thousand cuts can still lead to the murder of your soul.

--Quote from Toure’ book entitled “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness”

Toure’ s book entitled Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness paints the picture of contemporary Black people in America. To note, Toure’ capitalizes Blackness to make the point that Blackness, which contrary to whiteness, is indicative to a certain ethnic groups—African Americans. Where as wh...more
Tucker
This book was a great perspective on American Black experience specifically and explained a lot about identity in general. There were a lot of anecdotes that were funny and sad at the same time, and Touré spells out the emotional meaning and unpacks the cultural significance.

Here, Touré discusses the spectrum of roles that racial identity can play in someone's life:

"[Michael Eric] Dyson defines three primary dimensions of Blackness. He calls them accidental, incidental, and intentional but I pr
...more
Stuart
This book is a MUST READ for almost anyone who is Black and lives in Philadelphia (or any other historically Black city/town). Before people go off on Toure, he didn't coin the phrase, an artist did in the late 90s. More importantly he draws an important distinction between "post-racial" and "post-Black."

I have the teflon attitude (most days), I just wish others could build up the resilience I have and see the diversity and beauty in all as opposed to believing (falsely) that there is only one w...more
Shanice
While this book mirrors a lot of my own thoughts and conversations, it did give me a sense of catharsis in a way. Having experienced a lot of what Touré mentions (being singled out as "not black enough" amongst other things). It gave me some terminology for the changes I was seeing all around me and I think it's worth a read because I do know a lot of black people who live by a lot of the more negative mindsets Touré describes. I think this book gives an adept look at what it means to be Black i...more
Demetrius Burns
As the experience of Black America has blossomed into something that is both distinctly black and palpably American, the potential for a contradiction of terms is inevitable given the hostility over the years. Toure explores how to embody blackness in a way that's empowering though not limiting while suggesting an incorporation of an American identity that doesn't ignore racism but presses on regardless.

Where a lot of blacks have felt betrayed by America and vexed at the history of white suprem...more
Lia
This is a really great discussion of Black American culture and identity now. Touré talks to over 100 artists, media makers, academics, politicians and other notables and there are a lot of ideas going on here. I kind of arched an eyebrow at the title and I would question some of his conclusions but for the most part his approach is more exploratory than didactic and it's well-written. I will be looking up a lot of the artists he mentions.
Krystina
This is a great book. I don't think Toure broke any new ground in this book. Rather, he provided comfort to those who think like him. A coming-out party if you will. All too often, Blacks who do not think or act "Black" (whatever that means) find themselves persecuted by their own race.

The biggest issue that I have is the chapter on how to have more Pres. Obamas. Toure sets the book up to say that it's okay to be post-Black. Indeed, he encourages people to be who they are not conform to any type...more
John
This book, as I read it, has two main arguments, which are interrelated. First is what Touré calls "post-blackness," which is simply the idea that there is no single "right" or authentic way of being Black (or "doing Blackness" as he puts it). Being Black can mean a great many different things, and nobody is less real or authentic because of the way the speak, what they listen to, etc.

That argument, the advance of which is the central purpose of the book, strikes me as difficult to take issue w...more
Jonathan Lu
Outstanding and well written book that gave me the best personal pov of black culture in modern society since Native Son. As a minority having spent the majority of my life in the US and other years countries far more racist both externally (China) and internally (Venezuela), I can certainly relate and sympathize to the plight of the modern black American but not empathize. The prejudices that I have faced, barriers from within both Asian society and white American society, and visibility/lack o...more
Andrew
This book was incredibly eye-opening. I want so desperately to give this book to all of my white friends/family members that make the tired arguments about racism not being a topic to be addressed anymore what with Barack Obama. Of course, they won't read it but it would be interesting to at least start the conversation.

Before reading this, it was pretty obvious to me that the media in this country tends to portray Black Americans as this singular entity that is either incapable of and/or unwill...more
Rhi
"Dedicated to everyone who was ever made to feel 'not Black enough.' whatever that means." from the dedication, this book reached out as something addressing a very beat subject, 'race in America,' and was relevant to conversations being had today. Not saying that Morrison, Du Bois, or Ellison are no longer relevant, but has Toure points out, racism isn't a firehouse in your face anymore. It's so subtle some people have told themselves it doesn't exist any longer. This book took the perspective...more
Marcus Johnson
Toure is extremely modest. Early in this book, he discounts himself to be something less than a scholar. The notion is a gross understatement, as he's written a powerful piece of scholarly work that can be very helpful in helping Black America reassess and overcome its relationship with American society. There is both conviction and validation to be found in the book, as the work recognizes the extreme and manufactured variety of Blackness as a justifiable reaction to the historically volatile s...more
Korri
Mixing the words of 105 interviewees with autobiographical details, Touré makes the case for a post-Black America, one in which there is no 'authentic' Blackness. There are 40 million Black Americans and 40 million ways to be Black, as Henry Louis Gates Jr. puts it.

As another reviewer has noted, the interviewees are elite or famous Black Americans--not the average person on the street or in the grocery store--which may or may not skew the how readers understand the pronouncement that we are in...more
Vanessa
i found this book very interesting. not much new perhaps, but a useful synthesis of post-black art and discourse. even though i was politicized in an outmoded and oversimplified view of race, the kind of Black power rhetoric of KRS-ONE and Dead Prez, all of that unraveled into much more complicated understandings through the microhistories i read during grad school. despite a kind of obviousness to Toure's central thesis, i found a lot to be provocative in the discussion of artists and performer...more
Stephen Matlock
Anyone can write a book. You simply write the words down like ants marching across the paper in rows, black letter and white space, one element after another, paragraph and page and chapter. Do it long enough, and you have a book. Do it well, and people will buy it.

But do it as Touré has done, and you have something that is more than a book of words. You have the soul of a man poured out like water on dry ground, reviving, coloring, refreshing, healing--if you listen. Even when it's hard to list...more
Brenna
Toure is a great thinker, in that he asks good questions of himself an the people around him. He obviously craves the company of intellectuals like himself who wonder at how far race relations have come, and how subtly fraught they still are. His interviewees skew heavily to those in academia, politics and the art world, and some in the world of entertainment. Given that he's written for Rolling Stone and hosts shows on FUSE and MSNBC, I would have thought he'd sample a broader base. He doesn't...more
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Touré Neblett is an American novelist, essayist, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality.

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“There's more to blackness than bludgeoning people with memories of past atrocities and injustices or the discussion of how difficult it is to be black and deal with whites.” 2 likes
“They say living well is the best revenge and we were already living well so we knew we'd already won.” 1 likes
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