As noted in the group read post for our fiction pick this ‘thon, we recognize that many bookish conversations have moved to other platforms: Bookstagram, Twitter, Litsy, TinyLetters, and the like. And while we hope that readers continue to share about the #24in48GroupReads on social media, we also wanted to create a space for non-social-media users to comment, discuss, and share thoughts about the books selected for this weekend… and so we’re going back to our old book-blogging roots with a post for each group read.
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… And Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation
A debut from assistant professor of English and cultural critic/New Yorker Staff writer Lauren Michele Jackson (she/her), here’s what to expect:
Exposes the new generation of whiteness thriving at the expense and borrowed ingenuity of black people—and explores how this intensifies racial inequality.
American culture loves blackness. From music and fashion to activism and language, black culture constantly achieves worldwide influence. Yet, when it comes to who is allowed to thrive from black hipness, the pioneers are usually left behind as black aesthetics are converted into mainstream success—and white profit.
Weaving together narrative, scholarship, and critique, Lauren Michele Jackson reveals why cultural appropriation—something that’s become embedded in our daily lives—deserves serious attention. It is a blueprint for taking wealth and power, and ultimately exacerbates the economic, political, and social inequity that persists in America. She unravels the racial contradictions lurking behind American culture as we know it—from shapeshifting celebrities and memes gone viral to brazen poets, loveable potheads, and faulty political leaders.
An audacious debut, White Negroes brilliantly summons a re-interrogation of Norman Mailer’s infamous 1957 essay of a similar name. It also introduces a bold new voice in Jackson. Piercing, curious, and bursting with pop cultural touchstones, White Negroes is a dispatch in awe of black creativity everywhere and an urgent call for our thoughtful consumption. [Publisher copy.]
For more about Lauren Michele Jackson, see:
- LaurJackson.com, which includes links to Jackson’s writing on a variety of subjects (books, movies, television, race, politics, cartoons… so much!)
- An NPR interview with Lauren Michele Jackson
- What is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?, in Vulture
- Kim Kardashian and the Year of Unchecked Privilege, in The New Yorker
- This New Yorker piece about the reboot of the television cartoon “The Animaniacs”
- Culture Gabfest podcast episode,”The “Black Lives Matter” Edition”
And tell us — what did you think of the book? What questions did it raise for you? What answers? Have you read any of Jackson’s other writing? Drop it in the comments or on social and let us know your thoughts!