LURE AND LOATHING by Gerald Early

LURE AND LOATHING

Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation
edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Ninety years after W.E.B. DuBois posited the ``double- consciousness'' of African-Americans (``always measuring one's soul by the tape of the world that looks on in amused contempt and pity'' in a constant experience of ``twoness--an American, a Negro...two unreconciled strivings''), 18 African-American intellectuals offer thoughtful responses. Does ``double-consciousness'' exist? Some respondents take it for granted; others believe the contemporary situation has changed or that DuBois mistakenly extended his own unique experience to African-Americans who were firmly grounded in the black community. Some challenge ``twoness'' as an insufficient formulation: Black Americans often measure themselves against group expectations of the black community as well; additional identities are generated by gender and class; multiple consciousness is part of the human--not just African-American--condition. Multiple or shifting identity is seen as superior--an intellectual and creative opportunity--or as inferior to the ``solid, no fluid'' unitary Afrocentric consciousness. Some of the writers here lament recent black conformity to American materialist values. Others consider the impact of multiculturalism and multiracialism on historical black/white formulations. Edited by Early (African-American Studies/Washington University), the collection features pieces by, among others, Molefi Kete Asante, Toni Cade Bambara, Stephen L. Carter, Stanley Crouch, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kristin Hunter Lattany, Kenneth R. Manning, Reginald McKnight, Itabari Njeri, Robert Staples. High-quality essays, often probing and troubling, essays that take a variety of approaches (historical and sociological, personal memoir, creative meditation, political manifesto) to illuminate both the subject and some of the diversity of African-American opinion. Many of the contributors are right or left of center but none are so conservative as to suggest that America is now colorblind.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-713-99101-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992




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