Forty years after the heydey of the Civil Rights movement, blacks find themselves in a quandary, unable to deduce who is racist.
So asserts Jackson (Communications and Anthropology/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity, 2005, etc.) in a rambling, repetitive text burdened by academic jargon. With lynching (almost) a historical memory and public use of the word “nigger” taboo, racial prejudice is now exhibited in more subtle ways that have given rise to a debilitating paranoia among blacks, he argues. Jackson cites as evidence media reports, publications by other academics and Internet chatter. In a wildly disjointed discussion, he revisits the saga of Dave Chappelle, who in 2005 famously walked away from a purported $50 million contract for his hit television show on Comedy Central. Jackson notes that Chappelle was driven to take a hiatus from his career after a white staffer laughed at a sketch he performed in blackface. The comic could not discern whether the staffer was laughing with or at him—a common conundrum for blacks at a time when political correctness reigns. The author also probes a 2006 conflict involving former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was detained by a white Capitol Hill cop after bypassing a metal detector at her office. Successful blacks like McKinney, who alleged she was a victim of racial profiling, routinely evoke suspicion in halls of power, writes Jackson. He suggests that whites can help blacks conquer racial paranoia—he uses the phrase ten times on a single page—by making friends across racial lines, buying homes in diverse neighborhoods and avoiding predominately white day-care centers. Readers are likely to be stunned by Jackson’s revelation that some blacks feel they receive less cream cheese on their bagels than whites.
A professor’s lecture notes run amok.