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How to Rent a Negro Paperback – July 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556525737
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556525735
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ayo, a conceptual artist who integrates social issues in her visual and performing art, offers a satirical look at race relations and the myriad ways that whites and blacks interact on a daily basis but fail to penetrate racial barriers. Ayo claims that all blacks have been "rented" at some time, placed in the role of token at work or in a social setting, or drafted to represent the entire race with an opinion on a current race-related topic. Whites tend to be the renters, employing blacks in particular social situations to demonstrate their awareness of race issues or to deflect charges of racism. Ayo's pseudo-guidebook for renters and rentals offers a range of social issues and contact, from touching a black person's skin or hair to racial profiling from police or coworkers. She offers quizzes for readers to determine if they have inadvertently been in the position of renter or rental. Like many running jokes, the book wears thin after a while, but overall, it's an amusing look at the sorry state of race relations. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"As disarming and unrelenting as the title suggests." —Time Out Chicago

"Biting satire." —The Seattle Times

"A must-read book that gleefully blows past the boundaries of tentative talk on current race relations." —Bust

"Funny, biting and valuable." —Ruminator

"More than a clever book by a more-than-talented young voice." —DC Examiner

"Continues her work as an artist who challenges, with courage and wit, systems of white privilege, ideology, and oppression." —

"A hilariously comprehensive guide." —Chicago Reader

"Witty, empathetic, unsettling, hilarious. A kind of Miss Manners for the racially isolated yet yearning to connect." —The Nation

More About the Author

Hello Amazon readers,
I am so happy to meet you here on my author page.

I have journeyed through work as a conceptual artist, performance artist, public speaker, radio essayist, and humorist. Through all my creative expressions, writing has proven to be the form of expression that is able both to convey all I have to offer the world and reach the widest range of people. Thank you for being one of those people.

My first two books addressed an issue I have grappled with all my life, racism. For a time, it seemed that nearly everything I did, and everything people wanted from me revolved around race. I created two works of satirical humor to address this plaguing issue in a way that was engaging, challenging, and dynamic. I am happy to say that both of my first two books did just that. I am also happy to say that I have come to know myself as more than an author that writes about race. I am hoping that now you will come to know me in new ways as well.

My new work is truly personal. I have so many stories to share with you from a full life of varied and deeply felt experiences. I hope to have a long relationship with writing and with you as a reader. My greatest wish is to write work that keeps you engaged to want more, and thus keep me writing.

I welcome you to visit my web site [] and join me in my garden of stories for a cup of tea.


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A. Harper on August 6, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, simply because I have experienced 90% of what she is talking about. I do have to say that I have experienced much of this from more than just "white" people, but all peoples, including many Black people who practice internalized racism. I do NOT think that Ayo is saying that Blacks and whites will never get along or be in a meaningful relationship. In my opinion (and it really is just my opinion), I feel that she is forcing people who consciously or subconsciously "rent a negro" to really step back and engage in critical consciousness and ask: "What are my true motivations behind what I am doing? If I am to understand racism in America, I need to understand the 'in your face' racism as well as the institutionalized racism that even liberal White people AND non-White but Liberal people can easily fall into." This book may be hurtful to white idetified people who feel they are sincerely participating in ending racism in the world. These journeys are not EASY and a lot of people will hear perceptions from Black people that they won't like. Believe me, it's NOT easy but well worth it in the long run to consider approaches to ending RACISM from all points of view, not just the ones you are comfortable with. One needs the WHOLE picture from a plethora of perspectives to start engaging in an effective dialogue to talk about racism, whiteness, and white privilege within the context of USA history. As a Professional "black person" and career scholar in the fusion of race, class, sexual orientation and gender in identity development, I come across much literature I may not philosophically agree with but know it's pertinent to my understanding of social injustices in the world.Read more ›
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Tea Kay on June 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
How to Rent a Negro is funny, it's true, but it's also discomforting, powerful, sharp, intuitive and unique in it's honesty about race relations in America. When you see through the dark humor (which inevitably you will), you'll catch yourself remembering times when you have been in situations ayo illustrates, and you will suddenly learn where your intentions lie. What damali ayo effectively does in How to Rent a Negro is she intelligently and integrally takes a look at all the ways in which we persist in practicing a form of social predjudice and in so doing forces us to look at our actions and hopefully instigate change. A rare and fantastic and necessary book. And a great pleasure to read!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Desiree A. Goodwin on October 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I saw Damali Ayo talk about her book on cable tv last night and decided I had to read it. The fact that it elicits such extreme responses shows that it touches a nerve in those who may see themselves in these little spoofs. This is a tongue in cheek look at the very real, serious and persist problem of racism.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Thom Wallace on October 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Provocative and searing, perfect. If you don't like the book, even better, ayo has you right where we all should be. Thinking about Race and Racism in your everyday life.

Read this book and when you've read a paragraph or every chapter and checklist, take a moment to feel what it makes you feel. Anger, disappointment, disgust, laughter, revenge, and frustration, or none of the above. That's where you are, that's where we are as a nation and society. The feeling you walk away with when you read this book is yours.

Sadly, we all own the knowledge that no matter how you spin it, Race is still part of our society, and it will continue to be. ayo shapes it in a way that repackages it, reformats it in the language of Wall Street and sleazy car dealerships for the regular entrepreneur. This is Race and Racism translated into the language of the Small Business Administration and prepackaged propaganda news reels and self help books overstocked in your local conglomerated mammoth book outlet.

If you have 5 minutes for this book or a life time, How to Rent a Negro reminds us that Racism hurts. Racism is here; reverse, upside down and inside out.

ayo doesn't work to corner the market on "renting" out her race(s), whether your Jewish, Irish, Asian, Mayan, African, or if you landed on Plymouth Rock, or if Plymouth Rock landed on your grandfather, she is representing a reality in which all our experiences are lost in a cultural marketplace where Racial transactions occur in a social hierarchy. Will money, cultural status, and lust for the "other" always be our definition in our relationships? As she points out, it is what sells, so why not sell it for real capital?
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Sadly I have rented my share of people.

In my desparate attempt to feel their pain, understand their plight, and relate to their day to day goings ons, I have in turn done a great deal of the things in this book.

It is fun to laugh at oneself and still learn from it.

A slap in my face and a healthy knock from my hypersensitive liberal high horse.

Oh and to the self titled liberal, below who was finding the author's anger.. I sure hope in your rage induced disposal of her book that later you fished it out and recycled it!
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