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Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now Hardcover – September 13, 2011

52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“One of the most acutely observed accounts of what it is like to be young, black and middle-class in America. Toure inventively draws on a range of evidence . . . for a performance carried through with unsparing honesty, in a distinctive voice that is often humorous, occasionally wary and defensive, but always intensely engaging.”

—Orlando Patterson, New York Times Book Review

“[T]he ever provocative TourÉ boldly articulates the complicated issues of self and racial identity in the age of Obama.”

Vanity Fair

"A welcome response to the 'self-appointed identity cops' who would arrest and banish those they consider insufficiently black. Perceptively analyze[s] a new sensibility in black art and culture to illustrate the complex and fluid racial identification TourÉ dubs 'post-blackness.' "

San Francisco Chronicle

“This book is quintessential TourÉ: smart, funny, irreverent, and provocative as hell. Rejecting old school racial dogma and new school myths about post-raciality, he offers a powerful and original thesis on the status of Blackness in the 21st century. Through his sharp analysis and honest reflections, TourÉ challenges us to embrace a more mature, sophisticated, and ultimately liberating notion of racial identity. Any serious conversation on race and culture must begin with this book.”

—Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University Professor and host of “Our World With Black Enterprise”

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness is a necessary book. To fulfill your potential as an individual or as a people, you need a clear sense of self. TourÉ has done the difficult but liberating work of moving the discussion of race beyond the Black Power-era thinking of the 1970's into the 21st Century.”

— Reggie Hudlin, filmmaker

“TourÉ candidly tackles a burning issue confronting us today. Black America is undeniably a community 'free, but not equal,' and people from all walks of life are compelled to devise new approaches to confronting today's structural inequalities. Here TourÉ explores insights from many perspectives to help guide the way.”

—Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

“A fascinating conversation among some of America’s most brilliant and insightful Black thinkers candidly exploring Black identity in America today. TourÉ powerfully captures the pain and dissonance of Black Americans’ far too often unrequited love for our great nation.”

—Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness is a tour de force! I applaud TourÉ’s courage in standing up and telling it like it is. This special book will make you think, laugh, cry—and it will make you look at race and at yourself differently.”

—Amy DuBois Barnett, Editor-in-Chief, Ebony

“TourÉ has taken a question I have asked myself uncountable times over the course of my life and asked it of everyone: ‘What does it mean to be Black?’ The answers in this book are thought-provoking, uplifting, hilarious and sometimes sad. His sharp writing and self-effacing stories help digest some hard facts about how identity can be used for and against each of us – and why it matters so much to all of us.”

—Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor and special correspondent

“TourÉ is one of my favorite writers. I’ve watched him grow and mature into the thinking man's writer for the new era. Extremely observant on class and culture, this book is a must-have guide from one of the few remaining minds with the courage to tell the truth about America's beautiful stain.”

—Questlove, from the Roots --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Touré is a co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle and a columnist for He is the author of four books, including Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?, New York Times and Washington Post notable book. He lives in Brooklyn.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st edition, edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439177554
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439177556
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Kristie L. Hayes on September 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My insomnia prevented my sleeping for three straight days but luckily the book came out right before I did so it gave me the chance to devour it. As a biracial person, I learned quickly that I was not Black enough for some blacks and decided I did not care...I thought everything that Toure said was spot on. And I have personally experienced some similar things in my life so I could relate a lot to the book.

Being black is not about how you talk, how you dress or what music you listen to. I think that many who are upset about Toure saying there are no barriers for Blacks in being who they want to be would be the first to march if some law were passed that create a barrier for Blacks...all Toure is doing is telling Blacks they can reach their potential...what is wrong with that? You're still Black if you are a classical pianist, chemist, plumber, etc. but you get to choose the destiny of your life.

I really like Roland Martin's commentary about how some Blacks want other Blacks to adopt negative characteristics to "keep it real." It makes me sad but reminds me of an experience my younger brother had in high school. A girl in his class who was Black in the middle of class sitting across the room asked him if he was half White and he said "yes" and she said something to the effect of "I knew you were because you were so smart?"...what the hell? That is so embarrassing that she could even say that so out in the open in a high school classroom.

I also liked Toure's discussion on Africa....we think that it's this utopia where all Africans see each other as brothers and sister....I wish he could have talked about all the different clans in Africa.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod Jenkins on October 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 of societal expectation. However, he says -- and I agree -- that President Obama's complexion helped him get elected. This, of course, begs the question how are we supposed to raise more President Obamas if skin complexion is immutable? Also, he says -- and again I agree -- that President Obama would not have been elected if he had a White wife. This flies in the face of his it's-okay-to-be-post-Black theory because if it truly were okay, one would not have to choose between marrying someone and running for President. This is the type of confined thinking that the book was intended to thwart.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Terry Teacher on January 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Subsequent to reading this epic piece I ordered a second book for my 25-year-old `King's English' speaking son who has never lived a day in his life in poverty. My son attended schools- high school and college - with fewer than 5% of people that looked like him (I often felt guilty for that); as opposed to his over 50 year old mother, who lived most of my days in `the projects' and actually remembers the `government cheese and peanut butter'. I must admit I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions as I read this book; mostly positive and elated that Toure so effectively and eloquently hit the nail on the head when manifesting our narrative. I had a visceral reaction to the way he brilliantly refers to and lays out the Black `shield' that we must construct and how it gets strengthened (or not) as we navigate our system. I want my son to read it because I think he will be able to relate to it on a lot of levels. Being able to apply language to our collective experiences gives them power and somewhat normalizes them. I want my son to be aware of this language because he's at the height of reinforcing his shield.

On the other hand, in my opinion, Toure kind of blames the victim towards the end of his piece when he refers to how a lot of Black people, in affect, rebuke the system which leads to our rejection for employment and becoming high level executives. I'm not sure I fully agree when he refers to how a lot of Black people set themselves up to experience a self-fulfilling prophecy. I think it's unfair to juxtapose my son with my brother, for example, who grew up in poverty with a system that did not embrace him as a Black man with few to nil resources who was constantly reminded of his worth (or lack of it).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CPW33 on August 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While I do think this book is worth reading and I would recommend it, I found some parts of it really irritating and inconsistent which might be because I'm not a fan of his writing style. But what really bothered me was the fact that, to me, he often contradicted the overall message of the book in certain chapters. And, as another reviewer pointed out, he is extremely repetitive. I think the book was thought-provoking up to chapter five, and then I personally just lost interest in it. I found the other chapters to be a little off topic and I also felt like the structure of the book (and to be honest, some of the chapters), after chapter 2, went all over the place. That being said, it is a good book and I'd highly recommend it as I think it deals with some important issues in the black community in a way that's easy for most people to understand although it would have been interesting to see a more complex and FOCUSED exploration of these issues as well. It is great, however, at introducing readers to various black artists and their work (my favorite part of the book really, since I am an artist myself). I think I will be buying the catalog for Freestyle now!
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