Customer Reviews: Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now
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on September 19, 2011
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. I know people from Africa and they can differentiate members of their clan from those who are not and I can only imagine that there was conflict long before European invasion and colonization. But I am sure that could be a separate book. Where there are humans, there is conflict.

And to some Whites who may be offended by what Toure says, don't. He is presenting a psyche (in my opinion) that has been passed down from generation to generation. Even though my parents are an interracial couple which takes a lot of open mindedness, my dad has some of these ideas and thoughts, i.e. "Blacks don't (fill in the blank)." It's ridiculous and while I understand racism exists, there will always be those who discriminate against others and while it makes it harder to achieve your dream, it is not impossible and the amount of melanin in your skin should never put a damper on your desires.

On a side note, I appreciate Toure discussing his journey to becoming a writer as I am on that road and thanks for writing about my favorite artist...Tori Amos:)
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on October 12, 2011
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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on January 16, 2012
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). He had a high school degree and I watched him struggle and try to get jobs, get close and then see the job go to a white person. During my varied professional career I've worked for the IBMs, Procter & Gambles and the like and, even thought they did let a few Black men through, I observed how a Black man was not valued no matter how hard he tried. Also, as an elementary school teacher I witnessed first hand how acting-out little white boys were labeled `mischievous' while unchallenged, brilliant and creative little black boys that acted out were perceived and labeled as hoodlums or `truant'. In my current field as a social worker my heart breaks every time I counsel downtrodden Black men that this system has treaded on to the point where they have given up. No one can deny the white privilege along with the structural and systematic racism; though more subtle and maybe less often, but still prevalent in our system. I think this applies even more to the `abandoned' category of Blacks that Eugene Robinson's refers to in his book. His description of the abandoned: "with less hope of escaping poverty and dysfunction than at any time since Reconstruction".
Finally, one term that resonated with me in the final chapter is the term `post whiteness' which may be more apropos in the near future.
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on October 17, 2013
I am really glad I purchased this book.
i feel like this book .BUT with hat being said.
In my opinion, this book spent far to much time focusing on how my blackness is a reflection of racism .
Which is absurd. Who i am as a black person and how my personal journey carries out has nothing to do with how white people perceive me.
Being black in America does walk side by side with racism as has been a sad part of black history in this country but by no means does that define me.
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VINE VOICEon January 6, 2015
l am not black, so unlike Touré and others, I have never been in a position to have my blackness questioned. But I taught at a largely-black middle-class high school, chock full of kids who didn't fit the mold of what black is. (Many of my students were skaters, listened to punk, etc.) So, the message of this book - and the book itself - are quite amazing. Touré's message could do a lot of good to a lot of people.

What is this message? Touré believes that we need to redefine - really, expand - what it means to be black. Illustration: the book starts off with Touré's recount of his preparation to skydive (for a tv show). One of his friends casually suggested that he'd never jump out of an airplane because... that's not something black people do. What Touré is NOT saying is that we need to get to a post-racial ethos, where there is NOTHING (of significance) it means to be black... only that the concept needs to become a lot more elastic than it is.

The book is Touré's quest to find out what being black means to people, and to find out, he interviewed a large number of black scholars, artists and public figures. And his answer: there are as many ways to be black as there are black people, and we risk unjustly stigmatizing if we police what blackness must mean.

But honestly, while I loved the book, the message, and the writing, Touré didn't deal with what I thought was an obvious and potentially damning objection: for a category to mean something, it has to have borders, and expanding the borders too much takes the meaning away from the category. In some sense, "there are as many ways to be black as there are black people" is a tautology, for how would you know who black people are if there is nothing particular it means to be black. If it is just a skin color, then there is no point in talking about cultural blackness at all (which I doubt is Touré's intent). But if there is something it culturally (or spiritually) it means to be black, then there HAVE to be borders to the concept of blackness that are something beyond "it all comes down to skin pigment."

I want to stress that I enjoyed reading the book, and Touré writes about everything from his own "You're not black!" experience to the diversity of black art, to the existence of things like stereotype threat and microaggressions. And this is why I am giving the book four stars despite what I see as Touré's failure to address a point that needs to be at the core of his argument.
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on January 3, 2015
I respect the author's approach to exploring a complicated subject. I pondered the idea of a "Post Black America". I read this book prior to the current state of affairs regarding race in America and the issue of police killings of unharmed black men and boys. I am still pondering the idea of "Post Blackness"
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on August 7, 2012
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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on February 1, 2015
This book is for every African American who researches our history and wonders what has brought us to an 'alleged' post racist america. And this book is for every non African American looking for an intellectual and 'non-censored' peek into the African American experience.
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on April 11, 2013
Frank, unflinching look at the reasons for and limitations of fealty to "blackness." Great quotes from gifted African American artists -- writers, painters, academics. Book is a bit repetitive but well worth reading -- it trades in ideas and discusses race, and relations between races, with a direct, insightful frankness that is mind-expanding (at least for this reader).
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on February 13, 2016
I'm new to African-American studies, so I might have missed some of the finer points of this book, but I found this to be a very thorough and probing presentation of post-blackness and the identity of blacks in twenty-first century America. Touré does an excellent job of writing for both audiences: he makes a lot of strong claims that will send black folk into states of thoughtful consideration, but he also offers a lot of basic introductory writing that is clearly designed for a white audience that has never thought critically about race before. The book is also given strength of character by a clear and consistent method of data collection, precise organization, etc. This is a great read. -Ryan Mease
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